A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development

Membership types

Vi institutional membership is open to universities and research centres involved in the teaching and research of trade and development topics. Associate membership is open to students, government officials, trade practitioners and other stakeholders.

The Vi offers a palette of capacity-building and networking activities aimed at strengthening teaching and research on trade topics. These include: curricular advice, teaching materials and trade publications, local teaching material adaptations, study tours, professional development workshops and courses, fellowships, videoconference presentations, and information technology-enabled services.Vi membership is open to both institutions (universities and research centres) and individuals interested in international economic and legal issues ("trade and development" issues). 

For members in developing countries, support from the Vi has generated new programmes and courses, scholarships to study abroad, consultancy assignments from the government, enriched university libraries, wider publication opportunities and improved career paths, among other benefits.

For members in developed countries, the global scope of the network and its direct link to UNCTAD contributes to raising the standing of their programmes, and has been a catalyst to obtain funding from external sources for academic projects, enrich their student bodies, contribute to international publications, and add a development perspective to their course offer.

Institutional membership

Institutional members get access to original teaching materials and research (both in electronic version on the website and through shipments to member libraries), as well as services offered exclusively to Vi members (see the section Services on this website) and e-mail alerts from the Vi digital library. Through their participation in the Vi, they can also benefit from the experiences of other members, find partners for academic cooperation and promote their institution and its training and research activities.

University membership

This is open to accredited universities that are involved in post-graduate teaching and research on trade and development, with a particular focus on policy. 

The first university in the country that becomes a Vi member is called a core university member; subsequent universities become affiliate university members.

In order to become a university member, you will need to fill in an application form providing UNCTAD with details about your institution, its teaching and research, and outlining what your institution can contribute to the Vi network. Applications will be reviewed by an UNCTAD selection committee. If their decision is positive, you will be asked to sign the Terms and Conditions of the Virtual Institute network. When this process is complete, we will send you user names and passwords for using this website.

  • Prerequisites for university membership and application process summary
  • Download an application form [en] [fr] [sp]
  • Download terms and conditions of membership [en]
Think tank membership

This is open to research centres that provide advisory services on trade and development policies and strategies to their governments.

Think tank members are nominated to the Vi by their respective governments, through the Permanent missions of their countries to the United Nations in Geneva. 

After receiving your nomination from the Permanent Mission, we will ask you to fill out the think tank profile form. We will review it and then send you user names and passwords for using this website. 

  • Download the think tank profile form [en] [fr] [sp]
Individual (associate) membership

Associate members can access all public documents on the Vi site and benefit from the e-mail alert service of the Vi digital library. They also receive the quarterly Vi newsletter and information about professional development opportunities and events in Vi's area of work.

This category of membership is open to any individual who is interested in trade and development issues. You will need to register on this website. Once and if your application is approved, you will be sent username and password details via email.