United Nations Resources

This is a selective guide to resources at Columbia University Libraries and on the Internet, for conducting research on the United Nations. Publications by and about the UN and its agencies can be found in several libraries, primarily Lehman, Business, and Butler. Check CLIO by title, subject, or issuing UN agency to locate them.

The Law Library is a full United Nations depository, receiving copies of all official UN publications and documents, but not those of the specialized agencies. Check Pegasus for items in the Law Library.

Resources marked with this symbol are restricted to Columbia affiliates.

Additional Research Guides

  • United Nations Documentation: Research Guide, Dag Hammarskjöld Library
    United Nations documentation reflects the complexity of the UN as an organization. The UN Documentation Research Guide presents an overview of selected UN documents, publications, databases and websites. It provides details on the patterns of documentation of the active principal UN organs. It presents documentation of the organs and subsidiary bodies involved in areas of interest to many researchers.
  • Research Guide: the United Nations
    A detailed guide to conducting research on the UN, including descriptions of the UN structure and its publishing system, research strategies, and how to locate UN documents. It is directed to the researcher working at the Columbia Law Library and on the internet.
  • Reference Sources: League of Nations
    A research guide, timeline, and bibliography for the predecessor to the United Nations.

Background Information

  • Alger, Chadwick F.
    The United Nations System : a Reference Handbook
    Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, c2006.
    JZ 4986 .A44 2006 - Lehman
  • Annual Review of United Nations Affairs.
    Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. : Oceana Publications, 1949-
    JX 1977 .A1 A5 - Lehman
  • Baratta, Joseph Preston.
    United Nations System.
    New Brunswick <N.J.> : Transaction Publishers, c1995.
    JX 1977 .B284 1995 - Lehman
    A bibliography of works about the UN in its entirety. Lengthy annotations make it especially useful.
  • Basic Facts About the United Nations.
    New York : United Nations, 2004.
    JZ 4970 .B37 2004g - Lehman
  • The Blue Helmets : a Review of United Nations Peace-keeping. 3rd ed.
    New York, NY : United Nations Dept. of Public Information, c1996.
    JX 1981 .P7 B595 1996g - Lehman
  • Chronology and Fact Book of the United Nations. 8th ed.
    Dobbs Ferry, NY: Oceana, 1992.
    JX 1977 .A1 A51 - Lehman
  • Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements. 3rd ed. 4 vol.
    New York: Routledge, 2003.
    KZ 4968 .O84 2003 - Lehman
  • A Global Agenda: Issues Before the ... General Assembly of the United Nations. Annual.
    Lanham, Md. : University Press of America, c1991-
    JX 1977 .A4251 - Lehman
    Online, see: Global Issues on the UN Agenda
    Continues: Issues Before the ... General Assembly of the United Nations, below
  • Global Policy Forum
    GPF monitors the global policy making process at the United Nations. It has addressed issues primarily in three areas: the UN Security Council and Council reform, the UN financial crisis, and social and economic policy at the global level.
  • Gorman, Robert F.
    Great Debates at the United Nations : an Encyclopedia of Fifty Key Issues 1945-2000.
    Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2001.
    KZ 4968 .G67 2001 - Lehman Reference
  • Hajnal, Peter.
    Directory of United Nations Documentary and Archival Sources.
    Millwood, NY: Kraus International, 1991.
    JX 1977.8 D6 H34 1991 - Offsite
  • Issues Before the ... General Assembly of the United Nations. Annual.
    New York : United Nations Association of the United States of America, 1976-1991.
    JX 1977 .A425 - Lehman
    Continued by: A Global Agenda, above.
  • Journal of the United Nations
    Published daily, the UN Journal provides dates and agendas for scheduled official meetings of the UN organs.
  • The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations.
    Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2007.
    JZ 4970 .O93 2007 - Lehman
  • Profile of the United Nations: Beginnings, Purpose, and Structure
    A basic fact sheet, published by the U.S. Department of State, August 2005.
  • Trilingual Compendium of United Nations Terminology : English, French, German.
    New York : United Nations, 1986-
    JX 1977 .D73 1986 - Lehman
  • UN Chronicle
    New York, NY : United Nations Dept. of Public Information, 1964-
    JX 1977 .A12 Un331 - Lehman
  • UN Wire: E-mail News Covering the United Nations and the World
  • United Nations Foundation
    The United Nations Foundation seeks to support the goals and objectives of the United Nations and its Charter in order to promote a more peaceful, prosperous, and just world - with special emphasis on the UN's work, especially on behalf of economic, social, environmental and humanitarian causes.
  • United Nations Observances
    This site contains information on United Nations days, weeks, years, decades and other observances, resolutions declaring them and links to events websites.
  • The United Nations System and Its Predecessors. 2 vols.
    Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 1997.
    JZ 5566 .S9613 1997 - Lehman
    A compilation of documents of the UN and its specialized agencies (v.1) and its 19th century predecessors, culminating in the League of Nations (v.2). It includes the major documents, instruments, rules of procedure, conventions and agreements, and resolutions.
  • Who's Who in the United Nations and Related Agencies. 2nd ed.
    Detroit, MI : Omnigraphics, Inc., c1992.
    JX 1977 .W467 1992 - Lehman
  • Yearbook of the United Nations. Annual.
    New York : United Nations, 1946/47-
    JX 1977. A37 Un33 - Lehman

