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International Gender and Women's Studies Topics : United Nations

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UN Conventions for Human Rights

These are some of the main United Nations Conventions related to women and International Human Rights.

Unless otherwise indicated, to find the status of ratification, reservations and declarations for each convention, follow the link to the full text of the convention.  At the next page, click "Status of ratification, reservations and declarations" in the upper left corner. At the next page, click on the name of your convention.

UN divisions and sites with women-focused information

The best way to find UN entities that deal with women/gender in addition to their other focuses, is through the Womenwatch UN Entities page. You may also use the links below to go directly to some of them.

ADVANCED SEARCH of the entire UN website

Official UN statements and documents, including historic documents...

UNBISNet (United Nations Bibliographic Information System)

Has citations to, and, quite often, the full text of United Nations publications and documents from 1979 forward.

This is the place to start when you want to find out what UN member nations or UN bodies actually said, on the record, about a particular issue.

UNBISNet is much more like a library catalog or article database than a typical web site.  There is great content here, including older documents, but you have to search the indexes/databases to find that content.

The Bibliographic Records index covers:

  • UN sales publications
  • selected periodical articles
  • Official Records
  • mimeographed documents from UN bodies and committees
  • some non-UN publications held by the UN's Dag Hammarskjöld Library

This searches the most records. I recommend starting with the New Keyword Search.

Separate indexes cover

  • Voting records, which list how individual countries voted on resolutions before the
    • General Assembly (1983-)
    • Security Council (1946- )
  • Speeches made before UN bodies (a good way to see how a country thought about a particular issue), including
    • General Assembly (1983- )
    • Economic and Social Council (1983- )
    • Security Council (1983- )
    • Trusteeship Council (1982-1994)

Citing UN documents

Unfortunately, not every citation manual provides exact examples of how to cite United Nations documents, but the following resources may help.

You can check the index of your citation manual for the sections that deal with "United Nations" or "government documents" for examples and guidance.

Also, remember to apply your style's rules about citing electronic publications to any citations of government documents.  In some cases, this could mean including a url or "date accessed" information.

The Complete Guide to Citing Government Information Resources: a Manual for Social Science & Business Research. Bethesda, MD: LexisNexis ; Congressional Information Service, c2002.

  • Memorial Library location: Memorial Library Reference Desk, Room 262, Call Number: J9.5 G37 2002 (non-circulating)
  • Other locations
  • Best sections for examples: section L3.1, page 34, and section 5.3d, pages 129-131. Also check the index for "United Nations" and "masthead documents."
  • This guide is not specific to any one style, but gives some examples, and principles of how to cite UN materials.


Nothing specific about UN documents.

Chicago Manual of Style
Chicago Manual of Style Online. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006-.

  • Available outside UW libraries to UW students, staff, and faculty.
  • Section 14.302 covers treaties (CEDAW can be considered a treaty).
  • Section 14.317 addresses "international legal and public documents online."

The Chicago Manual of Style. 15th ed. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2003.

  • Memorial Library location: Memorial Library Reference Desk, Room 262, Call Number: Z253 U69 2003 (non-circulating)
  • Other locations

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York : Modern Language Association of America, 2009.

  • Memorial Library Location: Memorial Library Reference Desk, Room 262, Call Number: LB2369 G53 2009 (non-circulating)
  • Other locations
  • Section 5.5.20, pages 174-177, has general guidelines on citing several kinds of government publications.

A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Kate L. Turabian. 7th ed. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2007.

  • Memorial Library Location: Memorial Library Reference Desk, Room 262, Call Number: LB2369 T8 2007 (non-circulating)
  • Index term for all government documents is "public documents."
  • Government/public documents section is on pages 205-215; "international bodies" are covered on page 214.

UNBISnet: search engine for United Nations documents

UNBISnet is a database with descriptions of and links to the full text of many documents published by the United Nations.

  • Most documents are from the 1990s and afterwards, but some go back as far as the 1940s.
  • In most cases, you can find documents using the "New Keyword Search" in the "Bibliographic Records" section of the page.
  • Once in the "Bibliographic Record -- Keyword Search" mode, you can search for terms anywhere in the record by clicking in the "search by" box and changing it to "general keyword."