Unveiling Six Decades of Growth:

Celebrating UNITAR's Inspiring Milestones

1963 to 2023


United Nations Training and Research Institute Note by the Secretary-General
Resolutions adopted on the second committee, UN General Assembly

UNITAR was established with the aim of enhancing the effectiveness of the United Nations through training and research. It operated independently within the UN system.


UNITAR old building in New York
Participants in Training Programme in Industrial Investment Promotion, New York. Here, participants are seen with some UN officials: E.G. HERNRIED (left) of UNIDO; S. BAPAT (4th from left, front row), Special Adviser on Training (UNITAR); Miss Aida FAHOUM (centre) of UNIDO; Aron J. AIZENSTANT (4th from right, front row), Director of New York Liaison Office of UNIDO; and N. BEREDJICK (2nd from right) of UNIDO. Behind Miss Fahoum is Mrs. B.A. WICKISER of UNIDO.

Regional training seminars were established in parts of Africa and the Caribbean. Fellowship programmes for junior and senior diplomats were launched.


UNITAR held a meeting with world experts in Bellagio, Italy, to establish a new research agenda, with a focus on peacekeeping.


"A typical training seminar - this one devoted to development and finance - in 1967. The late General Secretary U Thant is seated, third from right."

Regional training seminars were established in parts of Africa and the Caribbean. Fellowship programmes for junior and senior diplomats were launched.


Chief S.O. Adebo is seen here in his office at the Institute.

UNITAR expanded its training activities under the leadership of Chief S.O. Adebo of Nigeria, including the establishment of regional training seminars and the launch of fellowship programmes for diplomats.


A European office in Geneva was opened, under Richard Symonds.


Portrait of Mr. Davidson Nicol, Executive Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

During the tenure of Dr. Davidson Nicol of Sierra Leone as the Executive Director, UNITAR's activities continued to expand, with a focus on research efforts and the publication of reports on various UN-related topics such as the New International Economic Order (NIEO) and alternative energy sources.

1983 - 1991

Under the Michel Doo-Kingue of Cameroon as the Executive Director, UNITAR faced financial challenges and underwent restructuring to streamline its programmes and focus on training in international cooperation and multilateral diplomacy.


An independent report commissioned by the General Assembly advocated for the reform and continuation of UNITAR's activities, leading to the transfer of its headquarters from New York to Geneva.


UNITAR Workshops

UNITAR launched major training programmes in collaboration with the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and other partners, focusing on areas such as debt management, environmental resource management, peacemaking, and preventive diplomacy.


A UNITAR Office was reopened in New York, expanding the institute's programmes for delegates at the UN headquarters.

1997 - 2006

Dr. Marcel Boisard

During the tenure of Dr. Marcel Boisard of Switzerland as the Executive Director, UNITAR further strengthened its programmes, including training in support of United Nations programmes and partnerships with specialized agencies.


UNITAR Hiroshima office

In 2003, following three years of research and a pilot phase, UNITAR established its first office in Asia in the city of Hiroshima, the only UN presence in that symbolic city. Marking this year its 20th anniversary, the Hiroshima Office has built a stellar reputation for the quality and depth of its training, the power of its unique location, and its close ties to the community. Its programmes tend to build on what Hiroshima represents: peace, prosperity and resilience.


A project office was established in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, with a focus on training for civil servants and civil society in the Niger Delta region and neighboring countries in West Africa.


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with Carlos Lopes, Executive Director of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Dr. Carlos Lopes of Gunia Bisau assumed the role of Executive Director and continued the consolidation of UNITAR's training programmes. During his tenure, UNITAR reached approximately 65,000 participants from 186 countries through workshops, courses, and e-learning initiatives. Sustainable development became a key focus area, and the Climate Change programmes expanded with training workshops and technical assistance.


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) meets with Sally Fegan-Wyles, Executive Director of the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

Sally Fegan-Wyles of Ireland was appointed as UN Assistant Secretary-General and Acting Head, Executive Director of UNITAR.


Celebration of the 50th anniversary of the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR)’s 50th at the UN Office at Geneva (UNOG), Palais des Nations.

