kids encyclopedia robot

UNESCO facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Logo UNESCO 2021.svg
Flag of UNESCO.svg
Flag of UNESCO
Abbreviation UNESCO
Formation 16 November 1945; 78 years ago (1945-11-16)
Type United Nations specialised agency
Legal status Active
Headquarters Paris, France
Audrey Azoulay
Parent organization
United Nations Economic and Social Council

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) with the aim of promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, arts, sciences and culture. It has 194 member states and 12 associate members, as well as partners in the non-governmental, intergovernmental and private sector. Headquartered in Paris, France, UNESCO has 53 regional field offices and 199 national commissions.

UNESCO was founded in 1945 as the successor to the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation. Its constitution establishes the agency's goals, governing structure, and operating framework. UNESCO's founding mission, which was shaped by the events of World War II, is to advance peace, sustainable development and human rights by facilitating collaboration and dialogue among nations. It pursues this objective through five major programme areas: education, natural sciences, social/human sciences, culture and communication/information. UNESCO sponsors projects that improve literacy, provide technical training and education, advance science, protect independent media and press freedom, preserve regional and cultural history, and promote cultural diversity.

UNESCO's activities have broadened over the years. It assists in the translation and dissemination of world literature, helps establish and secure World Heritage Sites of cultural and natural importance, works to bridge the worldwide digital divide, and creates inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication. UNESCO has launched several initiatives and global movements, such as Education For All.

UNESCO is governed by the General Conference composed of member states and associate members, which meets biannually to set the agency's programs and budget. It also elects members of the executive board, which manages UNESCO's work, and appoints every four years a Director-General, who serves as UNESCO's chief administrator. UNESCO is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, a coalition of UN agencies and organizations aimed at fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals.



UNESCO and its mandate for international cooperation can be traced back to a League of Nations resolution on 21 September 1921, to elect a Commission to study the feasibility of having nations freely share cultural, educational and scientific achievements. This new body, the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (ICIC), was created in 1922 and counted such figures as Henri Bergson, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Robert A. Millikan, and Gonzague de Reynold among its members (being thus a small commission of the League of Nations essentially centred on Western Europe). The International Institute for Intellectual Cooperation (IIIC) was then created in Paris in September 1924, to act as the executing agency for the ICIC. However, the onset of World War II largely interrupted the work of these predecessor organizations. As for private initiatives, the International Bureau of Education (IBE) began to work as a non-governmental organization in the service of international educational development since December 1925 and joined UNESCO in 1969, after having established a joint commission in 1952.


After the signing of the Atlantic Charter and the Declaration of the United Nations, the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME) began meetings in London which continued from 16 November 1942 to 5 December 1945. On 30 October 1943, the necessity for an international organization was expressed in the Moscow Declaration, agreed upon by China, the United Kingdom, the United States and the USSR. This was followed by the Dumbarton Oaks Conference proposals of 9 October 1944. Upon the proposal of CAME and in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO), held in San Francisco from April to June 1945, a United Nations Conference for the establishment of an educational and cultural organization (ECO/CONF) was convened in London from 1 to 16 November 1945 with 44 governments represented. The idea of UNESCO was largely developed by Rab Butler, the Minister of Education for the United Kingdom, who had a great deal of influence in its development. At the ECO/CONF, the Constitution of UNESCO was introduced and signed by 37 countries, and a Preparatory Commission was established. The Preparatory Commission operated between 16 November 1945, and 4 November 1946 — the date when UNESCO's Constitution came into force with the deposit of the twentieth ratification by a member state.

The first General Conference took place from 19 November to 10 December 1946, and elected Julian Huxley to Director-General. United States Army colonel, university president and civil rights advocate Blake R. Van Leer joined as a member as well. The Constitution was amended in November 1954 when the General Conference resolved that members of the executive board would be representatives of the governments of the States of which they are nationals and would not, as before, act in their personal capacity. This change in governance distinguished UNESCO from its predecessor, the ICIC, in how member states would work together in the organization's fields of competence. As member states worked together over time to realize UNESCO's mandate, political and historical factors have shaped the organization's operations in particular during the Cold War, the decolonization process, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union.


