Alan Blackshaw was unanimously elected UIAA President in New Delhi on 16 October 2004.  Following the reaction to his President's Report 2005 he resigned after the GA in Singapore on 15 October 2005.  In the above sub-directorys you can find some of the papers and reports produced for the UIAA, and links to other documents.  Below is an article written for the 2005 UIAA Journal.

Message from the President, UIAA Journal, October 2005

I am very pleased to be able to write in the UIAA Journal in the approach to the General Assembly in Singapore.  It gives me the chance to say something about the future, and the progress that I hope we can achieve in the interests of the worldwide mountaineering and climbing community, while I am President.

When I am asked about the UIAA and whether it is a strong organisation, I usually say that it is much stronger than might appear for a body with only two employees working part-time.   The UIAA is strong in its worldwide membership of mountaineering and climbing federations and other organisations that meet annually in the General Assembly, which is the democratic base of the UIAA with a strong ethical tradition.  It is also strong through the support, expertise and networking that the members provide through the Commissions and Competition Councils, and the professionalism and commitment of key volunteers and a small staff (which is regrettably currently reduced to only one).  In addition, the UIAA is strong through its links with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and membership of the Olympic Movement and United Nations Global Mountain Partnership.

Our links with the Olympic Movement go back to the launch of the modern Olympic Games in the 1890s, when Baron de Coubertin insisted that there should be an Olympic Prize for Alpinism.  Perhaps Baron de Coubertin saw mountaineering as an example of the Olympic motto “Citius . Altius . Fortius” (see panel below – Olympic motto).  Nowadays, the UIAA is recognised by the IOC as an International Sports Federation with a strong presence in Competition Climbing, Ski Mountaineering and now Ice-Climbing; but in addition with a long experience in all forms of mountaineering, and an uncommon ability to contribute to wider Olympic and UN objectives such as sport for education, health, development, peace and protection of the environment.

Moreover, our membership of the UN Global Mountain Partnership brings us together with Governments, Agencies and other relevant bodies to follow-up the concepts of the International Year of the Mountains 2002.  These include our common interest in maintaining the freedoms of mountain access, while conserving the fragile mountain environment, greater economic benefits for local communities, and eventual recognition of a Human Right of the Enjoyment of Nature (see panel below – Human Rights, Sport and Nature).

Also, as 2007 approaches, we should remember that the UIAA will have an important anniversary to celebrate.  The UIAA was formed in 1932 in Chamonix at the 3rd International Alpine Congress, which was held to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the first ascent of Mont Blanc.  The congress agreed specific tasks for the UIAA, and these remain relevant today (see panel below – The Founding of the UIAA).

If we can continue to build on all of the strengths I have mentioned, there is certainly a bright future for the UIAA as the worldwide body for the practice of all forms of mountaineering and climbing.  Working together in a unified and cohesive way, with the necessary staff support, the value of the whole UIAA is much greater than the sum of the individual parts.  The fact that our General Assemblies are so well attended is evidence of the vitality and potential of the UIAA.  However, the General Assembly is costly in time and other resources to our membership, and we have a duty to ensure that it provides value for money to them.  I cannot say that the Agenda for this General Assembly, with its preoccupation with procedural issues, advances the cause of mountaineering and mountains as much as it should do, and I very much hope that we can improve on this in the future, in Canada, Japan and Iran, with Seminars (there is to be one on Climate Change affecting Glaciers in Canada) and more networking on issues of concern to the host Countries and Continents.

There have been some notable successes during the year.  There were, for example, the UIAA Climbing World Championships and the World Games, both in Germany in July, on which UIAA Climbing and the Federations concerned must be congratulated.  We can also take some encouragement from the easing of tensions in the Siachen Glacier area, an objective that the UIAA has supported over the years.  I am also pleased to be involved in an initiative by the Himalayan Environment Trust, meeting this year in India and next year in Nepal, to make progress on mountain tourism issues, including codes of good practice, a field in which the UIAA has considerable experience.  By contrast, it is a matter of concern that the draft Guidelines for the Huascaran Park in Peru are proving to be more restrictive than we had hoped, and that our current staff shortage prevents us from taking the remedial action through our membership of the UN Global Mountain Partnership that would otherwise have been possible.

There is also the prospect that during the coming year UIAA Ski Mountaineering may be considered for the programme for the Winter Olympics in 2014, with UIAA Ice Climbing possibly following on for 2018, and UIAA Climbing possibly for the Summer Games from 2020 onwards.  In order for the UIAA Competition Sports to get into the Olympic Programme, at the time of the decision, a positive two-thirds vote will be needed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  Fortunately, we have good links with other international federations including those already in the Olympic Programme and others, such as the World Squash Federation, that are also seeking entry into the summer Olympic Programme.  The UIAA can learn from their experience and guidance, and the other contacts that we have developed in the Olympic Movement.  I hope that all of us in the UIAA can help our Competition Sports to achieve their Olympic Programme aspirations, by strengthening their own links with national Olympic Committees, and by emphasising how important mountaineering and climbing are in their countries, and how they can contribute to wider Olympic objectives of using sport for the benefit of the community.  We in the UIAA centrally must also continue to develop our links with the Olympic Movement, with strong staff support.  The American Alpine Club has suggested making some leading competition athletes Honorary Vice-Presidents of the UIAA, and I hope we can do this and everything else possible to get the best performers better known in the wider mountaineering and international sports communities.

