The Verbatim Reporting Service produces official – verbatim, or word-for-word – records, in the six official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish), of intergovernmental bodies of the United Nations that are entitled to receive this type of meeting record, such as the General Assembly, the Security Council, the First Committee, the Disarmament Commission and other bodies.
Verbatim records are part of the institutional memory of the United Nations. Also referred to as procès-verbaux (or PVs), verbatim records are issued simultaneously in the six official languages. They serve as a record of who spoke at a meeting, what exactly was said and what was decided, and serve as the edited transcript of the proceedings. Each language version contains the statements delivered in that language and translations of the statements given in the other languages.
Role of verbatim reporters
Verbatim reporters translate and edit speeches delivered by delegates, using written statements and digital audio recordings for reference. Combining the skills of translation, transcription, editing and fact-checking, verbatim reporters ensure the substantive accuracy of all statements given at a meeting while maintaining a uniformly high standard of style. They correct grammatical errors, specify the order of presentations without changing the meaning, verify quotations and insert necessary references, and check facts and details against the documentation of the body concerned and all available databases. According to the rules of procedure of the body concerned, they work under tight deadlines: records of meetings are issued within a few days, or even overnight in the case of Security Council meetings.
In accordance with prescribed models for parliamentary procedures, verbatim reporters employ standardized formulas when dealing with procedural matters and the conduct of voting. They must be thoroughly up to date on all matters discussed in meetings of intergovernmental bodies, which often requires extensive research in different areas. Their work represents the permanent, historical record – in written form – of all oral statements made at a meeting. Whereas in the past it was necessary for verbatim reporters to be present at all meetings, they are now able to work from digital sound recordings of meetings, which are transmitted electronically.
In addition to excellent language skills in at least three official languages, verbatim reporters are expected to have knowledge of a broad range of subjects dealt with by the United Nations, that is, in the political, social, economic, disarmament, counter-terrorism, legal, humanitarian, peacekeeping, financial and administrative, scientific and technical fields. All verbatim reporting posts are located at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Pursuant to rule 58 (a) of the rules of procedure of the General Assembly, the First Committee is the only Main Committee of the Assembly entitled to verbatim records.
First Committee verbatim records can be found by searching the document symbol for verbatim records (A/C.1/[number of the session of the General Assembly]/PV.[number]) on the Official Document System or through the search engine provided on the website of the Assembly.