UNESCO {established 16 Nov. 1945} is a specialized agency of the United Nations. Its predecessor was International Committee on Intellectual Co-operation (ICIC) which was created in January 1922. Its main objective contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture. Projects sponsored by UNESCO include literacy, technical, and teacher-training programmes; international science programmes; the promotion of independent media and freedom of the press; regional and cultural history projects; the promotion of cultural diversity; international cooperation agreements to secure the world cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Sites) and to preserve human rights, and attempts to bridge the worldwide digital divide. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group.

UNESCO implements its activities through the five programme areas of Education, Natural Sciences, Social and Human Sciences, Culture, and Communication and Information.

UNESCO Offices

UNESCO has offices in many locations across the globe; its headquarters are located at Place de Fontenoy in Paris. UNESCO’s field offices are categorized into four primary office types based upon their function and geographic coverage: cluster offices, national offices, regional bureaux and liaison offices.


It is successor of the League of Nations’ International Commission on Intellectual Cooperation. UNESCO has 196 Member States including Palestine that was given its membership in November 2011 and eight Associate Members. Kindly note that three UNESCO member states are not UN member states viz. Cook Islands, Niue and Palestine (Palestine is a non-member observer State since November 29, 2012), while one UN member state (Liechtenstein) is not a UNESCO member.

Other Important Notes on UNESCO for Examinations

  • In 1956, South Africa withdrew from UNESCO claiming that some of the Organization’s publications amounted to “interference” in the country’s “racial problems. South Africa rejoined the Organization in 1994 under the leadership of Nelson Mandela.
  • The earliest UNESCO project in field of education was in Marbial Valley, Haiti, started in 1947, Afghanistan in 1949.
  • In 1948, UNESCO recommended that Member States should make free primary education compulsory and universal.
  • 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 which 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.
  • 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.
  • The 2000 World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal, led member governments to commit to achieving basic education for all by 2015.
  • UNESCO launched its Nubia Campaign in 1960 to move the Great Temple of Abu Simbel to keep it from being swamped by the Nile after 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.
  • Other campaigns of UNESCO include Mohenjo-daro (Pakistan), Fes (Morocco), Kathmandu (Nepal), Borobudur (Indonesia) and the Acropolis (Greece).
  • In 1972, Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was adopted due to efforts of UNESCO in the field.
  • In 1976, The World Heritage Committee was established and the first sites 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).
  • In 1954, European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) was established as an outcome of the decisions taken at intergovernmental meeting of UNESCO in Paris in December 1951.
  • UNESCO Chairs is an international network of 644 UNESCO Chairs, involving over 770 institutions in 126 countries.
  • Education for All Global Monitoring Report is published by UNESCO.
  • UNESCO ASPNet is an international network of 8,000 schools in 170 countries
  • Seville Statement on Violence was an statement adopted by UNESCO in 1989 to refute the notion that humans are biologically predisposed to organised violence.
  • International Network of Geoparks or Global Geoparks Network (GGN) is a UNESCO programme established in 1998. Managed under the body’s Ecological and Earth Sciences Division, the GGN seeks the promotion and conservation of the planet’s geological heritage, as well as encourages the sustainable research and development by the concerned communities. A GEOPARK is a nationally protected area containing a number of geological heritage sites of particular importance, rarity or aesthetic These Earth heritage sites are part of an integrated concept of protection, education and sustainable development. There are 54 Geoparks worldwide. No Geopark is located in India.
  • In 2007, UNESCO launched the City of Literature title and first city to be given this title was Edinburgh, the site of Scotland’s first circulating library. In 2008, Iowa City, Iowa became the City of Literature. The other cities of literature are Dublin, Ireland (2010) and Reykjavik, Iceland (2011).
  • In 1998, the decade 2001–2010 was declared by UN as International Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World.
  • May 3, each year is declared by UNESCO as World Press Freedom Day 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.
  • Since 1998, UNESCO and the Free Software Foundation have jointly funded this project cataloguing free software known as Free Software Directory.
  • Botany 2000 is a UNESCO programme supporting taxonomy, and biological and cultural diversity of medicinal and ornamental plants, and their protection against environmental pollution.


UNESCO currently awards 22 prizes in education, science, culture and peace. Important among them are:

  • Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize
  • L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science
  • UNESCO/King Sejong Literacy Prize
  • UNESCO/Confucius Prize for Literacy
  • UNESCO/Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science
  • UNESCO/Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation
  • Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management
  • UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights
  • UNESCO Prize for Peace Education
  • UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence
  • UNESCO/International José Martí Prize
  • UNESCO/Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science
  • UNESCO/Juan Bosch Prize for the Promotion of Social Science Research in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture
  • IPDC-UNESCO Prize for Rural Communication
  • UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize
  • UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize

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