UNESCO Field Offices, Institutes and Centres

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

UNESCO Field Offices, Institutes and Centres

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Description area

Dates of existence

1946-

History

The first General Conference decided in 1946 to establish four Science Co-operation Offices in China, India, Middle East and Latin America. These offices were set up in 1947 and the network of what were later to be called “regional offices” has been extended ever since to cover all regions in the world. After 40 years of existence, in 1986, there were 27 offices of UNESCO Representatives, 2 Regional Coordinators and 23 Regional and Sub-Regional Advisers. In 2009, about 700 staff members work in UNESCO's 58 field offices around the world.

In addition to regional offices, UNESCO has helped to set up or supported otherwise numerous Centres with an international or regional character, and also centres and institutes working on the national basis, in agreement with the host country or countries or the region.
From the very beginning, UNESCO’s presence in the Field was also assured by temporary missions sent out from Headquarters or Field offices. They consisted either of a team of experts and consultants or individuals, who travelled to Member States upon their invitation to study questions in UNESCO’s competence, to work on the execution of a development project and formulate recommendations to be addressed to the Governments in the name of UNESCO.

In 1961, the Executive Board decided to designate posts of UNESCO Chiefs of Mission to be counterparts to Resident Representatives of the Technical Assistance programmes and to co-ordinate and be responsible for all UNESCO projects in a country (60 EX/Dec.9.1). In 1976, these posts were changed into UNESCO Representatives: they were usually responsible for a group of countries or a subregion. In the budget for 1981-1983 posts of “Regional Co-ordinators” were established, who were to be high-level officials responsible for a whole region. The post was tied usually with the post of the Director of a Regional Office.

Since 1951, but especially during the 1970ies, the Regional Offices were developed in a multidisciplinary direction since posts of regional or sub-regional advisors were attached to them in field which were not originally in the competence of the Office in question.

Since 1970, when the General Conference adopted a resolution on it (16 C/Res.10), decentralization became a constant subject of debate. UNESCO's decentralization policy seeks to ensure that UNESCO designs and implements programs that, although global in scope, are adapted to the needs and specific circumstances of Member States. UNESCO's Decentralization Action Plan groups Member States for service by a global network of multi-disciplinary Cluster Offices, National Offices, Regional Bureaus and Liaison Offices. The Bureau of Field Coordination is responsible for ensuring the smooth implementation of this new field network and provides a clear, single line of management.

Places

Africa, Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and Europe (<a href="http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=34016&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html">List of Field Offices</a>)

Legal status

UNESCO Field Offices are part of the UNESCO Secretariat, the executive organ of the organization.

Functions, occupations and activities

The role of the field offices is to coordinate the work of the organization at the regional level where the Organization develops strategies, programmes and activities in close consultation with National Commissions, other United Nations system agencies and other partners.
The <a href="http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=34004&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html">Bureau of Field Coordination (BFC)</a>, located at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, provides administrative supervision and general support to UNESCO’s network of national, cluster and regional offices. It acts as the voice of the field at Headquarters.

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

UNESCO's Field network consists of cluster offices, national offices, regional bureaus and liaison offices in Africa, Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and Europe.

Cluster Offices are the main platform for delivery of all UNESCO activities. They are multidisciplinary, ideally with each Sector represented. The Head of Office, while often having a background in a particular field, mostly play executive roles, managing the Program Specialists covering the various domains. The office implements a cluster program which is the result of consultation and consensus; National Offices join that cluster program.

National Office programs are more focused, according to their individual purposes. They implement a time-bound national program, which results from consultations within that country. They assist in devising the cluster program where that Member State is concerned.

Regional Bureaus are responsible for the program in a given region and program domain; the programs are implemented through the Cluster and National Offices and drawn up through regional consultations. Regional Bureaus are almost always located in a Cluster Office and as such benefit from staff in a variety of fields, but often have an additional complement in their own substantive domain. Those staff with regional responsibilities based in offices other than Regional Bureaus act first and foremost as Program Specialists answerable to the Head of their Office. Regional Bureaus have no representational authority, nor do they oversee the Cluster and National Offices in hierarchical terms.

Liaison offices in New York and Geneva maintain close relationship with the Headquarters of the United Nations and other United Nations organizations.

General context

Decentralization, mainly through field offices, is one of the principal means to increase UNESCO's effectiveness in its Member States and Associate Members.

Relationships area

Related entity

UNESCO Bangkok Office (Since 1961)

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associative

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Related entity

UNESCO Dakar Office (Since 1970)

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associative

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Related entity

UNESCO-CEPES (Since 1972)

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associative

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UNESCO Regional School Building Center for Latin America and the Caribbean (1963-1984)

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associative

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UNESCO Jakarta Office (Since 1951)

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associative

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UNESCO Asian Regional Institute for School Building Research (1962-1973)

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associative

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UNESCO Venice Office (Since 1973)

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associative

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UNESCO Liaison Office in Washington (May 1978 - March 1986)

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associative

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Access points area

Occupations

Control area

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Created by Julia Pohle, June 2009.

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