Simple search



Advanced search

Fulltext search

Expert search

Authority search



Note on special characters

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How to use the UN Digital Library

Simple search

The simple search allows a user to search for UN documents and publications by description (metadata such as title, author, subjects, agenda item, etc.). By searching all the description fields at the same time, it serves as a general keyword search. Fulltext of online documents is not searched from the initial search page.

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Keyword search

To do a single keyword search, simply type your keyword into the search box and click on search.

From the results page, you will be able to filter by Resource type, UN Body, and Date. Sorting options are also available from the results page.

The search below will get all records that contain the term Climate.

Phrase search

To search for a phrase from the simple search, put your phrase in quotation marks. This will ensure that those words appear beside each other in the order typed.


Truncation works to pick up variations of a word ending. For instance, a search for Ocean, retrieves results with the word Ocean, but also the words Oceans, Oceanic, or Oceania.

The asterisk also can be used in the middle of a word as a wildcard to pick up spelling variations. For instance, a search for Defene picks up both Defense and Defence.

Note: The system will automatically retrieve results within one letter difference. In other words, it will automatically retrieve Oceans when you use the keyword Ocean and would automatically retrieve Ocean when you use the keyword Oceans. In both cases, they differ by only one letter.


The asterisk can be used in the middle of a word as a wildcard to pick up spelling variations. For instance, a search for Defen*e picks up both Defense and Defence.


Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) allow you to do a more sophisticated search within the simple search box. Please note: Boolean operators must be capitalized.


The default search logic combines words using AND. As such, if you want two words to both appear within a record, the Boolean operator AND is not needed.

In the example below, both Climate and Conference MUST appear in the results, but they do not need to appear exactly in that order as a phrase. If only one word is in the record, it will not be retrieved in your search.


If you would like at least one word to appear but you do not care which word, use OR. You might use this if you are looking for terms that are related. In the example below, either Ocean or Climate would appear in the record, but the record does not necessarily have to have both terms.


Using the NOT Boolean eliminates certain records from the results. For instance, the example below gets results related to an Ocean but excludes results that mention the Atlantic Ocean.

Combination of searches

One search may combine a number of these search functionalities together.

In the example below, you are looking for results in which the phrase “Climate Change” and the term Ocean (or Oceans, or Oceanic or Oceania) to appear in the results. As the default search is using the Boolean Operator AND, you do not need to write it out.

In the case below, you are looking for results that contain the phrase “Climate Change” but do not contain the term Ocean or any of its variations.

Below is an example of looking for all variations of a concept. For instance, you would like any results containing Ocean, Oceans, Oceanic, Oceania, or Sea, Seas, Seaworthy, etc.

This example retrieves results that will always contain the phrase “Climate Change” and contain either “Small Island Developing States” or SIDS (an acronym for Small Island Developing States).

Note on UN Document Symbol searches

To do a precise search by document symbol, the first character of the symbol must be uppercase/capital.


Faceting allows you to narrow down your search results by applying multiple filters.

Once you have performed your initial search, on the left side of the results, you can filter using facets. To see all facet values select “Show all” at the bottom of the list of each facet.

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The facets are dynamically generated based on the search performed:

Type of search

Facets displayed

- Simple search

- Advanced search

  • Resource type

  • UN Body

  • Date

- Collection

  • Resource Type

  • Voting Data

  • UN Body

  • Vote

  • Subject

  • Date

- - Collection

  • Resource Type

  • Speeches

  • UN Body

  • Country/Organization

  • Subject

  • Date

Combining facets

You may choose one or several facets by clicking on a value.

You can only select one year at the time with the “Date” facet.


From the results page, click on Options to sort by relevancy, title, date, or document symbol.

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By default, results are ordered by relevancy and in a descending order.

If you want to sort the results by date, select “year”. Select “ascending” if you want a chronological order from the oldest document to the most recent.

If you want to sort the results by document symbol, please select “document symbol”. Select “ascending” if you want an alphabetical order for the document symbol from A to Z.

Advanced search

The Advanced Search provides easy access to all available search options. Simply choose from drop-down menus without having to know a specific search syntax.

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Enter search terms, then use the drop-down menus to select the search fields and optionally select a Boolean operator to combine your search terms. As in the Simple Search, the default setting is the Boolean AND.

Up to three search bars can be combined to search by author, title, document symbol, agenda, year, abstract and notes, series, subject, or fulltext.

In addition to being able to choose a specific field, you can change the matching type from word matching to phrase searching without having to type in quotation marks.

