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United Nations Editorial Manual Online


Resolutions and other formal decisions
of United Nations organs


United Nations resolutions are formal expressions of the opinion or will of United Nations organs. They generally, but not invariably, consist of two clearly defined parts: a preamble and an operative part. The preamble generally recites the considerations on the basis of which action is taken, an opinion expressed, or a directive given. The operative part states the opinion of the organ or the action to be taken (see example).

The term “decisions” is used to designate formal decisions, other than resolutions, dealing with non-substantive or routine matters such as elections, appointments, the time and place of meetings and the taking note of reports. They are sometimes used also to record the adoption of a text representing the consensus of the members of a given organ on a question.

Scope of instruction

The present instruction deals with some of the questions arising in the drafting and editing of United Nations resolutions and decisions and sets down the usage that has evolved. Unless otherwise indicated, it applies to resolutions and decisions of all United Nations organs.


I. System of identification
    A. General observation
    B. Resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly
    C. Resolutions and decisions of the Security Council
    D. Resolutions and decisions of the Economic and Social Council
    E. References to the whole or to parts of composite resolutions
    F. Forms of issuance

II. Drafting and editing
    A. General observation
    B. Titles
    C. Order of elements
    D. Numbering and arrangement of paragraphs
    E. References to paragraphs
    F. Internal references to the resolution as a whole
    G. Use of italics
    H. Punctuation
    I. Abbreviations
    J. References to other resolutions and decisions
    K. Wording of resolutions
    L. References to the Secretary-General or to the Secretariat
    M. References to money
    N. Names of newly established bodies
    O. Annexed matter





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