About the Union of International Associations (UIA)

The Union of International Associations (UIA) is a non-profit, independent, apolitical and non-governmental institution in the service of international associations.  Since its founding in 1907 the UIA has focused on documenting the nature and evolution of international civil society, including international non-governmental organizations (NGO) and inter-governmental organizations (IGO). 

Founded by two Belgians more than one hundred years ago, Henri La Fontaine (Nobel Peace Prize laureate of 1913) and Paul Otlet, they wanted to “assess and describe the degree of internationalism prevailing throughout the world”.  At the time, there were only an estimated 350 international bodies. Today, the UIA tracks the activities of more 65,000 international associations and organizations that span virtually every area of human activity. 

Publicly the UIA is best known for the Yearbook of International Organizations, the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential, the International Congress Calendar, and its former journal Transnational Associations.  The UIA also enjoys Associate Status with UNESCO and consultative status with ECOSOC.

In its on-going efforts to facilitate understanding of the nature and complexities of the international community of organizations the UIA has become a cutting-edge technical centre with high standing in the academic, governmental, and business domains.

The UIA achieves its aims through the documentation of global civil society, the publication of research reports and by hosting the annual Associations Round Table, bringing together hundreds of associations professionals to share information and insights. 



World Economic Forum (WEF) 2012-13 Global Competitiveness Report


Which countries are the most competitive?


The World Economic Forum (WEF) has just released its 2012 - 2013 Global Competitiveness Report, ranking 144 countries on 12 core "pillars" of economic competitiveness. 
This landmark report provides a roadmap to those countries that hold the most promising prospects for economically sustainable growth. 

The report "...contributes to an understanding of the key factors that determine economic growth, helps to explain why some countries are more successful than others in raising income levels and opportunities for their respective populations...". 

For associations that want to grow their international membership, meeting registrations, certifications, training and other programs, the report can be used to help map your international footprint and to evaluate opportunities.   

For example, the 144 countries that were evaluated are segmented into 5 categories that define the level of economic development. 
These range from those countries that are at a very basic level of development (primarily agricultural societies with rudimentary industries) to the most advanced, affluent, innovation based economies.

This year, the  United States is ranked 7th, down two rankings from last year. There are 6 European countries rated higher than the U.S. with Singapore, ranked number 2 world-wide, also ranked higher.
In fact, the top 25 countries include a total of 12 from Europe, mostly from northern Europe and the Nordic countries. 
Another 5 countries come form Asia and both Australia and New Zealand are also included in the top 25 most competitive nations. In addition to the countries you might expect to see (Japan, China, Korea) you also see Malaysia joining the top 25.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates represent the key advanced economies in the Middle East. 
Saudi Arabia is not often recognized as an obvious opportunity for associations to grow but the kingdom is investing heavily in its domestic workforce development and is fertile ground for association training and certification programs, especially for healthcare related organizations. 


This detailed document includes very useful country profiles, allowing you to compare individual countries with their regional counterparts and their global rankings. 
These individual profiles include a wealth of information; the most important barriers to doing business in the country, levels of corruption, bureacracy, tax issues, etc.
It also includes extensive, detailed tables, statistics and rankings for innovation, logistics, rule of law, GDP, technology use and many other categories that provide you with a comprehensive overview of how each country ranks.
The WEF Global Competitiveness Report contains 529 detailed pages of charts, data, graphs and explanations. 


Global Growth Workshops - 

 Tuesday, 26 MARCH 2013 D.C.   |   Thursday, 28 MARCH 2013 Chicago 


What does it mean for an association to be "Global"? 

For an Association to be "Global", it means that;

1. The organization has a meaningful presence in each major region of the world, i.e. on each continent (except Antarctica) and the major sub regions such as the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.

2. The organization appears to its customers to be a national champion or local entity more than a foreign entity, and that it is not immediately obvious where "Headquarters" is. It is most important that the organization has strong local or regional relevance to the member/customer. (The food company Nestle is a great example. Most of its brands are assumed to be local companies but are part of this Swiss food giant's portfolio).

3. The organization maintains universal core values and an agreed Body of Knowledge or an Intellectual Property core that is intelligently and appropriately modified as necessary and relevant for regional or national requirements. 

For example when credentialing, the credential should maintain global equivalence (based on a core Body of Knowledge) but still have real meaning nationally i.e. comply with local law and practice. (Includes things like language, law, currency, time, metric v. imperial measures etc.)

4. The organization does not derive more than 50% of its gross revenues from any one single country or market.

5. The Governance structure reflects the global footprint of the organization.

6. The leadership thinks constantly in terms of how decisions will affect the entire membership regardless of where they are located and anticipates the need to respect the complexity of being a global organization.

