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What are summary records?


Summary records are official documents constituting the permanent records of the United Nations bodies for which they are authorized. They are intended to provide a clear, concise and accurate picture of the proceedings. They summarize the views of the speakers and record the decisions taken. A summary record is not a verbatim record of the proceedings. The names and titles of the speakers are given in the summary records.

Teams of precis-writers draft and revise summary records, listening to the proceedings in the original language as far as possible in order to ensure that the records are accurate. They verify names, titles, references and information presented by speakers and need to understand the procedures followed by each committee in order to produce records that are coherent and consistent over time. 

How are summary records prepared?


The right to request summary records of meetings has been established in a resolution or other official document.


The requirement of summary records is indicated with the submission of the meeting request in gMeetsThrough the Meetings Management Section (MMS), the UN entity provides access to:

  • Written statements and notes for the purpose of checking against delivery
  • Information about changes in the meeting agenda, the time and place of the meeting, including platforms for hybrid and remote meetings

During the meeting, MMS compiles a list of speakers and shares it with précis-writers. The summary record is prepared by the English Translation Section within one week of the meeting.


If the conference secretariat receives a request from a Member State or State Party for corrections, it transmits it through a memorandum or note verbale which should be submitted within a week of receipt of the record to the Documents Management Section.

The Documents Management Section forwards the request to the English Translation Section. The correction is checked against the sound recording of the meeting to determine whether the record can be changed.

If the correction can be made, the proposed corrected text, will be sent back to the requesting entity for verification. The Documents Management Section requests reissuance for technical reasons.

If the correction cannot be made, the Chief of the English Translation Section notifies the requesting entity to explain the situation.


The Documents Management Section coordinates translation of the summary record, if applicable. The summary record is issued and uploaded to the Official Document System (ODS). Paper copies are distributed according to the applicable distribution pattern.


Provide a copy of any prepared text in advance to the secretariat staff so that précis-writers and interpreters can refer to the text as you read it. Refer to paragraph numbers, not pages, in official United Nations documents. The pagination of United Nations documents often varies between language versions, but paragraph numbers remain the same. Give the paragraph references before reading out quotations, not after. Speak at a reasonable pace so that précis-writers and interpreters — and indeed other members of the audience — can follow your arguments. If you feel that a particular point or quotation should be placed on the record, say so.

Corrections should be submitted in one of the working languages. They should be set forth in a memorandum and also incorporated in a copy of the record.
They should be sent to within one week of the date of the document in question. 

Any corrections submitted will be duly checked against the audio recordings of the meeting. Any corrections to the records of public meetings of a committee are consolidated in a single corrigendum, to be issued shortly after the end of the session.

Summary records are posted as soon as they are available on the committee web site under the relevant session and can also be found in the Official Document System (ODS) of the UN.