Among the major achievements of the organization is its work against racism, for example through influential statements on race starting with a declaration of anthropologists (among them was Claude Lévi-Strauss) and other scientists in 1950 and concluding with the 1978 Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice.

In 1956, the Republic of South Africa withdrew from UNESCO saying that some of the organization's publications amounted to "interference" in the country's "racial problems". It rejoined the organization in 1994 under the leadership of Nelson Mandela.

UNESCO's early work in the field of education included a pilot project on fundamental education in the Marbial Valley, Haiti, that started in 1947. This project was followed by expert missions to other countries, including, for example, a mission to Afghanistan in 1949. In 1948, UNESCO recommended that Member States should make free primary education compulsory and universal. In 1990, the World Conference on Education for All, in Jomtien, Thailand, launched a global movement to provide basic education for all children, youths and adults. Ten years later, the 2000 World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal, led member governments to commit to achieving basic education for all by 2015.

The World Declaration on Higher Education was adopted by UNESCO's World Conference on Higher Education on 9 October 1998, with the aim of setting global standards on the ideals and accessibility of higher education.

UNESCO's early activities in culture included the International Campaign to Save the Monuments of Nubia, launched in 1960. The purpose of the campaign was to move the Great Temple of Abu Simbel to keep it from being swamped by the Nile after the construction of the Aswan Dam. During the 20-year campaign, 22 monuments and architectural complexes were relocated. This was the first and largest in a series of campaigns including Mohenjo-daro (Pakistan), Fes (Morocco), Kathmandu (Nepal), Borobudur (Indonesia) and the Acropolis of Athens (Greece). The organization's work on heritage led to the adoption, in 1972, of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The World Heritage Committee was established in 1976 and the first sites were inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978. Since then important legal instruments on cultural heritage and diversity have been adopted by UNESCO member states in 2003 (Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage) and 2005 (Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions).

An intergovernmental meeting of UNESCO in Paris in December 1951 led to the creation of the European Council for Nuclear Research, which was responsible for establishing the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) later on, in 1954.

Arid Zone programming, 1948–1966, is another example of an early major UNESCO project in the field of natural sciences.

In 1968, UNESCO organized the first intergovernmental conference aimed at reconciling the environment and development, a problem that continues to be addressed in the field of sustainable development. The main outcome of the 1968 conference was the creation of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme.

UNESCO has been credited with the diffusion of national science bureaucracies.

In the field of communication, the "free flow of ideas by word and image" has been in UNESCO's constitution from its beginnings, following the experience of the Second World War when control of information was a factor in indoctrinating populations for aggression. In the years immediately following World War II, efforts were concentrated on reconstruction and on the identification of needs for means of mass communication around the world. UNESCO started organizing training and education for journalists in the 1950s. In response to calls for a "New World Information and Communication Order" in the late 1970s, UNESCO established the International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems, which produced the 1980 MacBride report (named after the chair of the commission, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Seán MacBride). The same year, UNESCO created the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), a multilateral forum designed to promote media development in developing countries. In 1991, UNESCO's General Conference endorsed the Windhoek Declaration on media independence and pluralism, which led the UN General Assembly to declare the date of its adoption, 3 May, as World Press Freedom Day. Since 1997, UNESCO has awarded the UNESCO / Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize every 3 May.

21st century

UNESCO admitted Palestine as a member in 2011.

Laws passed in the United States after Palestine applied for UNESCO and WHO membership in April 1989 mean that the US cannot contribute financially to any UN organization that accepts Palestine as a full member. As a result, the US withdrew its funding, which had accounted for about 22% of UNESCO's budget. Israel also reacted to Palestine's admittance to UNESCO by freezing Israeli payments to UNESCO and imposing sanctions on the Palestinian Authority, stating that Palestine's admittance would be detrimental "to potential peace talks". Two years after they stopped paying their dues to UNESCO, the US and Israel lost UNESCO voting rights in 2013 without losing the right to be elected; thus, the US was elected as a member of the executive board for the period 2016–19. In 2019, Israel left UNESCO after 69 years of membership, with Israel's ambassador to the UN Danny Danon writing: "UNESCO is the body that continually rewrites history, including by erasing the Jewish connection to Jerusalem... it is corrupted and manipulated by Israel's enemies... we are not going to be a member of an organisation that deliberately acts against us".

