The United Nations is an international organization, founded in 1945. It was established to promote a set of global values: peace and security, self-determination of peoples, social progress and development, and human dignity. It was set up to serve as a centre for harmonizing the actions of its Member States in the promotion of these values. The Organization currently has 192 Member States. It acts mainly through its six principal organs. The General Assembly, where the entire membership is represented, can discuss any questions within the scope of UN Charter, and make recommendations to the Member States on any such questions. A number of executive councils have been established to effectively promote a particular value: the Security Council for peace and security, the Economic and Social Council for social progress and (sustainable) development, the Trusteeship Council for self-government (and self-determination). The Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to promote universal respect for human dignity. The International Court of Justice is the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, and settles disputes between the Member States. The UN also has a Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General.
This Guide is intended as a starting point for research on the United Nations. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library's systematic classification → 036.05 United Nations is instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.
- Buss, H., Handbook on the Internal Justice System at the United Nations, United Nations System Staff College, 2014.
- Cot, J.-P. et A. Pellet (dir.), La Charte des Nations Unies en 2 volumes: commentaire article par article, Paris, Economica, 2005.
- Chestermans, S., Th. Franck and D. Malone, Law and Practice of the United Nations: Documents and Commentary, New York, NY, Oxford University Press, 2008.
- Conforti, B., and C. Focarelli, Le Nazioni Unite, Milano, Wolters Kluwer, Italia, 2015.
- Conforti, B. and C. Focarelli, The Law and Practice of the United Nations, Leiden, Brill, 2016.
- Goodrich, M., E. Hambro, and A. Simons, Charter of the United Nations: Commentary and Documents, New York, NY, Columbia University Press, 1969.
- Higgins, R. (et al.), Oppenheim's International Law: United Nations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2 vols, 2017.
- Moore, J. and J. Pubantz, Encyclopedia of the United Nations, New York, Facts on File, 2008.
- Osmanczyk, E. and A. Mango, Encyclopedia of the United Nations and International Agreements, New York, NY, Routledge, 2003.
- Peters, L., The United Nations: History and Core Ideas, New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
- Sievers, L., and S. Daws, The Procedure of the UN Security Council (4th ed.), Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2014.
- Simma, B. (ed.), The Charter of the United Nations: A Commentary, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2012.
- Shapiro, I. and J. Lampert (eds.), Charter of the United Nations : Together With Scholarly Commentaries and Essential Historical Documents, New Haven, Yale University Press, 2014.
- Volger, H., A Concise Encyclopedia of the United Nations, Leiden, Nĳhoff, 2010.
- Weiss, T.G., and S. Daws (eds.), The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007.
- Biersteker, T.J. (et al.) (eds.), Targeted Sanctions : the Impacts and Effectiveness of United Nations Action, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016.
- Deplano, R.,The Strategic use of International Law by the United Nations Security Council: an Empirical Study, Cham, Springer, 2015.
- Finizio, G., and E. Gallo (eds.), Democracy at the United Nations:UN Reform in the Age of Globalisation, Brussels, Lang, 2013.
- Genser, J., and B. Stagno Ugarte (eds.), The United Nations Security Council in the Age of Human Rights, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
- Hassler, S., Reforming the UN Security Council Membership: The Illusion of Representativeness, London, Routledge, 2013.
- Müller, J. (ed.), Reforming the United Nations. A Chronology, Leiden, Brill, 2016.
- Schwartzberg, J.E., Transforming the United Nations System: Designs for a Workable World, Tokyo, United Nations University Press, 2013.
- Popovski, V., and T. Fraser (eds.), The Security Council as Global Legislator, London, Routledge, 2014.
- Vreeland, J.R., and A. Dreher, The Political Economy of the United Nations Security Council: Money and Influence, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 2014.
- Weinlich, S., The UN Secretariat's Influence on the Evolution of Peacekeeping, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
- Weiss, T.G. (et al.), The United Nations and Changing World Politics (7th ed.), Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 2013.
- Arsanjani, M. H., "The United Nations and International Law-Making", In: Recueil des cours; vol. 362, 2014, p. 9-39,.
- Blavoukos, S., and D. Bourantonis, “The UN Security Council Reform Debate”, in K.E. Jørgensen and K.V. Laatikainen (eds.), Routledge Handbook on the European Union and International Institutions: Performance, Policy, Power, London, Routledge, 2013, pp. 128-140.
- Bothe, M.,"Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law as Limits for Security Council Action", in R. Kolb and G. Gaggioli (eds.), Research Handbook on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Cheltenham, E. Elgar, 2013, pp. 371-390.
- Cherif Bassiouni, M., and C. Abraham, “Identification of Issues in Relation to UN Fact-Finding Mechanisms”, in Siracusa Guidelines for International, Regional and National Fact-Finding Bodies, Cambridge, Intersentia, 2013, pp. 3-34.
