Preparatory Commission of UNESCO

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Preparatory Commission of UNESCO

Parallel form(s) of name

  • Commission préparatoire de l'UNESCO

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

1945-11-16 - 1946-12-06


The Conference of the Establishment of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation adopted on 16 November 1945 not only the UNESCO Constitution but also an Instrument establishing a Preparatory Educational, Scientific and Cultural Commission. During the year 1946, the commission held six sessions.
In the first plenary meeting of the Commission Ellen Wilkinson, Minister of Education of Great Britain, was elected as the President of the Commission and the post of the Executive Secretary was held from 1 March 1946 by Julian Huxley until he was elected first Director-General of UNESCO on 6 December 1946.
On 4 November, Greece became the twentieth country to ratify the Constitution of UNESCO and by this act the organisation come legally into being. The first session of the General Conference opened on 20 November in Paris and worked until 10 December. Upon the election of the Director General on 6 December, the mandate of the Preparatory Commission expired and the Commission was dissolved, but its staff continued to work as the Secretariat of UNESCO under its chief administrative officer, the Director General.


London from January to May 1946: The offices of the Commission were situated at 49, Grosvenor Square and later at 46 and 47, Belgrave Square.

Paris: Move to Paris on 16 September 1946. The Commission and its staff were housed in the Hotel Majestic, 19, avenue Kléber (the house had been originally the residence of Queen Isabelle II of Spain from 1868, then after reconstruction a hotel from 1908. It was used during World War II by the occupying power, then by the American Army and finally it became an international conference center of the French Foreign Ministry when UNESCO moved in 1958 to its new headquarters, Place de Fontenoy).

Legal status

International Commission

Functions, occupations and activities

The main tasks of the Prep.Com. were:

  • to convoke the first session of the General Conference
  • to prepare the provisional agenda for the first session and prepare documents and recommendations relating to the agenda
  • to make studies and prepare recommendations concerning the programme and budget
  • to provide without delay for immediate action on urgent needs of educational, scientific and cultural reconstruction in devastated countries.

Mandates/sources of authority

Creation and mandate: Instrument adopted by Conference for the Establishment of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation; London; 1945 (ECO/CONF/29).

Internal structures/genealogy

The Commission consisted of one representative, later called delegate, of each of the Governments signatory to the Instrument. 43 countries signed the Instrument before the dissolution of the Commission.
The Commission appointed an Executive Committee of fifteen Members (in fact fourteen: the fifteenth seat was left open for the Soviet Union which finally became Member State of UNESCO only on 21 April 1954) and an Executive Secretary under whose direction the international staff was to work. By October 1946 there were 167 staff members.
The appointment of a special technical sub-committee to examine the needs of the contries devastated by the war was already foreseen in the Instrument, and there were eight programme committees and five other committees or sub-committees in existence in all during the preparatory period of UNESCO.

General context

Relationships area

Access points area


Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created by Julia Pohle, June 2009.




Introduction to Prep.Com. Inventory of archives, AG 3/1.

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