United Nations classification numbers--known as "symbols"--are composed of letters and numerals separated by slashes. A symbol is printed on the cover of a document--usually in the upper right-hand corner--and is made up of three to five segments.
For additional information see the Government Information Services page.
1. The first segment--and sometimes the second as well--identifies the document's issuing body. Ordinarily, the first segments of documents issued by the U.N.'s main bodies consisted of the following:
2. The most common segments for subsidiary bodies include the following:
Example: A/ in the symbol A/50/PV.45 indicates that the document was issued by the General Assembly.
Example: In the symbol A/C.5/49/25, the first two segments-A/C.5/--indicate that the document was produced by the General Assembly's Fifth Committee.
Occasionally, the second segment indicates not the issuing subsidiary body but rather the type of document, as in the case of resolutions. Documents that follow the format S/RES/[number] are Security Council resolutions, and those that follow the format A/RES/[session]/[number] are General Assembly resolutions.
3. The segment following the issuing body usually indicates the session or year in which the document was published.
Example: The symbol A/C.5/49/25 was assigned to a document produced during the General Assembly's 49th session.
Example:The symbol E/1996/28 was assigned to a document issued in 1996.
4. The number following the session or year is the individual document number.
Example: A/C.5/49/25 is the classification number for the 25th document produced by its issuing body in the 49th session.
5. Some symbols also include an acronym or abbreviation-placed in the middle or at the end-- denoting a document type or distribution classification or indicating that the original text has been modified.
Example: In E/CN.4/1996/NGO/75, "NGO/" indicates that the document was produced by a nongovernmental organization.
Add.: Addendum (an addition of text to the main document)
Corr.: Corrigendum (a modification of a document)
CRP.: Conference room paper
INF.: Information series
L.: Limited distribution
NGO/: Non-governmental organization
PV.: Verbatim record of a meeting
R.: Restricted distribution
RT/: Record of testimony
SR.: Summary record
WP: Working paper
The symbols for certain subsidiary bodies begin with the subbody's acronym, omitting the letter that identifies the parent body. Symbols for the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) are a case in point. Even though the committee is part of the General Assembly, symbols for CEDAW always begin with CEDAW/ rather than A/CEDAW/. The table below lists some of the U.N. subbodies to which this practice applies.
Symbol: Subsidiary Body
AT/: Administrative Tribunal
CAT/C/: Committee Against Torture
CCPR/C/: Human Rights Committee
CEDAW/C/: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
CERD/C/: Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
CRC/C/: Committee on the Rights of the Childd
DP/: United Nations Development Programme
DPI/: Dept. of Public Information
ECE/: Economic Commission for Europe
ID/: United Nations Industrial Development Organization*
LC/: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
UNCTAD/: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
UNEP/: United Nations Environment Programme
UNIDIR/: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research
UNIDO/: United Nations Industrial Development Organization*
*These prefixes were used for UNIDO documents when the organization was a division within the United Nations. UNIDO became an independent, Specialized Agency in 1985.