Yearbook of the United Nations

As many researchers know, finding UN documents can be an unpredictable process.  Though sophisticated search engines and digitized materials have improved access significantly, many researchers are surprised to find that not all materials are available electronically.  Of the materials becoming increasingly available online, the volume coupled with the complexity of the organization itself has created new challenges for even the most tenacious researchers.  Commercial sources often provide more timely access to materials, which may discourage individuals who only have access to freely available resources.  Fortunately, research guides have been made available to help less experienced researchers navigate these materials more efficiently.  Most guides identify starting points, recommended print materials, as well as freely available and subscription based sources online.  (For a representative list of research guides available online, enter a simple search for “united nations” and “research guide” in your preferred search engine.)

One of the sources often recommended as a starting point for researchers the Yearbook of the United Nations (YUN).  The YUN has been published since 1946 and volumes through 2007 are available online and in print.  It is intended to function as the most authoritative reference work on the United Nations.  Each volume is indexed and major resolutions from the principal organs are included (e.g., General Assembly, Security Council). In 2009, the Library Journal recognized the YUN with its “Best Notable Government Document” award because of the publication’s efforts to provide universal access to information about the United Nations.

The Chief Editor of the YUN is soliciting input from foreign and international legal research experts from around the world.  The Yearbook Unit is interested in hearing from current and potential users in an effort to determine how this publication can best support their work.  Individuals who are interested in participating in this project should contact Orrin Finn Summerell at  Participants will have the opportunity to speak with a representative from the Yearbook Unit for a 20-minute interview scheduled at their convenience.  Questions will vary, but may include the following:

  • What types of UN documentation do you deal with most?
  • How did you come to know the UN research sources that you use most frequently?
  • IF you have used the YUN, how does the YUN compare to other research sources?

Researchers who are not familiar with the YUN should not be discouraged from participating as the Yearbook Unit is interested in hearing about their research needs and challenges.  Participants will receive a print copy of the current UN Basic Facts.

Kristina Alayan