Conventions and declarations

Striving to uphold the principles set forth in the Charter, the United Nations has adopted numerous declarations and resolutions.

Principles of the United Nations

The aim of the United Nations is to achieve the objectives stated in the Charter. Among these we find

  • peace and security
  • social and economic development
  • respect for human rights
  • international law.

To approach these goals, the UN has adopted a number of declarations and resolutions.

Article 102 of the UN Charter states that all treaties entered into force by member states of the United Nations are registered and published by the UN Secretariat.


Declarations are not legally binding but carry considerable moral force and serve as a clear indication of the commitments of the international community. Declarations often originate from resolutions adopted by the General Assemby. Some declarations later become conventions.


Conventions are binding formal agreements. When a convention is ratified in sufficient numbers, it enters into force and becomes legally binding on the states that have ratified and signed it.

  • To sign indicates the preparations for ratification.
  • To ratify confirms an agreement to be legally bound by the convention, with legislative changes taking place within a member state to adhere to the agreement at the domestic level. The process between signing and ratification may take several years.
  • To accede means that a state accepts to become a party to a convention already negotiated and signed by other states.

More UN, conventions and declarations

Human Rights, conventions and declaration

UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
  • UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
  • ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
  • Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
  • UNBIS Thesaurus a multilingual database of the controlled vocabulary used to describe UN documents.
  • Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
    • a list of all documents
    • a comprehensive subject index
    • an index to speeches
    • a voting chart of resolutions
  • United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.
Last modified: 2024-02-15