IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


26th July, 2023 International Relations

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  • S. first lady Jill Biden attended a flag-raising ceremony at UNESCO in Paris.



  • The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN).


  • UNESCO was founded in 1945 as the successor to the League of Nations' International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

Founding Mission

  • UNESCO's founding mission, which was shaped by 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 program areas: Education, Natural Sciences, Social/Human Sciences, Culture, and Communication/Information.


  • It is aimed at 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 sectors.

Headquarter and Offices

  • Headquartered in Paris, France, UNESCO has 53 regional field offices and 199 national commissions that facilitate its global mandate.


  • 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.
  • 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, to further advance its core objectives.


  • 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.

Activities in detail

  • UNESCO implements its activities through the five program 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 8,000 schools in 170 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:
    • Global Geoparks Network
    • Biosphere reserves, through the Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB), since 1971
    • City of Literature; in 2007, the 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.
    • Endangered languages and linguistic diversity projects (UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger)
    • Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
    • Memory of the World International Register, since 1997
    • Water resources management, through the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), since 1965
    • World Heritage Sites
    • World Digital Library
  • 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 cooperation 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 program 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.





Q. Consider the following statements.

1.    UNESCO appoints every two years a Director-General, who serves as UNESCO's chief administrator.

2.    UNESCO accredits institutions of higher learning.

3.    UNESCO is a member of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group.

4.    DURGA PUJA in KOLKATA is the 1st festival in Asia to achieve recognition as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

How many of the above statements are correct?

(a) Only one

(b) Only two

(c) All three

(d) None

Correct Answer: (b) Only two

Statements 1 and 2 are incorrect.