Since the early 1960s, the UN has prepared studies on disarmament issues mandated by the General Assembly, usually with the assistance of experts and consultants. The purpose of these studies is to assist the negotiating process through analysis of specific questions, as well as to provide information in order to facilitate better understanding of the issues.
The UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), which was established in October 1980 as an autonomous institution within the UN framework, conducts independent research on disarmament problems, aimed at encouraging disarmament by expanding accessible information on proposals and concepts. Located in Geneva, UNIDIR is funded principally by voluntary contributions from governments and public and private organizations.
The Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters functions as the board of trustees of UNIDIR. Its other major functions include advising on programs for disarmament studies and research and on implementation of the UN Disarmament Information Programme. It may also advise the Secretary-General of the UN on specific disarmament and related questions.
The Department for Disarmament Affairs (DDA) was created during the UN's late 1990s reform efforts to coordinate the UN's activities in this area. As part of this effort, the DDA issues the UN Disarmament Yearbook and a variety of other publications. The web site www.disarmament.un.org keeps track of news and developments in disarmament, including the latest treaty ratifications as well as pertinent UN resolutions and decisions.
A disarmament fellowships program for young diplomats and public officials from various countries, particularly developing countries, was established by the General Assembly at its first special session on disarmament. The program is aimed at preparing students for work with their governments in the field of disarmament and at enhancing and broadening diplomatic expertise. Disarmament fellows are trained each year under the auspices of the Department for Disarmament Affairs.