Print Friendly, PDF & Email

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture.

It is also a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNSDG), a coalition of UN agencies and organizations aimed at fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Prelims Specific Facts –

  • Headquarters – Paris
  • 193 Members and 11 Associate Members 
  • Establishment – 16 November 1945.


  • In 1942, during the Second World War, the governments of the European countries, which were confronting Germany and its allies, met in the United Kingdom for the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME).
  • Upon the proposal of CAME, a United Nations Conference for the establishment of an educational and cultural organization was convened in London in November 1945.
  • The first session of the General Conference of UNESCO was held in Paris during November-December of 1946.

UNESCO’s objectives:

  • Attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning
  • Mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development
  • Addressing emerging social and ethical challenges
  • Fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace
  • Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication
  • Focuses on global priority areas – “Africa” and “Gender Equality”.

Some important conventions and International treaties of UNESCO to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage:

  • The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005)
  • The Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)
  • The Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2001)
  • The Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)
  • The Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972)
  • The Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Traffic of Cultural Property (1970)

UNESCO World Heritage Convention and List

  • World Heritage Convention -1972 links together the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties.
  • The Convention defines the kind of natural or cultural sites (World Heritage Sites) which can be considered for inscription on the World Heritage List.
  • The States Parties of convention are encouraged to integrate the protection of the cultural and natural heritage into regional planning programmes, set up staff and services at their sites, undertake scientific and technical conservation research.
  • It explains how the World Heritage Fund is to be used and managed.
  • Globally there are 1121 World Heritage sites in the 167 countries. Meanwhile, India has 38 World Heritage Sites  that include 30 Cultural properties, 7 Natural properties and 1 mixed site

World Heritage Sites in India –

Special Programs by UNESCO –

Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme

  • It is an intergovernmental scientific programme that aims to establish a scientific basis for enhancing the relationship between people and their environments.
  • It promotes innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable.
  • The World Network of Biosphere Reserves currently counts 701 sites in 124 countries all over the world, including 21 transboundary sites.
  • India has18 Biosphere Reserves out of which 11 have been recognized internationally under Man and Biosphere (MAB) program:

International Geoscience and Global Geoparks Programme (IGGP)

International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) harnesses the intellectual capacity of a worldwide network of geoscientists to lay the foundation for our planet’s future, focusing on responsible resource extraction, natural hazard resilience and preparedness, and adaptability in the era of a changing climate.

UNESCO Global Geoparks (UGGp) 

UGGp are laboratories for sustainable development which promote the recognition and management of Earth heritage, and the sustainability of local communities.
As of April 2019, there are 147 UNESCO Global Geoparks within 41 Member States, covering a total area of 288,000 km²

International Hydrological Programme (IHP)

The Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP) is the only intergovernmental programme of the United Nations system devoted to water research and management, and related education and capacity development

World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

  • The growing global water crisis threatens the security, stability and environmental sustainability of developing nations.
  • The programme focuses on assessing the developing situation of freshwater throughout the world. It also coordinates the work of 31 UN-Water members and partners in the World Water Development Report (WWDR).

International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP)

It is an international multidisciplinary programme established by UNESCO Member States in order to reinforce intergovernmental cooperation in science to strengthen national capacities in the basic sciences and science education.

Important Reports of UNESCO –

UNESCO Science Report

  • UNESCO Science Report maps Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) governance around the world on a regular basis.
  • The report is published every five years, on 10 November, to mark World Science Day for Peace and Development.

Global Education Monitoring Report

  • Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report carries out its assessment of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal on education (SDG4) and its 10 targets, as well as other related education targets in the SDG agenda.
  • The report examines different accountability mechanisms that are used to hold governments, schools, teachers, parents, the international community, and the private sector accountable for inclusive, equitable and quality education.

McBride Report of 1980

  • The comprehensive report of the MacBride Commission is also named “Many Voices, OneWorld”.
  • It analyzed communication problems in modern societies, particularly relating to mass media and news, consider the emergence of new technologies, and to suggest a kind of communication order (New World Information and Communication Order) to diminish these problems to further peace and human development

UNESCO State of the Education Report for India: Children With Disabilities

  • The 2019 report is the first edition of the annual report to be published by UNESCO in India.
  • It highlights accomplishments and challenges with regards to the right to education of children with disabilities (CWDs).
  • UNESCO’s State of the Education Report 2019 is expected to help the education system better respond to the learning needs of CWDs. This will enable significant progress towards our collective objective of leaving no one behind and provide to all children and youth equitable opportunities for quality learning.


  1. Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU)
  2. India has been a member of the UNESCO since its inception in 1946.
  3. UNESCO constitution requires that each Member State should have a principle body that shall work with the Organization. Thus, in India, Indian National Commission for Cooperation with UNESCO (INCCU) was commissioned.

UNESCO has two Offices in India:-

  • The New Delhi cluster office for eleven countries in South and Central Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka)
  • The MGIEP – the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development fully supported and funded by the Government of India.

UNESCO’s International Prizes and India –

UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence

  • It is established through the generous donation of the UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Indian artist, writer and diplomat Mr Madanjeet Singh, the prize honors his lifelong commitment to the cause of peace and tolerance.
  • The creation of the Prize in 1995 marked the United Nations Year for Tolerance and the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi.
  • Since 1996, the Prize has been awarded every two years and, since 2002, it amounts to US $ 100,000.

The UNESCO Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science

It is an international distinction created by UNESCO in 1951 following a donation from Mr Bijoyanand Patnaik, Founder and President of the Kalinga Foundation Trust in India.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: