Thursday, March 27, 2014

Ask Dag!

International Law research questions can send those of us who do not handle them often into a tizzy. So my post for today highlights a website that may prove useful to you.

Ask Dag,” sponsored by the Librarians at the Dag Hammarskjold Library at the United Nations (UN), has been up and answering questions since December, 2012.  The UN Librarians will respond to any question as long as it is related to the thematic issues handled by the UN, historically or currently, such as Human Rights, Peace and Security Development, Humanitarian Affairs and International Law. Perusal of the site’s drop down menu that says “view all topics” gives you a taste of the broad range of issues that may be addressed.

But before presenting your question, check out the database of those previously asked – they range from the simple (what is the address of the UN) to the esoteric (where can I find the 1946 Gentleman’s Agreement regarding the equitable geographic representation in the Security Council). The turnaround time for a response is amazing – I was told that the Librarians respond to questions within the hour but of course, as you can see from the example above, some will require deeper digging and may “take a day or two.” That is admirably prompt.

I was curious about the volume of inquiries received by Ask Dag and was told that while the numbers fluctuate, they average about 100 a month. This number does not reflect the inquiries that the Librarians receive through more traditional e-mail channels. And if you have an inquiry that you would prefer not to appear in the “previously asked” section, the Librarians also handle “private questions.” As of the date of this posting, the Librarians have fielded at least 809 private questions.

Once you are on the Dag Hammarskjold Library website, take a minute to look at the research guides also available. There are guides on human rights, statistics, and women and gender equality to name just a few. And for those of you too young to remember, the Library is named after Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary-General of the UN from 1953 to 1961. He died in a plane crash in 1961 while on a UN peace-keeping mission and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace posthumously that same year. Curiously, investigation and controversy concerning the cause of the plane crash continue to this day.

Thanks to Lyonette Louis-Jacques for the pointer to this site, and Elizabeth Mwarage from the Dag Hammarskjold Library for her assistance with background information.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing our information. Again for any UN- related research' “Ask Dag,”