Organisational Names & Acronyms

Editorial Style

Rules for writing common UNU system names and acronyms.

When to use (or omit) “the”

Use the definite article “the” with UNU organisational names.

Do not use “the” with UNU organisational acronyms.

  • The symposium will be held at the United Nations University in Tokyo.
  • The symposium will be held at UNU in Tokyo.
  • The UNU Institute on Globalisation, Culture and Mobility is located in Barcelona.
  • UNU-GCM is located in Barcelona.
  • This conference was organised by UNU-WIDER.
  • This conference was organised by the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research.
  • The Office of Communications manages the main website of UNU.
  • The Office of Communications manages the main website of the United Nations University.

This rule applies to the names and acronyms of other UN entities as well.

When the acronym functions as a modifier, use or non-use of “the” is dictated by the term being modified (for example: “the UNU Charter”, “the UNU-INWEH seminar”).


How to punctuate names/acronyms

The United Nations University (system) comprises numerous institutes, programmes, and offices (units).

Use a hyphen (not an “en” dash or “em” dash) to separate the system-level element (UNU) from the unit-level element in an acronym.

Do not use a hyphen (or other punctuation) in the full name of a United Nations University unit, or when the full unit name follows the UNU acronym.

  • [hyphen] UNU-INRA; UNU-WIDER; UNU-CPR; UNU-GTP
  • [no hyphen] the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research; the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research; the UNU Institute for Natural Resources in Africa; the UNU Geothermal Training Programme
  • [not] the UNU-Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability; the United Nations University – Institute for Natural Resources in Africa; the United Nations University, World Institute for Development Economics Research
  • [not] UNU–MERIT; UNU—IAS; UNU INRA; UNU, CPR

In documents published prior to 1998, a slash mark rather than a hyphen was used as the separator (for example, UNU/WIDER or UNU/BIOLAC). This form is no longer used.


Correct use of names/acronyms

The preferred form of an institute/programme name is, for example, “the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health”. The use of variations, such as “the International Institute for Global Health of the United Nations University” or “the United Nations University’s International Institute for Global Health”, is discouraged.

Never use the name or acronym of a UNU institute or programme without the UNU element.

  • [not] “The conference was organised by the World Institute for Development Economic Research.”
  • [not] “IAS is located in Tokyo.”
  • [not] “The 19 May seminar at EHS focused on non-economic loss and damage from climate change.”

Capitalisation of referent forms

Use an an initial capital letter for “University” when referring to the United Nations University.

Capitalise the initial letter of “Institute” and “Programme” only when referring to a specific UNU system unit. Do not use an initial capital when the reference is general rather than to a specific unit (such as the plural form).

  • UNU-GCM was established in 2012. The mission of the Institute is …
  • UNU-BIOLAC is located in Caracas. The Programme is …
  • The University has institutes and programmes in 15 countries.
  • Each institute of the UNU system is …

When referring to a subdivision of a UNU institute or programme, or to a non-UNU organisation, use the lowercase form.

  • The academic units of UNU-FLORES are …
  • UNU-INRA has five operating units.
  • The Fukushima Global Programme is a UNU-IAS research and dissemination initiative. This aim of this programme is …
  • The UNU-IAS Traditional Knowledge Initiative investigates threats … to traditional knowledge systems. This initiative carries out community-grounded research …
  • UNEP was established in 1972. The headquarters of the programme is in Nairobi.
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