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About UN Documents

Resolutions & Decisions

UN resolutions

Resolutions are formal expressions of the opinion or will of UN organs. 

Security Council, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and Human Rights Council resolutions are issued as individual documents. The resolutions of the principal organs are also issued in annual or sessional compilations.

Resolutions of other UN bodies are usually published in the report of the body to its parent organ.

Resolutions generally consist of two parts: 

  • Preamble
    • Presents the background or motive for the resolution
    • Begin with an italicized verb ending in -ing (e.g. Recalling...)
  • Operative part
    • States the opinion of the organ or the action to be taken
    • Has numbered paragraphs
    • Operative paragraphs begin with verbs in the present tense (e.g. Decides... Requests...)

In some cases, resolutions may have annexes with additional texts, such as the text of a convention.

Decisions of UN bodies

Decisions are another type of formal action taken by UN bodies. Decisions often concern procedural matters such as elections, appointments, time and place of future sessions. They are sometimes also used to record the adoption of a text representing the consensus of the members of a given organ.

Resolutions and Decisions

Both resolutions and decisions are usually numbered, with the year or session and a number assigned in order of adoption. 

Resolutions and decisions of the principal organs are:

  • Compiled at the end of the session or year
  • Published as part of the Official Records of the organ

Resolutions and decisions of subsidiary bodies usually appear in the report of the body to its parent organ.

Resolutions & Decisions of Principal Organs

Detailed information about the specific patterns of documentation for the resolutions and decisions of each of the principal organs is available.

Related Guides

How to Read Security Council Resolutions

A brief overview of the parts of Security Council resolutions and the type of information found.

General Assembly

Full Text

Compilations of resolutions and decisions

Security Council

Full Text

Data Resources