The ‘Union Internationale de Spéléologie’ (UIS) was founded in 1965 in order to promote and advance the exploration and scientific study of caves and karst features. The UIS fosters the exchange of information on caves and karst between its worldwide members and anyone interested in the entire spectrum of speleology (exploration, science, and tourism). In fact, the UIS provides an international platform for participants in speleological activities through its commissions and working groups. These are organized in five departments (Protection and Management, Research, Documentation, Exploration, and Education). Participants, and delegates of Member-Countries (currently about 60) meet at the UIS Congresses – International Congress of Speleology (ICS) – held once every four years. During such events, speleologists and karst scientists are brought together from all over the world, information is exchanged and contacts are made. During each congress, two General Assemblies are held at which the officers of the UIS and the presidents of the commissions present their reports for the previous four years. Applications for new membership are assessed. members of the UIS Bureau are elected to manage the UIS affairs between congresses and a country is elected to organize the next ICS. The major UIS Publications include the UIS Bulletin, the International Journal of Speleology,and the Speleological Abstracts/Bulletin.
If requested, the UIS supports international speleological events, member countries’ efforts to protect their caves and karst features, applications to UNESCO for World Heritage listing, applications to governments for the establishment of karst institutions and cave explorers and scientists in their efforts to raise funds for their projects. The UIS remains the principal global scientific and sporting body promoting the conservation of caves at the international level. It engages with the international Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The worldwide conservation of caves and karst features is a major responsibility of the UIS.