The United Nations is an international organization, founded in 1945. It was established to promote a set of global values: peace and security, self-determination of peoples, social progress and development, and human dignity. It was set up to serve as a centre for harmonizing the actions of its Member States in the promotion of these values. The Organization currently has 192 Member States. It acts mainly through its six principal organs. The General Assembly, where the entire membership is represented, can discuss any questions within the scope of UN Charter, and make recommendations to the Member States on any such questions. A number of executive councils have been established to effectively promote a particular value: the Security Council for peace and security, the Economic and Social Council for social progress and (sustainable) development, the Trusteeship Council for self-government (and self-determination). The Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to promote universal respect for human dignity. The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, and settles disputes between the Member States. The UN also has a Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General.
This Guide is intended as a starting point for research on the United Nations. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's subject heading (keyword) United Nations is instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.
- Albaret, M. et D. Placidi-Frot, "Le portail internet de l'ONU: le multilatéralisme institutionnel pris dans la toile", in Méthodes de recherche en relations internationales, Paris, Sciences Po Les Presses, 2016, pp. 115-137.
UN Declarations and Resolutions
- Official Document System of the United Nations
- United Nations Bibliographic Information System
- United Nations General Assembly Resolutions
- United Nations Security Council Resolutions
- United Nations Treaty Collection
- Buss, H., Handbook on the Internal Justice System at the United Nations, United Nations System Staff College, 2014.
- Cot, J.-P. et A. Pellet (dir.), La Charte des Nations Unies en 2 volumes: commentaire article par article, Paris, Economica, 2005.
- Chestermans, S., Th. Franck and D. Malone, Law and Practice of the United Nations: Documents and Commentary, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2016.
- Conforti, B., and C. Focarelli, Le Nazioni Unite, Milano, Wolters Kluwer, Italia, 2020.
- Conforti, B. and C. Focarelli, The Law and Practice of the United Nations, Leiden, Brill, 2016.
- Fomerand, J., Historical Dictionary of the United Nations, 2nd edition, Lanham; Boulder; New York; London, Rowman & Littlefield, 2018.
- Higgins, R. (et al.), Oppenheim's International Law: United Nations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2 vols, 2017.
- Moore, J. and J. Pubantz, Encyclopedia of the United Nations, New York, Facts on File, 2008.
- Osmanczyk, E. and A. Mango, Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements, New York, NY, Routledge, 2003.
- Peters, L., The United Nations: History and Core Ideas, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
- Sievers, L., and S. Daws, The Procedure of the UN Security Council (4th ed.), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.
- Simma, B. (ed.), The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012.
- Shapiro, I. and J. Lampert (eds.), Charter of the United Nations: Together With Scholarly Commentaries and Essential Historical Documents, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2014.
- Smith, K.E. and Laatikainen, K.V. (eds.), Group Politics in UN Multilateralism, Leiden, Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2020.
- Volger, H., A Concise Encyclopedia of the United Nations, Leiden, Nĳhoff, 2010.
- Weiss, T.G., and S. Daws (eds.), The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007.
Selected books and articles
- Biersteker, T.J. (et al.) (eds.), Targeted Sanctions: the Impacts and Effectiveness of United Nations Action, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016.
- Deplano, R.,The Strategic Use of International Law by the United Nations Security Council: an Empirical Study, Cham, Springer, 2015.
- Finizio, G., and E. Gallo (eds.), Democracy at the United Nations: UN Reform in the Age of Globalisation, Brussels, Lang, 2013.
- Genser, J., and B. Stagno Ugarte (eds.), The United Nations Security Council in the Age of Human Rights, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
- Hassler, S., Reforming the UN Security Council Membership: The Illusion of Representativeness, London, Routledge, 2013.
- Melber, H., Dag Hammarskjöld, the United Nations and the Decolonisation of Africa, London, Hurst & Company, 2019.
