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The UNESCO Chairs program was established in 1992 following the relevant decision of the General Conference of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) taken at its 26th session.

The program was conceived as a way to advance research, training and programme development in higher education by building university networks and encouraging inter-university cooperation through transfer of knowledge across borders. As of end of 2013, the Programme involves over 854 institutions in 134 countries.

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