General Principles for Calls

Posted on: 28. June 2018

Image: Ali Reza

We proudly present the General Principles for Endorsing and Disseminating Calls for Partizipation in Design Competitions or Awards within the UCCN published on June 27, 2018.

Many invitations for design professionals are sent out within the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), ranging from calls for applications (prizes and awards), ideas competitions, project competitions (including production), calls for papers (conventions, seminars), and calls for participation (exhibitions, trade fairs). Member cities are regularly asked to share these invitations on their platforms and urge participation from their communities.

UNESCO design cities have a duty to act in an exemplary manner in how they invite design professionals to compete and with respect to the conditions of participation they offer. What such invitations have in common is that they involve designers competing with each other and a process to evaluate the submissions. Creative professionals invest time and talent to take part in these offers. To ensure that such initiatives are conducted successfully and ethically, certain principles must be adhered to.

UNESCO’s Creative Cities of Design have fixed some shared regulations for endorsing competitions, awards, and other calls for participation. Competitions and awards that adhere to these regulations may use the following label: “This call complies with the regulations established by the UNESCO Cities of Design Network.”

Drawing inspiration from best practices established by international professional organizations, e.g., the World Design Organization (WDO), International Council of Design (Ico-D), International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA), International Union of Architects (IUA), these regulations hinge around four major principles as follow:


  • The selection process is stated.
  • The jury composition is known ahead of time (unless prohibited by the regulations in force in the country).
  • The majority of the jury is made up of experts in the field being evaluated (i.e., design, architecture).
  • A jury report is published after the results have been announced.

In the specific case of project competitions:

  • The brief is the same for all competitors.


  • The call is published on – i.e., accessible by all.
  • The publication date is the same throughout the network.
  • The conditions are the same for all competitors.
  • The timetable is appropriate (i.e., enough time to prepare a submission).
  • There are separate categories for professionals, students, and the general public and/or they are judged separately.
  • The organizers of the competition/award must provide an English translation of the call.


  • The work produced as part of the call is recognized, copyrights are respected according to existing legislation (in the territory where the call is launched), and authors are named in communications.
  • Remuneration (payment, prize, bonus, or promotion) is fair and measures up to the work expected of competitors.

In the specific case of project competitions:

  • The winning team is awarded the mandate of carrying out the project.
  • The working conditions (remuneration, deadlines) meet with existing industry standards (in the territory where the call is launched).


  • Participation incentives are presented clearly.

In the specific case of project competitions:

  • The program (deliverables, design brief, scope statement) is well defined.
  • The participation rules are stated in a document that all competitors have access to (competition rules).

Calls for competitions or awards in connection with the UCCN’s major objectives should be prioritized.



The competition is a design process through which several tangible proposals are compared to arrive at an informed selection.

  • Ideas competitions are used to gather input for a project owner’s thought process on often complex problems. They are aimed at encouraging competition among designers without resulting in the production of the winning concept(s).
  • Project competitions are used to select a concept and professionals to carry out a project with well-known parameters and a well-defined program. The object is to have the winning team carry out the project they developed.


An award is a prize attributed to a production that stands out among the competitors or to a person in recognition for the excellence of their application (e.g., career, education).

Competition Rules

A competition document, including its appendices, that describes the subject of the competition, its objectives, stakeholders, and procedures, as well as the conditions under which submissions, proposals, team addition files, and presentations are prepared, presented, evaluated, and used.

Competition Program

A document, complementary to the Competition Rules, which provides first-stage competitors with the information, guidelines, and summary instructions they need to create a comprehensive submission or proposal that complies with the requirements of the Competition Rules

Further information

General_principles_endorsing_calls – ENGLISH
Principes_guides_diffusion_appels – FRENCH