UNESCO. Category 2 Institutes/Centres

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UNESCO. Category 2 Institutes/Centres

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Category 2 Centres or Institutes, said to be under the auspices of UNESCO, are entities legally external to UNESCO that are associated with the Organization through various arrangements, as approved by the General Conference. Throughout its history UNESCO has established contractual and institutional relations in its field of competence with various such institutes and centres. However, it was in 1980 that the Twenty-first Session of the General Conference first adopted a set of principles and guidelines for the establishment of international and regional centres. The 1980 guidelines set down the nature and duration of UNESCO’s support and the procedure for formulating requests for such support.

In 2001, the Executive Board adopted the first strategy for UNESCO’s institutes and centres with the aim of achieving consistency with UNESCO’s overall decentralization strategy. At this time the terms Category 1 and Category 2 were introduced to make a distinction between those entities legally part of UNESCO and those external to the Organization. In general terms, Category 1 institutions apply UNESCO’s rules and regulations, are directed by a UNESCO staff member, and have programmes that are included in the Organization’s programme and budget. The governing bodies of most of these entities are either elected by the General Conference or appointed by the Director-General and report to the General Conference. Category 2 institutions, in contrast, do not apply UNESCO’s rules and regulations and are not led by UNESCO staff members, but UNESCO can be represented on their governing bodies. UNESCO can also provide technical and financial assistance to these centres or institutes which are established by a member state or by multilateral agreements. The Executive Board adopted a permanent framework for centres and institutes in 2005. This was followed by the introduction of a comprehensive strategy for centres and institutes, as approved by the General Conference in 2009. The 2009 strategy sets forth the actions to be taken by member states and the Secretariat when proposing and engaging with Category 2 Institutes and Centres.

Agreements to establish Category 2 institutions are for a maximum of six years and can be renewed after review and evaluation. The activities of Category 2 institutions are global, regional, sub-regional or inter-regional in scope and must contribute to UNESCO’s strategic programme objectives. These activities can include: exchange of information in a particular discipline; theoretical and experimental research and advanced training; joint publications; and facilitation of the participation of relevant national, sub-regional and regional institutions in UNESCO’s efforts. As set forth in the 2009 Strategy, UNESCO Secretariat sectors create focused strategies for engagement and interaction with Category 2 institutions in order to achieve this joint programme implementation. Category 2 Institutes and Centres are required to submit to UNESCO a biennial report on their activities. Overall, this modality of participation in the programme of the Organization is unique in the United Nations system.

The role of Category 2 Institutes and Centres was examined most recently in a 2011 Review of the Management Framework by the Internal Oversight Service. Among other results, the Category 2 Institutes and Centres were found to be, in principal, an effective model for partnership. However, it was noted that there were often delays after General Conference approval before the institutions were operational and that Secretariat sectors could also be delayed in preparing their sectoral strategies for engagement with the Institutes or Centres. As of June 2014, there are 81 International and Regional Institutes and Centres under the auspices of UNESCO.


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Entered 6-10-2014, AWT.




  • UNESCO. (2011). Review of the management framework for UNESCO category 2 institutes/centres. December 2011. IOS/AUD/EVS/2011/14 REV. Available in UNESDOC, accessed 6-6-2014: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002149/214958e.pdf
  • UNESCO. Executive Board, 177th Session. (2007). Report by the Director-General on the implementation of the guidelines and criteria for category 2 institutes and centres adopted in 33 C/Resolution 90. 25 September 2007. 177 EX/29. Available in UNESDOC, accessed 6-6-2014: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0015/001533/153370e.pdf
  • UNESCO. Executive Board, 171th Session. (2005). Report by the Director-General on the revised and completed principles and guidelines regarding the establishment and operation of UNESCO Institutes and centres (category I) and Institutes and centres under the auspices of UNESCO (category II). 17 March 2005. 171 EX/18. Available in UNESDOC, accessed 6-6-2014: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001388/138883E.pdf
  • UNESCO. Executive Board, 165th Session. (2002). Progress report by the Director-General on the application of the criteria for an overall strategy with regard to UNESCO institutes and centres. 3 September 2002. 165 EX/20. Available in UNESDOC, accessed 6-10-2014: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001271/127177e.pdf
  • UNESCO. Executive Board, 162nd Session. (2001). Proposals for an overall strategy for UNESCO institutes and centres and their governing boards. 12 September 2001. 162 EX/18. Available in UNESDOC, accessed 6-10-2014: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0012/001235/123524e.pdf
  • UNESCO. General Conference, 35th Session. (2009). Implementation of the guidelines and criteria for category 2 institutes and centres approved in 33 C/Resolution 90. 14 August 2009. 35 C/22. Available in UNESDOC, accessed 6-6-2015: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001836/183691e.pdf
  • UNESCO. General Conference, 21st Session. (1980). Principles and guidelines for the establishment and operation of international and regional centres under Unesco's auspices; report of the Director-General. 24 September 1980. 21 C/36. Available in UNESDOC, accessed 6-6-2014: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0004/000418/041828eb.pdf

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