United Nations documentation consists, in large part, of reports submitted by the Secretariat of the Organization for the consideration of one of its main bodies or subsidiary bodies in response to a formal request, or mandate, from the body concerned in relation to a specific item on its agenda.

Official Records of the United Nations are issued annually for the sessions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council. In addition, the principal organs, the 10 treaty bodies, the main committees of the Organization, the International Civil Service Commission, the specialized agencies and the Board of Auditors, among other bodies, report to the General Assembly at each annual session. The Official Records of the General Assembly include the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization and parliamentary documents containing the resolutions and decisions of the main bodies. The organization of United Nations documentation is explained in full in the United Nations Documentation Research Guide issued by the Dag Hammarskjöld Library (http://research.un.org/en/docs/symbols).

United Nations publications are produced by the Organization and its key agencies in a range of formats, including print, eBooks and apps. The Publications Board is responsible for authorizing the issuance of all publications, in whatever format, bearing the United Nations symbol [https://iseek-newyork.un.org/m210dept2070].


Official United Nations documents are classified for distribution as:

•   General: used for reports submitted to the sessions of the main bodies of the Organization, and for the reports for meetings of main subsidiary bodies and for major conferences or summits.

•   Limited: used for draft reports, resolutions and decisions, which, if adopted, will be reissued in finalized form for General distribution.

•   Restricted: used for documents and meeting records that are not intended for broad issuance or for reading by the general public and therefore not issued on the Official Document System (ODS).