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Union of International Associations: a profile


The Union of International Associations
Problems of information
Clearing house
International conferences
Union of interests

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Originally published in World Union-Goodwill (Volume 2, June 1962, 3, pp. 40-43).


Near the centre of Brussels, occupying part of the famous Palais d'Egmont, there is the headquarters of one of the most important international organisations of our time. It is virtually unknown to the general public, has a modest budget and staff yet is recognised as the leading authority in its field.

The UIA, or the Union of International Associations, to give it its full title, specialises in research and the provision of information about all kinds of international organisations. It also offers certain advisory services to facilitate the work of such organisations. Its purpose is to promote international co-operation, and in particular non-governmental or 'people to people' co-operation.

The work of UIA symbolises a development in thinking and practice that constitutes one of the most remarkable peaceful revolutions known to history. Today there is hardly a branch or form of human activity that is not international in some aspect, and has not a corresponding international organisation, or more correctly a parallel series of international organisations. One series is the outcome of cooperation between governments. The other is the result of the efforts of interested individuals and groups to help one another. The latter is historically the older and still the more widespread and diversified development.

Broadly speaking, the two series of institutions should reinforce and com plement one another. Inter-governmental agencies establish a stable framework of international relations within which the 'free,' or non-governmental organisations (N.G.O.'s as they will hereafter be called) can work and develop. N.G.O.'s have a means or rapprochement between peoples to which inter-governmental organisations, by their very nature, cannot appeal. N.G.O.'s bring together individuals who are linked to the same profession; who have common spiritual or material interests; who enter into personal contact in a spirit of service, with a fruitful give and take between ideologies and aspirations and a loyal recognition of rights and wrongs. By all these means they develop mutual fellowship, appreciation of a common task, and habits of cooperation and friendship which survive tensions of a political nature. These contacts represent the real link between the individual and the international community.

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