Organizing a conference or a cultural event at UNESCO Headquarters

UNESCO Headquarters offers a number of meeting and conference rooms and exhibition spaces*, which can be made available to Member States, National Commissions for UNESCO, and partners of UNESCO.

Conferences and cultural events taking place on UNESCO premises are expected to be in harmony with UNESCO’s programmes and objectives. They should not be detrimental to the Organization’s image or reputation, or contrary to the spirit of international understanding and cooperation.

According to UNESCO rules and regulations, Member States or National Commissions are allowed to hold up to two cultural events (organized at their expense and under their full responsibility) per biennium (chapter 13.12 of the Administrative Manual).

Commercial, financial or advertising activities are prohibited, as well as events promoting candidacies to any of the governing bodies or committees of UNESCO. No reservations can be made for organizers who have not settled previous rental arrears.

Here, you will find information provided by the Conferences and Cultural Events Management Section (MSS/CLD/C) on how to organize an event at UNESCO Headquarters.

*All our rooms and spaces are wheel chair accessible and completely air conditioned. Accessible toilet for people in a wheelchair are located at each level of our building.

Submitting your proposal

Please submit a detailed description in writing of your event as early as possible, at least 6 months before a conference or cultural event and at least 18 months before an exhibition.

The request should be submitted to Ms Tania Fernández de Toledo, Chief of the Conferences and Cultural Events Management Section.

The description of the event should indicate:

  • Aim and scope of the event and relevance to UNESCO’s mandate
  • Proposed dates and duration
  • Programme
  • Invited personalities/expected speakers
  • Partners and sponsors
  • Number of rooms and/or space required

 As well as:

For conferences:

  • Simultaneous interpretation requirements, with precise schedules of the working sessions and start and end-times of meetings

N.B.: In addition to interpretation to and from UNESCO’s six official languages, UNESCO can also organize interpretation to and from other languages.

Access to simultaneous interpretation booths is restricted to interpreters who have been validated by our services.

For exhibitions:

  • Set-up, design and content description, as well as a portfolio including all artwork, photos, size and text

N.B.: Minimum duration of exhibition: 5 working days.

For screenings:

  • Copy of the film/documentary for preview and approval by UNESCO

It generally takes up to one month to examine a dossier. Once your dossier has been examined, you will receive a reply in writing. 

If your event is confirmed, MSS/CLD/C will contact you to clarify the technical and personnel requirements for your conference or event and, if necessary, may set up a technical meeting with you.

UNESCO shall not be responsible for damage to, loss or theft of, equipment or objects brought onto the premises. Organizers are required to take out special insurance to cover these risks. This insurance must cover liability for accidents sustained by staff and guests, theft and damage to the premises, including all expenses incurred in the event of damage to the floors, ceilings, walls, partitions, or furniture and materials made available by the Organization.

In the case of exhibitions, works should be covered by a “nail to nail” insurance. UNESCO shall have no liability for damage to the works, or for personal injuries or accidents that might occur as a result of the holding of the exhibition in the space made available. If there is no insurance coverage, UNESCO will ask the exhibitor to sign a “Liability release".

What happens if you need to cancel your event?

You have the right to cancel a confirmed reservation or a rental contract up to one month before the event. If you cancel a contract less than one month before the event, you will be required to pay for any expenses already incurred (e.g. contracts signed with interpreters or with equipment rental companies), in addition to the rental costs for the space(s).

Should UNESCO be obliged to cancel a reservation, in case of force majeure, the amount paid in advance shall be refunded in full.

Cancellation or rescheduling of interpretation services after firm commitment with the interpreters:

The acceptance of the estimate allows UNESCO to give a firm commitment to the interpreters (free-lancers), which guarantees the presence of professional interpreters chosen for the meeting. This implies that the fees remain due even if the meeting is cancelled or postponed.

In case of cancellation or adjournment, you will be asked to pay a compensation of:

  • 50 % of the remuneration, if the cancellation or the adjournment intervenes more than 30 days before the beginning of the contract
  • 100 % of the remuneration, less than 30 days before the beginning of the contract

Calculate the cost

Permanent Delegations are charged preferential rates, which are approved by the Headquarters Committee and based on real cost recover principle.

Fixed costs:

  • Cost of meeting rooms and/or exhibition spaces
  • Cost of all personnel required to service your event (pdf in French) (e.g. technical coordinator, security agents, meeting room clerks, technicians, cloakroom, supernumeraries…)

Optional services at UNESCO:

One estimate, one contract:

MSS/CLD/C will send you a single estimate, including all room rental and related  personnel and technical costs, as soon as all technical and personnel requirements have been clarified. A contract for signature and payment will be sent to you no later than one month before the event. The contract must be returned within 8 days with full payment in advance in Euros or in US Dollars.

If additional costs are incurred during the event, you will receive an adjusted invoice after the event.

