Library & Archives is the official repository of all documents produced or held by UN Geneva that have enduring historical and administrative values. The Institutional Memory Section manages these documents, which are divided into records and archives.
Records are information created, received, and maintained by the Organization that provide evidence of an activity, decision, or transaction. Archives are records that have been assessed as having enduring value and are no longer used for official business, which at the United Nations is usually after 20 years of the closure of the file.
Archival Fonds and Collections include those from UN Geneva Archives, League of Nations, International Peace Movements, and private papers. The entire collection comprises seven linear kilometers of archives and eight linear kilometers of records, plus over 1TB of electronic information.
Library & Archives digitizes archives, records, and official documents. Its largest current project is Total Digital Access to the League of Nations Archives (2017-2022), which will ensure state-of-the-art free online access and the digital and physical preservation of the entirety of the League of Nations Archives.
Search the Archives
The United Nations Geneva Library & Archives digitizes and provides online access to its historical collections.
Tools and Services
Accessing and consulting the Archives
The Archives of the League of Nations are entirely accessible. United Nations records over 20 years old are generally open for public research, unless the classification level “Strictly Confidential” (or related) applies. Records under 20 years old which are not classified may occasionally be accessed on a case-by-case basis, subject to the written consent of the originating office.
For restricted records, the public can submit an Application for Clearance to Access Restricted Records. This application will be forwarded to the record originating office for approval. The applicant will be informed of the decision. Archives staff can provide additional information about these requests. Researchers are advised to begin this process well in advance of their expected visit. Users should use information gained from their research only to analyse the general development. They should not report on any specific situation which could lead to the identification of an individual, and they should not disclose any information which could place anyone in danger or compromise the necessary confidentiality of the internal decision-making processes of the United Nations.
- Physical archives can only be consulted on-site at the Archives Reading Room (B.340). Prior to arrival, researchers must submit a request for consultation in order to reserve a seat in the Reading Room, have materials for consultation prepared, and facilitate access to the Palais des Nations. Our archivists are available to discuss research interests, provide information on relevant sources, and arrange an appointment for an on-site visit. When making your request, please be as specific as possible about your topic and any previous consultation you have had with us. Reading Room User Regulations.
- We provide online consultation and reference services similar to those provided on-site, including access to the scanned materials and scanning services where possible. Subject to researchers’ needs, we can provide consultation via e-mail or live online conferencing. For these requests, please Ask an archivist.
- The United Nations Archives Geneva is currently implementing the Total Digital Access to the League of Nations Archives Project (2017-2022), which will provide for the digitization and online access of the entire League of Nations Archives.
During this project, however, some archives materials may be inaccessible to researchers in the Reading Room for up to several months. If you plan to consult materials in person in Geneva, please contact us for more details and to ensure access to materials before your arrival.
Read more about the LONTAD project.
Monday - Friday
8.30 a.m. - 5.30 p.m.
The Library & Archives is closed on weekends and UN Geneva official holidays, as well as during our yearly inventory in late December.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic situation, the Library & Archives reading rooms are temporarily closed to the public.
Official Holidays for 2020 at the United Nations Office at Geneva:
Guided tours of the Library, Archives and the Museum can be organized upon request, including for external visitors and
groups. Visitors can request separate visits of the three services, or any combination of the visits.
Visits can be organized in several languages.
Find the Library & Archives
The Library & Archives are located inside the United Nations in Geneva, in Building B of the Palais des Nations.
Visitors must enter through the Pregny Gate.
Policies, Reproductions and Citations of UN Archives
- United Nations is not in a position to release users from any obligations in respect to copyright held by persons whose works may be found in the archives.
- Reproduction of archival materials is allowed by means of a digital camera or mobile device for non-commercial, personal, or research use only. Any other use, including but not limited to commercial or scholarly reproductions, redistribution, publication, or transmission, in any format, without prior authorisation from the United Nations Library & Archives Geneva is strictly prohibited.
- United Nations Library & Archives Geneva can provide some reproduction, subject to the workload constraints of the archivists. The United Nations shall not be obliged to carry out the work of reproduction, even against payment. Any requests and subsequent agreement for bulk reproduction of materials, however, shall be subject to a Memorandum of Understanding established between the researcher/institution and the UN Library & Archives Geneva.
- When citing, authors should credit United Nations Archives Geneva.
- The United Nations Library & Archives Geneva is not responsible for the content of the articles, books, or other content produced by the researchers.
UNESCO Memory of the World
The League of Nations Archives have been registered on UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register since 2009. This collection, preserved in its entirety by UN Geneva, was recognized as having unique global importance and meets the criteria established by UNESCO for the Memory of the World Programme to facilitate preservation, assist with universal access, and increase awareness worldwide for documentary heritage of international, regional, and national significance.
The Institutional Memory Section implements the Total Digital Access to the League of Nations Archives (2017-2022) project, which will make the entire League of Nations Archives available online and will ensure long-term physical and digital preservation.
UN Library & Archives Geneva Mandate
THE LONGEST-SERVING UNITED NATIONS LIBRARY
- A centre for research on multilateralism and an instrument of international understanding
- Managing the Library’s heritage of collections spanning over 100 years
- Supporting the documentary, informational, and research needs of staff, diplomats, and external researchers
- Processing and extracting information from its collections for inclusion in databases and publications
- Hosting events, talks, and seminars on topics related to the work of the UN
PRESERVING THE INSTITUTIONAL MEMORY OF UN GENEVA
- coordinating UN Geneva archives and records management
- custodian of UN Geneva’s heritage of invaluable historical collections spanning over 100 years including League of Nations archives
- managing the UN Museum Geneva and artwork and audiovisual collections
- coordinating digitization and digital preservation
COORDINATING UN GENEVA CULTURAL DIPLOMACY
- organizing cultural activities at UN Geneva, including exhibitions, concerts and performances, film screenings, cultural conferences, and donations of artworks
- providing a forum for interaction among peoples and cultures as a foundation for building peace and prosperity across the world
- chairing the UN Geneva Cultural Activities Committee
COMMON SPACE FOR KNOWLEDGE AND LEARNING
- coordinating the UN Knowledge & Learning Commons together with the Centre for Learning and Multilingualism
- generating new opportunities for learning and knowledge exchange at the UN Geneva
- encouraging innovation, collaboration, and co-creation on subjects relevant to professionals in the area of multilateralism