As regards the various procedural issues currently facing the UIAA, the key point is to recognise the importance of the General Assembly as the coming-together of the UIAA community of Federations and of other mountaineering-related bodies.  The creative and democratic role of the UIAA Council, with its wide membership (about one-quarter of the total), has been much understated in recent years, and I hope that it can develop as a centre of gravity between the meetings of the General Assembly, setting up its own working groups to address key issues as necessary (as in the case of the Working Group on Restructuring in 2003-04), in conjunction with interested Federations, Commissions, Competition Councils and staff.

If the General Assembly in Singapore moves in the directions I have suggested above, with a greater role for the Council working for a unified UIAA, I would hope to be able to report next year on good progress towards resolving the various organisational and procedural issues currently facing us.  That would then leave us more able in the future to concentrate on the big issues of mountaineering and climbing worldwide or Continent-by-Continent, including the promotion of the Competition Sports and the enjoyment of all forms of mountaineering and climbing, in the interests of our member organisations, and of mountaineers and climbers generally.


The Olympic Motto

Article 9 of the Olympic Charter states that “The Olympic motto “Citius . Altius . Fortius” expresses the aspiration of the Olympic Movement.”  However, no translation of the Latin motto is offered.  Although the motto is generally understood to mean ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ according to Olympic Legacy the motto actually translates to "Faster, Higher, Braver."  Apparently, the motto was not part of the ancient Olympic Games.  Henri Dinon, a Dominican father, pronounced the words on 7 March 1891 while delivering an athletic prize at Albert College, where he was a priest.  He also used the expression in the journal Sports Athletiques, where he was one of the principal directors.  Michel Breal, a French educator like Baron de Coubertin, introduced the phrase at the closing dinner of the congress for the re-establishment of the modern Olympic games on 23 June 1894, where it was adopted as the official motto of the International Olympic Committee.

Human Rights, Sport and Nature

The Olympic Charter opens with six Fundamental Principles of Olympism.  The 4th of these is:

“The practice of sport is a human right.  Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic Spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.  The organisation, administration and management of sport must be controlled by independent sports organisations.”

The UIAA Summit Charter 2002 sets out proposals for collaboration with governments and international bodies to recognise and promote the freedom to enjoy climbing and mountaineering, sustainable development for mountain communities, and protection of the environment.  Key points in the Summit Charter include:

  • Everyone should be able to enjoy the natural environment, including mountains and cliffs, with freedom of responsible access.
  • Mountaineering, climbing and trekking, practiced responsibly, are compatible with conserving and sustaining the natural environment.
  • Sustainable mountain tourism with economic benefits for local communities.

The Summit Charter provides background to the key themes, which include:

  • Access, environment and facilities.

  • Adventure, risk and safety.

  • Culture, heritage and history.

  • Equal opportunities and no discrimination.

  • Excellence.

  • Local Communities and economic benefits.

  • Sociological and educational.

  • Spirit and vision.

  • War damage.

  • Youth.

The full text of the Summit Charter is available on the UIAA website.

As part of the programme for the UN International Year of Mountains 2002, special seminars were hosted by CAI in Trento and AAC in Flagstaff.  At the Trento seminar Alan Blackshaw presented a paper ‘Human Rights and Access Freedoms: Is Nature a Missing Link?’ and concludes:

“It could help to show that our quest for the responsible freedom of access to mountains is only part of a much wider, universal, human need and entitlement to keep in contact with Nature, as a more natural way of living.”

The paper was published in the 2002 UIAA Journal 2/3 and is available from the UIAA website (

The Founding of the UIAA

The 27 August 2007 will mark 75 years since the UIAA was founded by the 3rd international alpine congress held in Chamonix between 21 August and 3 September 1932.  Representatives from 19 countries attended the historic meeting and agreed specific tasks to encourage mountaineering for the young, develop international grading standards and trail markers, raise awareness about safety, and provide for a protect mountain shelters.  The Swiss Alpine Club proposed the first UIAA President who was Count Egmont d’Arcis, and the operational base of the UIAA was established in Geneva.  At the invitation of the Italian Alpine Club the first UIAA assembly was held in Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1933.  ‘From Chamonix to Kathmandu – the first 50 years of the UIAA’ was written by Pierre Bossus, and the text is available on the UIAA website (