7. Communication systems and practices are put in place to support global collaboration including telephone formats ("+" and then the Country Code followed by the number ex. +1 202 294 5563), date formats (a format that leaves no guesswork: 25 DEC 2008), the use of military or 24 hour time (23:00 is 11pm). Organizations must be careful to use shorter, less complicated sentences and remove jargon, political or sport references, etc.  Many non-English native speakers can more easily understand and express themselves in written form than orally but the communication must be clear and un-complicated.

8. The staff and leadership must travel. Globalization is not a spectator sport. There is no substitute for putting oneself in the scene where you do not understand the local language, do not recognize what people are eating, cannot find an English newspaper, attend dinners where you do not understand the jokes, etc. Then it is clear how important being sensitive to local issues is to really succeed internationally.

These are the clear characteristics of a "Global" organization.


Health Volunteers Overseas - A model for international capacity building and outreach 

25 Years ago, a group of orthopaedic physicians saw the need to help resource poor international communities through education, training and capacity building.

Today, Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO) facilitates and manages the delivery of nearly 500 volunteers annually through 90 projects in 25 countries world-wide.

Working in partnership with professional medical associations like the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), HVO helps partner organizations have a much more effective impact when meeting their capacity building objectives.

It is also a very smart option from the resource allocation perspective, both in terms of staff and financial commitments. At present, an annual $5,000 membership fee from partner associations is all that is required to have HVO organize and administer international teaching programs.

For associations that are trying to make an impact through the sharing of knowledge and skills with lessor developed communities around the world, partnering with HVO is a smart and valuable option.

Most associations in the health care field (and many associations outside of health care) have an element of international outreach and capacity building as part of their mission, vision and business plans. However, many also struggle to maintain effective long term programs for a variety of reasons.

Challenges to effective, long term humanitarian projects

Making a real, measurable difference through capacity building projects is notoriously hard to achieve and sustain over the long haul. All associations face one or more major obstacles at some point, including:

Inadequate resources - Capacity building and outreach requires people, time and money. Even with all volunteer efforts, staff are still required to dedicate some time to international outreach. From a finacial perspective, volunteers usually require their travel and related expenses to be covered, at a minimum.

Because most outreach efforts do not generate any revenue, they are one of the first areas to be cut when budgets get tight. Real capacity building cannot be achieved by one week a year or ad hoc assignments. It needs a dependable, long term and sustained effort.

Changing priorities - Many outreach efforts are well intentioned projects initiated after a board member has visited a lessor developed region or a request has been made from a developing country organization. Over time, boards and leadership change. Priorities then shift as the board may elect to pursue other altruistic projects or the efforts are dropped altogether.

Lack of experience - Sending association volunteers overseas requires a significant amount of knowledge and experience to master the logistical and programmatic obstacles. Nothing that involves international training and education programs is straight forward; from the visa and entry requirements to health and safety issues to understanding the true needs and abilities of your target communities.

In most cases, staff that work on an association's outreach and international capacity building efforts also have other responsibilities. This makes it that much more challenging to apply the time and attention needed to these important but non-revenue generating activities.

Why should associations partner with HVO?

Associations, like the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) work together with HVO to deliver much needed education and training programs. AAD uses the services of HVO to enable willing volunteer dermatologists to participate in important long term training programs.

Jessica Kirk, MD is an AAD member and HVO volunteerBy working with HVO in this way, AAD saves an enormous amount of valuable staff time that can be applied to other, equally important projects, while still meeting its humanitarian goals.

In collaboration with its partner organizations, like AAD, HVO screens recipient communities, making sure that the people and institutions that receive training are true not-for-profit organizations and that they will have the capacity to implement their new skills and knowledge.

In addition, HVO has a very mature and well thought-out process to help prepare qualified volunteers to make sure they will be successful when they deliver a training and education project.

For partner associations, this model is not only extremely cost effective (associations pay only a $5,000 annual membership fee as an HVO partner), but it saves staff time (worth well in excess of the membership fee) and helps guarantee that the association's volunteers are as well prepared as they can be to succeed.

For partner associations, this is a unique and highly valuable alternative when it comes to delivering important humanitarian projects. 

For all associations that are active internationally, it serves as a model of how leveraging the skills and capabilities of a partner organization can not only save you time and money but can actually increase your chances of success in the process. 


HVO is currently looking for partner organizations in the nursing, medical sub-specialty and oncology fields. For more information how to partner with HVO, please click the link below:


Managing Globalization: If it's here to stay, what do we do now?

