Document Types and Symbols

This guide is intended as a general introduction to various types of UNCITRAL documents. UNCITRAL documents are published in the six official languages of the United Nations - Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish. Each language document has an identical symbol, consisting of letters and numbers. Below the symbol there is a date which indicates when the document was issued by the substantive office; this is not the date of publication of the document.

Document Symbols

UNCITRAL document symbols follow a pattern and refer to the body to which the document is submitted, rather than the body where the document originated. Each document carries the same document symbol and date in all language versions.

Also see: Types of UNCITRAL Documents.

  • A/xx/17: refers to the Annual Report of the Commission, where "A" refers to the General Assembly, "/xx" refers to a particular session of the General Assembly, and "/17" identifies the document as supplement 17 to the Official Records of the General Assembly.
  • A/CN.9/xxx: refers to a document submitted to the Commission, where "A" refers to the General Assembly, "/CN.9" refers to UNCITRAL, which is the ninth commission reporting to the General Assembly, and "/xxx" is a consecutive number assigned to that particular document. For example, the Report on the 5th UNCITRAL-INSOL Judicial Colloquium on Cross-Border Insolvency, 2003, was assigned the document symbol A/CN.9/554. The letter "A" signifies that the document is a General Assembly document. "/CN.9" refers to UNCITRAL, which is the ninth commission that reports to the General Assembly. "/554" is the sequential number assigned to the identify the document.

  • A/CN.9/WG.xx/ refers to a working paper submitted to a working group of the Commission, where "A" refers to the General Assembly, "/CN.9" refers to UNCITRAL, "WG.xx" refers to a working group where ".xx" represents a roman numeral designating the particular working group, and "" designates the document as a working paper where ".xxx" is a consecutive number assigned to working papers of that particular working group. For example, document symbol A/CN.9/WG.IV/WP.86/Add.1 was assigned by the Secretariat to the Draft Guide to Enactment of the UNCITRAL Uniform Rules on Electronic Signatures. "/WG.IV" refers to Working Group IV, the Working Group on Electronic Commerce, "/WP.86" indicates that the document is a working paper, in this case number 86, for consideration by the Working Group at one of its sessions, and "/Add. 1" indicates that the document was issued as an addendum to working paper 86.

In addition to the basic components of symbols listed above, a final component may be included to indicate designate the nature of the document.
Such final symbols include:

  • .../Add. x: which refers to an addendum;
  • .../Corr.: which refers to a corrigendum (corrigenda are not necessarily issued in all languages);
  • .../Rev.: which refers to a revision which replaces text previously issued;
  • .../*: which refers to a document which was reissued for technical reasons.
  • .../SR.: indicates that the document is a summary record of a meeting, associating individual speakers and their comments. Summary records are typically prepared for sessions of the Commission in the preparation of a legal text but not for sessions of the Commission that do not relate to its legislative function in the preparation of a particular draft text, nor are they prepared for meetings of working groups.

Document Types

UNCITRAL documents appear in a variety of forms, depending on their function. Also see: Document Symbols.

  • Resolutions of the General Assembly: During its annual ordinary session, the United Nations General Assembly may adopt one or more resolutions regarding UNCITRAL work. General Assembly resolutions are first issued in provisional form and are later reissued at the end of the year as the last numbered supplement of the Official Records. For example, A/RES/54/103 is a provisional General Assembly document containing resolution 54/103 adopted during the General Assembly's 54th session. Prior to 1976, provisionally-issued General Assembly documents were sequentially numbered and did not contain an arabic number indicating their session (e.g. A/2205 (XXI)).
    General Assembly resolutions
  • Annual reports of the Commission: At the end of each annual session, the Commission adopts a report for submission to the General Assembly. These annual reports are issued as supplement No. 17 to the Official Records of each session of the General Assembly. For example, the Report of the Commission on the work of its thirty-second session was printed as document A/54/17 (Supplement No. 17 to the Official Records of the 54th Session of the General Assembly).
    Commission reports
  • Commission documents: Documents produced by the Secretariat for the Commission include, inter alia, analytical commentary, draft uniform rules, notes, reports, studies, compilations of information. Irrespective of their content, the documents are assigned the same type of document symbol in the A/CN.9/xxx series.
    The reports of working group sessions, which are prepared by the Secretariat and adopted by the Working Group at the end of each session, typically held twice yearly, are also submitted to the Commission and are assigned a sequential number in the A/CN.9/xxx series.
    Working Groups reports on the Commission session pages
    Working Groups reports on the Working Group session pages - at the top of each Working Group session paragraph
  • Working Group documents: The Secretariat prepares documents as working papers for consideration by working groups. These documents are assigned a symbol in the A/CN.9/WG.xx/ series.
    Working Groups
  • Conference room papers: Conference room papers are informal papers generally issued during a meeting, such as in-process drafts and proposals by working group members and observers. They bear the document symbol suffix "/CRP". Conference room papers carry no authoritative value for research or citation.
  • Information series papers: Information series papers, which bear the document symbol suffix "/INF", typically contain the list of participants at Commission sessions or working group meetings and are not reproduced for general distribution.
  • UNCITRAL bibliography: The UNCITRAL Law Library staff prepares for the Commission an annual Bibliography of writings related to the work of UNCITRAL. The bibliography includes references to books, articles, and dissertations in a variety of languages, classified according to the subject. The bibliography is updated periodically on the UNCITRAL web site and is also reproduced in the UNCITRAL Yearbook.
  • UNCITRAL Yearbook: All substantive UNCITRAL documents are collected and reproduced in the UNCITRAL Yearbook. The Yearbook is published in English, French, Russian and Spanish.

Additional Resources