United Nations

Introduction

United Nations | Research Guide International Law

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.

Bibliography

Reference works

Various Books

Articles

Documents

Periodicals, serial publications

Bibliographies

 


Classification scheme → United Nations

New titles

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.

Librarian's choice

  • Weiss, T.G., Daws, S., (eds.), The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018.

    Weiss, T.G., Daws, S., (eds.), The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2018.

    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.

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  • Kanetake, M., UN Security Council and Domestic Actors : Distance in International Law, London, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2018.

    Kanetake, M., UN Security Council and Domestic Actors : Distance in International Law

    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.

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  • Jesenský, M., (ed.), The United Nations Under Ban Ki-Moon: Give Diplomacy a Chance, Cham, Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. [e-book]

    Jesenský, M., The United Nations Under Ban Ki-Moon: Give Diplomacy a Chance

    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.

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Database

Subscription-based

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.

Free Access

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.

Blogs

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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?

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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 cooperation

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  • 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 […]

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  • 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.

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  • 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 […]

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  • 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 […]

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More Research guides on International Organizations and Relations

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