The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) is an autonomous international organization, founded in Trieste, Italy, in 1983 by a distinguished group of scientists under the leadership of the late Nobel laureate Abdus Salam of Pakistan. It was officially launched by the then Secretary General of the United Nations in 1985.
TWAS membership consists of Fellows and Associate Fellows, who are drawn from the most distinguished scientists. Fellows are elected from citizens of the South; Associate Fellows are elected from citizens of the North who either were born in the South or have made significant contributions to the advancement of science in the South. At present, TWAS has 584 members: 478 Fellows of 61 countries in the South and 106 Associate Fellows of 14 countries in the North.
A Council, elected every three years by members, is responsible for supervising all Academy affairs. A small secretariat located on the premises of The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy, assists the Council in the administration and coordination of the programmes.
In 1991, UNESCO assumed responsibility for administering TWAS funds and staff, based on an agreement signed by TWAS and UNESCO. In addition to its strong links with UNESCO and the ICTP, the Academy has maintained a close relationship with other international bodies with which it shares common objectives, mainly ICSU, the International Foundation for Science (IFS) and the International Science Programme (ISP). Since 1986, TWAS has been supporting research work of scientific merit in 100 countries in the South through a variety of programmes. A body of over 2,000 eminent scientists worldwide, including TWAS members, provides a free-of-charge peer review of proposals for research grants, fellowships and awards submitted to the Academy by scientists and institutions from developing countries. In addition, joint activities have been developed with UNESCO, ICTP, ICSU, IFS and ISP.