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Types of UN Documents

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

UNHQ 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. Check the UN Meetings Coverage and Press Releases (circa 1995- present) website for online access, 1995-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. Some key press release series are: 

Press Release Symbol*  Type of Press Release
BIO/ Biographies
DSG/SM/ Deputy Secretary-General: statements and messages
ENV/DEV/ Environment/ Sustainable Development
GA/ General Assembly
GA/AB/ 5th Committee of the General Assembly (Administrative/Budgetary)
GA/DIS/ 1st Committee of the General Assembly (Disarmament)
GA/EF/ 2nd Committee of the General Assembly (Economic/Financial)
GA/L/ 6th Committee of the General Assembly (Legal)
GA/PAL/ Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
GA/SHC/ 3rd Committee of the General Assembly (Social/Humanitarian/Cultural)
GA/SPD/ 4th Committee of the General Assembly (Special Political/Decolonization)
HQ/ UN Headquarters in New York, including gifts and host country
HR/ Human Rights
L/ Legal
ORG/ Organization matters
PAL/ Middle East, including Palestine
PKO/ Peacekeeping
SC/ Security Council
SG/ Secretary-General
SG/A/ Secretary-General appointments, 1964-present
SG/SM/ Secretary-General statements and messages, 1964-present
SG/T/ Secretary-General travel, 1964-present
WOM/ Women and gender

* symbols with links: Links go to searches in the UN Digital Library for that press release series. The Library is working to index select series of current and historic UNHQ Press Releases and records for these press releases can be found in the UN Digital Library, sometimes with files or with links to online versions, sometimes only a description.

At the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, UNHQ (New York) Press Releases are assigned call number ST/DPI/PRESS/-- , and shelved by year, then press release symbol within each year.

Additional Resources