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Research Guides

Overview of UN Documentation

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