The organization's mission is to: 
• link puppeteers nationally and internationally
publish information on and for the field
• offer support and technical assistance for professional puppeteers through seminars, conferences, and symposia
• stimulate the general public's interest in the art of puppetry
• promote the visibility of American puppeteers all over the world
• promote the visibility of U.S. puppeteers all over the world, without distinction of race, politics, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender, national origin, or physical ability.

Union Internationale de la Marionnette is an organization in which all those people in the world concerned with the Art of the Puppet Theatre associate voluntarily in order to serve through their art the idea of peace and of mutual understanding without distinction as to race, political ideas or religion.

UNIMA-USA, founded in 1966, is the North American Center of Union Internationale de la Marionnette, the oldest international theatre organization in the world, founded in 1929. The organization's mission is to promote international understanding and friendship through the art of puppetry.

UNIMA-USA fulfills its mission in a range of formal and informal ways, but especially by encouraging and providing contacts to North American puppeteers traveling throughout the world and providing the same courtesy to international puppeteers traveling through North America.

UNIMA (Union Internationale de la Marionnette) was formed in Prague, Czechoslovakia, in 1929 by an enthusiastic group of representatives from 14 countries. After a hiatus during and after World War II, UNIMA was re-activated and in 1957 a new constitution was drafted.

UNIMA was adopted as a member of the International Theatre Institute in 1959, making it a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Since 1972 the 18 member executive committee of the international organization meets every year. The UNIMA Council meets every 2 years, and a full UNIMA Congress is held every 4 years. In 2014 UNIMA has over 70 National Centers and representatives in an additional 25 countries.

Romain Proctor, Nancy H. Cole and Mollie Falkenstein first ran the affairs of UNIMA in the United States as a clearinghouse through which Americans could join, participate in and receive benefits from international UNIMA.

In 1966, with more than one hundred members of UNIMA in the United States, UNIMA-USA was formed with Jim Henson as its first chairman.

Jim Henson led a UNIMA-USA committee of Frank Ballard, Bil Baird, Nancy Staub and Allelu Kurten in incorporating UNIMA-USA into a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, UNIMA-USA, Inc., in 1979.

In 1980 UNIMA International held its 13th Congress in Washington DC, This was the first time the Congress was held outside of Europe. In 1992 the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta Georgia became the headquarters for UNIMA-USA.