Associations and Clubs 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 entities 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 75 years after the founding of the first UNESCO Association in 1947 in Japan, the movement has some 4,000 Associations and Clubs for UNESCO in nearly 80 countries around the world.
The activities carried out by the Associations and Clubs 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 entities 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 Clubs 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 by their respective National Commission, sometimes with the help of a National Federation created under its aegis. At the regional level, regional federations as coordinating bodies carry out activities in promoting the Cubs movement across the regions. At the international level, the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs 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.
Associations and Clubs for UNESCO: a practical guide, 2021 edition
Other relevant Documents
- Regulatory Framework regarding Associations and Clubs for UNESCO, adopted in 2017 (39 C/Resolution 90) and amended in 2019 (40 C/Resolution 98)
- 41 C/INF.4 Information document regarding the implementation of decisions of the governing bodies
- 212 EX/5.INF Follow-up to decisions and resolutions adopted by the Executive Board and the General Conference at their previous sessions: regulatory framework regarding Associations and Clubs for UNESCO
- 211 EX/4.I.INF.3 Execution of the programme adopted by the General Conference, Part I: Report on Comprehensive Partnership Strategy
- 210 EX/Decision 5.III.G Regulatory Framework regarding Associations and Clubs for UNESCO
- 210 EX/5.III.G Rev. Progress report on the implementation of the Regulatory Framework regarding Associations and Clubs for UNESCO