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The first session of the Executive Board took place in 1946, from 26 November to 10 December.
At the outset, the Executive Board had 18 members, elected in their personal capacity, they were intellectuals chosen for their outstanding abilities and their independent outlook. While not representing their respective governments, they exercised collectively the powers delegated to them by the General Conference on behalf of the Conference as a whole.
Since 1952 five important amendments have been made to the constitutional provisions governing the Executive Board:
1954: Conferment on each member of the Board the status of representative of the government of the state of which (s)he was a national. Meanwhile, the Members of the EXB were still not states but persons designated by name. (The Ex. Board of UNESCO, I, 6)
1968: New method of election of members by the General Conference and modification of the duration of their term of office. In order to correct an imbalance in the distribution of seats on the Board, a system of electoral groups was introduced. Member States of the EXB were thus divided into five groups. In order to speed up the rotation of seats among nationals of the different Member States, the term of office of the members of the Board would be reduced to six years and would not be renewable. (The Ex. Board of UNESCO, I, 8)
1972: Reduction of the term of office from six to four years (without immediate re-eligibility). (The Ex. Board of UNESCO, I, 9)
1976: Change of Article V.A.4 of the Constitution, relating to the procedure for replacing members of the Board during their term of office. From now on, in exceptional circumstances, in the opinion of the represented state, it would be indispensable for its representative to be replaced even if that representative did not tender his resignation. (The Ex. Board of UNESCO, I, 10)
1991: Modification of Article V of the Constitution, with respect to the status of members of the Board, which with effect from the 27th session of the General Conference (1993) consists of Member States rather than of persons. (The Ex. Board of UNESCO, I, 11)
The number of Members of EXB has also increased. It rose from 20 in 1952 to 40 twenty years later and then to 58 in 1995. (The Ex. Board of UNESCO, I, 1)
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For every session of the EXB, the following kinds of documents exist:
- EX - Main series: These documents are published on white paper in six working languages of the EXB. On the first page, there is always a summary of the document. At the end of this summary, the paragraph of the draft decision is noted.
- EX/INF - Information documents: These are published also on white paper, but only in English and French.
- EX/PRIV - Private documents: The private documents are on yellow paper. On the left hand side, they are marked as “confidential” and their distribution is limited (20-year rule applies for access to these documents in the documents).
- Draft decisions: Draft decisions are on pink paper. On the right hand side, the reference code DR is joined to the other codes in reference to their submission. Under the item, the names of the countries which presented the DR are noted.
- Decisions: The final edition is published in the month following the session.
- Summary records: these documents are prepared in the six working languages of the Board. A summary of speeches made in Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Spanish is published in the original language, followed by the translation into English or French. They are published in provisional form to be distributed to Members for possible amendments. They are then issued in a single document that forms the definitive version.
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All documents of the Executive Board from 1946 to 2000 are available in the Reading Room of the UNESCO archives as paper documents.
Nearly all documents are also available in electronic version online via UNESDOC (missing sessions will be completed soon).
All documents from 1946 to 2000 are also available on microfiches in the UNESCO archives.
For Executive Board documents until 1989:
- CEU: List of in-depth studies carried out by the Executive Board, 1990.
- EX/SP: List of Special Committees and studies undertaken by them since 1957
ICONFEX database (paper version): subject index to decisions and related documents of the Executive Board (1980-1992).
For all Executive Board Documents:
All documents available via UNESDOC database using the drop-down menu in the left frame or the advanced search.
Search in documents:
Full text search in all Executive Board documents.
Full text search in all Resolutions and Decisions.