The Lisbon Recognition Convention, officially the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region, is an international convention of the Council of Europe elaborated together with the UNESCO. As of 2012, the Convention has been ratified by all 47 member states of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg except for Greece and Monaco. It has also been ratified by the Council of Europe non-member states Australia, Belarus, the Holy See, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and New Zealand. Canada and the United States have signed but not ratified the Convention.
The Convention stipulates that degrees and periods of study must be recognised unless substantial differences can be proved by the institution that is charged with recognition. Students and graduates are guaranteed fair procedures under the Convention. It is named after Lisbon, Portugal, where it was signed in 1997, and entered into force on 1 February 1999 (or later in some countries, subject to ratification date).
The Convention established two bodies which oversee, promote and facilitate the implementation of the Convention:
The Committee is responsible for promoting the application of the Convention and overseeing its implementation. To this end, it can adopt, by a majority of the Signatory Parties, recommendations, declarations, protocols and models of good practice to guide the competent authorities of the Parties. Before making its decisions, the Committee seeks the opinion of the ENIC Network. As for the ENIC Network, it upholds and assists the practical implementation of the Convention by the competent national authorities.
The Lisbon Recognition Convention is an important instrument for the Bologna Process which aims at creating the "European higher education area" by making academic degree standards and quality assurance standards more comparable and compatible throughout Europe.
The possibility for students to study abroad has been recognised as an essential element of European integration since the foundation of the Council of Europe in 1949. Within the Council of Europe, several international treaties were elaborated in this field: starting with the right to education under Article 2 of the first Protocol of 1952 to the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Convention on the Equivalence of Diplomas leading to Admission to Universities was opened for signature in 1953, the European Convention on the Equivalence of Periods of University Study in 1956, the European Convention on the Academic Recognition of University Qualifications in 1959, the European Agreement on continued Payment of Scholarships to students studying abroad in 1969, and the European Convention on the General Equivalence of Periods of University Study in 1990.
In addition, under Article 2 of the Council of Europe's European Cultural Convention of 1954, each Contracting Party shall, insofar as may be possible: encourage the study by its own nationals of the languages, history and civilisation of the other Contracting Parties and grant facilities to those Parties to promote such studies in its territory; and endeavour to promote the study of its language or languages, history and civilisation in the territory of the other Contracting Parties and grant facilities to the nationals of those Parties to pursue such studies in its territory.