- Dörfler, T., and M.O. Hosli, “Reforming the United Nations Security Council: Proposals, Strategies and Preferences”, in B. Reinalda (ed.), Routledge Handbook of International Organization, London, Routledge, 2013, pp. 377-390.
- Douhan, A.F., "United Nations and Regional Organizations: Complementarity v. Subsidiarity", In: Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law; vol. 19 , 2015, pag. 241-277.
- Gordenker, L., "The UN System", In: Thomas G. Weiss and R. Wilkinson (eds.), International Organization and Global Governance, London, Routledge, 2014, pp. 209-222.
- Gould, M., and M.D. Rablen. “Reform of the United Nations Security Council: Equity and Efficiency,” (CESifo Working Paper Series No. 4818). Free download
- Henderson, C., “Authority without Accountability? : The UN Security Council's Authorization Method and Institutional Mechanisms of Accountability”, Journal of Conflict and Security Law, 19 (2014), No. 3, pp. 489-509.
- Herik, L. van den, “Peripheral Hegemony in the Quest to Ensure Security Council Accountability for Its Individualized UN Sanctions Regimes”, Journal of Conflict and Security Law, 19 (2014), No. 3, pp. 427-449.
- Higgins, R., "The United Nations at 70 Years : the Impact Upon International Law", In: International and Comparative Law Quarterly; vol. 65, afl. 1, 2016, p. 1-19.
- Lang Jr., A.F., "Constitutionalism and the Law: Evaluating the Security Council", in V. Popovski and T. Fraser (eds.), The Security Council as Global Legislator, London, Routledge, 2014, pp. 12-33.
- Lockwood, N.J., “International Vote Buying”, Harvard international Law Journal, 54 (2013), No. 1, pp. 97-156.
- Novosad, P. and E. Werker, “Who Runs the International System? Power and the Staffing of the United Nations Secretariat”, (Harvard Business School BGIE Unit Working Paper No. 15-018)
- Rashkow, B.C., “Immunity of the United Nations: Practice and Challenges”, International Organizations Law Review, 10 (2013), No. 2, pp. 332-348.
- Shraga, D., “ILC Articles on Responsibility of International Organizations: The Interplay between the Practice and the Rule (a View from the United Nations)”, in M. Ragazzi (ed.), Responsibility of International Organizations: Essays in Memory of Sir Ian Brownlie, Leiden, Nijhoff, 2013, pp. 201-210.
- Sloan, J., and G.I. Hernández, “The Role of the International Court of Justice in the Development of the Institutional Law of the United Nations”, in C.J. Tams and J. Sloan (eds.), The Development of International Law by the International Court of Justice, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 197-233.
- Serpa Soares, M. de, "70 Jahre Vereinte Nationen : der Beitrag der UN zur Fortentwicklung des Völkerrechts", In: Vereinte Nationen; vol. 63, afl. 5, 2015, pag. 215-219.
- Tottten, S., “Aspects and Components of the United Nations that Constitute Impediments to the Prevention and Intervention of Genocide”, in S. Totten (ed.), Impediments to the Prevention and Intervention of Genocide, New Brunswick, NJ, Transaction Publishers, 2013, pp. 133-165.
- Trent, J.E., “The Need for Rethinking the United Nations : Modernizing through Civil Society”, in B. Reinalda (ed.), Routledge Handbook of International Organization, London, Routledge, 2013, pp. 391-402.
- Tzanakopoulos, A., “ Transparency in the Security Council”, in A. Bianchi and A. Peters (eds.), Transparency in International Law, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013.
- Willmot, H., "The Evolution of the UN Collective Security System", In: Willmot, H. (et al.), (eds.), The Protection of Civilians, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2016, p. 109-137.
- Official Document System of the United Nations
- United Nations Bibliographic Information System
- United Nations General Assembly Resolutions
- United Nations Security Council Resolutions
- United Nations Treaty Collection
Periodicals, serial publications
- Annual Review of United Nations Affairs
- Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law
- Repertory of Practice of United Nations Organs
- UNIDIR newsletter = Lettre de l'UNIDIR
- United Nations Chronicle
- United Nations Disarmament Yearbook
- United Nations Juridical Yearbook
- Yearbook of the United Nations
Classification scheme → United Nations
Updated every Friday morning.
The Peace Palace Library has a collection of over a million publications. Each week, about six hundred new titles are added to our collection: books, articles, documents, online publications, etc. On this page, access is provided to this week’s new titles mainly on the United Nations structure and organization and on the UN Charter.As we are right in the middle of moving to a new library system, it is not yet possible to automatically collect new titles for this Research Guide.
