Values are the foundation of commitment and determine an individual's or collective's world view. They give direction, purpose and meaning to life. The destiny of both individuals and society is shaped and created with the values by which they live. Values chosen, or adopted by inheritance, assign worth or importance to those aspects of life to which they relate. There may be instances where a value choice is a matter of personal opinion, but a number of values are fundamental to the well-being of humanity as a whole. Such values transcend the particularities of humanity's richly diverse cultural, philosophical and social heritage and form the bedrock on which to build international cooperation. Such values are universal not just in their application to all of humanity but also in their application to all fields of human activity.
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.