The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials

The UNESCO Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education 2019 (Global Convention) was adopted during the 40th Session of the UNESCO General Conference in November 2019. While this international convention remains open for additional ratifications by interested UNESCO Member States, it officially entered into force on March 5, 2023.

The Global Convention was inspired by pre-existing regional conventions, such as the 1997 Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC) in the UNESCO Europe and North America region. Like its regional precursors, the Global Convention aims to support:

  • the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), especially as it concerns the enhancement of the quality of higher education;
  • growth in student mobility;
  • the recognition of academic credentials as a global right;
  • international consistency in recognition procedures; and
  • increased international cooperation.

In Canada, federal, provincial, and territorial governments acknowledged that:

  • UNESCO has already addressed many of the questions and challenges raised by governments in Canada, and suggested changes were accepted and included in the adopted version of the Global Convention;
  • an instrument such as the Global Convention will:
    • improve academic and professional mobility across the five UNESCO regions and enhance international cooperation in higher education. It will also demonstrate to the world the importance of fair recognition practices being applied by assessment services and competent recognition bodies in Canada;
    • support economic growth by facilitating inbound and outbound migration flows in Canada. This includes attracting international students to our educational institutions and a skilled workforce to our labour markets; and
    • demonstrate the excellence of Canada's education systems by ensuring that academic credentials issued by our educational institutions are recognized worldwide.
  • given Canada's ratification of UNESCO's 1979 and 1997 recognition-related conventions, Canada already benefits from existing implementation structures established over the past four decades. The Global Convention would extend similar provisions to all the countries that ratify it.
CMEC continues to collaborate with all interested parties to finalize preparatory steps for a possible ratification of the Global Convention.

Get more information on the UNESCO website, learn about the consultation process with UNESCO and within Canada, and consult the FAQ.


Consult other references

July 2023

March 2023

January 2023

December 2022

Fall 2022
UNESCO's Higher Education Conversation series:
  • Micro-credentials in higher education on September 8, 2022
  • International mobility flows: a South-South perspective on October 4, 2022
  • Blockchain and digital credentials on November 10, 2022
  • Higher education in emergencies on December 8, 2022
  • Higher education from a gender perspective on January 19, 2023

September 2022

May 2022

November 2021

Do similar international agreements exist elsewhere in the world?

Regional conventions were previously adopted around the world under the auspices of UNESCO, such as the Lisbon Recognition Convention (LRC). The LRC was ratified by Member States of the UNESCO Europe and North America region, including Canada.

Similar international agreements have also been signed by states in other UNESCO regions. For more information, consult CICIC's Other International Agreements section.