Weiss, T.G., Daws, S., (eds.), The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
This Handbook provides in one volume an authoritative and independent treatment of the UN's seventy-year history, written by an international cast of more than 50 distinguished scholars, analysts, and practitioners. It provides a clear and penetrating examination of the UN's development since 1945 and the challenges and opportunities now facing the organization. It assesses the implications for the UN of rapid changes in the world - from technological innovation to shifting foreign policy priorities - and the UN's future place in a changing multilateral landscape. Citations and additional readings contain a wealth of primary and secondary references to the history, politics, and law of the world organization. This key reference also contains appendices of the UN Charter, the Statute of the International Court of Justice, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Kanetake, M., UN Security Council and Domestic Actors : Distance in International Law, London, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2018.View this title in our discovery service
This book analyses the exercise of authority by the UN Security Council and its subsidiary organs over individuals. The UN Security Council was created in 1945 as an outcome of World War II under the predominant assumption that it exercises its authority against states. Under this assumption, the UN Security Council and those individuals were ‘distanced’ by the presence of member states that intermediate between the Security Council’s international commands and those individuals that are subject to member states’ domestic law. However, in practice, the UN Security Council’s exercise of authority has incrementally removed the presence of state intermediaries and reduced the Security Council’s distance to individuals. This book demonstrates that this phenomenon has increased the relevance of domestic law in developing the international normative frameworks governing the UN Security Council and its subsidiary organs in safeguarding the rights, obligations, and interests of those affected individuals. This book presents how the UN Security Council’s exercise of authority has been received at the domestic level, and what would be the international implications of the Security Council’s extensive encounter with the actors who primarily reside in a domestic legal order.
Jesenský, M., (ed.), The United Nations Under Ban Ki-Moon: Give Diplomacy a Chance, Cham, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. [e-book]View this title in our discovery service
This book chronicles the story of the United Nations under Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the decade 2007–2016. Marcel Jesenský provides a compelling account of the organization’s activities and Ban Ki-moon’s role in reconciling the aims, principles and prerogatives of his office, the organization and its Charter with the demands, interests and power of the member states. Today, as never before, the concept of the post–World War II multilateral framework of international relations tries to harmonize the claims for its reform and re-evaluation with growing demands to manage the globalized world. This work, invaluable for readers interested in global governance, multilateral diplomacy, the United Nations and international relations, presents its subject in historical context and provides answers to assist its understanding.
- Heinonline, United Nations Law
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations (UN), by Jochen A. Frowei.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations, Specialized Agencies, by Eckart Klein.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations, Purposes and Principles, by Pierre d'Argent and Nadine Susani.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations Charter, Amendment, by Ingo Winkelmann.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations Charter, Interpretation, by Philip Kunig.
- Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law, United Nations Committees and Subsidiary Bodies, System of, by Beate Rudolf.
The Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (MPEPIL) is a comprehensive online resource containing over 1600 peer-reviewed articles on every aspect of public international law. It has been re-designed to improve the look and feel of the site, and the search functionality. Written and edited by an incomparable team of over 800 scholars and practitioners, published in partnership with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, and updated throughout the year. All included articles are peer-reviewed and treat international law from a global/regional perspective. This major reference work is essential for anyone researching or teaching international law.
The Official Document System of the United Nations (ODS) comprises the full text of United Nations parliamentary documents (including resolutions and decisions) issued at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the United Nations Office in Geneva since 1993 as well as at the United Nations Office in Vienna since 1997. They include pre-session, in-session and post-session documentation for meetings of the General Assembly and its subsidiary bodies, the Security Council and its subsidiary bodies, the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies and the Trusteeship Council, and for global conferences convened by the United Nations as well as for other meetings included in the Calendar of Conferences and Meetings authorized by the General Assembly. The documents and official records are stored in the official languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Selected documents are available in German. Older UN documents are added to the system on a daily basis. The resolutions database, accessible only from the Advanced Search screen, contains the final official records version of all United Nations resolutions and decisions adopted by the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council and the Trusteeship Council from 1946 up to and including 1993 (for General Assembly up to the 51st session of 1996). The system does not contain press releases, UN sales publications, United Nations Treaty Series or information brochures issued by the Department of Public Information.
