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Abbreviations and acronyms

General guidelines
Exceptions
Short titles
Dates, time, academic degrees, titles etc.
Weights and measures
Parts of a book or document
Principal officially recognized abbreviations and acronyms

General guidelines                                                                   

Abbreviations and acronyms (words formed from the initial letters of other words, e.g. UNESCO) should be used sparingly. In certain formal contexts, such as General Assembly resolutions, they should not be used at all.

When they are used, abbreviations and acronyms should always be explained. The name or title should be written out in full the first time it occurs in a document, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses.

Alternatively, if a document contains numerous abbreviations and acronyms, a list may be included after the table of contents or at the end of the document if there is no table of contents.

In United Nations publications, a list of abbreviations and acronyms, if required, is normally included in the explanatory notes.

Abbreviations and acronyms are not used for names or titles that occur only once or twice in a text. When the entity referred to is better known by the abbreviation or acronym, it may however be preferable to include the abbreviation even if the name occurs only once.

The most common units of weight and measure, such as cm2, kg and km, need not be written out.

Abbreviations and acronyms are not used in document titles or headings.

“United Nations” should not be abbreviated in English. The form “ONU” is acceptable in French.

In United Nations style, abbreviations and acronyms are written without full stops: UNDP, not U.N.D.P.

Abbreviations and acronyms are normally used without the definite article: the members of UNESCO, the programmes of WHO.

Abbreviations and acronyms should not be used in the possessive form: the Commander of UNMIL or the UNMIL Commander, not UNMIL’s Commander.

Acronyms or abbreviated forms should not be used for the following (although short titles may be used where appropriate):

  • Principal organs and major offices of the United Nations:
    • General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council
    • United Nations Office at Geneva/Vienna/Nairobi
  • Titles of senior officials:
    • Secretary-General, Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative of the Secretary-General
  • Offices, departments, divisions, sections etc. of the Secretariat (the abbreviations listed in the telephone directory are not used in formal documents, but they may be used where space is limited, e.g. in tables)
  • Most commissions and committees, boards, panels and the like
  • Conventions, treaties, plans/programmes of action
  • Non-technical terms and concepts in widespread use, such as "the rule of law", "human rights", "human resources" and "sustainable development"
  • Funds, programmes and the like that are not established as organizations
  • Names of Member States
  • General Service (Principal level, Other level, Local level)
  • The International Criminal Court (to avoid confusion with organizations such as the International Chamber of Commerce)
  • The International Court of Justice, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and other courts and tribunals
  • Military or police forces
  • Military terms, such as:
    • ASZ (air safety zone), GSZ (ground safety zone)
    • EAF (Entity Armed Forces), JSF (Joint Security Forces)
    • COMKFOR (Commander of KFOR or KFOR Commander)
    • DDR (disarmament, demobilization and reintegration) and variations thereon
  • Obscure titles or names mentioned only once or twice in a document.

Exceptions

Exceptions to the general rules set out above include the following:

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

(both to be used in reference to the Office only, not the High Commissioner) 

United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS)  

United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB)                      

Short titles

A short title may be used to replace a name or title that occurs many times in a document, provided that the full name is used the first time it occurs and that there is no risk of ambiguity: the Assembly, the Council, the Committee, the United Kingdom, the United States.

The names of some Member States may also be shortened in tables (for additional information see Format/Tables).

Dates, time, academic degrees, titles etc.

Dates

B.C. (before Christ)
B.C.E. (before the Common Era)
A.D. (anno Domini)
A.H. (anno Hegirae)
   Note: A.D. and A.H. precede the year.

Time

a.m. (ante meridiem)
p.m. (post meridiem)

Titles

KG  (Knight of the Order of the Garter)
QC  (Queen's Counsel)

Degrees

BA  (Bachelor of Arts)
BS, BSc  (Bachelor of Science)
PhD  (Doctor of Philosophy)
LLD  (Doctor of Laws)

Other

c.i.f. (cost, insurance, freight)
f.o.b. (free on board)

   

Weights and measures  

Length

 

Area

 

mm
cm
m
km

millimetre
centimetre
metre
kilometre

cm²

km²
ha

square centimetre
square metre
square kilometre
hectare  

       

Volume

 

Weight

 

cm³

cubic centimetre
cubic metre

mg
g
kg
oz
lb
cwt

milligram
gram
kilogram
ounce
pound
hundredweight

       

Capacity

 

Electricity

 

ml
cl
l
pt
qt
gal
bbl
bpd

millilitre
centilitre
litre
pint
quart
gallon
barrels
barrels per day

A
kA
V
kV
kVA
MVA
W
kW
MW
Hz
kHz
MHz

ampere
kiloampere
volt
kilovolt
kilovolt-ampere
megavolt-ampere
watt
kilowatt
megawatt
hertz
kilohertz
megahertz

       

Energy

 

Velocity

 

Btu
kWh
MWh
GWh
hp
cal
kcal
J
K
N

British thermal unit
kilowatt-hour
megawatt-hour
gigawatt-hour
horsepower
calorie
kilocalorie
joule
Kelvin
Newton

mph
m/s
rpm

miles per hour
metres per second
revolutions per minute

Parts of a book or document

The following abbreviations may be used in footnotes and other references (see also Footnotes and other references, chap. II).

article, articles art., arts.
but Article of the Charter of the United Nations (never abbreviated)

chapter, chapters

chap., chaps.

number, numbers

No., Nos.

page, pages

p., pp.

paragraph, paragraphs

para., paras.

section, sections

sect., sects.

volume, volumes

vol., vols.

