League of Nations: Intellectual Cooperation

International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation

The International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation, set up in Paris in 1924 by, and at the expense of, the French Government. It began work in 1926. As the executive organ of the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, it carried out the Committee's decisions and recommendations. The International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation, in association with the Intellectual Cooperation and International Bureaux Section, was in charge of preparing the work and documents of the sessions of the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (ICIC) and of Expert Committees. The archives of the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation are kept in Paris at UNESCO.


Lacking appropriate funds from the League, the ICIC was aware of the need for some kind of permanent office, adequately equipped with funds and a staff capable of undertaking far-reaching enquires and complicated negotiations, in order to put in practice its program. Providentially, the French Government came forward to bear the cost of the needs of the Committee with its offer. The only condition of the French Government was that the organisation should have its headquarters in Paris; the Committee, however, would have the control in matters of administration and agenda-setting. The proposal was accepted and in September 1924 the Council and Assembly of the League of Nations decided to establish the International Institute of Intellectual Co-operation.

In May 1925 the ICIC worked out the details of the organization, and the general rules which would comprise the regulation of this foundation. After its installation in the Montpensier Wing of the Palais Royal in Paris, the Institute was inaugurated in January 1926.

The Institute acted as the executive organ of the ICIC, supporting it by 

  • perfecting and enlarging it by means of a methodical co-ordination on international lines an intellectual exchange of knowledge and ideas, so essential to Peace, by cooperation and mutual information in regard to scientific, literary and artistic progress.
  • Improving the moral and material conditions of intellectual workers 

Publications by the Institute (annually released in English, French, German)

  • Handbooks of Museums (France, Holland, Poland)
  • List of Holiday Courses in Europe
  • University exchanges in Europe (guide to the centres and endowments promoting university studies abroad)
  • List of Notable Books (brief list of the principal works published In each country for the use of the general public)
  • Information bulletins:
    • La Coopération intellectuelle (a monthly review containing articles on various aspects of the organization of intellectual life and a systematic chronicle of facts concerning international intellectual relations)
    • Museion (a review devoted to international relations between museums)

 The Institute maintained relations with the League's member states, which established national commissions for intellectual cooperation and appointed delegates to represent their interests at the Institute in Paris. While being an international organisation, each of the IIIC's three successive directors was French:

As a result of the Second World War, the Institute was closed from 1940 to 1944. It re-opened briefly from 1945 to 1946. When it closed for good in 1946, UNESCO inherited its archives and some parts of its mission.





Finding Aids

Publications by the IIIC