United Nations

Official Megasite

United Nations Headquarters The most extensive UN web site. Use the site index to access material on the organization’s main concerns: human rights, the environment, human development, international security, international law, and humanitarian assistance.


Indexes and Full-text Databases

Official Document System of the United Nations (ODS)
Scope: Contains the full text of UN masthead documents and Official Records. Coverage since 1993 is nearly comprehensive; for earlier years it is selective.
Limitations: Does not include sales publications or unofficial monographs and serials. Very recent documents may be awaiting translation into English.
Tip 1: Avoid the Simple Search–the Advanced Search is as easy to use and provides more options.
Tip 2: When searching by document symbol (e.g., A/63/13), omit all punctuation (as in A6313).
Note: The Global Search uses the Google search engine.

AccessUN 1945-present  illinois
Scope: Not nearly as complete as UNBISnet for the period 1979 to date. But many documents published before 1978 have online records only in this index.
Limitation 1: Records contain too many subject headings, making it difficult to find the main documents on a given topic.
Limitation 2: Records seldom include links to full-text items.
Tip: Use UNBISnet, instead of AccessUN, to identify documents published since 1979.
Caution: Any group of two or more words is treated as a phrase unless AND is inserted between those words.

UNBISnet: Bibliographic Records
Scope: The most complete and useful index of UN documents, publications, and articles issued since 1979. Provides links to full-text documents in ODS, when available.
Tip 1: Begin all subject and author searches for UN documents published since 1979 in this database. The subject indexing is better here than in ODS.
Tip 2: Records usually contain too many subject headings, making it difficult to identify the main texts on a given topic. So when conducting subject searches for items issued since 1999, search by primary subject, which in the pull-down menu appears as follows: Subject (Primary Subj., 1999-).

UNBISnet: Voting Records
Scope: Indexes all resolutions adopted by the Security Council and General Assembly since their initial sessions in 1946. Records link to full-text documents in ODS.
Limitation: No subject access.

UNBISnet: Index to Speeches
Scope: Covers speeches made in the General Assembly, Security Council, and Economic and Social Council since 1983, and in Trusteeship Council meetings since 1982. Most records incorporate links to the full text.

Scope: Provides links to key full-text documents, such as resolutions. Also includes links to UN databases and web sites of special importance.
Limitation: No subject access.

United Nations Treaty Collection
The most complete collection of full-text international treaties. See also: this tutorial video on searching the Treaty Collection, created by students at the Pratt Institute School of Library & Information Science.

Search Engines

Intergovernmental Organization Search Engine

Uses the Google search engine to provide access to UN and other IGO web sites.


Using UN Information Resources: A Guide for General Reference Librarians in Academic Settings. Reference Services Review 36, no. 2:119-146.

United Nations Documents at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: A User’s Guide 
Provides essential information on the use of United Nations information resources on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

United Nations Documentation: Research Guide
This is the indispensable guide of the Dag Hammarskjold Library at UN Headquarters. Contains special sections on disarmament, the environment, human rights, peacekeeping, international law, and the UN budget.

Guide to Online UN Information Resources
From the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, this guide contains alphabetical and topical lists of United Nations databases and reference works.


Yearbook of the United Nations
Scope: Gives a thorough overview of the work of the organization.
Limitations: The lag time between events and their description in the Yearbook is about two years.
Tip: Use the Yearbook to access summaries of UN actions related to particular countries and topics.
Other formats: Print (call no. UN.DPI/S1) and DVD (call no. DVDUN.DPI/S1).

United Nations Juridical Yearbook
A yearly publication that documents legal materials concerning the United Nations and related intergovernmental organizations. See also: this  tutorial video on using the yearbook, created by students at the Pratt Institute School of Library & Information Science.


ProQuest Statistical Datasets
Begin here. Indexes thousands of UN datasets.

Human Development Reports web site
The options in the upper left-hand corner helps users to identify and download tables on a wide array of topics related to the quality of life. Provides data by country and region, and worldwide.

Millennium Development Goals Indicators
This source, like the Human Development Reports web site, focuses on variables closely related to the quality of life. Contains links to numerous publications.

Monthly Bulletin of Statistics Online
An excellent place to start when you need monthly economic data.

Blogs and News

UN News Centre

Includes full-text searching of press releases, full-text magazines, and UN Newslinks, which connects the user to full-text news sources of UN bodies and other IGOs around the world.

UN Pulse
Provides announcements on the most important UN documents and publications.

Other Sites

Permanent Missions to the United Nations

Contains links to the web site of each member state’s permanent mission at UN Headquarters.

Analytical Guide to the Work of the U.N. International Law Commission
The Analytical Guide to the Work of the International Law Commission works as a blueprint for all international law that is being worked on, or has been codified by the commission. See also: this  tutorial video on using the Analytical Guide, created by students at the Pratt Institute School of Library & Information Science.