In the 1970s and 1980s, UNESCO adopted six international standard-setting instruments that set forth the principles and norms concerning the recognition of higher-education qualifications at the regional level. It was followed by a recommendation at the inter-regional level in 1993.
Since then, a second generation of revised conventions have been developed at the regional level. Some have already come into force or are awaiting ratification by a minimum number of UNESCO Member States, and others are still at the drafting stages.
At the inter-regional level, the UNESCO Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications, whose development is ongoing, will supersede the 1993 Recommendation on the Recognition of Studies and Qualifications in Higher Education. The global convention is expected to be presented at the 40th Session of the UNESCO General Conference for decision/adoption by Member States in November 2019. Get more information on the proposed global convention.
These conventions constitute a unique legal framework, and 140 Member States have ratified, acceded to, or approved more than one convention. The conventions are focused on allowing the recognition of qualifications in higher education between “States Parties” (signatory states), subject to national legislation, for academic and professional purposes. At present, the conventions refer solely to the mutual recognition by signatory states of qualifications issued by educational institutions that are part of the education system of a UNESCO Member State.
You will find the legal instrument and regional point of contact for each UNESCO region listed below.