UN Secretariat June 2016 / Photo: K Hjortsäter
UN Secretariat / Photo: K Hjortsäter

The Secretariat administers and coordinates the activities of the United Nations. It consists of an international civil service at UN Headquarters in New York and other UN stations all over the world. The Secretariat is headed by the United Nations Secretary-General.

Functions of the Secretariat

The Secretariat is responsible for the UN administration:

  • prepares the sessions of the UN bodies in terms of organization
  • edits a large number of reports and studies upon which the decisions of the UN bodies are to be based
  • prepares draft texts of resolutions
  • organizes the implementation of decisions,
  • documents the work of the United Nations while registering and editing the texts in their different stages
  • organizes international conferences
  • supplies interpreters
  • translates documents into all UN official languages.

Structure and activities

The Secretariat has more than 40,000 staff members around the world. At the New York office there are several thousands persons that constitute an international civil service. They are international officials who cannot represent their own countries as long as they are employed by the UN.

The activities of the Secretariat cover all UN commitments. Some examples are

  • administering peacekeeping operations
  • mediation in international conflicts
  • collecting social and economic data and information about political conflicts
  • conducting studies on social and economic development.

The Secretariat is divided into several departments and offices reflecting its broad areas of responsibility.

The UN Libraries and the Depository Libraries around the world are affiliated
with the UN Secretariat.

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