Level of description
Extent and medium
Name of creator
The first session of the General Conference opened on 20 November in Paris with a solemn ceremony at the Sorbonne. It worked until 10 December in the Hotel Majestic with the participation of representatives from 30 governments entitled to vote. The first Director General of UNESCO, Julian Huxley, was elected on 6 December 1946.
From 1946 to 1952, the General Conference took place every year, since 1952 every second year.
Name of creator
The United Nations Conference for the establishment of an educational and cultural organization (ECO/CONF) was convened in London from 1 to 16 November 1945. Scarcely had the war ended when the conference opened. 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.
At the end of the conference, thirty-seven countries founded the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Documents of the Conference for the Establishment of UNESCO (ECO/CONF) from 1945 are included with the General Conference Documents, starting from 1946.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
Continuous accruals: The General Conference meets every two years in ordinary session. If required, it may also hold extraordinary sessions.
System of arrangement
The General Conference documents are arranged by session. Each session generally produces the following types of documents, with variations in the document codes particularly in the earliest years:
- Provisional agenda (C/1)
- Organization of the work (C/2)
- Report of the Director-General on the activities of the Organization (C/3). For the first General Conference in 1946, the Director General's report can be found under the document code 1 C/15 or UNESCO/C/15.
- Medium-term Strategy (C/4)
- Programme and budget (C/5)
- Recommendations by the Executive Board on the Draft Programme and Budget (C/6)
- Commission documents (C/COM)
- Draft resolutions submitted by Member States and Associate Members (C/DR)
- Information documents (C/INF)
- Legal committee's reports (C/LEG)
- Information regarding elections (C/NOM)
- Draft Resolution of Plenary Session (C/PLEN)
- Statutory reports of UNESCO’s intergovernmental committees and councils submitted to the General Conference, and the reports of governmental, regional and international conferences (C/REP)
- Proceedings (C/Proceedings)
- Resolutions (C/Resolutions)
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Restrictions concerning records of private meetings
Conditions governing reproduction
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Physical documents of the General Conference from 1946 to 2000 are available in the Unesco Archives Reading Room.
All documents from 1946 to 2000 are also available on microfiches in the UNESCO archives.
For General Conference documents until 1989:
List of General Conference Documents (UIS.90/WS/2)
- List of documents of the Conference for the establishment of Unesco in 1945
- Reference to the lists of documents for 1976-1989 (19-25C)
- List of indexes to the Conference documents 1945-1989
- List of Reports of the Director General on the activities of the Organisation (C/3) 1946-1989.
Inventory of General Conference documents, 1946-1989 (SID.78/WS/2 Rev).
Inventory of General Conference Documents. 1945-1978 English series of bound volumens in the Unesco Archives (SID-78/WS/2).
ICONFEX database (paper version): subject index to resolutions and related documents of the General Conference.
For all General Conference documents:
All documents in full text available via UNESDOC database using the drop-down menu in the left frame and the advanced search.
Search in documents: Full text search in all General Conference Documents
Full text search in all Resolutions and Decisions.
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
The original of UNESCO's Constitution is deposited at the United Kingdom's Foreign Office. The document in the UNESCO archives is a photocopy from 1966, which includes the first 52 signatures of representatives of Member States.
Existence and location of copies
During the conference copies are distributed to all Member States (and involved Staff members) and should be kept in their archives as well.
Related units of description
Information documents (C/INF.) and the Journal of the General Conference are available in English and French only.
Subject access points
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Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
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Dates of creation revision deletion
Created by Julia Pohle, June 2009. Revised slightly by AWT 20/03/2012. Supplementary information added by E. Sengsavang, 3 July 2019.