2023 saw Russia excluded from the executive committee for the first time, after failing to get sufficient votes.


UNESCO Brasília Office
UNESCO offices in Brasília

UNESCO implements its activities through the five programme areas: education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information.

  • UNESCO supports research in comparative education, provides expertise and fosters partnerships to strengthen national educational leadership and the capacity of countries to offer quality education for all. This includes the
    • UNESCO Chairs, an international network of 644 UNESCO Chairs, involving over 770 institutions in 126 countries
    • Environmental Conservation Organisation
    • Convention against Discrimination in Education adopted in 1960
    • Organization of the International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA) in an interval of 12 years
    • Publication of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report
    • Publication of the Four Pillars of Learning seminal document
    • UNESCO ASPNet, an international network of more than 12,000 schools in 182 countries

UNESCO does not accredit institutions of higher learning.

  • UNESCO also issues public statements to educate the public:
    • Seville Statement on Violence: A statement adopted by UNESCO in 1989 to refute the notion that humans are biologically predisposed to organised violence.
  • Designating projects and places of cultural and scientific significance, such as:
  • Encouraging the "free flow of ideas by images and words" by:
    • Promoting freedom of expression, including freedom of the press and freedom of information legislation, through the Division of Freedom of Expression and Media Development, including the International Programme for the Development of Communication
    • Promoting the safety of journalists and combatting impunity for those who attack them, through coordination of the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity
    • Promoting universal access to and preservation of information and open solutions for sustainable development through the Knowledge Societies Division, including the Memory of the World Programme and Information for All Programme
    • Promoting pluralism, gender equality and cultural diversity in the media
    • Promoting Internet Universality and its principles, that the Internet should be (I) human Rights-based, (ii) Open, (iii) Accessible to all, and (iv) nurtured by Multi-stakeholder participation (summarized as the acronym R.O.A.M.)
    • Generating knowledge through publications such as World Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development, the UNESCO Series on Internet Freedom, and the Media Development Indicators, as well as other indicator-based studies.
  • Promoting events, such as:
    • International Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World: 2001–2010, proclaimed by the UN in 1998
    • World Press Freedom Day, 3 May each year, to promote freedom of expression and freedom of the press as a basic human right and as crucial components of any healthy, democratic and free society.
    • Criança Esperança in Brazil, in partnership with Rede Globo, to raise funds for community-based projects that foster social integration and violence prevention.
    • International Literacy Day, 8 September each year
    • International Year for the Culture of Peace, 2000
    • Health Education for Behavior Change programme in partnership with the Ministry of Education of Kenya which was financially supported by the Government of Azerbaijan to promote health education among 10-19-year-old young people who live in informal camp in Kibera, Nairobi. The project was carried out between September 2014 – December 2016.
    • World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development 21 May each year
  • Founding and funding projects, such as:
    • Migration Museums Initiative: Promoting the establishment of museums for cultural dialogue with migrant populations.
    • UNESCO-CEPES, the European Centre for Higher Education: established in 1972 in Bucharest, Romania, as a decentralized office to promote international co-operation in higher education in Europe as well as Canada, USA and Israel. Higher Education in Europe is its official journal.
    • Free Software Directory: since 1998 UNESCO and the Free Software Foundation have jointly funded this project cataloguing free software.
    • FRESH, Focusing Resources on Effective School Health
    • OANA, Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies
    • International Council of Science
    • UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors
    • ASOMPS, Asian Symposium on Medicinal Plants and Spices, a series of scientific conferences held in Asia
    • Botany 2000, a programme supporting taxonomy, and biological and cultural diversity of medicinal and ornamental plants, and their protection against environmental pollution
    • The UNESCO Collection of Representative Works, translating works of world literature both to and from multiple languages, from 1948 to 2005
    • GoUNESCO, an umbrella of initiatives to make heritage fun supported by UNESCO, New Delhi Office
    • UNESCO-CHIC BIRUP, UNESCO-CHIC Group (China) Biosphere Rural and Urbanization Programme

The UNESCO transparency portal has been designed to enable public access to information regarding the Organization's activities, such as its aggregate budget for a biennium, as well as links to relevant programmatic and financial documents. These two distinct sets of information are published on the IATI registry, respectively based on the IATI Activity Standard and the IATI Organization Standard.

