The IUAES is a world organization of scientists and institutions working in the fields of anthropology and ethnology, and is also of interest to archaeologists and linguists, among others. It aims to enhance exchange and communication among scholars of all regions of the world, in a collective effort to expand human knowledge. In this way it contributes to a better understanding of human society, and to a sustainable future based on harmony between nature and culture.
The IUAES was established on 23 August 1948, but the foundations of The IUAES were laid much earlier. In 1865, various Congresses of Anthropological Sciences began to unite anthropologists in exchange and conversation. In 1934, these were formalized in the founding of The International Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (ICAES). The President of the ICAES served as the President of the Union. In 1948, The IUAES and ICAES were brought into one organization, de facto. In 1968 the two organizations were united, de jure. In 2008, the ICAES Congress was renamed the IUAES World Congress.
Through its major Congresses, held every five years, the IUAES provides a world forum for the discussion and dissemination of research. In the period between world congresses, it also sponsors Inter-Congresses, seminars and symposia, and encourages the participation of anthropologists in other international meetings and projects. Through its Scientific Commissions, the IUAES stimulates the convergence of research interests among anthropologists, and the dissemination of research findings through publications.