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Resolutions and other formal decisions of 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

A. General observation

United Nations resolutions are identified by the name of the issuing body, written in full, and a number, according to the systems described below. Although all resolutions other than those of the Security Council have titles, these are not used for purposes of identification.

B. Resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly

The resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly are identified according to the systems explained below.

1. Regular sessions

Until the thirtieth regular session, the resolutions of the General Assembly were identified by an arabic numeral followed, in parentheses, by a roman numeral indicating the session (for example: resolution 3363 (XXX)). When several resolutions, each complete in itself, were adopted under the same number, each of them was identified by a capital letter placed between the two numerals (for example: resolution 3367 A (XXX), resolutions 3411 A and B (XXX), resolutions 3419 A to D (XXX)). The decisions were not numbered.

Since the thirty-first session, as part of the new system adopted for symbols of General Assembly documents, resolutions and decisions have been identified by an arabic numeral, indicating the session, followed by an oblique stroke and another arabic numeral (for example: resolution 31/1, decision 31/308). When several resolutions or decisions are adopted under the same number, each of them is identified by a capital letter placed after the two numerals (for example: resolution 31/16 A, resolutions 31/6 A and B, decisions 31/406 A to E).*

2. Special sessions

Until the seventh special session, the resolutions of the General Assembly were identified by an arabic numeral followed, in parentheses, by the letter “S” and a roman numeral indicating the session (for example: resolution 3362 (S-VII)). The decisions were not numbered.

Since the eighth special session, resolutions and decisions have been identified by the letter “S” and an arabic numeral indicating the session, followed by an oblique stroke and another arabic numeral (for example: resolution S-8/1, decision S-8/11).

3. Emergency special sessions

Until the fifth emergency special session, the resolutions of the General Assembly were identified by an arabic numeral followed, in parentheses, by the letters “ES” and a roman numeral indicating the session (for example: resolution 2252 (ES-V)). The decisions were not numbered. Since the sixth emergency special session, resolutions and decisions have been identified by the letters “ES”, and an arabic numeral indicating the session, followed by an oblique stroke and another arabic numeral (for example: resolution ES-6/1, decision ES-6/11).

4. Assignment of numbers

In each of the series described above, the numbering follows the order of adoption. In the case of decisions, which are not issued in preliminary form as documents, numbers assigned follow a block of numbers set aside for the resolutions; the numbering of the decisions normally begins with the next series of hundreds. Since the fifty-seventh session, decisions on elections and appointments have begun with 401 and other decisions with 501 (for example: General Assembly decisions 57/401 and 57/501).

C. Resolutions and decisions of the Security Council

Resolutions of the Security Council are identified by an arabic numeral, representing the serial number of the particular resolution in the series of all resolutions of the Council, and the year of adoption, in parentheses. They do not bear a title.

Example :

Security Council resolution 479 (1980)

This system of numbering Security Council resolutions was instituted on 1 January 1965 and was applied retroactively to those adopted earlier. The resolutions, numbered in the order of their adoption, are published on a yearly basis in the series Resolutions and Decisions of the Security Council, in the Official Records of the Security Council for the corresponding year or period. (Beginning with resolutions and decisions adopted in 2001 and 2002, volumes of resolutions and decisions of the Security Council cover the period from 1 August of one year to 31 July of the next.) In this final form they are grouped under subject headings.

The numbers of resolutions adopted before 1 January 1965 may be found in the consolidated checklist of resolutions adopted by the Security Council from 1946 to 1964 (S/INF/19/Rev.1/Add.1).

               Decisions of the Security Council are not numbered.**

D. Resolutions and decisions of the Economic and Social Council

The resolutions and decisions of the Economic and Social Council are identified according to the systems explained below.

1. Resolutions

Until 1977 (up to and including the resumed sixty-third session), the resolutions of the Economic and Social Council were numbered consecutively and were identified by an arabic numeral followed by an indication of the session in parentheses (for example: resolution 1733 (LIV), resolution 1915 (ORG-75), resolution 2046 (S-III), adopted at the fifty-fourth session, the organizational session for 1975 and the third special session, respectively). When several resolutions were adopted under the same number, each of them was identified by a capital letter (for example: resolution 1926 B (LVIII), resolutions 1954 A to D (LIX)). The last resolution so numbered is resolution 2130 (LXIII), of 14 December 1977 . Exceptions to this rule are resolutions adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its first two sessions; in references to those resolutions, the session number (which was indicated, for those two sessions only, by an arabic numeral) precedes the resolution number (also indicated by an arabic numeral).