There have been proposals to establish two new UNESCO lists. The first proposed list will focus on movable cultural heritage such as artifacts, paintings, and biofacts. The list may include cultural objects, such as the Jōmon Venus of Japan, the Mona Lisa of France, the Gebel el-Arak Knife of Egypt, The Ninth Wave of Russia, the Seated Woman of Çatalhöyük of Turkey, the David (Michelangelo) of Italy, the Mathura Herakles of India, the Manunggul Jar of the Philippines, the Crown of Baekje of South Korea, The Hay Wain of the United Kingdom and the Benin Bronzes of Nigeria. The second proposed list will focus on the world's living species, such as the komodo dragon of Indonesia, the panda of China, the bald eagle of North American countries, the aye-aye of Madagascar, the Asiatic lion of India, the kākāpō of New Zealand, and the mountain tapir of Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.


UNESCO and its specialized institutions issue a number of magazines.

Created in 1945, The UNESCO Courier magazine states its mission to "promote UNESCO's ideals, maintain a platform for the dialogue between cultures and provide a forum for international debate". Since March 2006 it has been available free online, with limited printed issues. Its articles express the opinions of the authors which are not necessarily the opinions of UNESCO. There was a hiatus in publishing between 2012 and 2017.

In 1950, UNESCO initiated the quarterly review Impact of Science on Society (also known as Impact) to discuss the influence of science on society. The journal ceased publication in 1992. UNESCO also published Museum International Quarterly from the year 1948.

Official UNESCO NGOs

UNESCO has official relations with 322 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Most of these are what UNESCO calls "operational"; a select few are "formal". The highest form of affiliation to UNESCO is "formal associate", and the 22 NGOs with formal associate (ASC) relations occupying offices at UNESCO are:

Abbr Organization
IB International Baccalaureate
CCIVS Co-ordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service
CIPSH International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies (Conseil International de Philosophie et des Sciences Humaines; publishes Diogenes)
CIOFF International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts (Conseil International des Organisations de Festivals de Folklore et d'Arts Traditionnels)
EI Education International
IAU International Association of Universities
IFTC International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication
ICOM International Council of Museums
ICSSPE International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education
ICA International Council on Archives
ICOMOS International Council on Monuments and Sites
IFJ International Federation of Journalists
IFLA International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
IFPA International Federation of Poetry Associations
IMC International Music Council
IPA International Police Association
INSULA International Scientific Council for Island Development
ISC International Science Council (formerly ICSU and ISSC)
ITI International Theatre Institute
IUCN International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
IUTAO International Union of Technical Associations and Organizations
UIA Union of International Associations
WAN World Association of Newspapers
WFEO World Federation of Engineering Organizations
WFUCA World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations
UNESCO Institute for Water Education in Delft

Institutes and centres

The institutes are specialized departments of the organization that support UNESCO's programme, providing specialized support for cluster and national offices.

Abbr Name Location
IBE International Bureau of Education Geneva
UIL UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning Hamburg
IIEP UNESCO International Institute for Educational Planning Paris (headquarters) and Buenos Aires and Dakar (regional offices)
IITE UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education Moscow
IICBA UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa Addis Ababa
IESALC UNESCO International Institute for Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean Caracas
MGIEP Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development New Delhi
UNESCO-UNEVOC UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre for Technical and Vocational Education and Training Bonn
ICWRGC International Centre for Water Resources and Global Change Koblenz
IHE IHE-Delft Institute for Water Education Delft
ICTP International Centre for Theoretical Physics Trieste
UIS UNESCO Institute for Statistics Montreal


UNESCO awards 26 prizes in education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, communication and information as well as peace:


