United Nations Research and Training Institutes

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Date established


The UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) is an autonomous body of the UN that was established in 1963 by a decision of the Secretary-General (ST/SGB/126) with a mandate to conduct policy-relevant research on pressing issues of social development.

The UNRISD's mission is to generate knowledge and articulate policy alternatives on contemporary social development issues, thereby contributing to the UN systems broader goals of reducing poverty and inequality, advancing well-being and rights, and creating more democratic and just societies.  

UNRISD undertakes independent, multi-disciplinary research in collaboration with an extensive network of research partners in developed and developing countries. The Institute sits at the interface of the UN system, civil society and the academic community.  It aims to use this position to create spaces for reflection, debate and dialogue, and to encourage sharing of knowledge and ideas across the international development community.  

A hallmark of UNRISD's work is its integration of the economic and social dimensions of development with analysis of the political factors and institutional arrangements that underpin processes of social change. The Institute's research programme spans a range of themes, including social policy, governance, social movements and gender. Recent priority areas include social policy in a development context, combating poverty and inequality, as well as gender and the care economy, civil society and corporate accountability. UNRISD's 2010-14 research agenda is framed around two main themes: Social Policies for Inclusive and Sustainable Development, and Political and Institutional Dynamics of Social Development.

As an autonomous body of the UN, UNRISD is not associated with any particular specialised agency. It is funded entirely by voluntary contributions. Its work is coordinated with specialised agencies, and it is supervised by an independent board.

The Board is composed of a chair appointed by the Secretary-General, 10 members nominated by the Commission for Social Development and confirmed by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), who serve in their personal capacity, and eight ex officio members. Board membership is for four years, with the possibility of extension for a further two years.

The members are:
Chair (Vacant)
Bina Agarwal, India
YesimArat, Turkey
Evelina Dagnino, Brazil
Peter Evans, USA
Rosalind Eyben, UK
Huang Ping, China
Patricia Schultz, Swittzerland
Annika Sunden, Sweden
Julia Szalai, Hungary
Zenebeworke Tadesse, Ethiopia

Ex officio members
A representative of the Secretary-General
Director, Latin American and Caribbean Institute for Economic and Social Planning
Director, African Institute for Economic Development and Planning
Director, Asian and Pacific Development Centre
Executive Secretary, UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)
Representatives of two of the following agencies appointed in rotation: UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO)
Director of the Institute

Palais des Nations
1211 Geneva 10
Telephone:(+41 22) 917 3020
Fax:(+41 22) 917 0650