Article No.
Ewha GSIS (교학부)
Title : UNRISD, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

UNRISD, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development


What is UNRISD?

The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) is an autonomous UN agency engaging in multidisciplinary research on the social dimensions of contemporary problems affecting development. Through its research, UNRISD stimulates dialogue and contributes to policy debates on key issues of social development within and outside the United Nations system.

UNRISD was created in 1963 as part of the first United Nations Development Decade. The Decade emphasized a “new approach to development”, in which “purely economic indicators of progress were seen to provide only limited insight and might conceal as much as they indicate”. UNRISD thus became a pioneer in developing social indicators and broadened the development debate. Since then, the Institute has sought to promote a holistic and multidisciplinary approach to social development by focusing on decision-making processes, often conflicting social forces, and the question of who wins and who loses as economies grow or contract and societies change.

Over the years, UNRISD research has been guided by two core values: that every human being has a right to a decent livelihood and that all people should be allowed to participate on equal terms in decisions that affect their lives. The challenge for research is not only to reinforce and help operationalize these values, but also to expose the extent to which they are ignored.

For more than 40 years, UNRISD has engaged exclusively in research on social development and remains the only United Nations organization that does so. The Institute is an autonomous organization within the United Nations system. It is associated with no single specialized agency, it is restricted to no narrow field of concern, and its work is not bound by the bureaucratic or political constraints that frequently characterize many intergovernmental agencies.

UNRISD is an unusually open space for research and dialogue. This provides both an opportunity and an obligation to question prevailing mindsets within the development community and to encourage new thinking. The Institute conducts rigorous comparative research in collaboration with scholars and activists, primarily in the developing world, whose ideas are not sufficiently reflected in current debates. Strong ties to the global research community combined with proximity to the UN system are the comparative advantages of the Institute and help it to carry out policy-relevant research on issues of social development.


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