Finding Official Documents of the UN
Tips on searching United Nations (UN) documents on the Official Document System (ODS)


Introduction to Global Search
General Assembly agendas
Security Council provisional agendas
Security Council resolutions and General Assembly resolutions
General Assembly decisions, Security Council decisions, and Economic and Social Council decisions

Q1: Introduction to Global Search: What do the search fields e.g., Match all Words, Exact Phrase, Any Word mean?






I. Match all words searching is equivalent to searching using these default search boxes on ODS Basic Search:




Use Match all words when the search terms do not appear as a phrase in the UN documents. For instance, you want to find documents about the protection and conservation of environment. Hence,

Match all words: environment protection conservation

Omit common words (stop words) such as: and, the, of, a, an, on, in, etc in Match all words searching.

II. Exact Phrase searching as its name suggests, involves searching for UN documents that contain a given phrase e.g., green economy, peacekeeping operations, University for Peace, assistance in mine action, effects of atomic radiation. The phrases have to be entered as they are in the search query even when they contain common words such as in, of. For example,

Exact Phrase: university for peace


You can also perform exact phrase searching using the default search boxes on ODS Basic Search by inserting quotes (") before and after the phrase, or inserting a period (.) between the words of the phrase. For example,

"green economy"
"peacekeeping operations"
"assistance in mine action"

green.economy
peacekeeping.operations
assistance.in.mine.action


III. Any Word searching may be used when a search term has synonyms or variant spellings, or when you are looking for UN documents that contain at least one of the search terms. For example:

Any Word: Bombay Mumbai
Any Word: Macau Macao
Any Word: Tiger Lion Elephant

Avoid using phrases in Any Word searching.

You can also perform Any Word searching using the default search boxes on ODS Basic Search by inserting OR between the search words, i.e.,

Bombay OR Mumbai
Macau OR Macao
Tiger OR Lion OR Elephant


IV. Exclude searching has to be used in conjunction with other search field(s). For example, my search is retrieving documents about Democratic People's Republic of Korea when I want documents about Republic of Korea. So I exclude the phrase "Democratic People's" in my search:

Match all words: Korea

Exclude: "Democratic People's"


V. Words in the title searching will give more precise results than Match all words searching since only documents containing the search terms in their title will be retrieved. Examples:

Words in the title: security council resolution

Words in the title: resolution adopted general assembly

Omit quotation marks or other punctuation for Words in the title searching.




Q2: The General Assembly lists the current agenda on its website but how can I find the older General Assembly agendas?

General Assembly agendas from the 41st session onwards are available at ODS. To retrieve the 41st session agenda, use the following search term, which is the document symbol of the agenda adopted by the General Assembly: A/41/251.

Search Tip: use A/__ /251 (where __ is the General Assembly session starting from the 41st)



Q3: What about finding Security Council provisional agendas?

Each Security Council provisional agenda is set for every meeting of the Security Council. At the time of writing, the most recent Security Council provisional agenda is for the 6313th meeting held on Wednesday, 12 May 2010. To retrieve this agenda, use the following search term: S/Agenda/6313.

Search Tip: S/Agenda/__ (where __ is the Security Council meeting no. starting from 200)


Q4: Is there a way to retrieve Security Council resolutions and General Assembly resolutions?


Yes. Global search or the script can be used for this purpose.

   

The script:

'inmeta:Title~security + inmeta:Title~council + inmeta:Title~resolution S/RES'

is equivalent to the following search process on ODS Global Search, which will retrieve Security Council resolutions with document symbols beginning with S/RES:



Each Security Council resolution has a unique document symbol (identifier) that begins with S/RES. So by including S/RES as a search term, we exclude non-security-council-resolution documents that contain "security", "council" and "resolution" in their title.

Similarly, the script:

'inmeta:Title~resolution + inmeta:Title~adopted + inmeta:Title~general + inmeta:Title~assembly A/RES middle.east'

is equivalent to the following search process on ODS Global Search, which will retrieve General Assembly resolutions about the Middle East:





Each General Assembly resolution has a unique document symbol (identifier) that begins with A/RES. So including A/RES as a keyword will lead to better search results.

By inserting a period between middle and east, the system will search middle.east as a phrase. A familiar alternative to using a period is the use of quotes i.e., "middle east".



The following search will also give the same results:








Q5: Are there shortcuts to finding General Assembly decisions, Security Council decisions, and Economic and Social Council decisions?

Every year, Resolutions and Decisions adopted by the General Assembly is published in 3 volumes. Vol. 1 contains the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly from the first quarter of its session. Vol. II contains decisions adopted by the Assembly during this period. Resolutions and decisions adopted subsequently during the session are found in Vol. III.

   

You may search by document symbol since the Resolutions and Decisions adopted by the General Assembly series has the document symbol: A/__/49 (where __ is the General Assembly session starting from the 42nd session).


Every year, Resolutions and Decisions of the Security Council is published. It follows the document symbol S/INF/__ (where __ is the Security Council session starting from the 2nd session). So if you are searching for Resolutions and Decisions of the Security Council for the period between 1 August 2008 to 31 July 2009, use: S/INF/64; or copy-and-paste the following script into the ODS search box:


'inmeta:Title~RESOLUTIONS + inmeta:Title~DECISIONS + inmeta:Title~security + inmeta:Title~council S/INF'

and sort results by date.

Note: Documents S/INF/2 to S/INF/53 are only available from Classic ODS.  



Similarly,
(I) Decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its organizational and resumed organizational sessions; (II) Resolutions and Decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its substantive session; (III) Decisions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its resumed substantive session, are published each year. They follow the document symbols: E/YYYY/INF/2 (where YYYY is the year the session is held starting from 1993); E/YYYY /INF/2/Add.1; and E/YYYY /INF/2/Add.2.
So if you are searching for these publications for 2009, use: E/2009/INF/2 and ODS will return results with E/2009/INF/2/Add.1 and E/2009/INF/2/Add.2.
Alternatively, copy-and-paste the following script into the ODS search box:
'inmeta:Title~adopted + inmeta:Title~economic + inmeta:Title~social + inmeta:Title~council INF/2'

and sort results by date.

Note: Documents E/1993/INF/2 to E/1998/INF/2 are only available from Classic ODS.