UNESCO. Executive Board

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

UNESCO. Executive Board

Parallel form(s) of name

  • UNESCO. Conseil exécutif

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence



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)


The EXB normally takes place in Paris at UNESCO Headquarters.

Legal status

The Executive Board is one of the three constitutional organs of UNESCO (besides the General Conference and the Secretariat).
It is elected by the General Conference.

Functions, occupations and activities

In particular the EXB examines the programme of work and budget estimates of UNESCO and submits them to the General Conference with its recommendations (Const. Article V. B. 6a);

It makes recommendations on the admission of new States that are not members of the United Nations (Const. Article II.2);

It further makes recommendations to the General Conference vis-à-vis the appointment of the DG (Const. Article IV.7);
Beside that, the EXB supervises the execution of the Programme and, in this connection, considers the reports on activities submitted by the Director-General (Const. Article V.B.10, V.B.6.b);

Finally, it summons extraordinary session of the General Conference (Const. Article IV.9) and non-governmental conferences on education, the sciences and humanities or the dissemination of knowledge, in accordance with regulations adopted by the General Conference. (Const. Article IV.3).

Mandates/sources of authority

The Executive Board represents the General Conference, exercises the powers delegated to it, and deals with the questions with which it is entrusted (following Constitution Article V).

Internal structures/genealogy

The EXB consists of 58 Member States with a four-year term of office (as of June 2009).
Each State Member appoints one representative and may also appoint alternates. However non-Member States of the EXB, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and movements are invited as observers.

General context

Working languages:
English and French since 1946, Spanish and Russian since 1954, Arabic since 1974 and Chinese since 1977.

Relationships area

Related entity

UNESCO. Executive Board. Committee on International Non-Governmental Organizations

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship


Dates of the relationship


Description of relationship

Permanent subsidiary body of the Executive Board. These commissions and committees examine and report on the questions referred to them by the Executive Board.

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Control area

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Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created by Julia Pohle, June 2009.



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