The following information provides specifics of the search mechanisms available within the Universal Human Rights Index. If you are new to the index or would like further information on its purpose, the documents within, indexing methodology or general information on how to use the index please see the [about page].
The index provides two distinct methods for searching the documents contained in the database; searching within the documents themselves or searching amongst the annotations created to enable easy access to relevant content.
Annotations can be searched using either the simple search on the [home page] of the index or the advanced [annotation search] page.
The simple search provides a quick method for returning a set of annotations matching given keywords, an individual State/Entity, human rights mechanism (e.g. Treaty Body, Special Procedure or Universal Periodic Review) or combination of the above. Using the simple search function, results can be found easily, for example all annotations relating to Switzerland, or all annotations relating to the United Kingdom, the Committee for the Rights of the Child and containing the keyword ‘education’.
The advanced search provides extra criteria and in addition allows for the selection of multiple options enabling searches returning results such as all annotations relating to any one of the States Sweden, Norway and Denmark, as well as either the ‘Right to participation in public affairs and right to vote’ or ‘Rights related to marriage & family’ and containing the keyword ‘women’.
An important distinction from the Document search is that Annotation searches only identifies keyword matches within specific captured paragraphs of the document. As most documents are indexed in English keyword searches made in other languages may not return all the expected results. From 2011 more documents within the system will be indexed in other official United Nations languages where possible and for more recent documents keywords searching in other languages will return more comprehensive results. Should you wish to conduct keyword searches in one of the other five official languages (i.e. French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic or Chinese) it is recommended to use the Document Search function in order to return the most comprehensive results.
Documents can be searched from the [document search] page. As for the advanced [annotation search] multiple options for the available criteria can be selected allowing flexible refinement and combination of results. Individual documents can be found within the index by entering the United Nations symbol for the document in question.
Whilst document searches allow for less breadth of criteria to be specified than an annotation search and the results returned do not draw attention to specific, relevant paragraphs within the document the search does allow for fully multi-lingual searching in any of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is important to note that not all human rights documents are made available in all six of the official languages however the index does contain wherever available all translations for a given document. Although there are very limited exceptions all documents within the system are translated to English language and therefore whilst all available documents will be returned for searches in other languages keyword searches using English language will ensure that as many documents as possible are found. It is possible to use the index in any given language and still conduct keyword searches using another language.
For both annotation and document searches the results can be obtained by any of a keyword search, entering the document symbol and selecting the year of publication. In addition for annotation searches the type of annotations desired e.g. observation or recommendation can be supplied.
When performing a keyword search, as discussed above, the results will differ depending on whether an annotation or document search is performed. Keyword searching is case-insensitive and can be performed in one of two ways by selecting the desired search type; either ‘all of these words’ in which case only annotations or documents in which all of the supplied keywords can be found are returned or ‘any of these words’ in which case all annotations or documents where at least one of the supplied keywords are found. In addition a specific phrase can be searched for either alone in combination by enclosing the desired phrase within quotation marks e.g. “forced labour” as a keyword. Certain noise words are omitted from searches depending on the likely volume of not representative results occurring and the following reserved words are always omitted except when they exist as part of a quoted phrase: ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘not’ and the symbol ‘&’.
In addition to the above criteria searches can be refined further by optionally selecting one or more options for each of the following filters: geographic region or state/entity and human rights mechanism or a specific body (e.g. Committee against Torture). For annotation searches the additional filters of: human rights (e.g. Right to life), the affected persons (e.g. migrants), the type of document and, for Universal Periodic Review (UPR) documents, the position of the state under review, the state(s) that made the recommendation and the UPR session.
Results for both the annotation and document searches are returned in a tabular, paged format. By default 50 results are shown per page though the number of results displayed can be increased to 100, or decreased to 25 if desired. The pages of results can be navigated using the controls at both the top and bottom of each page which allow the selection of the first, last, next and previous pages as well as the pages surrounding the currently selected page by number.
For a document search a single result is returned for each unique document found ordered in reverse chronological order i.e. with the most recently published documents first. The results provided show the title, symbol and body for the document as well as providing a link to view all annotations in the system for the document. The title is a web link to the document, in the selected language where available, with any keywords provided as part of the search criteria highlighted. The symbol is a link to the document page in the Universal Human Rights Index where all available language versions of the document can be downloaded in Word (both 2003 & 2007 formats), PDF and HTML.
For annotation searches the results are shown in more depth. For each annotation the type of the annotation e.g. Observation or Recommendation, the text of the annotation or associated paragraph in the source document, the associated states/entities, the associated human rights and the associated affected persons groups are all shown. In addition to the details of the source document for the annotation result links are provided to any related documents. Related documents come in a number of forms, for further information please see the [related documents information] in the About page.
The ordering of the results is dependent on the search criteria used. For keyword searches the results are ordering by relevancy the highest ranking match to the supplied keyword displayed first. If no keyword is provided then results are ordered alphabetically by State/Entity and then by publication date with the most recent documents first. In all cases the results are further subdivided by the document to which they belong, the title shown being the symbol of the document which can be clicked to view the document page in the Universal Human Rights Index which also provides the opportunity to view all annotations for the selected document.
The ordering of results can be changed using the option list above the results and can be set to one of: relevance, state/entity, human right, body or publication date. In addition dynamic filter lists are provided alongside the sorting and paging controls allowing the results displayed to be further refined. These allow the selection of a specific state/entity, human rights body or publication year from those among the results found.
To allow further analysis and use of the results found controls are provided to export, print and link to the result set. When selecting the print option all results found are printed without paging in a new window. Similarly for exporting all results are provided in Comma Separated Values (CSV) format which can be downloaded and opened with Excel or similar spread sheet software. The option to link to these results provides a permanent link directly to this result set within the Universal Human Rights Index which can for example be saved as a bookmark for future use or copied to an email to share with others.