Navigating UN docs – the making of the OceanStates Document Collection

Anja Marie Solheim compiled the OceanStates project’s online UN Documents and IPCC reports collections (have a look!). In this blogpost she shares her own experiences with navigating UN websites and systems as an intern at the United Nations in New York, and how this – in our opinion – made her such a valuable resource to the project.


In 2018 I was a legal intern at the Norwegian mission to the United Nations (UN). My work included issues concerning the law of the sea, and I was privileged to be able to closely follow the process of the treaty on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction. The UN is in many ways the most important international instrument for tackling climate change and rising sea levels. However, navigating the different UN websites in search of documents on these issues can be very difficult for anyone not familiar with their systems, as UN documents are rarely sorted by topic. This is how I got involved with OceanStates. My experience at the UN gave me some valuable insights into different types of UN documents and how to fish them out of the sea of online UN archives, and in 2019 I was hired to contribute these insights to OceanStates.


When I began compiling and putting together the OceanStates Document Collection, my priority was to make formal UN documents addressing oceans and climate change as accessible as possible to anyone interested in these issues. I did this by sorting relevant reports and documents from the main UN bodies by topic – such as climate change and environment, oceans, and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) – and explaining in simpler terms the meaning of the different types of documents. These explanations included information on whether, for example, a particular UN resolution was adopted by consensus or by vote, as well as the history of a given document.


Our collection now offers visitors a neat categorization of Key UN Documents; resolutions and treaties in the form of formal, open-access documents that make up the framework for UN efforts on issues particularly relevant to OceanStates. This includes documents from the UN Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and ECOSOC. It also features a section for Scientific Reports, where visitors will find a collection of Special Reports and Assessment Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Finally, the Collection offers an overview of relevant UN document databases and media outlets, and useful UN bodies websites.


When working with questions concerning UN activities on rising sea levels, climate change and other relevant topics, the OceanStates Document Collection is a useful tool to quickly get your hands on relevant documents, and to be guided towards the information you need. I hope the document collection will be useful to as many as possible, and I am excited to follow the continuing progress in the OceanStates project!



Authored by Anja Marie Solheim and Miriam Ladstein (ed.)





Anja Marie Solheim is a student at the Faculty of Law at the University of Bergen. She has experience from the Permanent Mission of Norway to the United Nations in New York and is affiliated with OceanStates as research assistant. Ms Solheim has been in charge of compiling, organizing and constructing the Key UN Documents collection for the online OceanStates Document Collection.



Miriam Ladstein holds an MA in Social Anthropology from the University of Bergen. Her past research has focused on environmental perceptions among children and youth, and she has conducted 7 months of fieldwork in Samoa and Fiji. She was research assistant and administrator to the OceanStates project from 2018-2020 and is currently interim coordinator for the Norway-Pacific Ocean-Climate Scholarship Programme (N-POC).




Anja compiled, organized and constructed the content of 
the OceanStates Document Collection. The webmaster behind the design of 
the OceanStates websites, including the Document Collection, is 
Eilin Holtan Torgersen