United Nations University

The United Nations University (国際連合大学, Kokusai Rengō Daigaku) (UNU) is the academic and research arm of the United Nations.[2] Headquartered in Shibuya, Tokyo, Japan, with diplomatic status as a U.N. institution, its mission is to help resolve global issues related to human development and welfare through collaborative research and education.

United Nations University
United Nations University logo.svg
Other name
TypeResearch university, Think tank
EstablishedDecember 1972; 49 years ago (1972-12)
FounderUnited Nations General Assembly
AffiliationUnited Nations
Budget$111.1 million (2017–18)[1]
RectorDr. David M. Malone
Students335 (2017)[1]
Postgraduates230 (2017)[1]
105 (2017)[1]

35°39′45″N 139°42′30″E / 35.66237°N 139.70836°E / 35.66237; 139.70836Coordinates: 35°39′45″N 139°42′30″E / 35.66237°N 139.70836°E / 35.66237; 139.70836
A coloured voting box.svg Politics portal
United Nations University in Tokyo
Entrance to the University building

In 1969, U.N. Secretary-General U Thant proposed "the establishment of a United Nations university, truly international and devoted to the Charter objectives of peace and progress".[3] Following three annual sessions discussing the matter, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) approved the founding of the United Nations University in December 1972. Tokyo was chosen as its main location due to the Japanese government's commitment of $100 million to the UNU endowment fund.

Since 2010, UNU has been authorized by the UNGA to grant degrees, offering several master's and doctoral programs. It also facilitates the U.N.'s engagement with academic institutions and policymakers around the world.

Organisation and leadershipEdit

The university is headed by a rector, who holds the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

To date, there have been six Rectors at UNU. The current Rector, since March 2013, is Dr. David M. Malone of Canada.

List of rectors of United Nations University:

# Rector Took office Left office
1 James M. Hester 11 November 1974 10 April 1980
2 Soedjatmoko 10 April 1980 30 March 1987
3 Heitor Gurgulino de Souza 30 March 1987 1 September 1997
4 Hans J.A. Van Ginkel 1 September 1997 1 September 2007
5 Konrad Osterwalder 1 September 2007 28 February 2013
6 David M. Malone 1 March 2013 Incumbent

The Council of UNU[4] is the governing board of the University and is composed of 12 members[5] who are appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations with the concurrence of the Director-General of UNESCO.[6]


The University was formally established in 1972 and began its activities in 1975 following the signature of the permanent headquarters agreement between the United Nations and Japan.[7] The creation of the United Nations University was set in motion by Secretary-General U Thant in 1969.[8]

UNU Institutes and Vice-RectorateEdit

Over the years, several Institutes of UNU were created to help with the research initiatives of the United Nations. Most notably, in 2007, a vice-rectorate was established in Bonn (UNU-ViE), Germany, as a way of strengthening UNU's presence in Europe.

UNU as a degree-granting institutionEdit

In December 2009, the UN General Assembly amended the UNU Charter to make it possible for UNU to "grant and confer master's degrees and doctorates, diplomas, certificates and other academic distinctions under conditions laid down for that purpose in the statutes by the Council."[9]

In 2013, UNU-ISP announced its intention to seek accreditation from the National Institution for Academic Degrees and University Evaluation (NIAD-UE) which is the Japanese accreditation agency for higher education institutions.[10] UNU-IAS was formally accredited in April 2015, making it the first international organization to be recognized by the NIAD-UE.[11]

In 2014 UNU-MERIT, in collaboration with Maastricht University, started to grant a double-degree Master of Science in Public Policy and Human Development. In 2018, the programme was re-accredited by the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO) and received the official EAPAA accreditation by the European Association for Public Administration Accreditation.[12]


The university has several campuses spread over five continents. Its headquarters are located at the UNU Centre in Tokyo, Japan.

