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Latin American Studies: United Nations

An introductory guide to doing research in Latin American studies in the UCSD Library

Additional Resources

The UN provides an incredible amount of primary and secondary source material useful for Latin American Studies projects, as well as International Studies research in general.  Thus, it does not merely belong under Primary Sources.

To understand how to Navigate UN resources, it is helpful to have an idea about the UN's Organization, as represented by this Chart:

At the same time, although it is very helpful to use the above to identify particular sites for specific kinds of information, there are some excellent general starting points for all UN Research: 

The Main UN website has an amazing amount of information, but can be daunting.  One helpful strategy to navigating is to use the A-Z Site Index (under the search box at the top right corner of the page)

UN Library

This link lets you search either in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library (which will point to some print and online resources) that you will have to find elsewhere, OR in the Search for UN Digital Library which includes digitized UN material, such as documents, voting data, speeches, maps, and open access publications.

UN Archives

UN News Centre: Search for UN news by region, topic of focus (Iraq, Middle East, terrorism etc.), or by UN body. Includes press releases, factsheets, maps and other resources.


In addition, there are excellent Research Guides created by the UN itself that will help you navigate UN Resources for your research.  These include:

UN Documentation Research Guide - Dag Hammarskjold Library: Includes explanations of documents symbols, indexes, resolutions and decisions, speeches, parliamentary documents, and more. Includes subguides to the General Assembly, the Security Council, and the Economic and Social Council as well as on special topics. 

United Nations Research Guides & Resources: Subject guides to key United Nations publications covering a wide range of topics, including international law, human rights, economic development, peacekeeping, and more.

United Nations Research Guide from Northwestern University

United Nations Divisions and Resources Dedicated to Specific Topics/Issues

Gender and Land Rights DatabaseContains country-level information on social, economic, political, and cultural issues as related to gender inequalities.

Human Development IndexThe HDI was created to emphasize that people and their capabilities should be the ultimate criteria for assessing the development of a country, not economic growth alone. It thus provides an alternative way to measure quality of life and "wealth" than GDP. Provides access to Data/Statistics, Literature including _The Annual Development Report, News, and Publications, and Country Profiles.

SEPAL – System for earth observations, data access, processing & analysis for land monitoring

UN Climate Action Page

UN Development Programs Project Website 

UN Economic and Social CouncilThe United Nations’ central platform for reflection, debate, and innovative thinking on sustainable development.

UN Environment Programme

UN Food and Agriculture Organization 

UN HabitatUN program dedicated to supporting urban development and the planning and building of a better urban future for next generations by promoting economic growth and social development to reduce poverty and inequalities.

UN International Organization for Migration

UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)Provides information about Military Expenditures. 

UN Office on Drugs and Crime

UN Population Fund : UNFPA address reproductive health and population issues, and raises awareness of these issues in all countries.

UN Population Information NetworkGuide to UN information and website on population issues.

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)Information sharing portals with data about UNHCR and partners’ response to current emergencies and other protracted refugee crises

UN Secretary-General's Database on Violence Against Women 

UN Women 

World Health Organization 

About the UN

The United Nations is the intergovernmental organization (IGO) that facilitates cooperation on international law, security, economic development, social progress, and human rights issues. Almost every recognized independent country is a member state. The UN is divided into the General Assembly (the main deliberative body), the Security Council (which deals with matters of peace and security), the Economic and Social Council (which promotes economic and social cooperation and development), the Secretariat (which provides studies, information, and facilities needed by the UN), and the International Court of Justice. The UN System is comprised of other agencies such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF (UN Children's Fund), UNDP (UN Development Programme), and UNEP (UN Environmental Programme).

Official documents cover the daily work of the United Nations. The United Nations sales publications deal with a multitude of topics and include the environment, human rights, education, gender, social justice, health, country- or region-specific policy issues, and statistics.

General United Nations Resources

The Main UN website has an amazing amount of information, but can be daunting.  One helpful strategy to navigating is to use the A-Z Site Index (under the search box at the top right corner of the page)

UN Library

This link lets you search either in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library (which will point to some print resources -- such as books) that you will have to find elsewhere, OR in the Search for UN Digital Library which includes digitized UN material, such as documents, voting data, speeches, maps, and open access publications.

ODS -- UN Official Document System 

Comprehensive (but not complete) coverage of all types of publicly-available UN documents starting in the early to mid-1990s. Includes resolutions back to 1946 and selected Security Council and General Assembly documents back to 1985.

UN Data 

Wide range of economic, social, cultural, and demographic indicators: population, environment, health, economics, technology, trade, refugees, and more.

UNESCO Institute for Statistics 

United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) statistical institute website. Includes statistical data sets of world education and literacy indicators, and selected data from the UNESCO Statistical Yearbook.

UN Collection on Critical Global Issues 

Collection of free ebooks on many topics throughout the world

UN News 

UN-I-QUE - United Nations Info Quest 

Database designed by the Dag Hammarskjöld Library in New York to provide quick access to document symbols/sales numbers for UN materials, from 1946 onwards.

UN Treaty Collection 

Includes Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General, United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS), and Monthly Statements of treaties and International Agreements. Includes full text of treaties back to 1945.

UN Member States on the Record 

Provides direct access to official documents reflecting the views of United Nations Member States by bringing together in one place documents available elsewhere.


CEPAL/ECLAC: Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe/Economic Commision for Latin America


Economic Commission for Latin America (Portuguese and Spanish available)

Founded in 1948, CEPAL/ECLAC is one of the five regional commissions of the United Nations, aiming to promote the economic development of Latin America and reinforce economic ties among Latin American countries and between the region and other countries worldwide.  

The CEPAL/ECLAC Library has many resources to help users learn to navigate the site and identify useful information, including contacting librarians and using research guides.

The CEPAL/ECLAC Topics page lists a range of themes, such as particular demographic categories such as Child and Adolescence or Gender, Climate Change, Economic Indicators and Projections, Energy, Food and Nutrition Security, and Population and Housing Censuses.  Each topic page includes news, publications, videos, and overviews of CEPAL/ECLAC activities related to the particular topic.

Major Tabs on the CEPAL/ECLAC homepage include Publications, Data/Statistics and Press Center.

The Publication page features Latest Publications, Flagship Publications, and Publications by Collection and by Theme.  Flagship Publications include: 

Foreign Direct Investment Data (1997-present): to get there from the main website, click on publications and search by the title

Social Panorama of Latin America (1991-present)

Economic Survey of Latin America and the Caribbean (1990-present)

Preliminary Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean (1992-present)

Statistical Yearbook of Latin America and the Caribbean (1991-present)

These and more titles can also be found through searching on the Publications and CEPAL Digital Repository.  For exmaple, to find  Latin America and The Caribbean in the World Economy (1977-Present) > go to the CEPAL Digital Repository and search by Titles Latin America and the Caribbean in the World Economy > Next, Click on "Advanced Filters," and put in Series Title - Equals - Latin America and the Caribbean in the World Economy

In addition to the aggregate CEPAL/ECLAC statistical database CEPALSTAT, CEPAL/ECLAC Statistics and Data page  provides a number of more specialized databases, including:

REDATAM (providing access to census, survey, vital statistic, and related materials for local, regional, and national analyses and thematic maps)

TRADECAN (Competitive Analysis of Nations (CAN) database combined with CEPAL/ECLAC  analytical softwares)

MAGICPLUS (Module for thea analysis of the growth of international commerce)

SIGCI (Interactive Graphic System for International Trade Data)