Following an agreement in 1985 among the Schengen group of EEC/EU countries concerning border controls, it was agreed to set up a Europe-wide police database covering wanted persons and illegal immigrants. This was due to be launched in 1993. In 1994 it was still not in operation and it was believed that it might never function correctly. Problems arose because for political reasons it proved necessary to allow each country to design its own databank to be linked to a central computer, even though this approach was more expensive and less efficient. The proposal finally selected for the central system had disadvantages relating to planning, conception and implementation but was also selected primarily on political criteria. The recommendations made by computer experts that the project be placed under a single responsible authority were ignored in favour of a rotating system of responsibility among the nine participating countries. As a result the nine countries worked on their own systems without any particular group being charged with the responsibility of ensuring the management of the overall project and compatibility with the central system. Projects with a broader focus and involving more politically-sensitive countries tend to raise even more problems of coordination.
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.