World Organization of the Scout Movement

The World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM /ˈwʊzəm/) is the largest international Scouting organization. WOSM has 170 members.[3] These members are recognized national Scout organizations, which collectively have over 50 million participants.[6] WOSM was established in 1922,[1][2] and has its operational headquarters at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and its legal seat in Geneva, Switzerland. It is the counterpart of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

World Organization of the Scout Movement
World Scout Bureau: Geneva, Switzerland

Secretary General’s Office: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • 170 organizations[3]
  • over 50 million participants (2018)[3]
Secretary GeneralAhmad Alhendawi[4][5]
World Scout Committee ChairmanCraig Turpie

The WOSM's current stated mission is "to contribute to the education of young people, through a value system based on the Scout Promise and Scout Law, to help build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society".[7][8] WOSM is organized into regions and operates with a conference, committee and bureau.

The WOSM is associated with three World Scout Centres. The World Scout Jamboree is held roughly every four years under the auspices of the WOSM, with members of WAGGGS also invited. WOSM also organises the World Scout Moot, a Jamboree for 17- to 26-year-olds, and has organised the World Scout Indaba, a gathering for Scout leaders. The World Scout Foundation is a perpetual fund governed by a separate Board of Governors and supported by donations for the development of WOSM associated Scouting programs throughout the world.

WOSM is a non-governmental organization with General Consultative Status to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).[9]


As a result of an international conference held during the first World Scout Jamboree at Olympia, London in 1920, leaders there agreed to create a Boy Scouts International Bureau (BSIB). An office was established at 25, Buckingham Palace Road, London, and the then International Commissioner of The Boy Scouts Association of the United Kingdom, Hubert S. Martin, was appointed as Honorary Director. The first task of the bureau was to co-ordinate the discussions and to prepare a second international conference in Paris in 1922.[1][2] At the 1922 Paris conference The International Conference of the Boy Scout Movement, its committee and BSIB were constituted by the founding member organizations.[2] In 1961 The International Conference of the Boy Scout Movement reconstituted the organization introducing the name World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM). The International Conference of the Boy Scout Movement became the WOSM's World Scout Conference, its International Committee became the World Scout Committee and the Boy Scouts International Bureau became the WOSM's World Scout Bureau.[10]

World Scout Conference

The World Scout Conference (WSC) is the governing body and meets every three years, preceded by the World Scout Youth Forum. The World Scout Conference is the general assembly of Scouting and is composed of six delegates from each of the member Scout associations. If a country has more than one association, the associations form a federation for coordination and world representation. The basis for recognition and membership in the World Scout Conference includes adherence to the aims and principles of the World Organization of the Scout Movement, and independence from political involvement on the part of each member association.[11]

The Conference meets every three years and is hosted by a member association. At the World Scout Conference basic cooperative efforts are agreed upon and a plan of mutual coordination is adopted.[12]

DateNumber Location CountryMember Countries Host Candidate Countries
1920Retrospectively referred to as the "First International Conference" London  United Kingdom 33
1922First International Conference (retrospectively referred to as the "Second")[2] Paris  France 30
1924Third International Conference Copenhagen  Denmark 34
1926Fourth International Conference Kandersteg   Switzerland29
1929Fifth International Conference Birkenhead  United Kingdom33
1931Sixth International Conference Baden bei Wien  Austria44
1933Seventh International Conference Gödöllő  Hungary31
1935Eighth International Conference Stockholm  Sweden28
1937Ninth International Conference The Hague  Netherlands34
193910th International Conference Edinburgh  United Kingdom27
194711th International Conference Château de Rosny-sur-Seine  France32
194912th International Conference Elvesaeter  Norway25
195113th International Conference Salzburg  Austria34
195314th International Conference Vaduz  Liechtenstein35
195515th International Conference Niagara Falls, Ontario  Canada44
195716th International Conference Cambridge  United Kingdom52
195917th International Conference New Delhi  India35
196118th International Conference Lisbon  Portugal[13]50
196319th World Scout Conference Rhodes  Greece52
196520th World Scout Conference Mexico City  Mexico59
196721st World Scout Conference Seattle  United States70
196922nd World Scout Conference Espoo  Finland64
197123rd World Scout Conference Tokyo  Japan71
197324th World Scout Conference Nairobi  Kenya77
197525th World Scout Conference Lundtoft  Denmark87
197726th World Scout Conference Montreal  Canada81
197927th World Scout Conference Birmingham  United Kingdom81
198128th World Scout Conference Dakar  Senegal74
198329th World Scout Conference Dearborn United States 90
198530th World Scout Conference Munich  West Germany93
198831st World Scout Conference Melbourne  Australia77
199032nd World Scout Conference Paris  France100
199333rd World Scout Conference Sattahip  Thailand99
199634th World Scout Conference Oslo  Norway108
199935th World Scout Conference Durban  South Africa116
200236th World Scout Conference Thessaloniki  Greece125
200537th World Scout Conference Hammamet  Tunisia122  Hong Kong
200838th World Scout Conference Jeju-do  South Korea150
201139th World Scout Conference Curitiba  Brazil138  Australia,  Hong Kong,  Switzerland
201440th World Scout Conference Ljubljana  Slovenia143  Italy
201741st World Scout Conference Baku  Azerbaijan169[14]  Malaysia
202042nd World Scout Conference Sharm El Sheikh  Egypt  Malaysia

