ICTP operates under a tripartite agreement between the Italian Government, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and ratified by an act of the Italian Parliament in January 1995.
Since 1996, UNESCO has been responsible for the administrative management of the Centre, prior to which it was administered by the IAEA. Each party has a representative on the Centre's Steering Committee, which sets general guidelines for the Centre's activities, determines budgeting levels, and considers proposals from the Director for the programme, work plans, financial plans, and budget.
ICTP also has a Scientific Council that comprises distinguished specialists in disciplines relevant to the Centre's activities who represent a broad geographical range. The Council advises ICTP on its programmes of activities, taking into consideration major academic, scientific, educational and cultural trends relevant to the Centre's objectives.