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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Library Organization and Classification Systems

This guide will help you understand the different classification systems in the library.

United Nations Documents Classification

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:

  • Symbol: Issuing Body
  • A/: General Assembly
  • E/: Economic and Social Council
  • S/: Security Council
  • ST/: Secretariat
  • T/: Trusteeship Council

2. The most common segments for subsidiary bodies include the following:

  • Symbol: Subsidiary Body
  • AC.: Ad hoc committee
  • E C.: Standing or permanent committee
  • CN.: Commission
  • CONF.: Conference
  • GC.: Governing Council
  • PC.: Preparatory Committee
  • SC.: Subcommittee
  • Sub.: Subcommission
  • WG.: Working group
  • WP.: Working party

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.

Acronyms and Abbreviations

  1. Add.: Addendum (an addition of text to the main document)

  2. Amend.: Amendment

  3. Corr.: Corrigendum (a modification of a document)

  4. CRP.: Conference room paper

  5. Excerpt: Excerpt

  6. INF.: Information series

  7. L.: Limited distribution

  8. MIN.: Minutes

  9. NGO/: Non-governmental organization

  10. PET/: Petition

  11. PV.: Verbatim record of a meeting

  12. R.: Restricted distribution

  13. RES/: Resolution

  14. Rev.: Revision

  15. RT/: Record of testimony

  16. SR.: Summary record

  17. 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.

  1. Symbol: Subsidiary Body

  2. AT/: Administrative Tribunal

  3. CAT/C/: Committee Against Torture

  4. CCPR/C/: Human Rights Committee

  5. CEDAW/C/: Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women

  6. CERD/C/: Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

  7. CRC/C/: Committee on the Rights of the Childd

  8. DP/: United Nations Development Programme

  9. DPI/: Dept. of Public Information

  10. ECE/: Economic Commission for Europe

  11. ID/: United Nations Industrial Development Organization*

  12. LC/: Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean

  13. UNCTAD/: United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

  14. UNEP/: United Nations Environment Programme

  15. UNIDIR/: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research

  16. 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.