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United Nations and United Nations Organizations

Library research guide with links to official UN resources as well as third party resources for information about the United Nations. Also includes a section on research strategies for Model UN projects.


Alexander Library has been collecting United Nations documents and publications useful in conducting research for Model UN since 1945. The collection is in open stacks, but doing research for Model UN and locating relevant sources may require some experience with the documentation. This guide is designed to get you started.

If you received a Model UN packet, bring it with you. The packet generally contains a bibliography that will provide citations and save valuable time in tracking down appropriate material.

Starting points

Some general sources noted below may prove useful in your initial Model UN research. Related secondary tools including bibliographies, catalogs, and directories may be found in adjacent sections of the Government Documents Reference collection at Alexander Library. Browsing may be helpful.

Investigating a country

Other tools may also be useful for recent country information. For instance, if you are representing a Latin American country, consider using the following resources.

Finding a country's position

TO LEARN WHAT POSITION THE COUNTRY YOU REPRESENT HAS TAKEN in the United Nations several options are currently available. Once identified, many documents are available online. Others can be located in the collections at  Alexander Library.

For material prior to the mid-1980s, use the appropriate Index to Proceedings. Each organ's index is published either each session or annually. You may search the indexes in a variety of ways:

  1. By name of country: use the "Index of Speeches--Corporate Name/Country."
  2. By name of a country's representative: use "Index of Speeches--Speakers."
  3. By topic: use "Subject Index" and/or "Index of Speeches--Subjects."

Locating resolutions and voting records

Microfiche and print versions of full text resolutions are also available at Alexander Library. For earlier print sources see:

General Assembly Official Records, Supplement (No.). All GAORs which contain the resolutions and decisions for a given session have been placed together in ALEXANDER DOCREF JX1977.A414 in stack 108. Similar compendia for the other main organs are filed with each organ's Official Records series in Government Publications stack 18.

Resolutions and Decisions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly Issued at the (Session No.). This Press Release was normally the first available compilation in which to find recent resolutions. Votes are also given. These are in ALEXANDER DOCREF JK1977.A449.

United Nations Resolutions, Series I: General Assembly (ALEXANDER DOCREF JX1977.A3155D57), by Dusan Djonvich, reproduces all General Assembly resolutions from 1946 through 1985/86 and provides tables showing how countries voted on them.

United Nations Resolutions, Series II: Security Council (ALEXANDER DOCREF JX1977.A515a), by Dusan Djonvich, is similar to the above. This compilation is available for resolutions from 1946/47 through 1978/79 only.

Finding material by subject

The print Indexes to Proceedings are useful if you know the specific time period and organ that dealt with the issues being studied.

You will obtain three basic types of citations:

  1. Series symbols, e.g. A/40/198 or E/CN.14/253. These represent the working papers or masthead documents of the various bodies and are generally available in microfiche from 1981-2018 (1946-1980 are on microprint) if you don't find them online. See Cabinets 16-0 through 16-7 and stack 25.
  1. Official Record citations, cited as GAOR, ESCOR, SCOR, or TCOR. These are available in paper at ALEXANDER DOC JX1977.A414 et seq).
  1. Sales publications, e.g. E.96.II.F.7. These are normally the more popular UN materials printed for sale to the public. Alexander Library has them in paper. Please ask at Reference for assistance in locating them. Earlier sales publications are in documents stacks 24-25 filed by sales number (first by Roman numeral, then by year, and then by number within each year). Newer ones are fully cataloged and can be found using QuickSearch.

Learning about specialized agencies

The specialized agencies, e.g. UNESCO, WHO, WIPO, IMF, World Bank Group, etc., have their own reference tools and web sites. While Alexander Library obtained many of their publications prior to 2016, many are made available online.  Working documents may not be as widely available. Many of Alexander Library's reference tools for researching these agencies are shelved in DOCREF stack 107-109 by Library of Congress number. Please ask for assistance in locating and accessing specialized agency material.

Annual reports of the specialized agencies to the Economic and Social Council are valuable information tools, as are U.S. Congressional hearings.

Basic sources which profile the specialized agencies include:

Locating treaty information

A selection of basic print reference tools for accessing UN treaty information includes:

Locating UN materials at Alexander

If you don't find the documents you need online, and can use a print or microfiche alternative, proceed as follows.

  1. If you find a citation to an Official Record, as represented by the abbreviations GAOR, ESCOR, SCOR, or TCOR, Alexander keeps these in paper. They are shelved in ALEX DOC JX1977.A414, with the exception of those GAOR supplements kept in ALEX DOCREF JX1977.A414 because they contain Resolutions and Decisions.
  2. If you find reference to a series symbol (i.e. masthead) document, e.g. A/40/RES/2, or E/1987/975, or any citation bearing the slash (/), from 1982 forward, go to Alexander Library's Documents microfiche collection near stacks 26 and 48. They are in red cabinets 16-0 through 16-7. If you are searching for series symbol documents before 1982, they are in microprint boxes in stack 25.  Microfiche and microprint may be read and reproduced using the microform readers on the basement level of Alexander Library.
  3. Many older sales publications, e.g. E.1996.II.F.7, are shelved in stacks 24-25. Others are reference tools (e.g., UNDOC, the Indexes to Proceedings, the Yearbook of the United Nations, and certain statistical and bibliographical works) and can be located through QuickSearch.

If you are unable to locate an item, check with librarians at the Reference Desk. While many UN materials have been cataloged and may be located using QuickSearch, others remain uncataloged and use local classification numbers.

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