The UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC) was created by the UNESCO General Conference in 1997, replacing the Regional Center for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (CRESALC for its Spanish abbreviation) established in 1974. It is the sole specialized institute of the United Nations system with the mission to contribute to the improvement of higher education in member States. 

Its biennial work program and budget are approved at the UNESCO General Conference. The Institute is governed by a Governing Board whose members are appointed by the Director General of UNESCO, based on proposals from States and Higher Education networks and organizations. The director of the Institute is responsible for its routine operations.


The priorities of the Institute for the biennium 2020-2021 have been set, based on needs and the expectations of the leadership role of UNESCO in the development of Sustainable Development Goal 4, the guidelines and recommendations of the III Regional Conference of Higher Education (CRES 2018), as well as consultations with ministries, university agencies, higher education specialists, including UNESCO Chairs, higher education networks and other international organizations.

The Institute has established one crosscutting and four thematic priorities for the biennium 2020-2021:


Like the other specialized institutes of UNESCO, IESALC carries out its activities through four programs:

Financial Statements 2021

IESALC’s individual financial statements are unaudited but included in the audited consolidated financial statements of UNESCO

Annual Report 2020

Access the 2020 interactive report or download PDF