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Research Guides

UN Documentation: Overview

Letters

Letters are a common type of UN document. They are used to formally inform the UN community of events and the outcome of non-UN meetings, to transmit reports or communications, and for a variety of other purposes.

Titles

The title of a letter indicates who sent it, when, and to whom.

From

To

  • head of a UN body (e.g. President of the Security Council: S/2012/180)
  • UN officials (e.g. Secretary-General)

If the letter is from a Member State, the letter usually specifies the body to which it is addressed and may specify the agenda item(s) under which it is submitted.

Dates

Various dates appear on letters. Each date indicates something different.

The date:

  1. in the masthead indicates when the text was finalized by the UN editor and submitted for translation and processing;
  2. in the title is when the sender dated the letter;
  3. at the bottom of the page indicates when the document was published by the UN.

Letter with dates highlighted

Topics

Letters indicate the body, session and agenda item to which they relate. If the letter is submitted to multiple bodies, all are listed in the masthead. If the letter concerns several agenda items, all are listed below the masthead under the relevant body.

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