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Citation Guides to United Nations materials: REF Counter KF245 .U55 2005 The Bluebook. See pages: 179-184. A quick guide is available online from Newsbank .


  • A list of United Nations ambassadors, delegates and supporting diplomatic staff by country can be found at deleGATE, the UN's member states portal. Once on the deleGATE page, opt for the Member States and Permanent Observers link to find your country (left hand side of the page).  The Member States index at deleGATE provides additional information.  
  • Information about delegates is available online from 1993 onward on the ODS database. Go to ODS Advanced, type in the following document symbol number in the symbol search box: st/sg/ser.a/ and type in the phrase "permanent missions to the united nations" in the words of the title search box. Archived digital versions of the Permanent Missions to the United Nations can be found in this database; limit your search by year for best results.  

Speeches by delegates/heads of state

  • UNBISnet provides a database of speeches delivered at the various bodies of the United nations, including the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Countil and the Trusteeship Council. 
  • Scroll down to Index to Speeches and opt for New Keyword Search
  • From this page, you can search by a speaker's name, a country or organization of origin, topics, speech dates and more. Choose your options from the drop down menus in the search boxes. Be careful to call your country by the official name: for example Russia is Russian Federation.  
  • To find speeches given in the General Assembly, limit your search to General Assembly in the Limits box. 
  • Index to Proceedings for the General Assembly_ from the 63rd Session (2008-2009) onward is available in pdf format from Download the pdf version and use the "find" function to search for delegates/heads of State. Earlier online versions of _Proceedings can  be found at ODS Advanced.  The document symbol for these speeches will look like this: A/63/PV. numbers. Here the A represents the General Assembly, the 63 refers to the Assembly session, and the PV refers to verbatim record. Usually, the following number is a low number, like a .5 or .16. Type the document number into the _Symbol box in the ODS Advanced database to pull up the full text of the document. You can search within the full text PDF, again using the find or binocular icon, to search for your head of State/delegate within the document (either search for his/her name or the name of your country.) Helpful tip: sometimes heads of States give speeches at the opening session of the General Assembly (and other venues, like the Security Council). At the end of the listing for your country (Part II of the _Index to Proceedings), see if there is a section for President or Prime Minister or some such designation where speeches by heads of States would be listed.The Drew Library has Index to Proceedings of the General Assembly (Ref United Nations collection -  located on A-level in the Learning Center, compact shelving Ref JX 1977.A44 session/part) which indexes speeches at the General Assembly for each session by corporate name/country; by speaker; and by subject. Part II lists speeches by country/people. This print resource is very easy to use and more reliable than UNBISNET. Drew Library owns these publications from the 8th Session through the 63rd Session.

United Nations voting records

  • Most UN Resolutions are adopted without a recorded vote. Only those votes that are recorded indicate how a country voted. The Resolutions and Decisions Adopted by the General Assembly during a stated session is a compilation of votes taken during a specific GA session. The document lists how countries voted when a roll call vote was actually taken for a specific resolution. This document can be found on ODS Advanced. In the search box labeled Words of the title, type in the following phrase: "resolutions and decisions adopted by the general assembly during its" and search. Notice that the number 49 will appear in most of the UN document symbols in the resulting list of documents. You can also use the document symbol to search for this document in the ODS Advanced search:
  •  Use the binocular icon to search for your country (make sure you use the proper name: example - Russian Federation, not Russia).
  • The Voting Records option in UNBISnet - this option provides “the full text of voting records for all resolutions which were adopted - either without a vote or by roll-call or recorded vote - by the General Assembly beginning with its 38th session (1983-) and the Security Council beginning with its 1st year (1946-).” Most records provide only a summary of the vote (i.e.the number of yeas and nays).
  • Public Law 79-264 requires that the U.S. State Department report to Congress U.S. participation in the United Nations; the report includes a voting record for the U.S. The reports and voting record are available online from 1999 through 2010 from the State Department. A comparison of how the U.S. voted on key issues to votes by other countries is also available in these. U.S. participation in the United Nations is also available from the State Department.
  • Reports of more recent votes in the United Nations can be found at the UN's Press Releases advanced site. Search globally for recent votes, or by organization (e.g. General Assembly, etc) in the "Select" drop down box at the bottom of the Press Release page. In the "Keyword(s) in headline" box type in vote. You can change dates "Date" box. Click "Find" to search.

Human rights/ peace and security issues/ sustainable development/economic development/health issues/special issues - country profiles

Human Rights

Security issues  

Sustainable Development

Economic Development:

Health profiles for countries -

Question of Palestine - "The United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL) was established and is being developed by the Division for Palestinian Rights in response to successive General Assembly mandates. The main collection contains the texts of current and historical United Nations material concerning the question of Palestine and other issues related to the Middle East situation and the search for peace."

World Heritage Centre -  "Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa’s Serengeti, thePyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world’s heritage."

Information about countries


Determining news bias

  • The editorial page (not the OpEd page) of a newspaper provides insight into a newspaper's bias.
  •  News Bias Explored - From the University of Michigan provides some good examples of how to identify media bias, useful activities regarding word choice and links to other sources dealing with news bias.


  • The NGO Database "contains information about the organizations that have Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations ECOSOC." 
  • Search this database by Field of Activity (general topic) or by a specific NGO name. 
  • Try the DPI/NGO (UN Department of Public Information, Non Governmental Organization) website. 
  • The Non-Governmental Organization Research Guide from Duke University helps you find NGO's by issues
  • Learn more about the relationship between NGOs and the NGLS, the United Nations at the UN-Non Governmental Liaison Service. 
  • The NGOs links page lists NGOs alpabetically and by topic. 
  • Once you have identified specific NGOs, search Academic Search Premier, ProQuest and LexisNexis Academic for scholarly articles and news stories on these organizations (databases available to Drew community from the A-Z Databases by Title). 