By Daniel Altman
Published: International Herald Tribune (

This is a new kind of column on globalization. Its purpose is not to argue whether the spread of market forces around the globe is good or bad, or whether it should be allowed to proceed or stopped in its tracks. Rather, it takes as a given that globalization is here to stay and moves on to the more pressing question of how to manage the transition to a more integrated world economy.

Two decades have passed since the word "globalization" started showing up with any frequency in discussions of business and economics. At first, the focus was on Western companies' trying to compete with cheaper, sometimes better imports from Japan, South Korea, China and other countries. It was a straight fight: The battle lines were drawn along each country's borders.

Later on, things became more complex. Asian companies started designing and assembling products in the West. Western companies opened up new fronts by sending jobs abroad - not just in manufacturing but in service industries as well.

At the turn of the millennium, there was a lot of talk about whether globalization was a Good Thing or a Bad Thing. One side argued that it allowed big, multinational corporations to exploit workers in poor countries to pad their profit margins. The other side retorted that the expansion of these corporations into the developing world offered the best hope for raising living standards. One side complained that globalization was creating and destroying industries too quickly for the labor force to adjust. The other side answered that these shifts were rapidly improving the world's ability to use its resources efficiently.
Now it's pretty clear that globalization, be it good or bad, is an Unavoidable Thing. Rather than dealing with the problems of globalization head-on, it can be tempting to try to slow the process. Yet that's likely to postpone the problems, not solve them. Unless every country simultaneously decides to close its borders to commerce, migration and financial transactions, globalization will continue. Tariffs exist, of course, as do restrictions on foreign workers and foreign investment. But as technology for moving goods, people and information improves, globalization will accelerate.

How and why this is happening is well-trodden territory. Moreover, arguing about whether it's good or bad has become something of a simplistic activity. There are clearly winners and losers, and they're identified every day through layoffs, profit figures and the cash registers of retail stores carrying ever-wider selections at ever-lower prices.
The more relevant question now is how to manage the transition to a more globalized world.In theory, the gains of the winners in trade always outweigh the costs to the losers. So how can those gains be distributed so that everybody wins, at least a little bit?
To some, the answer is coordination and regulation.

"The biggest challenge to the transition to a more globalized world economy is to keep it human and fair, that is to agree on values, rules and procedures which should allow us to set up the necessary governance," said Pascal Lamy, the director general of the World Trade Organization."That is why organizations like the WTO, where international trade rules are agreed by consensus of all the members, must be improved and reinforced."
But others see a need for greater regulation to protect workers and prevent all the gains of globalization from accruing to investors alone.

"Markets inevitably exert pressure downwards," said Ron Oswald, general secretary of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations, a global trade union federation with about 11 million members in 135 countries.

In comments delivered through a spokesman, Oswald continued, "The greatest challenge facing workers and the organizations that they create to defend them is to resist that downward pressure, which operates both on wages and living standards, but also in terms of rights."

These opinions form the context for what happens on the ground, like a bird's-eye view of a battlefield. At the level of a single company or worker, though, the challenge is more like hand-to-hand combat.

"As the global economy becomes more integrated, you discover that your potential customers, partners, suppliers and competitors can emerge from literally any country in the world," said Phillip Overmyer, executive director of the Singapore International Chamber of Commerce. "The challenge is to be able to clearly and thoroughly understand the needs, drivers and characteristics of these many different players, so you can develop your own strategy."

People are making decisions every day that change the impact of globalization on their lives. Parents choose whether to pay for extra language lessons for their children. The chief executive in a dying industry weighs how much his company should invest in researching new products. A government minister tries to figure out how to keep her country's brightest scientists from moving overseas.

Yet it's not easy to plan for the future without knowing what the future will look like. Back in the 1980s, Americans were encouraging their children to learn Japanese. Now, Chinese is the language of choice. Solar-powered cars were all the rage, then electrical hybrids. In the next decade, fuel cells may take over. Though India still watches as hundreds of its brightest graduates head to the United States every year, more and more are staying home to start their own businesses.

The ground-level challenges require flexible solutions.Developing specific skills, inventing specific technologies or passing specific laws to fit the circumstances of the moment may not be enough.

It may be more important to develop skills that help you to pick up more skills, to invent technologies that set the stage for generations of innovation, and to pass laws that open the door to several different kinds of regulation - in other words, to create a platform for flexible decision-making in the midst of rapid changes.

Education, pension rules, intellectual property laws, tax policy, research spending, job training and the financial system - all of these areas are feeling the effects of globalization.
The integration of the global economy is making every single topic more complex. But each one is also involved in the solutions to those big challenges.

With that knowledge in hand, a few more winners may appear on the battlefield of the global economy. This column will tell their stories, one week at a time.
Daniel Altman, the IHT's global economics correspondent, is writing a book about how the global economy works behind the scenes.