Principal officially recognized abbreviations and acronyms

The list that follows, which is not exhaustive, contains the principal officially recognized abbreviations and acronyms used in United Nations documents in English, including the currently active or recently terminated peacekeeping missions. The abbreviations for other terminated missions may be found in UNTERM.

Caveat: UNTERM entries contain numerous abbreviations which are not used in formal documents. The fact that an abbreviation appears in UNTERM does not constitute official editorial sanction for its use.  

Note:  It may sometimes be expedient to use abbreviations or acronyms not included in this list. Such abbreviations and acronyms should be used sparingly, however, and not for names or titles that occur infrequently in a text.

 

A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  R  S  T  U-UNI  UNM-UT  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

ADB

Asian Development Bank

AfDB African Development Bank
AFISMA African-led International Support Mission in Mali (replaced by MINUSMA)
a.i. ad interim; not usually written out
AIDS acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; not usually written out
AMIB African Mission in Burundi
AMIS African Union Mission in the Sudan
AMISOM African Union Mission in Somalia
APEC Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
   

BCG    

bacillus Calmette-Guérin (tuberculosis vaccine); never written out
BINUB United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (replaced by BNUB)
BINUCA United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic
BNUB United Nations Office in Burundi
BONUCA United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in the Central African Republic (replaced by BINUCA)
   

CARICOM          

Caribbean Community
CCISUA                Coordinating Committee for International Staff Unions and Associations of the United Nations System
CEB                       United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination
CELADE        Latin American and Caribbean Demographic Centre [Centro Latinoamericano y Caribeño de Demografía]

CEMAC

Central African Economic and Monetary Community [Communauté économique et monétaire de l’Afrique centrale]
CEN-SAD           Community of Sahelo-Saharan States
CEPGL               Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries [Communauté économique des pays des Grands Lacs]
CFA                    Communauté financière africaine; not usually written out: CFA franc (CFAF)
CFC(s)                 chlorofluorocarbon(s)

CILSS                

Permanent Inter-State Committee on Drought Control in the Sahel [Comité permanent inter-États de lutte contre la sécheresse dans le Sahel]

CIS                         Commonwealth of Independent States
CNDD-FDD       Conseil national pour la défense de la démocratie-Forces pour la défense de la démocratie [Burundi]
COMESA           Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
CPI                      consumer price index
   
DNA deoxyribonucleic acid; never written out
   
EBRD European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
ECA Economic Commission for Africa
ECCAS Economic Community of Central African States
ECE Economic Commission for Europe
ECLAC Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
ECOMOG Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group
ECOWAS

Economic Community of West African States   

EEZ exclusive economic zone
EFTA European Free Trade Association
ESCAP Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
ESCWA Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
EUFOR European Union military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Europol    European Police Office
Eurostat European Union statistical office; never written out
   
FANCI Forces armées nationales de Côte d'Ivoire
FAO                    Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FDI                     foreign direct investment
FICSA     Federation of International Civil Servants’ Associations
FNL                    Forces nationales de libération [Burundi]
Frente Polisario Frente Popular para la Liberación de Saguia el-Hamra y de Río de Oro [Western Sahara]
   
GDP gross domestic product
GEF Global Environment Facility
GIS geographic information system
GNP gross national product
GPS Global Positioning System
GSP Generalized System of Preferences
   
HIPC

heavily indebted poor countries                    

HIV human immunodeficiency virus; not usually written out
   
IADB

Inter-American Development Bank

IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency
IBRD International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization
ICFTU International Confederation of Free Trade Unions
ICRC International Committee of the Red Cross
ICSC International Civil Service Commission
ICSU International Council for Science [formerly International Council of Scientific Unions]
ICT information and communications technology
IDA International Development Association
IDB Islamic Development Bank  
IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development
IFC International Finance Corporation
IGAD Intergovernmental Authority on Development
ILO International Labour Organization
IMF International Monetary Fund
IMIS Integrated Management Information System
IMO International Maritime Organization
Infoterra

Global Environmental Information Exchange Network [UNEP]; not usually written out

INSTRAW International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women [transferred to UN-Women]
INTERPOL International Criminal Police Organization
IOM International Organization for Migration
IP Internet Protocol; not usually written out
IPSAS International Public Sector Accounting Standards
IPU Inter-Parliamentary Union
ISAF