Since 1978, as part of the new system adopted for symbols of Council documents, the resolutions are numbered on a yearly basis and are identified by two arabic numerals separated by an oblique stroke, the first numeral indicating the year, the second the number of the resolution in the annual series (for example: resolution 1978/36).

2. Decisions

Until 1973 (up to and including the resumed fifty-fifth session), the decisions of the Council were not numbered. From 1974 to 1977 (up to and including the resumed sixty-third session), the decisions were numbered consecutively and were identified by an arabic numeral followed by an indication of the session in parentheses (for example: decision 64 (ORG-75), decision 78 (LVIII), adopted at the organizational session for 1975 and the fifty-eighth session, respectively). The last decision so numbered is decision 293 (LXIII), of 2 December 1977 .

Since 1978, as part of the new system adopted for symbols of Council documents, the decisions are numbered on a yearly basis and are identified by two arabic numerals separated by an oblique stroke, the first numeral indicating the year, the second the number of the decision in the annual series (for example: decision 1999/203).

E. References to the whole or to parts of composite resolutions

1. Resolutions grouped under a single resolution number

As indicated above, where two or more resolutions, each complete in itself, are grouped under a single resolution number and title, each resolution is further identified by a capital letter; it may or may not have a separate title, provided that, if one has a separate title, all should have separate titles. (See, for example, General Assembly resolutions grouped under the numbers 2522 (XXIV), 34/93 and 35/10.)

References to such resolutions are made as follows:

               (a) If it is desired to refer to the resolution as a whole (including all the resolutions), the capital letters identifying the separate resolutions should be mentioned.

Examples:

General Assembly resolutions 2522 A to F (XXIV)

General Assembly resolutions 34/93 A to R

General Assembly resolutions 35/10 A to C

               (b) If it is desired to refer to one or more specifically, the appropriate capital letter or letters should be placed between the arabic numeral and the roman numeral, under the old system, or after the number, under the new system.

Examples:

General Assembly resolution 2522 B (XXIV)

General Assembly resolution 34/3 B

Cases where such resolutions have been identified by roman numerals and/or capital letters may be met with, but the practice of all United Nations organs in this respect has now been standardized and capital letters only are used. In references to complete resolutions that have been identified by roman numerals, the roman numeral is treated in the same way as the more usual capital letter and placed between the arabic numeral and the roman numeral indicating the session.

Example :

Economic and Social Council resolution 159 IV (VII)

In cases where both roman numerals and letters have been used to identify resolutions grouped under one resolution number, both should be given, in the appropriate order, between the arabic numeral and the roman that indicates the session.

Example:

Economic and Social Council resolution 159 II B (VII)

2. Parts of resolutions

There are a number of resolutions in which parts of text that do not constitute complete resolutions have been identified by roman numerals; they may or may not have separate titles. Such parts of resolutions should be identified, for reference purposes, as sections, the word “section” and the identifying element or elements appearing after the number of the session.

Example:

General Assembly resolution 34/9 B, section I

Cases where such parts of resolutions have been identified by capital letters may be met with, but the practice of all United Nations organs in this respect has now been standardized, and roman numerals only should be used. In reference to parts of resolutions that have been identified by capital letters, the letter is treated in the same way as the more usual roman numeral.

Example:

General Assembly resolution 888 (XI), section A

The paragraphs of each section should be numbered consecutively beginning with 1.

F. Forms of issuance

Resolutions of the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council are first issued individually in provisional form as documents under the symbols A/RES/-, S/RES/- and E/RES/-, respectively, combined with the number of the resolution. It should be noted that resolutions should never be referred to by this document symbol. The correct forms of reference are explained in section E above.

Decisions of the Economic and Social Council are compiled, by session, in a document of the Council bearing a symbol in the E/[year]/INF/... series (for example, E/2012/INF/2 and Add.1).

Resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly and of the councils are later compiled and issued in final, edited form in a supplement to the Official Records of the respective organs.

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* Additional information on resolutions and decisions of the General Assembly is available from the United Nations Documentation: Research Guide website, including (1) an overview; (2) the full text of resolutions and decisions adopted by the General Assembly from 1946 to the present; and (3) a list of symbols assigned to each volume of resolutions and decisions published as Official Records since 1946. The Research Guide also includes an explanation of United Nations document symbols.

**  Access to the texts of Security Council resolutions from 1946 to the present and to information on Security Council actions, meetings and related press releases is provided in the Research Guide.

 

 
     
   
 


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