- Mentan, T., The United Nations Organization: (in)securing Global Peace and Security, Cameroon, Langaa Research and Publishing CIG, 2020.
- Müller, J. (ed.), Reforming the United Nations. A Chronology, Leiden, Brill, 2016.
- Müller, J. (ed.), Reforming the United Nations: Fit for Purpose at 75?, Leiden; Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2021.
- Nadin, P., UN Security Council Reform, London, Routledge, 2016.
- Popovski, V., and T. Fraser (eds.), The Security Council as Global Legislator, London, Routledge, 2014.
- Ramcharan, B. and Ramcharan, R., Conflict Prevention in the UN´s Agenda 2030: Development, Peace, Justice and Human Rights, Cham, Springer, 2020.
- Schrijver, N.J. and Blokker, N.M. (eds.), Elected Members of the Security Council: Lame Ducks or Key Players?, Leiden, Boston, Brill Nijhoff, 2020.
- Schwartzberg, J.E., Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World, Tokyo, United Nations University Press, 2013.
- Vreeland, J.R., and A. Dreher, The Political Economy of the United Nations Security Council: Money and Influence, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
- Weinlich, S., The UN Secretariat's Influence on the Evolution of Peacekeeping, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
- Weiss, T.G. (et al.), The United Nations and Changing World Politics (7th ed.), Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 2013.
Periodicals, serial publications
- Annual Review of United Nations Affairs
- Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law
- Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law online
- Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs
- United Nations Chronicle
- United Nations Disarmament Yearbook
- United Nations Juridical Yearbook
- Yearbook of the United Nations
- Répertoire de droit international: Organisation des Nations unies – Yves DAUDET – Février 2004 (actualisation: Septembre 2020)
- Heinonline, United Nations Law
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations (UN), by Jochen A. Frowei.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations, Specialized Agencies, by Eckart Klein.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations, Purposes and Principles, by Pierre d'Argent and Nadine Susani.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations Charter, Amendment, by Ingo Winkelmann.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations Charter, Interpretation, by Philip Kunig.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations Committees and Subsidiary Bodies, System of, by Beate Rudolf.
The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (MPEPIL) is a comprehensive online resource containing over 1600 peer-reviewed articles on every aspect of public international law. It has been re-designed to improve the look and feel of the site, and the search functionality. Written and edited by an incomparable team of over 800 scholars and practitioners, published in partnership with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, and updated throughout the year. All included articles are peer-reviewed and treat international law from a global/regional perspective. This major reference work is essential for anyone researching or teaching international law.
The Official Document System of the United Nations (ODS) comprises the full text of United Nations parliamentary documents (including resolutions and decisions) issued at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the United Nations Office in Geneva since 1993 as well as at the United Nations Office in Vienna since 1997. They include pre-session, in-session and post-session documentation for meetings of the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies, the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies, the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies and the Trusteeship Council, and for global conferences convened by the United Nations as well as for other meetings included in the Calendar of Conferences and Meetings authorized by the General Assembly. The documents and official records are stored in the official languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Selected documents are available in German. Older UN documents are added to the system on a daily basis. The resolutions database, accessible only from the Advanced Search screen, contains the final official records version of all United Nations resolutions and decisions adopted by the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council from 1946 up to and including 1993 (for General Assembly up to the 51st session of 1996). The system does not contain press releases, UN sales publications, United Nations Treaty Series or information brochures issued by the Department of Public Information.
The Codification Division of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs created the Audiovisual Library of International Law under the Programme of Assistance to give the United Nations the capacity to provide high quality international law training and research materials to an unlimited number of recipients around the world. The Audiovisual Library is a virtual training and research centre which aims to enhance the dissemination and wider appreciation of international law. It also performs a unique and invaluable function by preserving in a vivid and informative manner the audiovisual heritage of legal developments within the United Nations system and promoting a greater awareness of the unparalleled legacy of the United Nations in the codification and progressive development of international law.