International Security Assistance Force [Afghanistan]           

ITC International Trade Centre
ITU International Telecommunication Union
   
JEM

Justice and Equality Movement [Sudan]

JVA Juba Valley Alliance [Somalia]
   
KFOR Kosovo Force
   
LAS

League of Arab States        

LRA Lord’s Resistance Army [Uganda]
LURD Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy
   
MENUB United Nations Electoral Observer Mission in Burundi
MERCOSUR Common Market of the South/Mercado Común del Sur
MINURCAT United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad
MINURSO United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara
MINUSCA United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic
MINUSMA United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali
MINUSTAH United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
MISAB

Inter-African Mission to Monitor the Implementation of the Bangui Agreements [Central African Republic]

MODEL Movement for Democracy in Liberia
MONUC United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (replaced by MONUSCO)
MONUSCO United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
MPLA Movimento Popular da Libertação de Angola
   
NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NEPAD New Partnership for Africa's Development
NGO non-governmental organization
   
OAS

Organization of American States

OAU Organization of African Unity (now African Union)
ODA official development assistance
ODS Official Document System
OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
OECS Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States
OHCHR Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
OIC Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference)
OIF

International Organization of la Francophonie

OIOS Office of Internal Oversight Services
ONUB United Nations Operation in Burundi
OPCW Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
OPEC Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries
OSCE Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe
   
PAHO Pan American Health Organization
Palipehutu Parti pour la libération du peuple hutu [Burundi]
PLO Palestine Liberation Organization
Polisario see Frente Polisario
ppp purchasing power parity
   
RNA ribonucleic acid; never written out
RRA

Rahanwein Resistance Army [Somalia]               

RUF Revolutionary United Front [Sierra Leone]
RUFP Revolutionary United Front Party [Sierra Leone]
   
SAARC

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation                 

SADC Southern African Development Community
SAR Special Administrative Region of China (Hong Kong SAR; Macao SAR)
SARS severe acute respiratory syndrome
SDR(s) special drawing right(s) [IMF]; SDR 12 million
SELA Latin American Economic System [Sistema Económico Latinoamericano]
SFOR Stabilization Force [Bosnia and Herzegovina]; replaced by EUFOR from December 2004
SLM/A Sudan Liberation Movement/Army [Darfur]
SPLM/A Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army
   
TRIPS trade-related intellectual property rights
   
UEMOA

West African Economic and Monetary Union [Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine]

UHF ultra-high frequency; not usually written out
UNAIDS Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
UNAMA United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan
UNAMI United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq
UNAMID African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur
UNCITRAL United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNDOF United Nations Disengagement Observer Force [Golan Heights]
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
UNESCO

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNFICYP United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus
UNFIP United Nations Fund for International Partnerships
UNFPA United Nations Population Fund
UN-Habitat United Nations Human Settlements Programme
UNHCR

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees            

UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund
UNIDIR United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization
UNIFEM United Nations Development Fund for Women [transferred to UN-Women]
UNIFIL United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
UNIKOM

United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission        

UNIOGBIS United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau
UNIPSIL United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone
UNISFA United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei
UNITA União Nacional para a Independência Total de Angola
UNITAR United Nations Institute for Training and Research
UNMEE United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea
UNMEER United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response
UNMIBH United Nations Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina
UNMIK United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo
UNMIL United Nations Mission in Liberia
UNMIN United Nations Mission in Nepal
UNMIS United Nations Mission in the Sudan
UNMISS United Nations Mission in South Sudan
UNMIT United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste
UNMOGIP

United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan            

UNMOVIC United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission [Iraq]
UNOCA United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa
UNOCI United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire
UNODC United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
UNOGBIS United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea-Bissau (replaced by UNIOGBIS)
UNOL United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in Liberia
UNOMIG United Nations Observer Mission in Georgia
UNOPS United Nations Office for Project Services
UNOWA United Nations Office for West Africa
UNPOS United Nations Political Office for Somalia (replaced by UNSOM)
UNRISD United Nations Research Institute for Social Development
UNRWA United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
UNSMIL United Nations Support Mission in Libya
UNSMIS United Nations Supervision Mission in the Syrian Arab Republic
UNSOA United Nations Support Office for the African Union Mission in Somalia
UNSOM United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia
UNTOP United Nations Tajikistan Office of Peacebuilding
UNTSO

United Nations Truce Supervision Organization [Middle East]         

UNU United Nations University
UNV United Nations Volunteers programme
UN-Women United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
UNWTO World Tourism Organization
UPU Universal Postal Union
UT, UTC Universal Time, Universal Time Coordinated; not usually written out
   
VAT value added tax
VHF very high frequency; not usually written out
   
WAEMU

see UEMOA          

WFP World Food Programme
WHO World Health Organization
WIDER World Institute for Development Economics Research
WIPO World Intellectual Property Organization
WMO World Meteorological Organization
WTO World Trade Organization
   

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