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How to use data sources: United Nations (UN)

This is about the United Nations (UN) data, who can use it and how to use it.

As a novel start-up in a poorly-researched space, we needed to validate the problems Whirli is solving. Sapio Research were fantastic partners from start to finish – creative in brainstorming angles, careful in designing the questions, and rigorous in analysing the results. The research brought a wealth of insights, backed by hard figures, for our business decision making and for us to talk about publicly in the press.

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This is part of Sapio Research’s series: 16 Useful Desk Research Sources and how to use them

What is it?

The United Nations (UN) is comprised of 193 member states and acts on issues which are the forefront of humanity, for example, peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, food production and more.

The UN provides a setting for discussion between members.

The UN has five primary goals:

  • Maintain International peace and security
    • The UN works to prevent conflict by helping parties involved make peace.
  • Protect Human rights
    • Since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) brought human rights into the realm of international law, the UN has protected human rights through legal instruments.
  • Deliver humanitarian aid
    • The UN is relied on to coordinate relief for natural and human-made disasters.
  • Promote sustainable development
    • The UN continues to focus on improving people’s well-being. They promote prosperity and economic opportunity, greater social well-being, and protection of the environment.
  • Uphold international law.
    • There are principles of international relation which the UN Charter codifies.

The UN publishes a range of resources including photo, video, radio, TV, and press releases. On top of these the UN publishes the secretary general’s annual report, this is one of the most useful documents the UN puts out.

Who can use it

The resources produced by the UN could mainly be used by policy-makers in local or national governments, their reports highlight world issues that need addressing.

How to use it

One of the most useful publications accessible on the UN’s website is the secretary general’s report. To access this from the homepage click on documents and then secretary general’s report from the drop down list. 

On the following page, you can download the full report and past reports as PDF files. Or, you can navigate by section.

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