International Day of Neutrality
On de UN calendar is filled with a variety if special days on which an international relevant topic is remembered or celebrated. Some of these have been around for a long time, like the Human Rights Day, be some days have been put on the calendar more recently and are maybe less well-known. One of these recent and possibly less known days is the International Day of Neutrality, which was commemorated yesterday, 12 December. The International Day of Neutrality was recognized by the General Assembly on 2 February 2017 with Resolution 71/275.Read more
In Memoriam: Kofi A. Annan (1938–2018)
Mr Annan, one of the world’s most celebrated diplomats and a charismatic symbol of the UN passed away peacefully on Saturday in Bern, Switzerland. He was 80 years old. Annan passed away after a short illness. The Ghanaian top diplomat was the seventh Secretary-General and served for two terms between 1997 and 2006. He was awarded the Nobel peace prize for his humanitarian work jointly with the UN as an organisation in 2001. “Kofi Annan was a global statesman and a deeply committed internationalist who fought throughout his life for a fairer and more peaceful world. During his distinguished career and leadership of the United Nations he was an ardent champion of peace, sustainable development, human rights and the rule of law,” the Kofi Annan Foundation and Annan family said in a statement.Read more
Vacancy: Secretary-General of the United Nations
Coming autumn the United Nations will choose a successor of mr. Ban Ki-Moon, who served the organization as Secretary-General since January 1st , 2007. In the past few months no less than twelve people (six women and six men) applied for the job, including former Prime Ministers, Secretary of States and executives of several international organizations. At this moment (Sept 8th 2016) already two candidates withdrew from the procedure. This blog will analyze this particular procedure and its legal basis. It is not meant as an endorsement for any of the candidates.Read more
International Court of Justice 70th Anniversary!
On 20th April 2016, the International Court of Justice celebrated its seventieth anniversary with a solemn commemorative sitting at the Peace Palace, The Hague. King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands attended the official ceremony. Speeches were given by Judge Ronny Abraham, the President of the ICJ, Mr Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Bert Koenders, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Mr. Antonio Gumende, Vice-President of the United Nations General Assembly.Read more
Peace Weekend Celebrations – International Rule of Law?
This weekend The Hague will celebrate the International Day of Peace, September 21st, with a designated ‘Peace Weekend’.
The celebrations vary from a peace run (with a Peace Palace team) to The Hague Open Doors Event, where the Peace Palace Library, together with the other international organizations of The Hague, will open their doors to the public.Read more
Hague Academy Model United Nations on Drone Warfare and International Law
Directed energy weapons, drones, self targeting bullets, mobile tactical high energy lasers, military robots, spy weapons, weapons undetectable under an x-ray scan, remote controlled insect armies, self driving tanks, robotic mules, thermal camouflage, surveillance technologies and autonomous unmanned systems are some examples of the high tech weapons and military technology that are now used during warfare. The use of this state of the art military technology raises serious ethical and legal questions: (when) is the use of drones acceptable?Read more
Dag Hammarskjöld (1905 - 1961)
Fifty years ago, the former United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld tragically passed away in a plane crash, on his way to cease-fire negotiations with the leaders of Katanga province of conflict-ridden Congo.Read more
Conference about ICJ's judgment in the case between Nicaragua and the USA
In 1986, the International Court of Justice issued its judgment on the merits in a dispute between Nicaragua and the United States of America. Twenty-five years later, members of the legal teams of both Nicaragua and the United States faced each other once again in the Peace Palace.Read more
Libya and the International Criminal Court (ICC)
On February 16th 2011- following a wave of uprisings throughout the Middle-East- Libya experienced a so-called Day of Rage which led to protests breaking out to challenge Colonel Muammar Qadhafi’s 41 year old iron rule- the region’s longest. This blog will briefly discuss the actions taken by the United Nations Security Council and the ICC in response to the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Libya.Read more
THIMUN - The Hague Model United Nations Conference (23rd - 28th January 2011)
The object of THIMUN is to give the youth an insight into the world’s problems and to seek solutions to problems such as human rights issues, environmental protection, disarmament, international peace and security, through negotiations, debate and discussion. The Model United Nations lets young delegates cooperate in order to search for solutions to these problems. This way, THIMUN helps the pupils to develop a spirit of international cooperationRead more
What Future for Western Sahara ?
There is no prospect of resolving the decades-old conflict between Morocco and the Sahrawi independence movement Polisario on the future of Western Sahara. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, came to this conclusion in a gloomy report, dated 6 April 2010, to the Security Council. Ban Ki-moon reported that “it is clear […]Read more
The Falkland Islands Conflict
Tensions between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands came to a boiling point when the UK announced plans to begin offshore oil drilling near the remote islands in February 2010. This blog will briefly discuss this complicated dispute as well as the actions taken by both parties in the United Nations General Assembly.Read more
International Conference on Afghanistan, The Hague, 31 March 2009
On 31 March 2009, the Dutch government is hosting the ´International Conference on Afghanistan: a Comprehensive Strategy in a Regional Context´ at the World Forum in The Hague. Building on the achievements of previous Conferences in Bonn, London and Paris, this Conference should reaffirm the solid and long-term commitment of the international community to supporting […]Read more
United Nations Day, 24 October 2008
On 24 October 2008, the anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter was celebrated. Since 1948 this event has been known as United Nations Day. It has traditionally been marked throughout the world by meetings, discussions and exhibits on the achievements and goals of the Organization. At the UN Headquarters an […]Read more