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Your guide to UN and UN documents and reports

International law

The United Nations is responsible for the peaceful resolution of international conflicts. The International Court of Justice is its principal judicial organ.

International law by topic

Mission of the United Nations

The United Nations Charter calls on the Organization to

  • promote the judicial settlement of disputes between states
  • encourage the development and codification of international law.

The General Assembly is authorized to establish subsidiary organs for the performance of these functions. The reports of these subsidiary organs are debated in the Sixth Committee, which recommends actions to be taken by the Assembly.

International Court of Justice

The International Court of Justice was created in 1946 as the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. The Court of Justice settles disputes submitted to it by States and also gives advisory opinions on legal questions.

Work of the UN in international law

An important part of the political process in the United Nations is to establish or expand international laws, regulations and standards across all areas of activity. This includes giving significant contributions to the expansion of the legal framework for the relationship of states to each other through codification and development of international law.

The United Nations has sponsored hundreds of multilateral agreements, covering a range of subject matters including human rights, disarmament, commodities, refugees, the environment and the law of the sea. These treaties are binding to the countries that ratify them.

Other legal areas

One of the fundamental pillars of the United Nations is respect for the international legal order. Consequently, there is a broad spectrum of other legal areas relevant to the work of the United Nations, including:

More on UN and international law

UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library. UN official documents and open access publications, UN maps, UN voting data and speeches.
  • UN iLibrary. UN publications online covering different topics.
  • ODS. 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 is 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


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