World Scout Committee

The World Scout Committee is the executive body of the World Scout Conference and is composed of elected volunteers. The World Scout Committee represents World Scout Conference between the meetings of the full conference. The World Scout Committee is responsible for the implementation of the resolutions of the World Scout Conference and for acting on its behalf between its meetings. The Committee meets twice a year, usually in Geneva. Its Steering Committee, consisting of the Chairman, two Vice-Chairmen, a Youth Advisor and the Secretary General, meet as needed.[15]

The Committee has 15 members. Twelve, each from a different country, are elected for three-year terms by the World Scout Conference. The members, elected without regard to their nationality, represent the interests of the movement as a whole, not those of their country. The Secretary General, the Treasurer of WOSM and a representative member of the board of the World Scout Foundation are ex-officio members of the Committee. The chairmen of the regional Scout committees participate in the World Scout Committee meetings in a consultative capacity.[11]

The World Scout Committee has set up work streams to address the top strategic priorities, as defined by the World Scout Conference, which at present include:

  • Youth involvement
  • Volunteers in Scouting
  • Scouting's profile (communications, partnerships, resources)

Standing committees include:

  • Audit
  • Budget
  • Constitutions
  • Honours and Awards
  • Working With Others- a consultative committee of the WOSM and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), composed of members of the World Committee/World Board of both organizations
  • 2007 Task Force for the 100th Anniversary of Scouting, composed of members of the World Scout Committee, World Scout Bureau, World Scout Foundation, and The Scout Association of the United Kingdom

Current members 2017-2020

Name[16][17] Country Term to*
Craig Turpie Chairman, United Kingdom 2020
Jemima Nartey Vice-Chair, Ghana 2020
Andy Chapman Vice-Chair, United States 2020
Mehdi Ben Khelil Tunisia 2020
Peter Blatch Australia 2020
Jo Deman Belgium 2020
Janaprith Fernando Sri Lanka 2020
Ilyas Ismayilli Azerbaijan 2020
Sarah Rita Kattan Lebanon 2020
Leonardo Morales Morales Costa Rica 2020
Pia Melin Mortensen Denmark 2020
Juan Reig Spain 2020
Ahmad Alhendawi Secretary General, WOSM[18]
Joseph Lau Treasurer, Hong Kong
Héctor Robledo Cervantes Chairman Elect WSF, México
  • Note: The World Scout Conference in 2008 decided that, starting at the World Conference in 2011, elected members will serve for only three years, but be eligible for re-election for one additional term.

Bronze Wolf Award

The Bronze Wolf Award is the only distinction awarded by WOSM, awarded by the World Scout Committee for exceptional services to world Scouting. It was first awarded to Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell by a unanimous decision of the then-International Committee on the day of the institution of the Bronze Wolf in Stockholm in 1935.

World Scout Bureau

The World Scout Bureau (WSB, formerly the International Bureau) is the secretariat that carries out the instructions of the World Scout Conference and the World Scout Committee. The WSB is administered by the secretary general, who is supported by a small staff of technical resource personnel. The bureau staff helps associations improve and broaden their Scouting by training professionals and volunteers, establishing finance policies and money-raising techniques, improving community facilities and procedures, and assisting in marshaling the national resources of each country behind Scouting.[11]

The staff also helps arrange global events such as the World Scout Jamborees, encourages regional events, and acts as a liaison between the Scouting Movement and other international organizations. A major effort in the emerging nations is the extension of the universal Good Turn into an organization-wide effort for community development.[19]


The Bureau was first established in London, England in 1920 and moved to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1959. The International Conference directed the move of the Bureau from Ottawa to Geneva on 1 May 1968.[20] In August 2013, WOSM announced the relocation of the World Scout Bureau Central Office (WSB-CO) to Kuala Lumpur where it is now located.[21]


This list includes Secretaries General and their deputies from the World Organization of the Scout Movement and members of the World Scout Bureau. From 1920 to 1968, this function was called Director.

