Non-Governmental Organizations and Foundations

Since its inception, UNESCO has recognized that non-governmental organizations and foundations which have concerns close to its own play an important role in international cooperation in the service of peoples.

For more than a half-century, UNESCO has set up a valuable network of cooperative relations with a number of organizations in its fields of competence, thereby enabling it to work with civil society in achieving its objectives and to disseminate its democratic and ethical ideals.

Currently UNESCO is enjoying official partnerships with 370 international NGOs and more than 20 foundations and similar institutions which are working in the fields of competence of the Organization. In addition to this formal framework, the Organization has been carrying out a range of activities hand in hand with NGOs, not only at international and regional levels, but also at national level.

Non-governmental organizations

The new Directives concerning UNESCO’s partnership with non-governmental organizations, adopted by the General Conference in November 2011, offer a simplified framework of partnership allowing a greater involvement of NGOs in the development and implementation of UNESCO’s programmes, and thus represent a new step towards the reinforcement of our links with civil society. 

  • What types of partnerships can be established?

  • What are the conditions to fulfil to establish a partnership?

  • What is the procedure to establish a partnership?

  • Can my organization get funding from UNESCO?


Foundations and similar institutions can also be admitted to official relations with UNESCO

Currently, UNESCO is maintaining official relations with more than 20 foundations and similar institutions, which are financially self-reliant, according to the Directives concerning relations between UNESCO and 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.

Collective Cooperation

Apart from individual relations, UNESCO also promotes collective cooperation with NGOs through different mechanisms: 

  • The NGO International Conference, which takes place every two years and comprises all NGOs maintaining official relations with UNESCO. 
  • Theme-specific collective consultations, organized regularly in accordance with UNESCO programme implementation needs, sometimes in parallel with international conferences held under its auspices. 
  • The NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee, elected by the NGO International Conference, is responsible for permanent coordination and continuity of this collective cooperation. It is based at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.