Researching UN issues

The best places to begin: 

  • Perhaps the two best places to start are: 1) the alphabetical list page of the United Nations System Directory and 2) the Global Issues on the UN Agenda site. These two sites provide thematic access to UN and UN related issues; they more often compliment one another  than provide redundant resources.
    • The alphabetical list page allows you to search by topic. Open up the CEB option at the bottom of the page for thematic access to websites, documents, and more.
    • Global Issues on the UN Agenda also provides thematic access with related links and more. 
  • Annual Review of United Nations Affairs - 341.23 A615a dates from 1959. "The Annual Review of United Nations (ARUNA) is one of the longest established annual publications on the  United Nations affairs. It offers in-depth commentaries and analysis by a group of distinguished  experts as well  as comprehensive documentation of the work of the United Nations."
  • ODS offers keyword search access to UN official documents, but works best if you search using the classification symbols for specific types of UN documents (see the section on "United Nations voting records" above).
  • UNBISnet  - perhaps more user friendly than ODS.
  • United Nations  -  Groups UN resources by the major functions of the United Nations: Peace and Security; Development; Human Rights; Humanitarian Affairs; International Law
  • UN News Centre 
  • List of all United Nations searchable databases.
  • A nice browseable list of many UN and UN related websites is available from the State Department. 
  • UN Conferences - links to past conferences (1994 - 2008) available from this site (scroll down).
  • UN Treaty Collections 
  • United Nations Acronyms and Short Forms explained. 
  • The Yearbook of the United Nations (Ref United Nations collection -  located on A-level in the Learning Center, compact shelving Ref JZ4947 .Y43 yr) provides coverage of UN issues by year.  The most current print edition of the Yearbook is shelved by the Reference Desk (Ref Counter).
  • United Nations Multimedia - News articles, radio, television and more.
  • Encyclopedia of the United Nations  -  Ref KZ4968 .M66
  • Encyclopedia of International Relations and Global Politics - Ref JZ 1160. E53 2005
  • Great Debates at the United Nations: An Encyclopedia of Fifty Key Issues, 1945-2000. - Ref KZ4968 .G67 2001
  • United Nations Today (yr) - Ref JZ 4970.U658 
  • United Nations Handbook (yr) -  Ref JX 1977.2.N5U55 
  • Encyclopedia of Human Rights - Ref JC 571.E673 2009 

For specific issues: 

  • Since specific UN bodies/committees/conferences focus on particular topics, it is important to identify those entities which are most relevant to you topic. The Organization of the UN gives an overview of the organization of the United Nations and provides access to numerous bodies and organizations.
  • The following subscription databases are relevant for United Nations research: Columbia International Affairs Online (CAIO); LexisNexis;World News; Worldwide Political Science, ScienceDirect, Academic Search Premier, Sociological Abstracts, EconLit, Proquest Political Science (databases available to Drew community from the A-Z Databases by Title page).
  • See also International Law.

Understanding UN Document Symbols

UN document symbols are very useful for searching, and for understanding documents pulled up from searches. The primary or first letter(s) of the symbol indicated the organ which produces the document (examples: A/- = General Assembly; UNEP/- =  United Nations  Environmental Programme); Secondary and tertiary symbols indicate if a subset of the larger organs have produced the document (examples: -/AC..../- = ad hoc committee;  -/WG.../- = working group). Additional components indicate the nature of the document (examples: -/CRP..... = conference room paper;  -/SR..... = summary records of meeting). The final symbol or component reflects modifications of the original text (examples: -/Add... = addendum; -/Summary.....=  summarized version).

EXAMPLE: General Assembly, World Conference on Human Rights, Preparatory Committee, document no. 63, addendum no. 4 = A/CONF.157/PC/63/Add.4

(adapted from Basics of UN Document Symbols)

FOR MORE EXAMPLES AND MORE EXTENSIVE EXPLANATIONS SEE: Document Symbols : United Nations Documentation

Useful United Nations research guides from University libraries and other sources

Scholarly resources - recommended database. Linked from  A-Z Databases by Title

  • Academic Search Premier - opt for scholarly journals.
  • Proquest Research Library - opt for scholarly journals.
  • Proquest Political Science
  • Columbia International Affairs Online - think tank and other public policy organization papers and articles.
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts - premier database for political science research.
  • EconLit
  • Sociological Abstracts
  • Ethnic News Watch - great for non U.S. viewpoints on issues.
  • For specific subject resources see: Electronic Resources by Subject.


  • Many books on the United Nations are shelved on E-level under the classification number 341.23
  • In addition to doing a Keyword search in the Drew catalog, try the Exact search page.

Use the "search for" drop down box and select Subjects.

Search for country names (e.g. iran) or topics (e.g. economic development, peacekeeping, etc)
Click directly to a list of books, or browse a sub-list of topics.

  • World Cat (access from Electronic Resources by Title). This database searches catalogs of over 20,000 libraries worldwide. Searching is clunky, but this database provides great access to monographic (book) scholarship. Books not available at Drew can be requested through InterLibraryLoan directly from book records found in WorldCat. 

Contact me

Beth Patterson ext. 3480. Reference Department, Drew Library.

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