Editorial Manual | Policy questions
Mention of names of commercial firms in United Nations publications
Mentioning the names of commercial firms, industrial enterprises and other businesses (hereinafter referred to as "firms") and their products or services in United Nations documents and publications may imply endorsement or criticism by the United Nations and should, therefore, be avoided. Whenever possible, generic descriptions should be used instead.
Examples: spreadsheet (not: Excel file); slide presentation (not: PowerPoint presentation); a photocopy (not: Xerox copy); a major Brazilian oil company (not: Petrobras).
There are, nevertheless, exceptions to this general principle:
- In a technical report or a report on a specific question, such as human rights and transnational corporations or activities organized by the Secretariat with corporate partners, that must by its nature involve reference to specific firms, their names may be mentioned.
"Companies such as GoDaddy, Google and Airbnb have taken action to remove white nationalist and neo-Nazi content from their services." (A/73/312, para. 35)
"Women make up 15 per cent of artificial intelligence research staff at Facebook and 10 per cent at Google; only 2.5 per cent of Google's workforce is black, while Facebook and Microsoft are each at 4 per cent..." (A/74/493, fn 118)
"In Mombasa, the Working Group visited the Owino Uhuru settlement, where a lead-acid battery recycling factory, Metal Refinery EPZ, ... had contaminated the adjacent settlement and the blood of residents with high levels of lead." (A/HRC/41/43/Add.2)
- When reference needs to be made to a process that bears a firm's name, the process may be designated by name.
- If the author of a paper or article reproduced in a United Nations document or publication is affiliated with a firm, it may be appropriate to mention that affiliation in the note or footnote designating the author, for example, in the interest of transparency.
- A firm may be given credit for a photograph or figure used with its permission. The photograph or figure may not be used, however, if it implies endorsement or criticism of the firm by the United Nations.
- In communications from Member States circulated as United Nations documents, firm names should be retained.
The names of firms should be blurred or removed from photographs and other artwork reproduced in United Nations documents or publications, except in cases where they are used by express permission of the firm under the exception given above.
Documents or publications that, for any of the reasons mentioned above, contain the name of a firm, product, service or process may bear a disclaimer, normally in an explanatory note, to the effect that mention of any firm, product, service or licensed process does not imply endorsement or criticism by the United Nations.