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Research Guides

UN Documentation: Overview

Press Releases

UN Press releases serve information purposes only and are not considered official documents. Because press releases are usually issued in advance of official documents, they are a valuable tool for research, especially on current topics. Press releases are available online from October 1995 to the present.

Press Release Symbols

Press release symbols consist of a letter and number combination. The letters in the press release symbol indicate the topic or the UN body. The main press release series are: 

GA/ General Assembly
GA/SM/ President of the General Assembly: statements and messages
GA/DIS/ 1st Committee of the General Assembly (Disarmament)
GA/EF/ 2nd Committee of the General Assembly (Economic/Financial)
GA/SHC/ 3rd Committee of the General Assembly (Social/Humanitarian/Cultural)
GA/SPD/ 4th Committee of the General Assembly (Special Political/Decolonization)
GA/AB/ 5th Committee of the General Assembly (Administrative/Budgetary)
GA/L/ 6th Committee of the General Assembly (Legal)
SC/ Security Council
ECOSOC/ Economic and Social Council
SG/SM/ Secretary-General: statements and messages
DSG/SM/ Deputy Secretary-General: statements and messages
BIO/ Biographies
HR/ Human Rights
HR/CN/ Commission on Human Rights
HR/CT/ Human Rights Committee
L/ Legal issues
ENV/DEV/ Sustainable Development

Types of Press Releases

The main types of press releases are listed here.

Background press releases are issued prior to sessions of major UN bodies and list:

  • Topics to be discussed at the meetings
  • Membership of the body
  • Other relevant background information

Meetings coverage press releases are issued shortly after a meeting of a UN body and provide:

  • Summary of discussion, of particular interest if the body does not get meeting records
  • Citation to documents considered in the meeting
  • Unofficial voting information, if a vote was held

Round-up press releases are published shortly after the conclusion of a session and provide:

  • Summary of all the meetings
  • Major developments or outcomes of the session
  • Information in advance of the formal report of the body

Secretary-General statements (SG/SM/-)are issued for:

  • Statements before UN bodies
  • Statements on current events
  • Statements at non-UN events

Biographies (BIO/-) are issued for:

  • UN officials upon their appointment
  • Representatives of Member States, if the Permanent Mission of the state provides the information to the UN