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United Nations


Since United Nations research can be challenging, a solid knowledge of how the United Nations works and how its documents are published is helpful. Unfortunately, no single ultimate source exists. Instead, one has to consider a variety of sources and determine which is most appropriate on a question-by-question basis. One must carefully balance the use of official UN sources with commercial sources. Furthermore, print, online, and microform sources must often be used together.

This guide approaches research strategy in the order one might tackle a research question. First, one needs to know some basics about the United Nations and the United Nations documentation system. Next, one looks for relevant documents and identifies the appropriate document numbers. This can be done at a general level, looking for a few good sources on a subject, or at a comprehensive level, looking at all United Nations activities. Finally, one must use the document number to find the full text of the document.

For additional assistance finding United Nations documents at Columbia's Diamond Law Library, please do not hesitate to contact the reference librarians at the Reference Desk. For directions and reference hours, see here.