Find Books & Articles

  • CLIO: Columbia Libraries Online Catalog
    CLIO is the online catalog for the Columbia and Barnard libraries. It includes over 4 million records for books, journal or newspaper titles (not articles), online resources, government documents, microforms, sound or video recordings, archival collections, etc.
  • Borrow Direct
    A borrowing service offered by the university libraries of Columbia, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, Pennsylvania, Princeton, and Yale. It is designed to allow students, faculty and staff to request (and receive in four days) books directly from each others collections.
  • United Nations Databases
    This guide provides an overview of the wide variety of information and documentation resources made available by various entities across the United Nations System.
  • WorldCat
    An online catalog of the collections of 24,000 member libraries of the OCLC consortium, comprising more than 36 million records for books, serials, manuscript collections, audiovisual materials, computer files, and other media.

  • AccessUN
    AccessUN is an index to current and retrospective UN documents and publications, from the six principal organs of the UN. Full-text resolutions from the General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Security Council are linked to their records.
  • International Bibliography of Political Science. Annual.
    Paris: Unesco, 1952-
    Z 7163 .I64 - Lehman (1952-1998)
    Electronic access to this title, from 1952 to the present, is available as part of the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences database.
  • International Political Science Abstracts Bimonthly.
    Paris: International Political Science Association, 1951-
    JA 36 .I5 - Lehman
  • ODS: Official Document System
    ODS covers all types of official United Nations documentation, beginning in 1993. Older UN documents are, however, added to the system on a daily basis. Major Security Council documents 1946-1992 were recently added. ODS also provides access to the resolutions of the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council from 1946 onwards.
  • UNBISnet
    Catalogue of UN publications and documentation indexed by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library and the Library of the UN Office at Geneva. Also included are non-UN publications held in the collection of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, so it is particularly useful for this reason.
  • United Nations Treaty Collection
    This collection includes five categories of treaty-related data:
    • Status of Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General
    • The United Nations Treaty Series
    • Texts of Recently Deposited Multilateral Treaties
    • Photographs of Treaty Signature Ceremonies
    • Titles of the Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General in the UN official languages
  • Web Bibliographies from the UN Dag Hammarskjöld Library:
  • Worldwide Political Science Abstracts 1976- . Updated quarterly.

Statistical Sources

This section includes only statistical sources published by the United Nations. For other sources which provide statistics on a global basis, please consult the Sources for International Statistics research guide.  Other UN statistical titles are listed in the IGO Publications Ready Reference guide.

  • UNdata
    UNdata combines major UN databases and those of several international organizations into a single internet environment. The innovative design allows users to access a large number of UN databases either by browsing the data series or through a keyword search. Useful features like Country Profiles, Advanced Search and Glossaries are also provided to aid research.
  • International Statistics
    This page provides links to all of the statistical programs of the UN System: the UN Statistics Division, the statistical divisions of the regional economic and social commissions of the United Nations Secretariat, and the United Nations specialized agency statistics programmes.
    The various programs produce a wide variety of statistical products. Some of the more useful are:
    • Demographic Yearbook. Annual.
      New York : United Nations, 1948-
      HA 17 .D39 - Business, Butler, Lehman (Latest in Reference in all locations)
    • InfoNation
      A simple application which allows you to create a table with basic data for up to seven countries.
    • Monthly Bulletin of Statistics (UN)
      New York: United Nations Statistical Office, 1947-
      Serials M - Business
    • The State of Food and Agriculture. Annual.
      Rome : FAO, 1947-
      S 401 .F73 - Business(Latest in Reference), Offsite
    • Statistical Yearbook (United Nations). Annual.
      New York : United Nations, 1948-
      HA 42 .Un35 - Lehman, Latest in Reference
      HA 12.5 .U3 - Butler, Latest in Reference
      HA 12.5 .Un29 - Business, Latest in Reference
    • Statistical Yearbook (UNESCO). Annual.
      Paris, Unesco, 1963-
      HA 40 .C8 Un43 - Lehman, Latest in Reference
      HA 40 .C8 Un43 - Butler, Latest in Reference
      370 Un44 - Annex (1963-1984)
    • Yearbook of Labour Statistics. Annual.
      Geneva : ILO, 1936-
      HD 4826 .In8 - Business, Lehman (Latest in Reference)
  • LexisNexis Statistical Monthly.
    Washington, D.C. Congressional Information Service, 1973-
    The LexisNexis Statistical database provides comprehensive access to statistical data. None of the UN sources are linked to the full text of the data, but the cited sources are often available in one of the Columbia libraries, either in print or as part of the microfiche IIS service which accompanies the printed index.
    Print version: Index to International Statistics (IIS): Z 7552 .I53 - Lehman Index Table

