Challenges to Comprehension Implied by the Logo
of Laetus in Praesens
Laetus in Praesens


Summary Description
of the Union of International Associations (UIA)

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Section of Report of a Preliminary Investigation of the Possibility of Using Computer Data Processing Methods (1968): a summary of the various parts of this report, and details of its contents (with links to the various parts), are provided separately

The UIA is an organization whose original foundation in 1910 was very closely related to the "birth of 20th century internationalism.  The organizations was founded in order to study the organizations and the mechanism surrounding the organizations listed in the previous section. The current Constitution is given as Exhibit 16 [omitted]


A brief history is given as a note in Exhibit 17. More recent details are discussed in the next section.


The aims of the organization, as laid down in the Constitution, are as follows.

"The UIA is an international non-governmental organizations for documentation, research and service.  It is non-profit making.  Its objectives shall be:

The UIA is the only organization in the world so specialize in this field, although many other organizations touch upon particular aspects of it.


The UIA is composed of:

  1. Active members.  Individuals whose total number may not exceed 250, elected by UIA's General Assembly and constituting the same. Only these members take part in the direction and management of the organization.  They are co-opted either at Assembly sessions or by postal vote, on proposal by the Executive Council.  The Constitution provides that they should pay an annual subscription.
  2. Supporting or Corporate Members.  Organizations, foundations, commercial or industrial enterprises interested in the aims of the UIA and wishing to support its work by paying a minimum of $ 100. per annum.  They receive periodical publications and are entitled to make use of its services and facilities and to send an observer to its assemblies.
  3. Associate Members.  Individuals who wish to be kept informed of the work of the UIA and to support it.  The only financial obligation is the annual purchase of a subscription to the UIA magazine.
  4. Corresponding Organizations.  International organizations wishing to give moral support to the UIA and use its services may become corresponding organizations provided they undertake to supply general in formation on their activities and purchase an annual subscription to the UIA magazine. The development in membership is indicated in Exhibit 18 (and 18a)for each of these categories.  Membership is discussed in detail in a later section.


The UIA has its registered office in the Brussels area in a leased building comprising 7 offices and 9 storage areas.  The organization currently has 10 full-time and 3 part-time staff.  Three of the full-time staff are Anglo-Saxon, the others are Belgian. The UIA has operating national secretariats in several countries.  This question is considered in a later section.


Documentation Information is collected on all international governmental and nongovernmental organizations.  This includes details on their activities (meetings, reports, membership, etc.).  This information appears in a series of regular and irregular publications. 

The relationship between the publications is indicated in Exhibit 19. [omitted]

Research: The UIA conducts surveys by questionnaire. Topics of interest to NGOs, that have been treated in this way, include: legal status, pensions funds, organization of meetings, international conventions, etc.  Some of these are done with grant aid, others are under contract, others are done without outside support. Statistical surveys of general characteristics of international meetings and organizations are also prepared and published on an irregular basis.

Service Centre: The organization answers many individual inquiries concerning international organizations and their activities and problems.  These inquiries may come from the organizations themselves, from people studying the organizations, or from people wishing to benefit from their activities.

Promotion: The UIA attempts through its publications and contacts to promote the concept of NGOs and the important function they fulfill.

Method of Operation

The General Assembly elects an Executive Committee which approves the program submitted by the Secretariat.  The Secretariat is controlled by the Secretary-General and his Assistant. Publications are prepared and published by the Secretariat which has a Sales and Distribution Department.  Sales are mainly to the following groups:  universities, travel agents, governments, NGOs, embassies, airlines, and libraries of various types, as well as IGOs.


The organization is 90%self-financing.  Income is derived from the sale of publications. The remaining 10% of the income is in the form of government subsidies. The 1967 budget was Bfrs 5,600,000.

Relations with Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs)

The UIA has 'consultative status' with the United Nations as a result of being placed on the Roster of the Economic and Social Council.  All such organizations are automatically approved for consultative status "C" with Unesco.  The UIA is in regular contact with most IGOs.

Relations with International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

The UIA has been a member of the International Libraries Association since 1967  It has been closely associated with the creation of the Federation of International Associations established in Belgian (FAIB), the International Association of Congress Centres (with whom it organizes a series of congresses), the International Association of Professional Congress Organizers and the International Association of Manufacturers of Congress Equipment. No other form of membership has been sought but the organization is in regular contact with most NGOs.

Evaluation of the UIA

The UIA is an organic organization.  This means that it is not rigidly organized into hierarchies with a multitude of water-tight compartments. Many decisions must be taken on an intuitive basis in order to adapt to changing conditions and possibilities within and outside the organization, It is a small organization which has been built up to promote certain points of view, ideas and beliefs which are strongly held by the executive members of the organization.  Similar beliefs are also held "by various groups of people active in other national and international bodies.  It is a measure of the success of the UIA that it has been able to reach the stage where of its programs are self-financing. An analysis can distinguish problems which might be critical in a highly structured organization. In a small organic organization the same problems may not be critical since the UIA can quickly deploy its internal resources to meet any difficulties.  This does not mean that an analysis is valueless but merely that the points raised should be seen as indications of possible critical problems which may warrant direct attention despite the internal resources. This section has given an overall view of the UIA. In the following sections, particular aspects of the organizations will be considered in more detail to give a clearer picture of its objectives, potential, problems and strengths, and the market to which it has to sell its publications.

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