United Nations Research Guide

This guide will suggest background resources and tips on navigating United Nations documents.

Background Information

The Law Library collects many books on the UN and its relationship to international law. Search thelibrary catalog using keywords or the subject heading united nations to locate these materials. Periodicals are another excellent source of information. Consult the Periodicals Section of this guide for more information.


  • The United Nations at a Glance
    Introduction to the structure and work of the UN. If you have never done research on the UN, it may be helpful to first consult the UN's Structure and Organization webpage that describes the principal organs and bodies of the United Nations.
  • The United Nations and International Law
    This is a helpful part of the UN website for legal research assistance as it pertains to international law. It is especially useful for those who may no longer have access to subscription services like HeinOnline or AccessUN.
  • Simma et al., The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary INTL KZ4991 .C48 2012
    This is a two volume set which contains the Charter along with other statutes of note and commentary on each article within the Charter.
  • Conforti, The Law and Practice of the United Nations INTL KZ4986 .C6613 2010 (4th ed) and as an ebook (3rd ed, Georgetown Only)
    Legal analysis of membership, structure, historical origins and practice. Basic information about the institutions of the UN and its activities in the current practice of international relations.
  • The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations INTL JZ4970 .O93 2007
    This collection of essays offers a comprehensive analysis of the United Nations. It looks at aspects of the organization ranging from historical, legal, and administrative.
  • Basic Facts About the United Nations INTL KZ4984.5 .B38 2004
    Issued by the UN's Department of Public Information, this resource includes a summary of UN efforts in areas of human rights, peacekeeping, and economic development, among others.
  • Accidental Tourist on the New Frontier : An Introductory Guide to Global Legal ResearchINTL REF K85.A27 1998.
    See chapter 7 for insight into the UN in regards to documentation and lawmaking.
  • The United Nations System and Its Predecessors INTL KZ3900 .S97 1997
    Collection of UN documents including constituent instruments and important legal acts. Also includes documents from several 19th century federations and the League of Nations.
  • International Information : Documents, Publications, and Electronic Information of International Governmental Organizations (2nd edition) INTL REF JZ4850 .I58 1997
    See chapter 2 on the United Nations.
  • Introduction to International Organizations INTL KZ5566 .I57 1996
    See pps. 207-391 for information on the United Nations specifically.
  • Guide to International Legal Research INTL KZ 1234 .G85
    Split into two parts, this guide first covers regions of the world, listing resources and organizations, and then covers substantive areas of international law. The resources included within this guide range from agreements to secondary sources and the guide's small size and user-friendly nature make it a useful tool.
  • Everyone's United Nations INTL KZ4970 .E9
    Describes the structure, history, and procedures of the United Nations organs and specialized agencies; contains text of the Charter of the United Nations, the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; covers over 20 years.
  • United Nations Handbook INTL REF KZ4970 .U5
    Provides up to date information on all of the organs of the UN as well as the specialized agencies. Good source for information on the purpose and structure of a particular body or agency. Updated annually.
  • United States participation in the United Nations : report by the President to the Congress for the year for historical information INTL KZ4997.5 .U6 A32 for more current information INTL KZ4997.5.U6 A32
    Prepared by the Department of State, this work describes the participation of the U.S. in the U.N.
  • UN Chronicle INTL KZ4945 .U564; and electronically through a variety of databases (GULC only).


  • Bennett, Historical Dictionary of the United Nations INTL REF KZ4970 .B395 1995
    Provides basic definitions and a comprehensive list of acronyms. It also lists the various member states and contains a copy of the United Nations Charter.
  • Moore and Pubantz, Encyclopedia of the United Nations INTL REF KZ4968 .M66 2002
    This work contains a chronology of the United Nations and an extensive bibliography of additonal resources for referral.
  • Osmancyzk, The Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Relations INTL REF KZ4968 .O8213 2003
    Brief explanations of terms related to the United Nations as well as international law and economics. Provides full text of some documents plus full citations to documents.
  • Parry, Parry and Grant Encyclopaedic Dictionary of International Law (3rd edition) INTL REF KZ1161 .P35 2009
    Short articles on international law, including treaties and international organizations.
  • Volger, A Concise Encyclopedia of the United Nations INTL REF KZ4968 .L4913 2010
    Beyond the encyclopedia entries, this work also references recent UN developments and efforts as well as the creation of new UN otgans.


  • Europa World Year Book INTL REF JN1 .E85
    Provides very detailed information about the UN and its bodies and specialized agencies.
  • Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law INTL KZ4945.M28 M28 and availablyelectronically (Georgetown Only) This yearbook includes reprints of documents and articles as well as a focus on the development of the UN and its specialized agencies.
  • Yearbook of the United Nations INTL KZ4947 .U65 and electronically from the United Nations (1946-2005) - each volume gives a detailed history of UN activities for that particular year. It includes full text of resolutions and gives useful references to important reports and documents. On the UN web portal, you cansearch the yearbooks by keyword or browse by year.