To: UI Special Collections
To: Inventory of the Conlon Papers, MsC 529


Paul Conlon United Nations Sanctions Papers

Conlon provides the following documentation on the AskSam software and files:

The (DOS) software used to create these databases was already several years old at the time (version 4.1a). The files are automatically upgradable and readable in later versions, the latest available to me being 3.071 (Windows).

Diskette 4 contains the required system files to run the original DOS version of AskSam.

1. Create two directories, say, c:\asksam and c:\asksamfiles.

2. Copy the contents of diskette 4 to c:\asksam.

3. Copy the operative AskSam files on disketted 2, 3 5 and 6 to c:\asksamfiles (unzipped, where applicable).

4. Go into DOS.

5. Enter AS at the DOS prompt and hit enter. The Version page appears. Select a file with F.

6. The main menu appears.

An example of an entry from COMSR.ASK is given below:

ISSUE[IRAQ/KUWAIT] CAT[661] MTG[95] DATE[6/10/93] TYPE[Procedure] SPKR[O'Brien] MS[New Zealand] FCT[Chairman] LANG[1] ITEM[Letter dated 28 May 1993 from the Permanent Representative of Singapore addressed to the Chairman (S/AC.25/1993/COMM.1398)] TXT[It had considered the issue again at its 52nd meeting when it received a note verbale dated 3 October 1991 from Jordan (S/AC.25/1991/COMM.467), confirming that the carbon rods would be used completely in Jordan and would not be reshipped to Iraq. Some members of the Committee had felt that if the cargo had not been destined for Iraq, it would not have fallen within the Committee's mandate. Others had argued that the transfer of the cargo by Iraq to Jordan was in itself a violation of the sanctions regime; and one member had commented further that the Jordanian company involved had engaged in activities to circumvent the sanctions for the benefit of Iraq, suggesting that the goods should remain in Singapore pending further investigation.]

Above the text are the record codings, e.g. MTG[95] signifies Meeting 95, DATE[6/10/93] gives the date (= June 10, 1993), SPKR[O'Brien] identifies the speaker, FCT[Chairman] gives his function. ITEM[Letter dated 28 May 1993...etc] indicates the agenda item.

The speaker's remarks are contained in the largest box TXT[...].

A search is performed by highlighting, then hitting UPDATE and putting the word sought in the query line at the top of the (blank) page that then appears. Searches can contain Boolean operators, they are put in { }; {and}, {or} and {not} are allowed.

To search for "carbon rods," the search command in the query line would be:

carbon {and} rod*

 where * is the wild card for (in this case) plurals. After hitting enter, seven records would be retrieved, displayed successively in chronological order by repeatedly hitting Enter. One was taken from the 47th meeting, three from the 52nd meeting, two from the 95th meeting and one from the 101 st meeting. By hitting QUERY and entering the following in the query line

carbon (and} rod* MTG[

one would obtain seven numerals on the same page: 47, 52, 52, 52, 95, 95, 101, being the meetings at which the word sought occurs.

Most searching requires a single word or document symbol. To find references to a specific document, say S/AC25/1994/COMM.2332, put the document symbol in the query line after hitting UPDATE. This would retrieve five records from Meeting 111 and four records from Meeting 112 where this document symbol occurs.

The COMSR.ASK database contains 6700 records. Items sought can be located within seconds with the search commands demonstrated above, for which reason it is worth the trouble of learning the basics of how AskSam software works.

The meeting transcript files on diskettes 7 through 9 were generated from COMSR.ASK. The same function of COMSR.ASK can be achieved by taking those meeting files (which are in WordPerfect format) and putting them into a single database run on an appropriate software (e.g. Lotus Notes). This would essentially re-create the COMSR.ASk database.

See references to COMSR.ASK on pages 30 and 42 of United Nations Sanctions Management: A Case Study of the Iraq Sanctions Committee 1990-1994 (Ardsley, NY: Transnational Publishers, Inc., 2001).

Return to Inventory of the Conlon Papers, MsC 529