UNITAR marked its 50th anniversary, commemorated by the signing of a Framework of Cooperation between UNITAR and the G77 and China, Geneva Chapter. Within this framework, the G77 expressed its need for increased support from UNITAR in strengthening the capacities of its member nations.

In response, UNITAR reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to assist G77 countries by enhancing their capacities in areas that are relevant to the United Nations.


Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) swears in Nikhil Seth as Executive Director of the UN Institute for Training & Research (UNITAR).

Nikhil Seth of India became the Executive Director of UNITAR. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda were adopted in the UN General Assembly. UNITAR aligned its programmatic work under the pillars of Peace, People, Planet, and Prosperity, with a focus on SDG learning, UN Satellite Centre (UNOSAT), and diplomatic training.


UNITAR, in partnership with the Geneva-Tsinghua Initiative, the University of Geneva and the Tsinghua University, launch the SDG Innovation Bootcamps, a series of short programmes (online or hybrid) aimed at a new generation of impact entrepreneurs.
A wide view of the event ""Investment in Equality in Science, Technology and Innovation in the Era of Digitalization for Sustainable Development"" on the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science.

The COVID-19 crisis spurred a technological shift in UNITAR, with face-to-face training transitioning to distance learning. The number of learners increased dramatically by nearly 400%. UNITAR continued to grow financially at a robust rate of 12% per year.


UNITAR Bonn Office.

UNITAR opened a new office in Bonn, Germany, and expanded the number of affiliated training centers from 14 to 32, spanning all continents. Partnerships with the private sector and academia were strengthened, leading to networks of universities and coalitions focused on multidisciplinary learning.


The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) held ceremonies in Tokyo and Hiroshima to celebrate its 60th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of the UNITAR Hiroshima Office.
United Nations Institute for Training and Research – New York Office (UNITAR - NYO), Global Foundation for the Performing Arts (GFPA), and Carnegie Hall hosted the monumental "All-Star Festival, Symphony of Solidarity: The Same Language" concert on July 11, celebrating the 60th anniversary of UNITAR.

UNITAR marks its 60th anniversary. It embraces all pillars of the Agenda 2030 - peace, people, planet, and prosperity, and focuses on accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, fostering multilateral diplomacy, and leveraging technology for evidence-based decision-making.

The institute benefits 395,987 individuals worldwide through high-quality modern learning services, provides over 1,034 maps and related products to partners in various UN agencies and more than 70 countries through the United Nations Satellite Centre, and furthers knowledge dissemination on e-waste through SCYCLE Programme.

A favorable female-to-male gender ratio of beneficiaries is maintained for the third time in its history. Strong and committed partnerships are established, with 69% of events and 91% of beneficiaries resulting from collaborative programming.

These milestones demonstrate UNITAR's commitment to sustainable development, innovative training approaches, technology adoption, and partnerships to further its mission. The institute aims to continue serving its constituencies worldwide, with a focus on technology, science, and innovation, while staying aligned with its core pillars of work and striving to learn from the past for future progress.

As we commemorate the remarkable journey of six decades, UNITAR looks eagerly towards the future, where innovation and sustainable technologies intertwine to shape our evolving landscape. Our commitment to providing knowledge that empowers leaders remains unwavering, as we embrace new paradigms and harness cutting-edge tools to enhance our performance and deliver unrivaled educational and training programmes.

UNITAR's activities are in a constant state of adaptation, mirroring the dynamic needs and emerging trends of the modern world. Guided by our steadfast mission, we propel our learners forward, equipping likeminded individuals, diplomats and top executives with the foresight, expertise, and global perspective to navigate a rapidly changing global landscape.

Photo by: Tima Miroshnichenko

We foresee a future where innovation meets purpose, and where UNITAR continues to be a catalyst for positive change. All our efforts go into forging new horizons, embracing sustainable technologies, and fostering a resilient mindset that shapes a brighter tomorrow.

With an unwavering dedication to advancing education and training, we are committed to not only addressing current challenges but also anticipating future ones. By cultivating a culture of lifelong learning, collaboration, and adaptability, UNITAR aims to empower individuals and organizations to thrive in an ever-evolving world. As we embark on this journey, we remain steadfast in our pursuit of excellence and positive impact, driven by the belief that knowledge combined with action can truly make positive change in the world.