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BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record
Easy access to Member State information
13 November 2009 / 11:42

[New York | Author: Department of Public Information]

Member States: On the record Member States are the United Nations. 

Their work in the principal organs determines the work of the Organization throughout the world, and yet finding out exactly who said what has until now required an in-depth understanding of the Organization.

A new project, UN Member States: On the Record, makes information easily accessible that was once complicated and difficult to find. 

This web site is an easy-to-use research tool that provides access to information from a variety of existing UN databases and web sites. Just click a link to get to the most up-to-date, accurate, and historically comprehensive information on a Member State’s participation in the UN. 

Based on the experience of the librarians at the reference desk of the Dag Hammarskjöld Library in New York, this tool responds to frequently asked questions about UN Members.

On the site, each Member State has a page with links to dynamic searches in various UN databases. Over four thousand links provide current information -- without the user needing to know how to use each database.

Information available for each Member State includes: the key documents related to its membership in the UN, statements made before the principal organs, draft resolutions sponsored, periodic reports submitted on Human Rights conventions, and more.

Staff in the library developed the project over many months. 

The initial stages determined what information would be most useful, which databases to access, what kinds of documents to link to, and what platform to use.  For example, it was decided to include only documents that provide information produced by the Member State and published by the UN.  Thus information linked from the site is either factual (e.g. dates the State was a member of the Security Council), or produced by the State (e.g. statements made at the General Assembly General Debate). 

Once these decisions were made, the slow work of creating the searches for each State began.

Initially, a wiki programme was used to build the content. 

Eventually, working with colleagues from the Knowledge Solutions and Design cluster of the Department of Public Information’s (DPI) Outreach Division, the content was migrated to a stable platform on the web site. 

The goal of the project was not to develop new content, but to facilitate access to high-quality content that is already produced and maintained by colleagues. 

The work of Library colleagues in both New York and Geneva to produce detailed metadata about UN documents is rarely recognized, but provides the foundation for this product. 

In addition, each page also links to searches in the Security Council membership database and the press release database maintained by DPI’s News and Media Division.