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UN General Assembly Documentation

Official Records

The General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council all have official records. Some conferences may also have official records.

The Regulations for the Control and Limitation of Documentation, ST/AI/189/Add.3/Rev.2, define official records:

The Official Records are a series of printed publications relating to the proceedings of the principal organs of the United Nations or certain United Nations conferences; they include verbatim or summary records of the meetings of the organ concerned, annexes and supplements.

In general, official records currently consist of meeting records and supplements, including the resolutions and decisions of the organ.

Reports and other selected documents were issued as annexes or supplements to the official records. 

Prior to the online availability of UN documents, the Official Records were often the only source available to scholars for UN documentation research. They are widely cited in both UN and non-UN publications.

Official Records were distributed to UN Depository Libraries and may have been collected by other libraries and research institutions.

General Assembly Official Records

The General Assembly Official Records (GAOR) consist of:

  • meeting records of the Plenary and Main Committees
  • supplements, including
    • reports of the other principal organs
    • reports of subsidiary bodies
    • resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly
  • annexes
    • selected documents organized by agenda item
    • last issued for the 46th session (1991-1992)

Reports of Principal Organs to the General Assembly

The principal organs report to the General Assembly every year on their work during the past year, as mandated by Article 15 of the UN Charter.

The annual reports of the Secretary-General, Security Council, Economic and Social Council and International Court of Justice offer excellent starting points for research.

These reports are supplements to the General Assembly Official Records (GAOR) for each session.

  • Supplement 1: Report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization
    • symbol pattern: A/session/1
    • example: A/76/1
    • summarizes major activities of the UN around the world
    • cites to other reports with more in-depth information
  • Supplement 2:  Report of the Security Council
    • symbol pattern: A/session/2
    • example: A/75/2
    • gives an overview of all Security Council actions
      • on procedural matters
      • on regional-, country-, or subject-specific topics
    • cites key resolutions related to peacekeeping
  • Supplement 3: Report of the Economic and Social Council
    • symbol pattern: A/session/3
    • example: A/75/3/Rev.1
    • includes recommendations to the General Assembly, usually draft resolutions for General Assembly consideration
    • summarizes high-level and thematic segments of substantive session, as well as organization sessions
    • lists actions on drafts before the Council, including vote, but not the full text of resolutions
  • Supplement 4: Report of the International Court of Justice
    • symbol pattern: A/session/4
    • example: A/75/4
    • Summarizes Court activities for the year
    • Includes information about
      • Contentious cases
      • Advisory proceedings
      • Administrative activities
  • The Trusteeship Council is no longer active
    • The last report of the Trusteeship Council included as a supplement to the GAOR was in the 30th session, covering 1974-1975.

Prior to the 31st session, documents were sequentially numbered. The supplements to the Official Records were renumbered for each session. 

  • For example, document A/9601, the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the organization, was Supplement 1 to the Official Records of the 29th session. 

Sessional Cumulations of Resolutions and Decisions

For each session of the General Assembly, resolutions and decisions are compiled and issued as a supplement to the General Assembly Official Records (GAOR).

  • For special and emergency special sessions, as well as originally for regular sessions, this cumulation has been the final supplement.

For regular sessions, starting with the 42nd session, the document has been assigned number 49, and is Supplement 49 to the GAOR.

Currently, there are usually 3 volumes:

  • Vol. I: Resolutions adopted September - December
  • Vol. II: Decisions adopted September - December
  • Vol. III: Resolutions and decisions adopted January - the close of the session in September
  • symbol pattern: A/session/49
  • example: A/70/49 (Vol.I), A/70/49 (Vol.II), A/70/49 (Vol.III)

Since the 59th session, the sessional cumulations have included information about the vote in the plenary on the draft resolution.