University of Earth

Audiences / Partnerships / Recognition

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

[reframe index]

International associations


Intergovernmental (UN, EU, etc)


Documentation / Library

At the time of its foundation, the documentation work of the UIA was closely associated with that of the International Institute of Bibliography (IIB) founded by Otlet and La Fontaine in 1895. This was subsequently transformed into the International Federation for Information and Documentation (FID). The UIA continues to maintain strong links with the library world, notably through a 20-year relationship with its publisher K G Saur Verlag (Munich) one of the principal suppliers of international reference works and itself closely associated with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

Academic communities








League of Nations

Following its documentary activities prior to 1914-18, this information was made available to the League of Nations to enable its production of a Handbook of International Organizations. The UIA was subsequently recognized by the League' Secretary-General (Council document No.A.43 (B) 1421, 1921) as having been "indirectly and within the means at its disposal, one of the promoters of the League of Nations.

UN Specialized Agencies

In addition to its relations with UN/ECOSOC, the UIA has consultative relations with UNESCO, and ILO. It has collaborated with FAO, UNITAR, and the Commonwealth Science Council. It has acted as one of the research institutes in the network of the UN University. The UIA was involved in the earliest stages of the UN-based Inter-Agency Group on Indexing and Documentation that resulted in the Macrothesaurus. The UIA's early expertise in information systems resulted in its involvement as reporter in two successive consultations in the early phases of the development of UN information systems (Acquisition and Organization of International Documentation, 1974; Utilisation of International Documentation, 1980). The UIA provided consulting expertise to UNESCO in 1984 with respect to the development of UNESCO's in-house country data system, followed by later consultations concerning the feasibility of sharing data with UNESCO.

United Nations

An ECOSOC resolution regarding its (ongoing) profiling of international organizations in the Yearbook of International Organizations dates from 20 July 1950 (Resolution 334B (XI). This was reinforced by the placement of the UIA on the ECOSOC (Consultative Status) Register in 1951 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. , its relationship with UNESCO, and for the current subscription of a consortium of UN bodies (negotiated by SAUR) to the UIA's online databases.

Regional intergovernmental

The UIA has collaborated with the Council of Europe, and has undertaken contract work for the European Commission notably in order to increase the "visibility" of international bodies through a major "multi-media" auygmentation of its databases. A French edition of the UIA Yearbook was produced with the assistance of the Agence pour la coopération culturelle et technique (ACCT) in 1980; with a new version on CD-ROM in 1996.

Academic communities

(UNU, statistics)

Reference libraries


Meetings industry


Registry capacity

The intersect between its information management skills and international content resulted in an invitation (declined) to manage the "92" (international) domain of the International Standard Book Numbering (ISBN) system -- as was an analogous invitation to consider management of the .INT domain as first conceived. Registration in the Yearbook continues to be used, under certain circumstances, as a criterion for ascription of an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN).

Technical capacity

In 1986, as an early example, the main UIA registry product received the UK HMSO Printing World Award for the most innovative application of computers to typesetting. In 2002, the UIA was invited to parter with Verisign (manager of web domains on behalf of ICANN) in an (unsuccessful) bid to manage the .ORG web domain. In 1986, as an early example, the main UIA registry product received the UK HMSO Printing World Award for the most innovative application of computers to typesetting.

Prognostic capacity

Historians of hypertext have recently acknowledged [more] the prophetic description of a Universal Documentation Network by UIA's founder, Paul Otlet, as part of his work on the nature of transdisciplinarity, which concluded, in 1935: "a technology will be created acting at a distance and combining radio, X-rays, cinema and microscopic photography. Everything in the universe, and everything of man, would be registered at a distance as it was produced. In this way a moving image of the world will be established, a true mirror of his memory. From a distance, everyone will be able to read text, enlarged and limited to the desired subject, projected on an individual screen. In this way, everyone from his armchair will be able to contemplate creation, as a whole or in certain of its parts".

Nobel Peace Prize

Co-founder of the UIA, Henri La Fontaine, received the Nobel Peace Prize (1913) for his efforts towards international organization through the UIA and associated bodies.