The Clubs, Centres and Associations for UNESCO are groups of volunteers of different ages and socio-professional status who become activists in the service of UNESCO’s ideals.
Established under the aegis of the National Commissions for UNESCO, these Clubs, Centres and Associations are grouped into national, regional and international networks, for the purpose of acting in UNESCO’s fields of competence at the grass root level.
More than 65 years after the founding of the first UNESCO Association in 1947 in Japan, some 4000 Clubs, Centres and Associations for UNESCO operate in more than 100 countries. In the light of civil society’s growing role in determining public policy, UNESCO’s Medium-Term Strategies stress the main role that Clubs, Centres and Associations for UNESCO can play in the sustainable development process, in cooperation with other civil society partners.
The activities carried out by the Clubs, Centres and Associations are varied and depend, very often, on the interests of their members and also on the financial resources and means of action available. Irrespective of their nature and scope, these initiatives foster the dissemination of UNESCO’s principles and objectives in civil society. These Clubs therefore make it possible to publicize the values represented by the Organization in local communities. In the light of civil society's growing role in public policy-making, the Club movement can play a key part in educating citizens, and can contribute to dialogue between cultures and generations for sustainable development.
At the national level, UNESCO Clubs are coordinated either by a National Federation if there are or by the National Commission in that country. At the regional level, regional federations as coordinating bodies carry out activities in promoting clubs movement across the regions. At the international level, the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations (WFUCA), as an international NGO maintaining official relations with UNESCO, is responsible for informing, coordinating and mobilizing its members, with UNESCO's support and cooperation.
Clubs for UNESCO have three main functions: training, information and action. They take up a position on global problems with local repercussions and thus contribute to the process of reflection on social priorities.
Although UNESCO’s name appears in the titles of the different Clubs and their federations, it does not mean that the Organization is in any way responsible for their activities.
Clubs must be able to develop their activities in their own ways: UNESCO has made a point of playing no part either in their setting-up or in their development. The different Clubs are financially and legally autonomous, thus responsible for their own operation, but UNESCO can provide intellectual, financial, and/or material assistance for specific activities that it considers particularly relevant.
In addition, to secure external financing, many Clubs turn to the National Commissions for UNESCO, ministerial departments, local communities and certain national or internationally-oriented bodies and also to companies, foundations and individuals. UNESCO helps to strengthen the Clubs’ impact by fostering cooperation with the programme sectors, field offices and the Organization’s main networks, such as that of the Associated Schools.
Some examples of the Clubs’ action:
- Dissemination of general principles such as those set out in the Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO, the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ;
- Participation in the celebration of international days and years proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations and the General Conference of UNESCO ;
- Promotion of literacy activities, preservation and presentation of the cultural heritage.
- Organization of study camps for young people .
- Education for the prevention of AIDS.
- Publication of newsletters and information documents.
How to become a Club for UNESCO
Clubs may be established by individuals and are frequently set up by schools or other educational and cultural institutions. It is up to the National Commissions for UNESCO to approve the status of a Club for UNESCO.
- Each Club for UNESCO must first obtain the approval of its country’s National Commission for UNESCO, which is responsible for recognizing the establishment of Clubs and endorsing activity’s projects.
- Once the National Commission has officially approved the affiliation to the Clubs Movement, the Club is associated to UNESCO’s activities and added into its database and relevant documents.
- It is entirely to the advantage of Clubs to adopt statutes recognizing laws applying in their country to non-profit-making cultural associations (should they exists). Such legal status will entitle them to official recognition by public authorities.
- Clubs for UNESCO are legally and financially independent from UNESCO, even though UNESCO may sponsor a number of their activities.
- National Commissions have the right to grant the use of UNESCO’s name, acronym or logo, but only in the form of a linked logo. They may also establish time limits and/or conduct periodic reviews of authorizations which can be withdrawn. Any decision granting the use of UNESCO’s name, acronym, logo and/or domain names are based on the following criteria: (i) relevance of the proposed association to the Organization’s strategic objectives and programme; and (ii) compliance with the values, principles and constitutional aims of UNESCO.
Other relevant Publications and Documents