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Unite Open Source

Open Source

The United Nations Open Source Innovation Initiative (Unite Open Source) aims to break down barriers to technology innovation through open source governance, communities and collaboration.

Unite Open Source has expertise on building and nurturing communities around open source projects. Through the Office of Information and Communications Technology (OICT), the Secretariat provides Unite Open Source with an existing neutral, multilateral framework that aims to use technology to improve the world.


Open Source (OS) projects are collaboratively maintained by communities of volunteers. Some are backed by companies that have a commercial version or services related to the platform, but, crucially, the tools we focus on are all available in principle at no cost.

OS tools have, in many areas, reached a stage where they are as good as, or even better, than, commercial options, making them powerful instruments to “level the playing field” globally. OS projects are currently focused primarily on software; however, other examples–from hardware to design to methodologies or plant seeds—are increasingly being open-sourced.


Unite Open Source aims to be

  1. a centre of excellence in OS knowledge,
  2. a hub for open source communities to meet (at conferences, in different regions, as well as virtually, on online platforms) to strengthen existing OS projects and start new ones, and
  3. a broker in partnerships between Open Source communities and Member States.

Organizations or individuals that wish to open source proprietary tools can rely on Unite Open Source to handle the legal and logistical challenges of doing so. The UN, as an impartial and international institution, will allow volunteer communities to embrace these new tools now owned by the public.

Open Camps @ UN Conference

Unite Open Source, in collaboration with the secretariat of Open Camps, organizes a yearly conference that brings together about 6,000 participants from more than 30 OS platforms or tools. Technical sessions on particular topics are mixed with general sessions on the concept of open source. During a two-day “Apps for Humanity” event, participants join skillsets to help improve the world with OS tools. Official representatives from Member States are expressly invited to join in order to both enrich their understanding of OS and to form partnerships with OS groups.

The Open Camps @ UN 2016 Conference will take place from 8 to 17 July 2016 at UN Headquarters in New York.