  • UNESCO/King Sejong Literacy Prize
  • UNESCO/Confucius Prize for Literacy
  • UNESCO-Japan Prize on Education for Sustainable Development
  • UNESCO Prize for Girls' and Women's Education
  • UNESCO/Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers
  • UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Education

Natural Sciences

  • L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science
  • UNESCO/Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science
  • UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences
  • Carlos J. Finlay Prize for Microbiology
  • UNESCO/Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation
  • UNESCO-Russia Mendeleev International Prize in the Basic Sciences
  • UNESCO-Al Fozan International Prize for the Promotion of Young Scientists in STEM
  • Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management

Social and Human Sciences

  • UNESCO Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science
  • UNESCO/Juan Bosch Prize for the Promotion of Social Science Research in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence
  • UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture
  • UNESCO/International José Martí Prize
  • UNESCO-UNAM / Jaime Torres Bodet Prize in social sciences, humanities and arts


  • Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes (UNESCO-Greece)

Communication and Information

  • UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize
  • UNESCO/Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah Prize to promote Quality Education for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities
  • UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize


  • Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize

Inactive prizes

  • International Simón Bolívar Prize (inactive since 2004)
  • UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education
  • UNESCO/Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences (inactive since 2010)
  • UNESCO Prize for the Promotion of the Arts

International Days observed at UNESCO

International Days observed at UNESCO are provided in the table below:

Date Name
14 January World Logic Day
24 January World Day for African and Afrodescendant Culture
24 January International Day of Education
27 January International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust
11 February International Day of Women and Girls in Science
13 February World Radio Day
21 February International Mother Language Day
4 March UNESCO World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development
8 March International Women's Day
14 March International Day of Mathematics
20 March International Francophonie Day
21 March International Day of Nowruz
21 March World Poetry Day
21 March International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
22 March World Water Day
5 April International Day of Conscience
6 April International Day of Sport for Development and Peace
15 April World Art Day
23 April World Book and Copyright Day
30 April International Jazz Day
3 May World Press Freedom Day
5 May African World Heritage Day
5 May World Portuguese Language Day
16 May International Day of Light
21 May World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
22 May International Day for Biological Diversity
5 June World Environment Day
8 June World Oceans Day
17 June World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
7 July Kiswahili Language Day
18 July Nelson Mandela International Day
26 July International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem
9 August International Day of the World's Indigenous People
12 August International Youth Day
23 August International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
8 September International Literacy Day
9 September International Day to Protect Education from Attack
15 September International Day of Democracy
20 September International Day for University Sport
21 September International Day of Peace
28 September International Day for the Universal Access to Information
5 October World Teachers' Day
6 October International Geodiversity Day
11 October International Day of the Girl Child
13 October International Day for Disaster Reduction
17 October International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
24 October United Nations Day
27 October World Day for Audiovisual Heritage
2 November International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists
3 November International Day for Biosphere Reserves
First Thursday of November International day against violence and bullying at school including cyberbullying
5 November World Day of Romani Language
5 November World Tsunami Awareness Day
10 November World Science Day for Peace and Development
14 November International Day against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property
Third Thursday of November World Philosophy Day
16 November International Day for Tolerance
18 November International International Day of Islamic Art
25 November International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women
26 November World Olive Tree Day
29 November International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People
1 December World AIDS Day
2 December World Futures Day
3 December International Day of Persons with Disabilities
10 December Human Rights Day
18 December International Migrants Day
18 December World Arabic Language Day

Member states

UNESCO member states
     UNESCO member states      UNESCO member state dependent territory with separate NOC      UNESCO associates      UNESCO observers

As of July 2023, UNESCO has 194 member states and 12 associate members. Some members are not independent states and some members have additional National Organizing Committees from some of their dependent territories. UNESCO state parties are the United Nations member states (except Israel and Liechtenstein), as well as Cook Islands, Niue and Palestine. The United States and Israel left UNESCO on 31 December 2018, but the U.S. rejoined in 2023.

Governing bodies


As of June 2023, there have been 11 Directors-General of UNESCO since its inception – nine men and two women. The 11 Directors-General of UNESCO have come from six regions within the organization: West Europe (5), Central America (1), North America (2), West Africa (1), East Asia (1), and East Europe (1).

