Key finding aids for legal reseach published by the UN, with a brief description, are listed below.
The International Law Commission (ILC), a group of legal experts appointed by the UN General Assembly, discusses different topics in international law with the intention of codifying the law, for example, by drafting a treaty. When the ILC drafts a text, it gets passed along to the General Assembly to be considered by the Member States.
The full text of all ILC documents can be accessed through the International Law Commission's website.
The Analytical Guide to the work of the ILC provides access to the documents, organized by topic.
Each topic on the Commission's website is organized into three sections:
To search for a topic, type Control F and enter keywords.
The Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs covers all Organs of the United Nations. It is divided by Article under the United Nations Charter and by a specific period of time for each supplement. The Repertory is an excellent tool for researching the practice of the United Nations organs as it relates to the United Nations Charter.
Each section includes:
The easiest way to search for material is to choose the article from the list and then choose the years for the supplement. However, you are also able to search the full-text of all the supplements from the Full-Text Search page.
The Repetoire of the Practice of the Security Council covers a specific time period in each supplement (from 2-5 years) and includes analysis of procedural matters as well as matters that fall under the Charter provisions related to the Security Council.
The Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council covers four primary areas:
To search a topic, use the menu on the left to select:
The online version includes datasets and tables prepared by the Security Council Practices and Charter Research Branch, which is especially useful when searching thematic topics that span a number of years.
The United Nations Juridical Yearbook is a comprehensive survey of the legal affairs of the UN, published on an annual basis starting from 1962.
The Juridical Yearbook is divided into four parts:
To search for a specific type of legal document, select the chapter that corresponds to your search. This allows you to limit your search to materials in that chapter. The default way to search is “the exact phrase”, but you can also search by “any of the words”, “all of the words”, or “boolean.”
To browse the Juridical Yearbook by year, select a year from the drop-down menu on the right hand side of the screen. A detailed table of contents by chapter will be displayed. It is possible to browse or press CTRL + F to locate an exact word or phrase.
Another way to browse is to select the bibliography, or Part Four, at the bottom part of the homepage. Then, you can select a specific year to view the bibliography in its entirety. This is a great information source to research legal aspects of given subjects discussed by the UN in a particular year.
Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General (MTDSG), one of the databases available from the United Nations Treaty Information website, provides information about treaty actions taken by states, including :
The on-line version is updated in real-time.
Participant Search allows you to browse treaties by participant (i.e. countries, international organizations, and other entities). Select a participant and click Search. You may export the list of treaties to Excel.
Advanced Search is also useful, especially when the exact title or treaty participants are unknown.
The UN Treaty Series, available throught the United Nations Treaty Information website, is a collection of treaties and international agreements, published since 1946, in accordance with Article 102 of the UN Charter.
The UNTS database contains the texts of all published volumes of the UNTS, plus the texts of treaties in volumes not yet published.
There are many options search the database, including:
Search results can be viewed online or exported into an Excel spreadsheet and include:
Click on the title to see more detailed information.
Click on Volume in PDF at the bottom of the detailed information page to access the full text.