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United Nations University
Abbreviation UNU
Formation 1973
Legal status Active
Headquarters Tokyo, Japan
Head David M. Malone
Website www.unu.edu
United Nations University in Tokyo

The United Nations University (国際連合大学 Kokusairengōdaigaku?), (UNU), established in 1973, is the academic and research arm of the United Nations. It is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, with diplomatic status as a UN institution. Since 2010, UNU has been authorized by the UN General Assembly to grant degrees. It also provides a bridge between the UN and the international academic, policy-making and private sector communities.

Organisation and Leadership[edit]

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, Dr. David M. Malone being the current Rector since March 2013.

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 is the governing board of the University and is composed of 24 members who are appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations with the concurrence of the Director-General of UNESCO.


The University was established in 1973 and formally began its activities in 1976 following the signature of the permanent headquarters agreement between the United Nations and Japan.[1] The creation of the United Nations University was set in motion by Secretary-General U Thant in 1969.[2]

UNU Institutes and Vice-Rectorate[edit]

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-ViE is dedicated to developing knowledge-based sustainable solutions for global problems and is, therefore, an active organizer of international science policy dialogues for sustainability.

UNU as a degree granting institution[edit]

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.”[3]

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.[4]


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 Programmes[edit]

The academic work of the United Nations University is carried out by a global system of research and training institutes and programmes.




  1. ^ http://treaties.un.org/Pages/showDetails.aspx?objid=0800000280102344
  2. ^ United Nations General Assembly Session 24 Resolution 2573. International university A/RES/2573(XXIV) 13 December 1969. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
  3. ^ http://unu.edu/about/charter#ART-1
  4. ^ http://isp.unu.edu/about/jobs/2013/programme_administrative_consultant.html[dead link]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Video clips[edit]

Coordinates: 35°39′45″N 139°42′30″E / 35.66237°N 139.70836°E / 35.66237; 139.70836

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_University — Please support Wikipedia.
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92 news items

Wed, 20 Aug 2014 01:48:45 -0700

The United Nations University -Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) received with deep sorrow, the sudden passing away of the Former Vice Rector of the United Nations University (UNU), Prof. Alexander Adum Kwapong who was very ...
The Japan Times
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 02:00:00 -0700

... unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.” Obijiofor Aginam is a senior research fellow and head at Governance for Global Health, the United Nations University-International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH), Kuala Lumpur ...
Tue, 19 Aug 2014 18:41:15 -0700

The United Nations University –Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA) says it received with deep sorrow, the sudden passing away of the Former Vice Rector of the institute, Prof. Alexander Adum Kwapong. He died on August 9, 2014 in Accra.

Science 2.0

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Sun, 17 Aug 2014 05:00:00 -0700

A United Nations University study (A. Singh and R. Dhumale, Globalization, Technology, and Income Inequality: A critical analysis. UNU 2000) concludes globalization and technology are not the primary drivers of inequality, though authors admit ...

McGill Reporter

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Mon, 11 Aug 2014 11:33:45 -0700

... the Belmont Forum of funding agencies, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University (UNU), and the World Meteorological Organization ...
Sat, 09 Aug 2014 02:44:08 -0700

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Fri, 01 Aug 2014 07:37:30 -0700

... International Development Research Centre, Egypt; David M. Malone, undersecretary-general of the United Nations and rector of United Nations University, Japan; and Rohinton Medhora, president, Centre for International Governance Innovation, Canada.

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