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Department for General Assembly and Conference Management

Editing

Editors ensure that United Nations documents are correct, clear, consistent and readable. They make sure that established terminology is used and that editorial standards, policies and practices are followed. They work with authors to organize and refine their reports, sometimes at the early drafting stage. They work on documents for many bodies of the Organization, including the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, and their subsidiary bodies, as well as on submissions from other intergovernmental bodies and from Member States. The range of subjects is vast, as befits the scope of the Organization’s concerns, ranging from climate change to statistics, from peace and security to the empowerment of women, from economic development to human rights. The principal concern of editors is to make sure that the text accurately reflects what the author intends it to say, that it is comprehensible to the reader and that it can be easily translated into other languages.

Editors must be alert to subtle nuances of meaning and attuned to political sensitivities. Frequent consultation takes place with author departments to ascertain exact meaning in order to avoid ambiguities and misstatements.

An important role of the Editing Section is to issue the official records of the major United Nations organs, consisting of the final authentic texts of their resolutions and decisions, in the six official languages. The editors work with the translation services to ensure consistency across the six language versions.

All of the editors have English as their main language and have passed a rigorous exam that tests editing skills in English and knowledge of two other official languages. Although around 95 per cent of the documents submitted for editing are drafted in English, the Editing Section is able to work in all six official languages.

The Editing Section maintains the United Nations Editorial Manual Online, which serves as the authoritative statement of the style to be followed in drafting, editing and reproducing United Nations documents, publications and other written material. The searchable guide includes a link to an online report-writing course, links to online reference materials and an editorial help desk function.


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