To date, there has been no elected Director-General from the remaining ten regions within UNESCO: Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central and North Asia, Middle East, North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, South Africa, Australia-Oceania, and South America.

The list of the Directors-General of UNESCO since its establishment in 1946 is as follows:

Directors-General of UNESCO
Order Image Name Country Term
1st Julian Huxley 1-2.jpg Julian Huxley  United Kingdom 1946–1948
2nd JAIME TORRES BODET 1902, ESCRITOR, POETA Y POLITICO MEXICANO (13451293993).jpg Jaime Torres Bodet  Mexico 1948–1952
Captura de Pantalla 2022-06-03 a las 23.24.45.png John Wilkinson Taylor  United States acting 1952–1953
3rd Luther Harris Evans, Diretor-geral da United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).tif Luther Evans  United States 1953–1958
4th Contemporary history, Italy - UNESCO - PHOTO0000002707 0001.tiff Vittorino Veronese  Italy 1958–1961
5th René Maheu (France), UNESCO Director General (1961-1974).JPG René Maheu  France acting 1961; 1961–1974
6th Unesco history, M'Bow - UNESCO - PHOTO0000002701 0001.tiff Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow  Senegal 1974–1987
7th Federico Mayor Zaragoza 1988 (cropped).jpg Federico Mayor Zaragoza  Spain 1987–1999
8th Matsuura Koichiro 1-2.jpg Koïchiro Matsuura  Japan 1999–2009
9th Irina Bokova crop.jpg Irina Bokova  Bulgaria 2009–2017
10th Didier Plowy - Audrey Azoulay (cropped).jpg Audrey Azoulay  France 2017–Incumbent

General Conference

This is the list of the sessions of the UNESCO General Conference held since 1946:

Session Location Year Chaired by from
1st Paris 1946 Léon Blum  France
2nd Mexico City 1947 Manuel Gual Vidal  Mexico
3rd Beirut 1948 Hamid Bey Frangie  Lebanon
1st extraordinary Paris 1948
4th Paris 1949 Edward Ronald Walker  Australia
5th Florence 1950 Stefano Jacini  Italy
6th Paris 1951 Howland H. Sargeant  United States
7th Paris 1952 Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan  India
2nd extraordinary Paris 1953
8th Montevideo 1954 Justino Zavala Muniz  Uruguay
9th New Delhi 1956 Abul Kalam Azad  India
10th Paris 1958 Jean Berthoin  France
11th Paris 1960 Akale-Work Abte-Wold  Ethiopia
12th Paris 1962 Paulo de Berrêdo Carneiro  Brazil
13th Paris 1964 Norair Sisakian  Soviet Union
14th Paris 1966 Bedrettin Tuncel  Turkey
15th Paris 1968 William Eteki Mboumoua  Cameroon
16th Paris 1970 Atilio Dell'Oro Maini  Argentina
17th Paris 1972 Toru Haguiwara  Japan
3rd extraordinary Paris 1973
18th Paris 1974 Magda Jóború  Hungary
19th Nairobi 1976 Taaita Toweett  Kenya
20th Paris 1978 Napoléon LeBlanc  Canada
21st Belgrade 1980 Ivo Margan  Yugoslavia
4th extraordinary Paris 1982
22nd Paris 1983 Saïd Tell  Jordan
23rd Sofia 1985 Nikolai Todorov  Bulgaria
24th Paris 1987 Guillermo Putzeys Alvarez  Guatemala
25th Paris 1989 Anwar Ibrahim  Malaysia
26th Paris 1991 Bethwell Allan Ogot  Kenya
27th Paris 1993 Ahmed Saleh Sayyad  Yemen
28th Paris 1995 Torben Krogh  Denmark
29th Paris 1997 Eduardo Portella  Brazil
30th Paris 1999 Jaroslava Moserová  Czech Republic
31st Paris 2001 Ahmad Jalali  Iran
32nd Paris 2003 Michael Omolewa  Nigeria
33rd Paris 2005 Musa Bin Jaafar Bin Hassan  Oman
34th Paris 2007 Georgios Anastassopoulos  Greece
35th Paris 2009 Davidson Hepburn  Bahamas
36th Paris 2011 Katalin Bogyay  Hungary
37th Paris 2013 Hao Ping  China
38th Paris 2015 Stanley Mutumba Simataa  Namibia
39th Paris 2017 Zohour Alaoui  Morocco
40th Paris 2019

