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Available through HOLLIS, AccessUN searches documents from the six main bodies of the United Nations:
Included are Masthead documents (formerly called mimeo documents), Official Records, Sales Publication, limited and restricted documents, documents from sessional and standing committees, functional committee documents, as well as documents from conferences and regional bodies.
While the database is primarily bibliographic, with each entry providing information about the documents, including content notes, there are also full-text resolutions from the General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council appended to the standard bibliographic information. Where the documents are not given in full-text, there is reference to the document number and Readex microfiche publication year so that the actual paper or microfiche copy can be located. Select full-text documents available elsewhere on the Internet are also linked, as noted at the beginning of the record.
Currently, the database covers the above described documents beginning in 1961 through 1998. In the future, the database will continue to expand its retrospective coverage, eventually covering the documents from the inception of the United Nations. This will facilitate searching, with one search, all of the documents issued by the United Nations in its history, a very valuable feature.
Available to Harvard ID holders, a standard web browser is needed to access this database, just as with other HOLLIS resources. However, it must be noted that the newest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer (version 4) is not compatible with Access UN. All versions of Netscape, as well as earlier versions of Internet Explorer, are compatible.
Searching is by way of a web interface, with fill-in boxes for search terms. The format is reminiscent of many Internet search engine. Like the familiar Westlaw and Lexis databases, basic Boolean operators-- AND, OR, NOT-- are supported by AccessUN and are filled into the search form boxes by using a drop down menu between the term input boxes. Additionally, WITH can be used to indicate that the terms are to be in the same sentence in any order, NEAR can be used to have the terms in the same sentence in the order in which they are typed, and SAME is available to indicate the terms are to be in the same paragraph.
Truncation can be used for a single character, using a "?", and for multiple characters using "$". Of particular interest is the ability to use partial document numbers, which allows for browsing of the documents produced by a particular organ of the UN. A document number can also be searched by providing the beginning of the number, i.e. a search for "E/1997" retrieves 1997 documents of the Economic and Social Council. No truncation is actually required for this search.
Numerous fields can be searched. The most interesting and useful are the AUTHOR, which can be used to search for individual speakers, DOCUMENT NUMBER which allows a document's bibliographic information (and in some cases the full-text) to be retrieved by use of a cite to the UN document number, as well as SESSION, which limits a search to a particular UN session, and ALLFIELD, which will locate a term, in any of the fields of the record.
Limiting by date is also possible through a separate set of pull down data boxes located at the bottom of the search screen. This would be useful with a broad term search, as a desired limited date range can be specified, improving the relevance of the results.
Another feature of interest is the availability of bibliographic information about, as well as signatories to, treaties. Unfortunately, treaties are not available full-text; however, a cite, when available, is given to the United Nations Treaties Series, the treaty reporter of the UN.
One example of Access UN's searching capabilities is a search in the SESSION/AGENDA field, with the term "52nd session", along with "plenary meeting" in the TITLE. This search retrieved the plenary meetings of the General Assembly 52nd session in reverse chronological order. All search results are presented in reverse chronological order.
For further information about locating United Nations documents, see the ILS Research Guides:
How to Find United Nations Documents
United Nations Documents Symbols System
If you have further questions about using Access UN, please ask the ILS Reference staff for assistance. The United Nations publishes many documents. Many documents were originally published in mimeographed form and are still sometimes referred to as 'mimeo docs.' This guide will explain the United Nations series symbols system which was designed to provide access to these documents. The series symbols provide access to United Nations documentation by series symbol, subject, and body responsible for the document. Symbols of United Nations documents are composed of capital letters combined with numerals, usually Arabic.
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