United Nations Institute for Training and Research

Established: 1

Address: Av. de la Paix 7 bis, 1202 Genève, Switzerland

Website: https://unitar.org

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) was created in 1963 to train and equip young diplomats from newly-independent UN Member States with the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the diplomatic environment

Over the years, UNITAR has acquired unique expertise and experience in designing and delivering a variety of training activities. It has become a leading institute in the provision of customised and creative learning solutions to institutions and individuals from both the public and private sectors. 

UNITAR provides training and capacity development activities to assist mainly developing countries, with special attention to least developed countries (LDCs), small island developing states (SIDS), and other groups and communities who are most vulnerable, including those in conflict situations.

In 2019, UNITAR delivered 671 individual activities, including training, learning, and knowledge-sharing events, benefiting 133 421 participants.  About 75% of participants who took part in learning events were from developing countries, including LDCs.

Digital activities

Of UNITAR’s activities, 59% are delivered face-to-face, while 38% are delivered via its e-learning platform.  Close to 80% of UNITAR’s face-to-face activities take place in field locations, and the remainder are conducted from UNITAR’s headquarters in Geneva and through its out-posted offices in New York City and Hiroshima.

Digital policy issues

Artificial intelligence 

As part of its Prosperity Division, UNITAR looks at artificial intelligence (AI) and a number of emerging technologies such as blockchain and augmented reality and considers their impact on individuals, societies, and inclusive and sustainable economic growth. One example is its Frontier Technologies for Sustainable Development: Unlocking Women's Entrepreneurship through Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Afghanistan and Iraq course.


UNITAR  tackles cybersecurity issues through education and training activities, as well as events. Its training and education activities cover areas such as cybersecurity, cyberwarfare, cyber operations and human rights, digital diplomacy, and broader capacity building initiatives (e.g. e-workshops and ‘in-focus series’). Particular courses and workshops include Digital Diplomacy and Cybersecurity, Diplomacy 4.0, and In-Focus series on International Humanitarian Law and Cyberwarfare, as well as the Cybersecurity and Information Technology Series.

Privacy and data protection 

Privacy and data protection are two interrelated Internet governance issues. Data protection is a legal mechanism that ensures privacy, while privacy is a fundamental human right. UNITAR deals with legal mechanisms ensuring data protection and privacy in numerous courses and events. One example is the course on Introduction to Privacy and Data Protection Law (2020), where different legal mechanisms that protect privacy worldwide are analysed in-depth.

Intellectual property law and data governance 

UNITAR also covers copyrights, patents, and trademarks issues in courses such as the Introduction to International Intellectual Property Law, which considers the role of intellectual property in the modern economy, while examining the fundamentals of copyright protection and patent law in the international community. 

Furthermore, UNITAR tackles issues related more broadly to data governance (e.g. official statistics, data governance, communities and partnerships, and the data value chain) through massive online open courses (MOOCs) such as the Introduction to data governance for monitoring the SDGs, which analyses effective data governance systems for monitoring progress in achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and explores how to manage data-related partnerships, capabilities, and resources in the context of the SDGs.

Capacity development 

Most of UNITAR’s activities fall in the category of capacity development. 

UNITAR offers online, face-to-face, and blended-format courses for both institutions and individuals. Since the launch of the four-year strategic framework (covering 2018-2021), its work is guided by strategic objectives organised around four of the five thematic pillars of the 2030 Agenda, namely Peace, People, Planet, and Prosperity. Some of these educational and training programmes cover Internet and digital policy-related areas, such as privacy and data protection, cybersecurity, and cybercrime, new emerging technologies (blockchain, AI, and augmented reality), and digital diplomacy. 

UNITAR also offers a wide range of masters programmes and graduate certificates related to diplomacy, peace and security, human rights, and humanitarian interventions. 

Furthermore, UNITAR organises special events such as the Geneva Lecture Series, which consist of open lectures that are held on a regular basis at the Palais des Nations in Geneva with the aim of raising awareness for specific global challenges and deepening and broadening the participation of citizens and civil society.

Digital tools

UNITAR offers its training and courses through its e-learning platform as well as a number of different online platforms that provide users with tools and resources in specific thematic areas. 

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, UNITAR has published a number of resources on online learning and online event management addressing how to make online events more inclusive, hor to turn face-to-face into online events, designing learning events and online facilitation cards.