Ahmet Altay Cengizer

41st Paris 2021 Santiago Irazabal Mourão  Brazil
42nd Paris 2023 Simona Miculescu  Romania

Executive Board

Biennial elections are held, with 58 elected representatives holding office for four years.

Term Group I
(9 seats)
Group II
(7 seats)
Group III
(10 seats)
Group IV
(12 seats)
Group V(a)
(13 seats)
Group V(b)
(7 seats)



 Saint Lucia
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines


 Equatorial Guinea





 Dominican Republic

 South Korea


 Saudi Arabia




 Saint Lucia

 Cook Islands

 South Africa



 United Kingdom
 United States

 Czech Republic

 Dominican Republic

 South Korea
 Sri Lanka

 Burkina Faso
 Côte d'Ivoire

 Saudi Arabia

Offices and headquarters

April 2010, UNESCO Headquarters in Paris - The Garden of Peace (or Japanese Garden) in Spring
The Garden of Peace at UNESCO headquarters

The UNESCO headquarters is located at Place de Fontenoy in Paris, France. Several architects collaborated on the construction of the headquarters, including Bernard Zehrfuss, Marcel Breuer and Luigi Nervi. It includes a Garden of Peace which was donated by the Government of Japan. This garden was designed by American-Japanese sculptor artist Isamu Noguchi in 1958 and installed by Japanese gardener Toemon Sano. In 1994–1995, in memory of the 50th anniversary of UNESCO, a meditation room was built by Tadao Ando.

UNESCO's field offices across the globe are categorized into four primary office types based upon their function and geographic coverage: cluster offices, national offices, regional bureaus and liaison offices.

Field offices by region

The following list of all UNESCO Field Offices is organized geographically by UNESCO Region and identifies the members states and associate members of UNESCO which are served by each office.


Arab States

Asia and Pacific

Europe and North America

Latin America and the Caribbean

Carondolete en el cambio de guardia
Carondelet Palace, Presidential Palace – with changing of the guards. The Historic Center of Quito, Ecuador, is one of the largest, least-altered and best-preserved historic centres in the Americas. This centre was, together with the historic centre of Kraków in Poland, the first to be declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO on 18 September 1978.

Partner organisations

  • International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
  • Blue Shield International (BSI)
  • International Council of Museums (ICOM)
  • International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)
  • International Institute of Humanitarian Law (IIHL)

Products and services

  • UNESDOC Database – Contains over 146,000 UNESCO documents in full text published since 1945 as well as metadata from the collections of the UNESCO Library and documentation centres in field offices and institutes.

Information processing tools

UNESCO develops, maintains and disseminates, free of charge, two interrelated software packages for database management (CDS/ISIS [not to be confused with UK police software package ISIS]) and data mining/statistical analysis (IDAMS).

  • CDS/ISIS – a generalised information storage and retrieval system. The Windows version may run on a single computer or in a local area network. The JavaISIS client/server components allow remote database management over the Internet and are available for Windows, Linux and Macintosh. Furthermore, GenISIS allows the user to produce HTML Web forms for CDS/ISIS database searching. The ISIS_DLL provides an API for developing CDS/ISIS based applications.
  • OpenIDAMS – a software package for processing and analysing numerical data developed, maintained and disseminated by UNESCO. The original package was proprietary but UNESCO has initiated a project to provide it as open-source.
  • IDIS – a tool for direct data exchange between CDS/ISIS and IDAMS

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Unesco para niños

  • Academic mobility network
  • League of Nations archives
  • UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists
  • UNESCO Reclining Figure 1957–58, sculpture by Henry Moore
  • UniRef
  • National Commissions for UNESCO
kids search engine
UNESCO Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.