World Scout Centres

World Scout Centre is a brand of the WOSM but the two World Scout Centres are operated by regional divisions of WOSM and an independent body:

World Scout programmes

The Better World Framework combines the Scouts of the World Award, Messengers of Peace and World Scout Environment Programmes as programme initiatives administered by the World Scout Bureau. [23]

World Scout emblem

The WOSM emblem and membership badge is the World Scout Emblem, a purple, circular logo with a fleur-de-lis in the center, surrounded by a length of rope tied with a reef knot (also called a square knot). Baden-Powell used a fleur-de-lis badge awarded to British Army scouts and subsequently adopted and modified the badge for Scouting. The arrowhead represents the North point on a compass, and is intended to point Scouts on the path to service and unity. The three points on the fleur-de-lis represent the three parts of the Scout Promise: - service to others, duty to God and obedience to the Scout Law.[24] The two five-point stars stand for truth and knowledge, with the ten points representing the ten points of the Scout Law. The bond at the base of the fleur-de-lis symbolizes the family of Scouting. The encircling rope symbolizes the unity and family of the World Scout Movement.

Recognition of non-national Scouting organizations

The needs of Scout youth in unusual situations has created some interesting permutations, answerable directly to the World Scout Bureau. These permutations fall generally into three categories:

Both the Boy Scouts of United Nations and the International Boy Scouts of the Canal Zone have long since disbanded, and the only remaining directly registered Troop is the International Boy Scouts, Troop 1 located in Yokohama, Japan.

In addition to these three groups a temporary recognition was extended by the BSIB to Scouts in displaced persons camps after World War II. In 1947 at the 11th International Conference the "Displaced Persons Division" of the BSIB was established to register and support Scouts in displaced person camps in Austria, Northern Italy, and Germany.[26] These Scouts did not receive the right of membership in the Boy Scouts International Conference but gained recognition as Scouts under the protection of the Bureau until they took up residence in a country that had a recognized National Scouting Organization, which they then could join.[27] The D.P. Division was closed on 30 June 1950.[28]

The International Conference of the Boy Scout Movement decided to admit and recognise the exile Russian Scout group as the "Representatives of Russian Scouting in Foreign Countries" on 30 August 1922 and the Armenian Scouts in France were recognized as a "National Movement on Foreign Soil" on 30 April 1929.[10]

The Boy Scouts of the United Nations began in 1945, and for years there was an active Boy Scouts of the United Nations with several troops at Parkway Village in New York City, with but 14 members in 1959.

The International Boy Scouts of the Canal Zone, a group in Panama with Scouts that claimed British and not Panamanian nationality was originally placed under the American Scouting overseas of the BSA but, in 1947, was transferred under the International Bureau. In 1957 the group had over 900 members and existed as a directly registered group until the late 60s.

The third category in the directly registered groups, the "mixed-nationality troops", were registered after discussions concerning such troops took place at the 3rd International Conference of 1924[29] at which the BSIB was authorized to directly register such groups. It seems that the discussion at the 1924 International Conference was, at least in part, prompted by a letter to Baden-Powell from the Scoutmaster of one such troop in Yokohama, Japan.[30] Janning's troop became the first troop directly registered by the BSIB.[31] Only a few troops were directly registered as soon the practice was discontinued and new "mixed" groups were encouraged to join the National Scout Association of their country of residence. In 1955 only two such groups were still active, a troop in Iraq that disbanded that year,[32] and the first group to be registered, the International Troop 1 in Yokohama.[33] The international troop in Yokohama is the only remaining active troop of the small group of the originally directly registered mixed-nationality troops.[34]


Publications of WOSM include:

  • Scouting 'Round the World: a book updated every three years with details on all WOSM member organizations;
  • WorldInfo: a monthly circular distributed in electronic format with the help of Scoutnet.

