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NGOs and Foundations

Over the years, UNESCO has built up an official network of cooperation with civil society organizations having an expertise in its fields of competence. (see lists below)

Two statutory frameworks, adopted by Member States, define UNESCO’s official cooperation with civil society organizations: the Directives concerning UNESCO’s partnership with non-governmental organizations (36 C/Res.108) and the Directives concerning UNESCO’s relations with foundations and similar institutions (29 C/Res. 64).

Concerning official partnerships with NGOs, the statutory framework outlines two categories: consultative status, open to NGOs active in UNESCO’s fields of competence at any level (international, regional, national); and,  associate status,  open to international or regional organizations having maintained a continuous and effective partnership (consultative status) with UNESCO for at least two years and regularly made major contributions to the framing of the Organization’s objectives and its programme implementation.

List of NGOs in official partnership with UNESCO

Aside from NGOs, UNESCO enjoys official relations with foundations and similar institutions, which are non-profit organizations, endowed with legal status under national law, having independent financial means that enable them to contribute to the implementation of certain activities under UNESCO’s programme and effectively carry out activities in several countries.

List of foundations and similar institutions in official relations with UNESCO

In addition to this formal framework, as allowed by the UNESCO Constitution and relevant directives, the Organization may carry out a range of ad hoc cooperation activities with other civil society organizations within its fields of competence.


The Directives provide modalities of collective cooperation with official NGO partners:

The International Conference of NGOs, gathers the community of official NGO partners (consultative and associate status) every two years to review NGOs’ state of cooperation with UNESCO, conduct collective consultations on the main lines of UNESCO’s programme, and facilitate cooperation between organizations having common interests. It also elects its Chairperson as well as the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee.

The NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee, elected by the International Conference of NGOs and chaired by the Chairperson of the International Conference. It is composed of 10 NGO partners (four with associate status and six with consultative status), with at least one partner from each region as defined by UNESCO. The Liaison Committee represents the interests of all NGO partners with regard to UNESCO and aims to ensure the proper functioning and efficiency of the partnership between the community of NGO partners and the Organization.

In accordance with the Directives, the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee also organizes, in close consultation with the Secretariat, an International Forum of NGOs in official partnership with UNESCO on a priority issue of the Organization's programme (twice a year). Designed for NGOs in official partnership with UNESCO, forums are also open to the participation of other NGOs and institutions, as well as representatives of Member States. Forums may be hosted by an institution or a Member State, when held outside UNESCO Headquarters.