The Dag Hammarskjöld Library

The Dag Hammarskjöld Library in New York is open only to UN staff members. However, they have made much information available on their web site, including:

  • UNBISnet
    UNBISnet is the catalog of UN publications and documentation indexed by the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library and the Library of the UN Office at Geneva. Also included are non-UN publications held in the collection of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library
  • Index to Speeches made in the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, and the Trusteeship Council
  • United Nations Documentation: Research Guide
    This guide is designed for researchers and information professionals new to United Nations documentation. It provides an overview of the various types of documents and publications issued by the Organization (e.g, reports, resolutions, meeting records, sales publications, press releases) and gives guidance as to where to find them in either electronic or paper format and how to work with them.
  • Voting Records for the General Assembly and the Security Council

The United Nations & Its Principal Organs

Specialized Agencies of the United Nations

The specialized agencies are separate, autonomous organizations related to the UN by special agreements. They all report annually to the Economic and Social Council. A good introduction to their activities is:

  • Peace By Pieces : United Nations Agencies and Their Roles : a Reader and Selective Bibliography.
    Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow, 1991.
    JX 1995 .P38 1991 - Lehman

  • Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
    The FAO has a mandate to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the condition of rural populations.
  • Talbot, Ross B.
    Historical Dictionary of the International Food Agencies : FAO, WFP, WFC, IFAD.
    Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1994.
    HD 9000.1 .T34 1994 - Lehman
  • International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
    The IAEA serves as the world's central inter-governmental forum for scientific and technical cooperation in the nuclear field. Publications include:
  • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
  • International Labour Organization (ILO)
    The International Labour Organization is the UN specialized agency which seeks the promotion of social justice and internationally recognized human and labour rights. Publications include:
    • International Labour Review.
      Geneva, International Labour Office, 1921-
      Current Periodicals - Business
    • World Employment Report. Annual.
      Geneva : ILO, 1995-
      HD 5701 .W571 - Lehman
    • World Labour Report. Annual.
      Geneva : ILO, 1984-
      HD 4802 .W65 - Business
    • Yearbook of Labour Statistics. Annual.
      Geneva : ILO, 1936-
      HD 4826 .In8 - Business, Lehman (Latest in Reference)
  • International Maritime Organization (IMO)
    The International Maritime Organization is the United Nations' specialized agency responsible for improving maritime safety and preventing pollution from ships.
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF)
    The IMF is an international organization of 183 member countries, established to promote international monetary cooperation, exchange stability, and orderly exchange arrangements; to foster economic growth and high levels of employment; and to provide temporary financial assistance to countries to help ease balance of payments adjustment.
    • Humphreys, Norman K.
      Historical Dictionary of the International Monetary Fund.
      Lanham, MD : Scarecrow Press, 1999.
      HG 3881 .I58 H86 1999 - Business Reference
  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
    The main objective of UNESCO is to contribute to peace and security in the world by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, culture and communication.
      Searchable catalog of UNESCO documents and publications.
      Access to UNESCO full text documents.
    • Spaulding, Seth.
      Historical Dictionary of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
      Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 1997.
      AS 4 .U83 S69 1997 - Lehman
  • United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
    UNIDO's vision: To improve the living conditions of people and promote global prosperity through offering tailor-made solutions for the sustainable industrial development of developing countries and countries with economies in transition.
    • International Yearbook of Industrial Statistics. Annual.
      Vienna : UNIDO, 1995-
      HC 10 .I673 - Business
  • The World Bank Group
    The World Bank Group consists of five closely associated institutions: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD or World Bank), the International Development Association (IDA), the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The World Bank Group is the world's largest source of development assistance.
    • Salda, Anne C. M.
      Historical Dictionary of the World Bank.
      Lanham, Md. : Scarecrow Press, 1997.
      HG 3881.5 .W57 S25 1997 - Business Reference
  • World Health Organization
    The objective of WHO is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. Health, as defined in the WHO Constitution, is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Publications include:

Other United Nations Bodies

The United States & the United Nations

For books which deal with the relationship between the United States and the United Nations, check CLIO under the subject heading: United Nations --United States