All of the words:

Combines the terms in the search bar with Boolean AND

Any of the words:

Combines the terms in the search bar with Boolean OR

Exact phrase:

Must exactly match the entire field

Partial phrase:

Phrase search (anywhere within a field)

Regular expression:

Use regex to create a very exact search

The combination of fields is helpful when, for example, you want to search for a certain keyword in the title and a specific author. The following example searches for the phrase “sustainable development” in the title and Secretary-General as the author.

Advanced Search in Voting and Speeches

When you select Voting Data or Speeches as resource type before clicking on Advanced Search, the system offers different fields to search.

Type of advanced search

Fields displayed in drop down

Default Advanced Search

  • Any field

  • Author

  • Title

  • Document symbol

  • Agenda

  • Year

  • Abstract and notes

  • Series

  • Subject

  • Fulltext

- Collection

  • Resource Type

  • Voting Data

  • Any field

  • Title

  • Document symbol

  • Agenda

- - Collection

  • Resource Type

  • Speeches

  • Any field

  • Speaker

  • Country/Organization

  • Document symbol

  • Agenda

  • Year

Date range

The Advanced Search also offers a search by date range.

The “Added/modified since” structured date range field searches for when a record was added to or changed in the Digital Library.

To narrow a search by publication date, use the Date facet to select the year. See also, Expert search on ranges below.

Full text search

It is possible to do full text searching several ways in the Digital Library.

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The example below searches for documents that mention Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security.

  1. After a simple search for keywords, toggle the Fulltext Search ON

  1. Alternatively, in the simple search, use the command fulltext:”key words”

  1. Another option: in the advanced search, select fulltext from the dropdown then click the Search button (NOTE: this is not working well)

Narrowing results after fulltext search

In this example, search for the phrase “sustaining peace” in the fulltext gives many results. Selecting a Resource type and UN Body from the options on the left provides a more refined result.

  1. Search for fulltext keywords or phrase

  1. Select Resource type, UN Body and Year to refine the search

Searching fulltext in another language

Because most of our metadata is in English, the simple search is most effective in English. However, it is possible to search the fulltext of documents in other languages.

In this example the phrase "Personnes atteintes d'albinisme" returns no results until the Fulltext search is toggled to the On position.

The metadata (or description of the document) is in English, but the files are available in other languages when a record is selected.

Fulltext in combination with other fields

Another way to combine metadata searching with fulltext searching is to search for a series, such as the sessional reports of a subsidiary body and keywords related to a topic that they may have considered.

The example below searches for “Millennium Development Goals” in the fulltext of the Reports of the Statistical Commission.

Expert search

The system also supports search within MARC fields. MARC is set of codes and content designators defined for encoding machine-readable records and is maintained by the Library of Congress. The UNBIS Reference Manuals list the MARC fields in use in the Digital Library, which include both standard MARC fields and locally defined fields specific to the UN content. To search within a MARC field, use the same syntax as described in the above section.

Each MARC field has two indicators and has one or more subfields. To make a precise search, you may need to identify the appropriate values in for the MARC field.

To search in all the subfields of a MARC field with any indicators, use the field followed by colon:

245:”Questions relating to information”

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To search in a specific subfield, both indicators must be specified as well:

9911_d:”AFGHANISTAN” (finds documents, speeches and voting related to General Assembly agenda items on Afghanistan; as per the UNBIS manuals, the first indicator 1 is reserved for General Assembly agenda items)

The wildcard % can be used if indicators or subfields are not known or can vary:

991%%d:”AFGHANISTAN” (finds General Assembly, Security Council and Economic and Social Council records related to agenda items on Afghanistan)

More on wildcards:

Any indicator, any subfield: 245:"query" or 245%%%:"query"
Any indicators: 245%%a:"query" or 245%1%:"query"
Any subfield: 24510%:"query"

Useful MARC field searches

MARC field 991 (Agenda information) contains information about agenda numbers and titles as well as action taken and other information about plenary meetings.

For the Security Council, we record participation by non-Council members in subfield $e:

9913_e:"Participation by non-Council members" AND 9913_e:Afghanistan (not 100% accurate)

To find information on action taken on the provisional agenda of the Security Council:

9913_e:"provisional agenda"

Searches to help with quality control:

Use the wildcard to search for records that contain a particular field: 596:%

To search for records without a particular field: NOT 930:%

To find meeting records (SR or PV in document symbol) that don’t have the corresponding content code:

(191%%a:"PV" OR 191%%a:"SR") NOT 089%%b:B03

To find Security Council documents of the current year that are missing 991 subfield z:

191__a:"S/2019/**/" NOT 9913_z:"I"

For quality control searches, it can be useful to export the results to a spreadsheet. This option is available at the bottom of the page if you are logged in:

Before exporting the results, the system prompts you to define which fields you want to export, which allows you to easily see and compare the results: