In January 2012, a partnership between the UN Library in New York and the UN Office in Geneva to digitize pre-1993 UN documents was announced. This followed the change in January 2010, when the United Nations went green and stopped distribution of documents in paper within its own Secretariat at a savings of seven tons of paper each year. This move provided a major milepost in the inexorable shift onto the web of most international government documents - especially those of the United Nations. At the same time, give anyone in the world with Internet access a front row seat for - well - the making of history. As well, these sites provide ready access to critical measures of international law, business, the production and distribution of money, education, food, energy, and water, the condition of entire populations, and certainly most important if such things can be measured, the children of the world. .
II. United Nations Documentation. Here are found indexes and for some items, the actual full text of working documents, reports, speeches, and resolutions actually generated and used by the General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, Security Council, and other parts of the U.N.
1. The HomePage of the United
Nations (www.un.org/english) This page is a portal to international
information about the UN and international issues on a grand scale, with
excellent functionality and great content. It is so rich in information
that some elements can seem buried, but becoming very familiar with this
page is very much worth the effort.
III. Documentation From Other UN Bodies. Here are found many full text documents, especially for the last five to ten years.
UNData formerly Common Database - UN's magnificent basket of statistics drawn from many UN agencies - some unique here. (http://data.un.org/)
International Court of Justice (http://library.lawschool.cornell.edu/WhatWeDo/ResearchGuides/ICJ.cfm)
International Labour Organization Documents mirror site http://library.lawschool.cornell.edu/WhatWeDo/ResearchGuides/ILO.cfm)
ILO - Labor Statistics (http://laborsta.ilo.org)
Permanent Court of Arbitration (http://library.lawschool.cornell.edu/pca/default.htm)
Project on Dispute Settlement in International Trade, Investment and Intellectual Property - UNCTAD (http://r0.unctad.org/disputesettlement/index.htm)
United Nations Development Program, UNDP, includes Human Development Report (http://www.undp.org/)
UNESCO Statistics (http://www.uis.unesco.org/ev_en.php?ID=2867_201&ID2=DO_TOPIC)
UNESCO Working Documents Index from 1946, full text from 1995, both to the present.. (http://unesdoc.unesco.org/ulis/index.html)
UNICEF, United Nations Children's Agency, includes annual State of the World's Children full text (http://www.unicef.org/)
UNICEF - Innocenti Research Centre - significant publications on children's rights (http://www.unicef-irc.org/)
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, encyclopedic full text refugee information (http://www.unhcr.org/)
UNISPAL, United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine Online collection of full text United Nations documents on the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict. ( http://unispal.un.org/unispal.nsf )
World Health Organization WHOSIS, includes annual World Health Report full text, 1995 to present (http://www.who.int/whosis/en/)
World Income Inequality Database, 1950 to the present, from Wider Institute at UN Univertsity (http://www.wider.unu.edu/research/Database/en_GB/database/ )
World Trade Organization Working Documents Full Text 1995 to the present. (http://docsonline.wto.org/gen_home.asp?language=1&_=1)
WTO Legal Documents and Disputes Updates , World Trade Organization (http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/distab_e.htm)
IV. Web Sites of the UN Specialized or External Agencies Many contain full text documentation for recent years, and useful indexes, sometimes for the entire history of the organization.
V. Regional Commissions A wonderful amount of detail is found on the web sites of the five United Nations Regional Commission, including lots of country information and full text documents.
VI. Useful Resources for UN Reseach From Outside the UN System. The web is a wonderous place for sources on the United Nations. Source and attitude must always be considered. The following are especially useful.
VII. A Few Good Books. Especially in the age of the Internet, there are still a few key print titles books which are a great help for anyone librarian or client serious about understanding and accessing United Nations documents, publications, statistics, or treaties.
Directory of Government Document Collections and Librarians, 8 th ed . Government Documents Round Table, American Library Association. Ed. Susan Tulis and Daniel C. Barkley, Bethesda MD. LexisNexis, 2003. 719 p, ISBN 0-88692-606-8 An essential reference to know where the documents collections in the U.S. of all types are located, and not just depositories. Libraries move and change over time, and contact information may be a little stale but even without an update, this is still a vital source to help track down where documents are located and who can help untangle a problem with them. Especially useful for librarians looking for help with Internet access to modern documents, or trying to find heritage pre-Internet - documents. Worth the price or a trip or call to a research library.International Information : Documents, Publications, And Electronic Information Of International Governmental Organizations. Ed. Peter J. Hajnal. 2nd ed. -- Englewood , Colo. : Libraries Unlimited, 1997 Vol. 1; 2001, vol. 2. xxxvi, 528 p. / 402 p ; 24 cm. ISBN 1563081474 Encyclopedia coverage of modern international documents, especially useful in putting them into an overall context. These volumes with their Internet presence as an update for each agency, explain and make rational the world of international government documents.
International Legal Materials. Vol. 1, no. 1 (Aug. 1962) to present. Washington , D.C. : American Society of International Law, Bimonthly. Available electronically in Lexis Academic Provides full text of treaties and other international agreements which are difficult or impossible to find in other sources. Especially useful for an English text where such was not issued with the original document. An excellent court of last resort.
United Nations Handbook 2009-2010 . Available from the UN Bookstore or from the New Zealand Mission at the UN, on the web at <http://www.nzembassy.com/united-nations/united-nations-handbook/united-nations-handbook>. The UN Handbook has been prepared annually since 1961 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the government of New Zealand. It is the only comprehensive printed guide to the United Nations system and how it works. It listas and describes all UN bodies, and gives essential information about their aims, structures and membership. Inexpensive current edition is $20, and well worth having on hand in any library trying to work with UN Documents.
United Nations Yearbook , 1946-present. Annual publication from the UN summing up its work. Often provides answers to questions of what the UN did at a point in time, or how it responded to a crisis. Numerous references to documents providing details of work or action. Usually two or three years for publication of a year worth the wait. Purchase from UN Sales. Useful in Paper. Also free on the web.
World Treaty Index by Peter H. Rohn. -- 2nd ed. -- Santa Barbara , Calif. : ABC-Clio Information Services, c1983-1984. 5 v. ; 29 cm. Long out of print, and no update in sight, this title is worth knowing about and using in a research library where it is held. Remarkably comprehensive index to the world's treaties from 1900-1980, giving the citation to find the text of the treaty in standard treaty publication series. Unique source for treaty information in many cases.