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United Nations and United Nations Organizations: Model UN - Research Strategies

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.

Overview

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 usually 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. An increasing amount of material may be accessed through the UN's web site. For the most comprehensive searching, combine use of AccessUN [Rutgers Restricted], the Official Document System of the United NationsUNBISnet, and other sources listed in this guide. An official United Nations Documentation research guide is available from the Dag Hammarskjöld Library.  Links to various Model UN activities and to preparing for a conference may be found through the Model UN site.

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

TO INVESTIGATE A COUNTRY, use some of the following:

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.

For other areas of the world, ask at Reference for additional tools that may be helpful in locating information about a specific country. A list of missions to the UN and their home pages are available through http://www.un.org/ (see "About the UN - Member States").

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 can be located in Alexander Library's collections

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

TO LOCATE A RESOLUTION OR VOTING RECORD, try one of the following:

All principal organ resolutions are on the UN's website http://www.un.org/documents from 1946 to date.  Full text resolutions 1966+ are also online in AccessUNUNBISnet (http://unbisnet.un.org) will be helpful in identifying resolution numbers and provides access to voting records by resolution symbol, keyword, or date for GA and SC votes from 1946 to the present.  Full text resolutions are also available on fiche or in print 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 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 DOCREF JK1977.A449.

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

Yearbook of the United Nations.  Many resolutions, along with voting records, are reproduced in the annual volumes. The Yearbook is currently published through 2008. See http://unyearbook.un.org or, for print, see DOCREF JX1977.A37Y4.

Finding material by subject

Options for keyword searching include www.un.org/documents, the online AccessUN, which covers 1966 to the present, and UNBISnet (http://unbisnet.un.org/). The print Indexes to Proceedings mentioned above are useful if you know the specific time period and organ that dealt with the issues being studied.

Whether using the UN's Official Documents SystemAccessUN or UNBISnet, 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 since 1981 (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 in stack 18 (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 ones are in DOCS 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 obtains many of their publications, their working documents are not so 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. Ask at the Reference Desk for assistance in accessing specialized agency material. The UN System Directory at http://www.unsceb.org/directory is useful for linking to recent information on specialized agencies.  Northwestern University's LibGuide at http://libguides.northwestern.edu/IGO provides an alphabetical list of organizations and their links.

Annual reports of the specialized agencies to the Economic and Social Council are valuable information tools, as are U.S. Congressional hearings.  See U.S. Congressional Publications (online under RUL Indexes & Databases) or use the print CIS Index and Abstracts. Also, several basic sources which profile the specialized agencies include:

United States Participation in the United Nations (http://www.state.gov/p/io/rls/rpt/index.htm)
(see also information at  http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS61841 )
ALEX DOCREF US S1.70/8 (2011 latest full text online)
Yearbook of International Organizations ALEX REF JX1904.A42

Locating treaty information

If a citation, e.g. 758 UNTS 314, is already available, you may find it in Alexander Library's print collection of the United Nations Treaty Series  shelved at the Annex as DOC JX170.U35 ( v.1-2475).  Indexes to the UNTS are on the shelves in ALEX DOCJX170.U35 however.   Or, go to www.un.org and select Resources & Services/ Documents/UN Treaty Collection. Selected treaty information may also be found within the Department of State's site accessible at http://www.state.gov/ or its archival site at http://dosfan.lib.uic.edu/ERC/index.html.

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

Compendium of International Conventions Concerning the Status of Women ALEX DOCREF K3243.A35U55 1988
Human Rights: a Compilation of International Instruments ALEX DOCREF K3238.H85 2002
International Instruments of the United Nations ALEX DOCREF K3238.I58 1997
Multilateral Treaties Deposited With the S-G. ALEX DOCREF JX171.U372a
Status of Multilateral Arms Regulation and Disarmament Agreements
ALEX DOCREF JX1974.7.S734 1997
Summaries of Judgments, Advisory Opinions ICJ ALEX DOCREF JX1991.A26 1992
Summary of Practice of the Secretary-General ... Treaties ALEX DOCREF JX4165.S86 1994
Treaties in Force (a U.S. government publication; latest edition at http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS4126) ALEX DOCREF US S9.14

Locating UN materials at Alexander

TO LOCATE UN DOCUMENTS once you have found a citation:

      1.  Search for the full text online in AccessUN or in Official Document System of the United Nations (ODS). AccessUN provides full text selectively. The ODS provides full text of documents issued since 1993, while resolutions of all principal organ and Security Council plenary documents are included since1946.

            If you would do not find it there, and can use a print or microfiche alternative, proceed as follows:  

      2.  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.

      3.  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.  Use the microforms in Current Periodicals/Microforms Reading Room on B level, South Wing, where reader-printers are available. Microprint may be reproduced using their DigiPrint Screenscan equipment.

      4.  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, along with certain statistical and bibliographical works now found through QuickSearch and located by Library of Congress numbers in DOCREF.

If you are unable to locate an item, check with librarians at the Reference Desk. Many UN materials have been transferred from an old local classification to Library of Congress classification and may be found in QuickSearch . Others remain in local classification numbers.

Guides to the Literature

Especially useful guides to the literature may be found in Hajnal's International Information (ALEXANDER DOCREF JZ4850.I58 1997-2001); in William's The Information Systems of International Inter-governmental Organizations (ALEXANDER DOCREF JZ4850.W55); and Fetzer's United Nations Documents and Publications: a Research Guide (ALEXANDER DOCREF Z6481.F4). See also the UN's Dag Hammarskjöld Library's official United Nations Documentation research guide.

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