The current statutory framework for cooperation with NGOs is defined in the new Directives concerning UNESCO’s partnership with non-governmental organizations.
These Directives provide a policy framework allowing:
- to further integrate partnerships with NGOs in the UNESCO programme planning and implementation, at both global and local levels,
- to promote a genuine "culture of partnership" within the Organization,
- to promote new partnership with organizations representative of civil society in those regions of the world where they are isolated or weak.
Two categories of partnership may be established with NGOs under this framework:
- Consultative partnership: it is designed to enable UNESCO to establish and maintain flexible and dynamic partnerships with any organization of civil society that is active in UNESCO’s fields of competence at whatever level, and to benefit from its expertise, the representativeness of its networks;
- Associate partnership: it involves close and sustained cooperation in defining and implementing the Organization’s programmes. This partnership is only open to international or regional organizations having proven competence in major fields of education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, or communication and information, and maintained a continuous and effective partnership (consultative status) with UNESCO for at least two years.
Foundations and other organizations can also enjoy official relations with UNESCO under the Directives concerning official relations with foundations and similar institutions
Such organizations, which are also part of the non-governmental community, should nevertheless meet special criteria: as non-profit international organizations, pursuing objectives in conformity with the ideals of UNESCO, they should have the means to contribute to the implementation of its programme. Any foundation or institution which satisfies these criteria may maintain official relations with UNESCO, provided that it has already engaged in cooperative activities with the Organization and that consultation on the part of UNESCO with national authorities where such an institution has its Headquarters, has taken place.