The most important legally binding tools promoting academic recognition are, at regional level (which actually means “continental”, according to UNESCO’s definition of regions), the various international Conventions. Starting from 1975, UNESCO introduced six regional Conventions for the mutual recognition of degrees, diplomas, and academic studies:
•1975 (updated in 2019): Latin America and the Caribbean Region (Mexico City Convention – Buenos Aires Convention) – signed also by the Holy See;
•1976: Mediterranean countries;
•1978: Arab States – its update is currently being discussed;
•1979 (updated in 1997): Europe (UNESCO Region, including the United States, Canada, Australia, etc. = Lisbon Convention) – signed and ratified also by the Holy See;
•1981 (updated in 2014): Africa (Arusha Convention – Addis Abeba Convention) – signed also by the Holy See and entered into force on the 15th of December 2019;
•1983 (updated in 2011): Asia – Pacific (Bangkok Convention – Tokyo Convention) – the updated convention was finalized and signed (also by the Holy See) on November 26, 2011 in Tokyo and entered in to force on 1st February 2018.
These conventions are legally binding and aim to promote academic mobility. Currently, more than 130 countries in the world have signed and ratified one or several Conventions.
Taking into account these facts, there has also been projected a Global Convention. Its text is currently under discussion and the Global Convention on Recognition expected to be adopted in the course of the year 2019.
The Holy See, through the 2nd Section of the Secretariat of State, has signed, ratified, and deposited the instruments related to 4 of the 6 Conventions. Currently, the Holy See is the only subject of international law that has signed all four major Conventions which correspond to UNESCO’s four continental regions.
Although the decision to sign and ratify such conventions belongs to the 2nd Section of the Secretariat of State, starting from 2006, the Congregation for Catholic Education has explicitly received the task of taking on the responsibility for all practical and content-related aspects, developing its own, more focused strategy, as well as fulfilling all the obligations stemming from the Conventions. Amongst such obligations, suffice to mention the participation in related plenary sessions, daily contacts with permanent representatives of countries adhering to the same Conventions and their communications networks, as well as all evaluation and information procedures the are provided for by the same Conventions.