Kuala Lumpur
Locations of UNU campuses


The role of the UN University is to generate new knowledge, educate, enhance individual and institutional capacities, and disseminate its useful information to relevant audiences. Within the scope of these five thematic clusters, the UN University undertakes:

  • Cross-cultural, interdisciplinary research (utilizing innovative, science-based techniques and methodologies to study important global processes and elaborate forward-looking solutions) and targeted foresight and policy studies (aimed at developing policy-relevant prescriptions and evaluating the feasibility and comparative advantages of each option);
  • Postgraduate-level education (degree-oriented programmes and specialized training focused on problems and solutions rather than academic disciplines) and capacity development activities (aimed at helping developing and transitional countries to enhance local potential to address current problems/confront emergent challenges); and
  • Knowledge sharing and transfer (to deliver relevant information about UN University research, current scientific advances and best practices, in a timely manner and in a usable form, to those who most need it and can best utilize it).

As prescribed in the United Nations University Strategic Plan 2011–2014, the 26 major topics of focus of the UN University's academic work fall within five interdependent thematic clusters:

  1. Peace, Security and Human Rights; Peace building and peace keeping, Conflict resolution and human security, Fostering dialogue among civilizations, religions and cultures, Human rights and ethics, Gender equality and mainstreaming,
  2. Human and Socio-economic Development and Good Governance; Growth and economic development, Alleviating poverty and inequalities, Good governance, Enhancing educational capacities, Fair trade, Processes and consequences of regional integration and cooperation, Leadership, management and entrepreneurship.
  3. Global Health, Population and Sustainable Livelihoods; Global health, Safe water and sanitation, Food and nutrition for human and social development, Combating HIV/AIDS, Population changes and migration.
  4. Global Change and Sustainable Development; Climate change – adaptation and mitigation, Ecological health and biodiversity, New risk and vulnerabilities, Sustainable land, agriculture and natural resources management, Green economy.
  5. Science, Technology, Innovation and Society; Science, technology and innovation, Sustainable energy futures, Sustainable urban futures, Sustainable housing and construction.

Collectively, these thematic clusters define the programme space within which the UN University undertakes its academic activities. Some key perspectives (such as gender equality, human rights and sustainability) pervade all aspects of the UN University's work.

Institutes and programmesEdit

The academic work of the United Nations University is carried out by a global system of Institutes, Operating Units, and Programmes located in more than 12 countries around the world.


Operating UnitsEdit



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "United Nations University: Annual Report 2017" (PDF). United Nations University. n.d. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  2. ^ "About UNU – United Nations University". unu.edu. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  3. ^ "FAQ – United Nations University". unu.edu. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  4. ^ "UNU Council". unu.edu. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2011.
  5. ^ "UNU Council". United Nations University.
  6. ^ "Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova | United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization". www.unesco.org. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  7. ^ "UNU". un.org.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ United Nations General Assembly Session 24 Resolution 2573. International university A/RES/2573(XXIV) 13 December 1969. Retrieved 2 May 2008.
  9. ^ "UNU Charter". unu.edu.
  10. ^ "Jobs | UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace". Archived from the original on 22 September 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  11. ^ "UNU-IAS Accredited by the National Institution for Academic Degrees and University Evaluation". unu.edu. 1 May 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
  12. ^ "UNU-MERIT » Master of Science in Public Policy and Human Development".
  13. ^ "UNU-EHS". unu.edu.
  14. ^ "UNU-FLORES Dresden". unu.edu.
  15. ^ "Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability". unu.edu.
  16. ^ "International Institute for Global Health". unu.edu.
  17. ^ "UNU-INRA". unu.edu.
  18. ^ United Nations University. "UNU Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP)". unu.edu. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010.
  19. ^ "UNU-INWEH – United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health: The UN Think Tank on Water". UNU-INWEH.
  20. ^ "Programme for Biotechnology in Latin America and the Caribbean".
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 January 2010. Retrieved 29 January 2010.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ "The United Nations University Fisheries Training Programme in Iceland".
  23. ^ Geothermal Training Programme. "Geothermal Training Programme".
  24. ^ The United Nations University Land Restoration Training Programme. "The United Nations University Land Restoration Training Programme".

External linksEdit

Video clipsEdit