How should I cite a United Nations document?
Last Updated: Feb 25, 2020
This response is based on “Citing UN Materials: Issues and Strategies,” DttP: Documents to the People 41:3 (Fall 2013).
For citation within United Nations documents, please use the United Nations Editorial Manual as the style guide for citation.
For external citation of United Nations materials, authors should comply with the system being used by their publisher or recommended within their institution. Authors will note that many standard systems of citation do not provide much information on citation of United Nations materials. The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, which is used in the legal field, does have detailed guidance on citation of United Nations materials. The Chicago Manual of Style and APA Style point to The Bluebook for citation of United Nations materials.
The Dag Hammarskjöld Library does not recommend a specific citation system. Generally, authors may wish to include (a) the identity of the creator, (b) title, (c) publication date, (d) any unique identifiers, including functional URLs, and (e) any relevant page or paragraph numbers. Some citation styles also include the date the site was accessed. Official United Nations documents carry unique identifiers called document symbols that are described in the UN Documentation Research Guide on symbols.
Authors should exercise caution when including URLs for official United Nations documents. URLs generated by the Official Document System (ODS) do not work. Authors can generate working URLs by adding the document symbol to https://undocs.org/en/, e.g., https://undocs.org/en/A/RES/67/97.
Some possible citation examples for external authors, inspired in part by the United Nations Editorial Manual and The Bluebook, are as follows:
General Assembly resolution 67/97, The rule of law at the national and international levels, A/RES/67/97 (14 December 2012), available from undocs.org/en/A/RES/67/97.
United Nations, General Assembly, Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: report of the Secretary-General, A/63/332 (26 August 2008), available from undocs.org/en/A/63/332.
Verbatim and Summary Records
U.N. GAOR, 56th Sess., 1st plen. mtg., U.N. Doc A/56/PV.1 (Sept. 12, 2001), available from undocs.org/en/A/56/PV.1.
U.N. SCOR, 59th Sess., 4893d mtg., U.N. Doc. S/PV.4893 (Jan. 15, 2004), available from https://undocs.org/en/S/PV.4893.
Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, New York, 10 June 1958, United Nations Treaty Series, vol. 330, No. 4739, p. 3, available from treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=IND&mtdsg_no=XXII-1&chapter=22&clang=_en
Note: The United Nations Editorial Manual does not give explicit advice on citing a founding document or treaty that establishes a new international court or organization but The Bluebook suggests citations such as:
U.N. Charter art. 94,¶ 1.
Statute of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, Dec. 10, 1982, 1833 U.N.T.S. 561.
United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration 1985: with amendments as adopted in 2006 (Vienna: United Nations, 2008), available from www.uncitral.org/pdf/english/texts/arbitration/ml-arb/07-86998_Ebook.pdf.
United Nations, Department of Public Information, Demanding that Lord’s Resistance Army End All Attacks, Security Council Calls for Full Implementation of Regional Strategy in Central Africa. SC/11018, 29 May 2013, www.un.org/press/en/2013/sc11018.doc.htm.
“Renewables 2019: Global Status Report”, (Paris: REN21 Secretariat, 2019), wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/28496/REN2019.pdf.
 The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, 19th ed. (Cambridge: Harvard Law Review Association, 2010), 21.7.
 Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed., 14.316 – 14.317; Melissa Shella, “Citing the Charter of the United Nations,” APA Style Blog, May 23, 2013, http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2013/05/citing-the-charter-of-the-united-nations.html.
Disclaimer: answers are prepared by library staff using resources available at the time of writing. This site may include links and references to third-party databases, websites, books and articles, this does not imply endorsement by the United Nations.