See also


  1. "Constitution of the World Organization of the Scout Movement" (PDF). World Organization of the Scout Movement. January 2011. p. 3.
  2. Colquhoun, OBE, John Frederick (1954). Running a Scout Group. London UK: The Boy Scouts Association. p. 198. the first International Conference was held in Paris in 1922, when Great Britain became one of the founder-members of the world organization.
  3. "Vietnam Rejoins Scout Movement, Growing Membership To 170 Strong". 10 January 2019. Archived from the original on 10 January 2019.
  4. "Next Secretary General - World Organization of the Scout Movement". Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  5. "Alhendawi announces departure - Office of the Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth". Retrieved 15 November 2016.
  6. "National Scout Organizations". World Organization of the Scout Movement. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  7. "Mission". World Organization of the Scout Movement. 2017. Archived from the original on 6 December 2017. Retrieved 6 December 2017.
  8. "The Mission of Scouting". World Organization of the Scout Movement. 2007. Archived from the original on 29 June 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2007.
  9. "WOSM and the UN". World Organization of the Scout Movement. 2016.
  10. Kroonenberg, Piet J. "Chapter 2: International Scouting: Refugees, Displaced Persons and Exile Scouting". The Undaunted (Integral Internet Edition, November 2011 ed.). ISBN 9780974647906.
  11. "World Scouting". WOSM World Scouting. Archived from the original on 24 December 2005. Retrieved 2 February 2006.
  12. Laszlo Nagy (1921 - 2009) / Secretary General / World Bureau / Governance / Our Organisation / Home - World Organization of the Scout Movement Archived 26 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  13. "Moot "Down Under"". The Daily News. St. Johns, Newfoundland. 9 February 1960. p. 9. Retrieved 3 September 2019 via
  14. "World Scouting Welcomes the Iraq Scout Association". World Scouting.
  15. "World Scout Committee". WOSM World Scouting. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  16. "Craig Turpie is the Chairperson of the WSC 2017-2020". Azerbaijan: World Scout Conference. 18 August 2017. Archived from the original on 18 August 2017. Retrieved 18 August 2017.
  17. Ismayilova, Laman (17 August 2018). "World Scout Conference continues its work in Baku". Azerbaijan. Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  18. "Next Secretary General Announced". World Organization of the Scout Movement. 11 November 2016. Retrieved 11 November 2016.
  19. "World Scout Bureau fact sheet". WOSM World Scouting. Retrieved 2 February 2006.
  20. "History and Location". WOSM World Scout Bureau. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  21. "World Scout Bureau - Relocation of Central Office" (PDF). WOSM Circular N° 20/2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 September 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  22. "Kandersteg International Scout Centre". Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  23. "Launched: World Scouting-UNESCO World Heritage Recognition Initiative, Messengers of Peace Programme at the 23rd World Scout Jamboree" (pdf). WOSM. p. 2.
  24. "The World Membership Badge" (PDF). The Scout Association. 16 May 2006.
  25. Wilson, John S. (1959). "The International Bureau Goes on the Road". Scouting Round the World (first ed.). London: Blandford Press. p. 134. At Balboa we met up with Gunnar Berg and Ray Wyland of the B.S.A., also on their way to Bogota, and had a conference about the question of coloured Scouts in the Canal Zone, who claim British and not Panamanian nationality. It was agreed that they should be taken under the wing of the Canal Zone Council of the Boy Scouts of America, but ten years later they were transferred directly under the International Bureau as the International Boy Scouts of the Canal Zone.
  26. Kroonenberg, Piet J. (1998). The Undaunted- The Survival and Revival of Scouting in Central and Eastern Europe. Geneva: Oriole International Publications. pp. 42–43. ISBN 2-88052-003-7.
  27. Kroonenberg, Piet J. (1998). The Undaunted- The Survival and Revival of Scouting in Central and Eastern Europe. Geneva: Oriole International Publications. pp. 43–46. ISBN 2-88052-003-7.
  28. Kroonenberg, Piet J. (1998). The Undaunted- The Survival and Revival of Scouting in Central and Eastern Europe. Geneva: Oriole International Publications. pp. 45–46. ISBN 2-88052-003-7.
  29. 1948 Letter from J. S. Wilson, BSIB Deputy Director. "Historical Documents". International Boy Scouts. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  30. 1967 Letter from Jos. Janning, IBS Scoutmaster. "Historical Documents". International Boy Scouts. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  31. 1955 Letter from R.T. Lund, BSIB Deputy Director. "Historical Documents". International Boy Scouts. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  32. 1950 Letter from R.T. Lund, BSIB Deputy Director. "Historical Documents". International Boy Scouts. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  33. 1972 Letter from BSIS Kentropp, BSIB Public Relations. "Historical Documents". International Boy Scouts. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  34. 1956 Letter from R.T. Lund, BSIB Deputy Director. "Historical Documents". International Boy Scouts. Retrieved 30 January 2013.

Further reading

  • Facts on World Scouting, Boy Scouts International Bureau, Ottawa, Canada, 1961
  • Laszlo Nagy, 250 Million Scouts, The World Scout Foundation and Dartnell Publishers, 1985
  • Eduard Vallory, "World Scouting: Educating for Global Citizenship", Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 2012
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