Union of Intelligible Associations
Union of Intelligible Associations

“Negative Capability”

within a strategic reframing of the Union of International Associations (2005)

[reframe index]

“Negative capability”

The UIA might usefully be understood as operating out of domain defined by negatives. This condition has been famously and fruitfully defined by the poet John Keats as "negative capability", namely the capacity to be "in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason" (1817).

Non-profit legal status

The UIA is incorporated in accordance with a Belgian law of 25 October 1919 providing (uniquely) for the establishment of international non-profit associations. Pressures based on for-profit criteria tend to be resisted where they conflict with improving the quality of data content and coverage


The UIA is an international non-governmental organization (NGO) and is so recognized by the provisions of Article 71 of the Charter of the United Nations.

Non-political commitment

The documentary commitment, and centennial tradition, of the UIA precludes any particular political or ideological commitment. It is fundamentally non-partisan. This is reinforced by its criteria of membership. In order to ensure adequate documentation and coverage of any variety of human activity expressed internationally it has notably resisted political pressures exerted by intergovernmental organizations.


Being essentially self-funding, the UIA avoids dependency relationships associated with many conventional forms of program funding and partnership.

Non-formal dimensions

Although conventionally defined as "operating as an institute for research, study, information, consultation, promotion and service" with an appropriate General Assembly and Executive Council, the operations of the UIA benefit to a high degree from an informal supporting network of bodies and individuals.

Non-traditional focus

The UIA is an unusual body both in its focus, in its mode of action, and in the quality of the people who are attracted to its working environment.