United Nations. Special Fund

Identity area

Type of entity

Corporate body

Authorized form of name

United Nations. Special Fund

Parallel form(s) of name

  • Nations Unies. Fonds spécial

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

1958-10-14 -


The United Nations General Assembly resolved to establish the Special Fund on 14 October 1958 in order to enlarge the scope of the UN programme of technical assistance in certain basic fields. The Special Fund was to concentrate on large projects “in the fields of resources, including the assessment and development of manpower, industry, including handicrafts and cottage industries, agriculture, transport and communications, building and housing, health, education, statistics and public administration (UN, GA, 1958). UNESCO participated primarily in projects in the fields of education and public administration. Assistance might take the form of “surveys; research and training; demonstration including pilot projects; … implemented by the provision of staff, experts, equipment, supplies and services as well as the establishment of institutes…and other appropriate means, including fellowships (UN, GA, 1958). In other words, the Special Fund was to be for ‘pre-investment’ types of projects aimed at creating conditions making new capital investment in a country either feasible or more effective (Alexander, p. 12). The Special Fund reported to ECOSCOC which would then consider EPTA and the Special Fund in relation to each other. However, the Special Fund had its own governing body, the Governing Council, consisting of representatives of eighteen States as elected by ECOSOC, with equal representation from more developed and less developed countries. The Special Fund was administered by the Managing Director and his staff. The third organ of the Special Fund was the Consultative Board which provided advice in the examination of project requests and proposed programmes. Representatives of specialized agencies could be invited to the Consultative Board deliberations, but the Board consisted of the Secretary-General of the UN, the Executive Chairman of the Technical Assistance Board (TAB), and the President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, or their designated representatives.

Governments made requests directly to the Special Fund. Specialized agencies were asked to be ready to assist governments in the preparation of their requests, and could also be asked to assist with the evaluation of requests to be examined by the Fund’s Governing Council. Specialized agencies could also then be the agent (or one of the agents) responsible for the execution of the project, as per the terms of an agreement between the agent and the Government in question with the concurrence of the Fund’s Managing Director.

The Special Fund entered into agreements with the governments and the concurrence of the executing agency would only be sought in cases of substantial modifications of the terms affecting the executing agency. These agreements signed with governments set forth the conditions under which the Special Fund was to render help to the country and the conditions under which projects were to be executed. An exchange of letters could clarify any provisions open to interpretation. UNESCO signed a Basic Agreement with the Special Fund in 1959 following the Executive Board’s approval at its Fifty-fifth Session. These Basic Agreements set forth the conditions under which the executing agency was to undertake projects within its fields of competence. In total there were then three types of agreements: agreements between the Special Fund and the executing agencies; agreements between the Special Fund and the requesting governments; and Plans of Operation signed by the Special Fund, executing agency and recipient government for a specific project. Plans of Operation set out in greater detail the obligations of the parties for the duration of the project, guidelines for the control of the project, and for its measurement and evaluation. These Plans of Operation tended to vary in form and content before the Special Fund established a model Plan (Alexander, p. 54).

In the first year of project implementation, UNESCO was allocated US$ 613, 903. The figure grew to US$13,968,970 in 1965 (UNESCO, 1987). The EPTA and Special Fund were amalgamated effective 1 January 1966 to form the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). However, EPTA and SF continued to be maintained as two separate funds by UNDP until the 1970 Consensus, approved by the General Assembly in December 1970, to take effect in 1971. In 1970, UNESCO implemented US$26,073,904 of SF projects (UNESCO, 1987).


Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Related entity

UNDP (1966-01-01 -)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship


Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

The Special Fund was merged with the EPTA to create UNDP effective 1 January 1966. UNDP used as access point.

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 AWT 11/03/2013. Revised with addition of Browne 2011 as a source, AWT, 9/2/2015. Revised with addition of Alexander and Keenleyside as a source, AWT, 12/2/2016.




  • Accord entre l'Unesco et le Fonds spéciale pour le développement économique (Nations Unies). (6 October 1959). UNESCO Archives, AG 8 Secretariat Records, Legal Instrument Collection, A/293/1.1.
  • Alexander, Yonah. (1966). International Technical Assistance Experts. Frederick A. Praeger, Publishers: New York. Available in UNESCO Library.
  • Browne, Stephen. (2011). The United Nations Development Programme and System. Routledge: New York.
  • Keenleyside, Hugh L. (1966). International Aid: a summary, with special reference to the programmes of the United Nations. James H. Heineman, Inc: New York. Available in UNESCO Library.
  • UN. General Assembly, 25th Session. (11 December 1970). The Capacity of the United Nations Development System. 2688 (XXV). Available online in UN ODS, accessed 28/02/2013.
  • UN. General Assembly, 20th Session. (1965). Consolidation of the Special Fund and the Expanded Programme for Technical Assistance in a United Nations Development Programme. 2029 (XX). Available online in UN Docs, accessed 12/02/2013.
  • UN. General Assembly, 13th Session. (14 October 1958). Establishment of the Special Fund. 1240 (XIII). Available online in UN ODS, accessed 12/02/2013.
  • UN. General Assembly, 12th Session. (1957). Financing of Economic Development. 1219 (XII). Available online in UN ODS, accessed 12/02/2013.
  • UN. Terminology and Reference Section. (Undated). Terms: ACC, United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, Resident Coordinator System. UNTERM, United Nations Multilingual Terminology Database. Accessed online 01/03/2013: http://unterm.un.org/
  • UNESCO. (December 1987). A Chronology of UNESCO 1945-1987. LAD.85/WS/4 Rev. Available online in UNESDOC, accessed 01/03/2013: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0007/000790/079049eb.pdf
  • UNESCO. Director-General, Deputy, 1963-1970 (Adiseshiah, M.). (1966). UNESCO and UNDP: address by M. S. Adiseshiah, Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, Turin, 29 June 1966. WS/0766.12/ODG. Available in UNESDOC, accessed 11/02/2013: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001857/185752eb.pdf
  • UNESCO. Executive Board, 134th Session. (1990). Operational activities of the Organization, including UNESCO-UNDP Co-operation. 134 EX/16. PARIS, 4 April 1990. Available in UNESDOC, accessed 11/02/2013: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0008/000856/085608eo.pdf
  • UNESCO. Executive Board, 55th Session. (1959). Resolutions and decisions adopted by the Executive Board at its fifty-fifth session, Paris, 23 November-5 December 1959. EX 55/Decisions. Decision 5.4, page 8. Available in UNESDOC, accessed 12/02/2013: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001132/113249e.pdf
  • UNESCO. General Conference, 10th Session. (1959). Records of the General Conference, tenth session, Paris, 1958: Resolutions. CPG.59.VI.10A. Resolution 7.B3, p.46. Available in UNESDOC, accessed 12/02/2013: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0011/001145/114584e.pdf

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