Collection LEG - Legal Instruments

Identity area

Reference code



Legal Instruments


  • 1946-2014 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

32.16 linear metres of textual records and other material

Context area

Name of creator


Archival history

The deposit of legal instruments with the Archives service began in 1951.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Legal instruments are mainly transferred from the Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs and the unit responsible for extrabudgetary funding, currently the Division of Cooperation with Extrabudgetary Funding Sources, Bureau of Strategic Planning. Instruments can also be transferred directly from Secretariat units, including field offices.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

In the course of its activities, UNESCO enters into legal agreements with member states, international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations, universities, foundations, private companies and individuals. UNESCO’s General Conference also adopts international standard-setting instruments, including, so far, twenty-nine conventions, thirty-two recommendations, and thirteen declarations. In addition to this, UNESCO can be the designated depository for instruments adopted by other intergovernmental conferences. Member states then issue and send legal instruments to UNESCO in reponse to these standard-setting instruments. The Collection consists of legal instruments transferred to the Archives and registered by Archives staff in one of the following three series: A) Instruments signed with member states; B) Instruments signed with organizations, companies and private individuals; and C) Donations, bequests and legacies.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


Continuous accruals.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

-Archives Registers (maintained up to 1989).
-Index cards (maintained to circa 1989): by signatory (country, organization, person) and by titles, subjects, or programmes.
-Access database (obsolete).

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Copies kept by the Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs, UNESCO. Secretariat units may also keep copies in their subject files.

Related units of description

Some subseries were created by the Archives staff and then discontinued, and thus similar original documents can therefore be found in other series. For example, the LEG subseries B/3 Délégations permanentes contains a small amount of letters of credentials or instruments of full powers from some member states for the period 1952-1981. Original letters of credentials can also be found filed in REG X07.2 Official Relations with Member States correspondence files. See Related units of description notes at lower-levels of descriptions for references to other series.

Related descriptions

Notes area


Date note: In certain cases when the lowest level of description is at the subseries, subsubseries or file-level, the date given in the description is the date of creation of the individual legal instrument in question, rather than a date range covering all the items. This is done to record the most important date without having to create item-level descriptions for all documents.

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Name access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used



Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion

Revised AWT 8 March 2011. Revised by AWT 30-05-2013: previous version had 'collection' descriptions with examples of Conventions, Recommendations and Declarations. This did not reflect the actual arrangement of the overall legal instrument collection, but gave an idea of the type of records held. These description records were removed with the May 2013 revision, when a sufficient number of Series A descriptions had been entered to give a fuller picture of the scope of the collection. Date note added by AWT 12-11-2013. Overall revision, AWT, 29-04-2014. French proofreading by A. Coutelle, 22-05-2014.




UNESCO Archives, AG 8, ARC 3.1 M. Montaigner.
UNESCO Archives, AG 8, ARC 3.3 LA Tableau de conservation (records retention).

Accession area

Related subjects

Related people and organizations

Related genres

Related places