UNESCO

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

UNESCO

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • Organisation des Nations Unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture
  • Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura
  • Организация Объединенных Наций по вопросам образования, науки и культуры
  • منظمة الأمم المتحدة للتربية والعلم والثقافة
  • 联合国教育、科学及文化组织

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

1946 -

History

Foundation:
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was founded by thirty-seven countries as a result of the United Nations Conference for the establishment of an educational and cultural organization (ECO/CONF). Its Constitution, signed on 16 November 1945, came into force on 4 November 1946 after ratification by twenty countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, France, Greece, India, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom and United States. The first session of the General Conference of UNESCO was held in Paris from 19 November to 10 December 1946 with the participation of representatives from 30 governments entitled to vote.

Member States :
The ashes of the Second World War are reflected in the composition of the founding Member States of UNESCO. Japan and the Federal Republic of Germany became members in 1951, Spain in 1953. Other major historical factors, as the Cold War, the decolonization process and the dissolution of the USSR, also left their trace on UNESCO. The USSR joined UNESCO in 1954 and was replaced by the Russian Federation in 1992. Nineteen African States became Members in 1960. Twelve Republics from the former Soviet Union joined UNESCO in the period 1991 to 1993. As a consequence of its entry into the United Nations, the People's Republic of China has been the only legitimate representative of China at UNESCO since 1971. The German Democratic Republic was a Member from 1972 to 1990, when it joined the Federal Republic of Germany. In 1984, the United States withheld its contributions and withdrew from the organization in protest, followed by the United Kingdom in 1985 and Singapore in 1986. Following a change of government in 1997, the UK rejoined. The United States rejoined in 2003, followed by Singapore on 8 October 2007.

Reforms:
Since 1999 considerable reforms were implemented by UNESCO to restructure and decentralize the Organization’s staff and activities. These included the reduction of the number of divisions, allowing a corresponding halving of the number of directors and negotiated staff departures. In addition, the Internal Oversight Service (IOS) was established in 2001 to improve organizational performance by including the lessons learned from programme evaluations into the overall reform process.

Places

The Headquarters of UNESCO is based in Paris.
From 1946 to 1958 the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris was housed in the Majestic Hotel, 17 Avenue Kleber.
UNESCO’s permanent Headquarters, on Place de Fontenoy, designed by Marcel Breuer (US), Pier-Luigi Nervi (Italy) and Bernard Zehrfuss (France) was inaugurated in 1958. On the beginning of the 1970ies further buildings were constructed in Rue Miollis and Rue Bovin, at some hundred meters distance of the main building.

Besides that, UNESCO maintain 58 field offices around the world (as of June 2009).

Legal status

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is specialized agencies within the United Nations System.
Specialized agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each other through the coordinating machinery of the Economic and Social Council.

Functions, occupations and activities

UNESCO functions as a laboratory of ideas and a standard-setter to forge universal agreements on emerging ethical issues. The Organization also serves as a clearinghouse – for the dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge – while helping Member States to build their human and institutional capacities in diverse fields.
The major areas of focus and activities correspond to the 5 programme sectors of UNESCO: Culture, Education, Natural Science, Social and Human Science, and Communication and Information.

Mandates/sources of authority

UNESCO's mandate and functioning is stated in its constitution, adopted in London on 16 November 1945.

Internal structures/genealogy

Three bodies are responsible for policy-making, governance, and day-to-day administration at UNESCO:

  • The General Conference
  • The Executive Board
  • The Secretariat.

The Secretariat is divided into various administrative offices and five programme sectors that reflect the organization's major areas of focus. Currently, the programme sectors are:

  • Culture Sector
  • Education Sector
  • Natural Science Sector
  • Social and Human Science Sector
  • Communication and Information Sector.

Over the years, the names of the sector and divisions slightly changed and different responsibilities and activities were carried out. For further information, please consult the authority records of the sectors and divisions.

General context

Prequel:
As early as 1942, in wartime, the governments of the European countries, which were confronting Nazi Germany and its allies, met in the United Kingdom for the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME). The Second World War was far from over, yet those countries were looking for ways and means to reconstruct their systems of education once peace was restored. Very quickly, the project gained momentum and soon took on a universal note. New governments, including that of the United States, decided to join in. Upon the proposal of CAME, a United Nations Conference for the establishment of an educational and cultural organization (ECO/CONF) was convened in London from 1 to 16 November 1945. It gathered together the representatives of forty-four countries. Spurred on by France and the United Kingdom, two countries that had known great hardship during the conflict, the delegates decided to create an organization that would embody a genuine culture of peace. In their eyes, the new organization must establish the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” and, in so doing, prevent the outbreak of another world war.

Relationships area

Related entity

Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (1942-1945)

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Category of the relationship

temporal

Dates of the relationship

1942-1945

Description of relationship

Predecessor of UNESCO

Related entity

International Institute of Intellectual Co-operation (1925-1946)

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temporal

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

Predecessor of UNESCO

Related entity

Conference of the Establishment of UNESCO (1 to 16 November 1945)

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temporal

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Description of relationship

Related entity

UNESCO Staff Associations (1947-)

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Category of the relationship

associative

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Description of relationship

Access points area

Subject access points

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Occupations

Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used

Status

Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created by Julia Pohle, June 2009.

Language(s)

Script(s)

Sources

<a href="http://portal.unesco.org">UNESCO Homepage</a>

Maintenance notes

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