Researching United Nations Human Rights
Instruments at Memorial Library

Tips for Women's International Human
Rights Class (AfroAm 424/Wst 424)

Contents

General tips

Following these tips may save you some time and frustration!

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Steps in researching UN instruments

  1. Find basic information about the instrument (i.e. the covenant, convention, declaration).
  2. Use the UN Yearbook to...
  3. Locate related documents on campus.
  4. Determine the United States' stand on the instrument.
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1.   Finding basic information about UN instruments

"Basic information" includes:
  • text of instrument
  • year of adoption
  • what countries have ratified or signed it

The resources listed below are starting places for finding basic information about UN instruments. If you're unable to find what you need in these sources, please ask a reference librarian for help.

If you cannot find the full text of the instrument or the ratification information online, you can check the following print resources.

Print resources for texts of instruments

Some of the resources listed below also contain definitions of terms, overviews of instruments, human rights situations in various countries, or recent developments related to an instrument.

Print source for ratification/signatory information

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2.   The UN Yearbook

The Yearbook of the United Nations (New York: United Nations, Department of Public Information; published annually) is the best source for background information on a given UN instrument. It includes:
  • Summaries of what the UN and related bodies did in a given year; and
  • References to related documents.
Location: Memorial Reference Stacks, JX 1977 A37 Y4

Finding Yearbook articles on your instrument

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Identifying related documents mentioned in Yearbook articles

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3. Locating Official Records and mimeographed documents on campus

Official Records are...

For more information on finding and using these materials, see Locating United Nations Documents at UW-Madison's Memorial Library: Documents in the Official Records, http://www.library.wisc.edu/guides/govdocs/un/official_records.htm

Mimeographed documents are...

  • At the Law School Library

    For more information on finding and using UN mimeographed documents, see Locating United Nations Documents at UW-Madison's Memorial Library: Mimeographed Documents, http://www.library.wisc.edu/guides/govdocs/un/mimeographed_documents.htm
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    4.   What is the U.S. stand on this instrument?

    Sometimes the United States' stand on an instrument is pretty clear: it signed and ratified it early on. Sometimes you will find statements of U.S. delegates in the Official Records spelling out the U.S. stance. Other times, you'll have to (or want to) go to other sources for this information, such as... Return to top of page

    UN Sales Publications

    Occasionally, there will be a UN sales publication about a particular instrument or the issue the instrument deals with. These publications... Return to top of page

    Citing UN materials

    The following books contains guidelines on how to cite government documents, including United Nations materials. The guides do not follow one particular citation style (such as APA, MLA, etc.), but is meant to supplement all styles. Return to top of page

    Using UN materials from the Government Documents Collection - the basics

    Circulation
    • Only sales publications circulate.
    • Sales publications in the regular stacks circulate like regular books; they must be checked out at the Circulation Desk on first floor.
    • Sales publications in the Government Documents Collection (have "JYAY" at start of call number) must be checked out at the Reference Desk, for one week at time.

    Photocopies
    • Can make photocopies of any documents.
    • Can take documents to any photocopy machine within the library.
    • Please return documents to reshelving cart in Government Documents Collection, Stack Level 2M South.

    Reshelving
    • Don't need to reshelve documents.
    • Please return documents to reshelving cart in Government Documents Collection, Stack Level 2M South.

    Documents tied in bundles with string
    • It's okay to untie bundles!
    • Don't have to retie bundles; put documents back in pile and put pile and string together on reshelving cart.

    Can't find a document on the shelf? Check...
    • Reshelving cart in Government Documents Collection, Stack Level 2M South.
    • Reshelving carts in Reference Room.
    • Tables near photocopiers.
    • Or ask a librarian!
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    United Nations Documents at Memorial Library | Government Documents at Memorial Library |
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    Page created 1/7/00; last updated 1/31/05.

    Created and maintained by:

    Beth Harper
    Government Documents Reference Librarian
    276 Memorial Library
    728 State St., Madison, WI 53706
    608/262-9852