Certain UN documents do not require additional citation beyond their title and subsequent abbreviation. These are the Charter of the United Nations and the Statute of the International Court of Justice. The same rule should be applied to their League of Nations equivalents, the Covenant of the League of Nations and the Statute of the Permanent Court of International Justice.
1 Charter of the United Nations, Art 2.4 (UN Charter).
2 Statute of the International Court of Justice, Art 36 (ICJ Statute).
3 UN Charter, Art 2.2.
2. General Assembly resolutions
The basic form for the citation for modern resolutions of the UN General Assembly is as follows:
This form only applies to the later resolutions – earlier resolutions (prior to the 31st session of the General Assembly) may follow the following form of citation, as determined by looking at the resolution itself:
GA Res number(session in Roman numerals), date of resolution, op para x.
Ordinarily, the title of the resolution should not be included in the citation, unless the title is particularly well-known, e.g. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The title should also be given if the resolution in question adopts a treaty in its annexes so as to refer to the treaty itself – this is particularly useful where the treaty has not yet been entered into the UNTS or any other approved treaty series. Where this happens, the annex that the treaty appears in must be identified expressly – the resolution itself is not the treaty, merely the adopting mechanism.
Subsequent references to resolutions must be given in full, although ‘ibid’ may be used.
Where referring to elements of the resolution, individual operative paragraphs (i.e. numbered paragraphs containing the thrust of the resolution) may be cited as ‘op para’. Where an unnumbered paragraph from the preamble is used, simply refer to the ‘preamble’.
NOTE: Whilst it is appropriate to refer to a ‘SC Res’ or ‘GA Res’ in the footnotes, in the text these should all be referred to as ‘SC Resolution’ or ‘GA Resolution’.
1 GA Res 3314(XXIX), 14 December 1974.
2 GA Res 45/33, 20 November 1990.
3 Ibid, op para 1.
4 GA Res 3314(XXIX), 14 December 1974, preamble.
5 UN Convention against Corruption, GA Res 58/4, 31 October 2003, Annex, Art 3.
3. Security Council resolutions
Security Council resolutions generally follow the same rules as General Assembly resolutions, although these are numbered sequentially and therefore without any need to refer to the session number. The basic form is as follows:
SC Res number, date of resolution, op para x.
Again, if referred to subsequently the full citation should be given again, unless the use of ‘ibid’ would be appropriate. The same rules as to operative paragraphs and the preamble apply.
It would be highly unusual to provide the title for a Security Council resolution.
1 SC Res 1337, 30 January 2001.
2 Ibid, op para 2.
3 SC Res 1373, 28 September 2001, op para 3.
4 SC Res 1337, 30 January 2001, preamble.
4. Other UN documents
This section is intended to provide a general guide for the citation of UN documents. The key to this is the UN document number, which can usually be found on the document itself (provided that an official UN copy has been used). Almost all UN documents are assigned such a number, which appears as follows in the general form of the citation:
Name of Author (if required), Title of the Document,UN Doc Document Number, Date of Document, para x.
The document number should appear exactly as it appears on the document itself. All abbreviations within the document number should be expressed in upper case.
Where multiple documents are cited, their identifying numbers should be preceded by ‘UN Docs’, and then each individual number separated by a semi-colon.
The following abbreviations, which indicate the body under whose auspices the document was produced, often form the first component of a UN document number:
Committee against Torture
Human Rights Committee
Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination