Search tips

The following information provides specifics of the search mechanism available within the jurisprudence database.

Document Searches

Documents can be searched from the [document search] page. Multiple options for the available criteria can be selected allowing flexible refinement and combination of results. Individual documents can be found within the database by entering the United Nations symbol for the document in question.

The document search does allow for fully multi-lingual searching in any of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is important to note that not all jurisprudence documents are made available in all six of the official languages however the database does contain wherever available all translations for a given document. Although there are very limited exceptions all documents within the system are translated to English language and therefore whilst all available documents will be returned for searches in other languages keyword searches using English language will ensure that as many documents as possible are found. It is possible to use the database in any given language and still conduct keyword searches using another language.

Search Criteria

For document searches the results can be obtained by any of a keyword search, entering the document symbol and selecting the year of publication.

Keyword searching is case-insensitive and can be performed in one of two ways by selecting the desired search type; either ‘all of these words’ in which case only documents in which all of the supplied keywords can be found are returned or ‘any of these words’ in which case all documents where at least one of the supplied keywords are found. In addition a specific phrase can be searched for either alone in combination by enclosing the desired phrase within quotation marks e.g. “forced labour” as a keyword. Certain noise words are omitted from searches depending on the likely volume of not representative results occurring and the following reserved words are always omitted except when they exist as part of a quoted phrase: ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘not’ and the symbol ‘&’.

In addition to the above criteria searches can be refined further by optionally selecting one or more options for each of the following filters: geographic region or state/entity or a specific body (e.g. Committee against Torture).

Viewing and using results

Results for both the annotation and document searches are returned in a tabular, paged format. By default 50 results are shown per page though the number of results displayed can be increased to 100, or decreased to 25 if desired. The pages of results can be navigated using the controls at both the top and bottom of each page which allow the selection of the first, last, next and previous pages as well as the pages surrounding the currently selected page by number.

Document search results

For a document search a single result is returned for each unique document found ordered in reverse chronological order i.e. with the most recently published documents first. The results provided show the title, symbol and body for the document as well as providing a link to view all annotations in the system for the document. The title is a web link to the document, in the selected language where available, with any keywords provided as part of the search criteria highlighted. The symbol is a link to the document page in the Universal Human Rights Index where all available language versions of the document can be downloaded in Word (both 2003 & 2007 formats), PDF and HTML.

The ordering of the results is dependent on the search criteria used. For keyword searches the results are ordering by relevancy the highest ranking match to the supplied keyword displayed first. If no keyword is provided then results are ordered alphabetically by State/Entity and then by publication date with the most recent documents first. In all cases the results are further subdivided by the document to which they belong, the title shown being the symbol of the document which can be clicked to view the document page in the Universal Human Rights Index which also provides the opportunity to view all annotations for the selected document.

The ordering of results can be changed using the option list above the results and can be set to one of: relevance, state/entity, human right, body or publication date. In addition dynamic filter lists are provided alongside the sorting and paging controls allowing the results displayed to be further refined. These allow the selection of a specific state/entity, human rights body or publication year from those among the results found.

To allow further analysis and use of the results found controls are provided to export, print and link to the result set. When selecting the print option all results found are printed without paging in a new window. Similarly for exporting all results are provided in Comma Separated Values (CSV) format which can be downloaded and opened with Excel or similar spread sheet software. The option to link to these results provides a permanent link directly to this result set within the Universal Human Rights Index which can for example be saved as a bookmark for future use or copied to an email to share with others.

*This database is based on a database designed and developed by the Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) of Utrecht University which has agreed to make its database available to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.