A common objective of the first UNESCO regional conventions on recognition adopted in the 1970s and 1980s has been to harmonize and ensure fair and non-discriminatory recognition procedures among States Parties in order to facilitate greater intra-regional academic mobility. This effort involved the adoption of a number of agreements for the recognition of studies, degrees and diplomas in education that are recognized as "first generation". The first of these to be adopted was the Convention for the Recognition of Studies, Degrees and Diplomas in Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (1974), and the UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean (IESALC) serves as its regional secretariat.
A new effort involved the revision of the conventions that were adopted at the time, this time emphasizing the need to include provisions to improve reliability and quality, and to reflect the new dynamics that were impacting the higher education sector. The need for greater transparency in the national education systems is assumed in this spirit of renewal and this implies provisions for the exchange of information and the implementation of networks, while maintaining the prerogative of national authorities for decisions concerning recognition.
To date, four new regional conventions have been adopted: Europe (Lisbon Convention, 1997), Asia and the Pacific (Tokyo Convention, 2011), Africa ("Addis Convention", 2014) and Latin America (Buenos Aires Convention, 2019). These new agreements on the recognition of studies, degrees and diplomas in higher education are grouped under what have come to be known as "second generation" conventions.
The appearance of the New Regional Convention of Buenos Aires has its genesis in a high-level regional ministerial meeting on the recognition of studies, degrees and diplomas in Latin America and the Caribbean held in Brasilia on October 8 and 9, 2015. At this meeting, the Member States of the region agreed to develop a new regional agreement taking into account the current challenges in higher education, especially in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals, as well as the need to have schemes to strengthen regional education systems to ensure quality. During this meeting, the representatives agreed to "facilitate and support the process of revision, as well as the creation of new special mechanisms for its implementation".
As part of this revision process, the Member States requested IESALC to create a working group to examine the previous convention and propose a new text to the Member States in 2017-2018. The first meeting of the working group was organized in Havana, Cuba, in February 2016; the second was organized in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, in August of the same year; the third was held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in June 2017; and the fourth and last meeting was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in April 2018.
The 39th General Conference of UNESCO held in November 2017 decided that, once the draft of the new agreement had been finalized by the working group and in coordination with the Regional Group for Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) at UNESCO Headquarters, the following activities would be carried out during the 2018-2019 biennium (39 C/Resolution 82):
(a) Two Intergovernmental Consultative Meetings (Category II). The first of these meetings was organized in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on April 5 and 6, 2018. The second was organized on June 13-14, 2018, on the occasion of the Regional Conference on Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean CRES, which took place in Cordoba, Argentina, on June 11-15, 2018. Twenty Member States participated in the first meeting and 19 in the second one.
b) An International Conference of States (Category I) to examine and adopt a new Regional Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees in Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean.
All Member States of the region were invited by the UNESCO Director-General to the International Conference of States (Category I) whose list of guests, rules of procedure and preliminary agenda were approved by the Executive Board at its 205th meeting (Document 205 EX/27 Part II - la Decision 27.II).
The New Regional Convention was adopted by 23 signatory states and is awaiting ratification by at least four of them for its entry into force.
To find out the status (adopted, or adopted and ratified) of the New Regional Convention in your country, please review the fact sheets that are displayed by clicking on the country images on the right side of this text.