Practical tips and advice

Cutting costs:

  • Keep to the times booked for your event so as to avoid additional staff costs
  • If possible, hold rehearsals on the day of the event
  • Avoid weekend rentals, for which there is a 50% surcharge
  • If you require interpretation, book early to secure a team of local interpreters. Be aware that some language combinations may be hard to find (English/Spanish, Arabic or Chinese for instance). Plan your working sessions so that they do not exceed slots of 2 or 3 hours. 

Obtaining insurance:

  • Obtain the right kind of insurance. It should be effective on the scheduled dates, including installation dates
  • If you are using recorded music, make sure to pay copyright royalties to the appropriate copyright management bodies

Remember

  • If possible, book one year in advance for major exhibitions and important dates (world days, anniversaries, and so on)
  • Do not include commercial or financial activities
  • Select partners whose image and activities will not tarnish your reputation or that of UNESCO
  • Your event must end by midnight for noise control
  • Inform UNESCO at least two months in advance if you wish to publish your event in the monthly calendar of cultural events
  • Obtain UNESCO’s consent for any sponsorship and for use of its name or logo in outside information and promotion activities, and on printed invitations
  • Respect the intergovernmental character of the Organization, its universality and its Member States

Promoting cultural events

UNESCO communication tools:

UNESCO has communication tools allowing to promote cultural events taking place at UNESCO Headquarters.

In order to include an activity in these media published by the Division of Public Information, the organizers have to provide to the Partnership and Public Relations Section (contact: f.kouadio@unesco.org) the following elements at least two months in advance:

  • A detailed description of the event by filling in the relevant form: Exhibition or Cultural evening 
  • The poster of the event or 2 high-definition visuals as well as photographs of the works for exhibitions
  • Contacts details for information or invitation requests 

The information will be published in the following media:

  • Monthly e-newsletter of Cultural Events for the general public in Paris and the nearby suburbs (sent at the end of each month for events during the following month - nearly 20,000 subscribers) – Published in French only
  • Paper version of the monthly Calendar of Cultural Events at UNESCO Headquarters (distribution at the beginning of each month – available at UNESCO reception desks) – Published in French only
  • Cultural events Web page www.unesco.org/fr/cultural-events (events put online at the beginning of each month)
  •  UNESCO Website / Events Section www.unesco.org/events (events put online at the beginning of each month)
  • UNESCO Intranet (“UNESCOMMUNITY”: for UNESCO staff – events put online at the beginning of each month)
  • Website for Permanent Delegations and National Commissions (“unesco.int” – events put online at the beginning of each month)
  • UNESCO internal TV screens (announcement 10 days before the event

Your communication tools:

Producing posters and invitation cards (required to access an event at UNESCO) will also allow you to mobilize the public.

Drafts for invitations or other communication material (posters, announcements, leaflets, brochures, programs, catalogs, etc.) must be submitted to MSS/CLD/C for UNESCO’s approval.

N.B.: Validation by the different competent UNESCO departments: Please count an average of five working days.

For your printed communication documents, you may use the printing service of UNESCO’s Documents Management Section. This department can establish estimates, create layouts and designs for your documents and produce them. Contact: r.swinnen(at)unesco.org

Use of the UNESCO logo

There are specific rules governing the use of the UNESCO logo. Only activities organized by UNESCO (or jointly with the Organization) can benefit from UNESCO’s logo.

Permanent Delegations must request authorization to use the UNESCO logo for non-commercial purposes from the Director-General. The use of the logo must always be closely associated with their own name and, if they so wish, their own logo. UNESCO can assist with the elaboration of electronic files with suitable logos.

Please note that Permanent Delegations are not entitled, under any form or circumstance, to authorize other parties to use UNESCO’s name, acronym, logo and/or Internet domain names.

You can consult the Practical Guidelines for National Commissions regarding the use of the Name, Acronym, Logo, and Internet Domain Names of UNESCO.

How to make a donation of a work of art to UNESCO

Tribute to Van Gogh | Erró (2008) | UNESCO Collection © R. Fayad

The management of UNESCO’s art collection also falls under the Section’s responsibility and includes handling of artwork donations made to the Organization and loans.

All bequests or work of art donation proposals must be addressed in writing to the Director-General. In order to be taken into consideration, they must be presented by a Member State or an associate member of the Organization.

The proposal must include the completed donation form and a file containing all technical, artistic and descriptive elements necessary for a thorough evaluation of the proposed artwork. It should also demonstrate the interest of including it in UNESCO’s art collection.

The Advisory Committee on Works of Art (ACWA), which holds the task of evaluating all donation proposals made to UNESCO, will study these following criteria recognized by the International Council of Museums (ICOM). The Committee hence ensures the overall artistic and cultural quality and coherence of UNESCO’s collection.

The ACWA is convened in ordinary session once a year. The final decision is taken by the Director-General and communicated to the Donor by official letter.

The Donor cannot make a donation or create a work of art which will carry financial implications for UNESCO.