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Government Publications - Intergovernmental Organizations


What are IGOS?

There are 260 conventional IGOs encompassing very large IGOS such as the UN, which currently has 192 member states to the smaller IGO such as the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community (APCC). IGOs are a good source for statistical information. They provide support to national government s for collecting data and  promote standardizations, comparability and best practices. 

While every IGO has unique characteristics, some generalizations can be made.  For the most part, IGOs are organizations that:

  • involve 2 or more nations
  • are international in scope and membership
  • established by treaty or charter (i.e. UN Charter)
  • created for a specific purpose - generally to promote a particular project, overarching theme or mandate. (i.e., Some IGOs are devoted to promoting social justice, while others are focused on children's rights, world hunger, trade, health, safe & sustainable shipping and a myriad of other globally significant issues.)
  • comprised of member states/sovereign nations while remaining independent from national government control.
  • IGO's are are typically organized by their membership and their purpose (i.e. OPEC comprised of oil-producing countries)
  • IGO's have political and financial support from their members.  

Why are publications from IGOs useful for my research?


  • IGOs are held to a high degree of accountability by their member states - who are themselves accountable to their citizenry. This helps to ensure that the publications that they produce are authoritative - providing you with reliable information on which to base your own research.

Primary Sources:

  • IGOs typically disseminate materials that qualify as primary sources, such as research findings, statistics/data sets, project reports, news items, and policy statements.
    • Primary sources are materials that were created or published at the time of an event under investigation. The key benefit of primary sources is that they provide a snapshot of what life was like for people in a given time and place - without the filter of secondary analysis or interpretation.


  • Given the global reach of most IGOs, they are good sources of comparative information between individual countries.
  • They typically work in fields of universal importance, such as labour, energy, human rights, education, conflict resolution, and world health.
  • They also provide a spotlight on internationalism - allowing you to witness international law, politics and economic cooperation in action.



UBC LIbrary has a comprehensive collection of publications from the following organizations:

General Source

  • Yearbook of International Organizations.  JX1904.A55

    From the Union of International Associations, this is an annual publication in multiple volumes. Volume one provides a description and contact information for all of its member organizations in an A - Z listing. Descriptions include information on founder(s), members, structure, aims, activities, language(s), staffing, subsidiary organizations, and funding base. The Library also purchases Volume three, which is a subject directory/index to its members.

You can search for specific titles or for materials on specific subjects in the UBC Library Catalogue.