What is UNESCO?
Building peace in the minds of men and women
In 1945, UNESCO was created in order to respond to the firm belief of nations, forged by two world wars in less than a generation, that political and economic agreements are not enough to build a lasting peace. Peace must be established on the basis of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity.
UNESCO strives to build networks among nations that enable this kind of solidarity, by:
- Mobilizing for education: so that every child, boy or girl, has access to quality education as a fundamental human right and as a prerequisite for human development.
- Building intercultural understanding: through protection of heritage and support for cultural diversity. UNESCO created the idea of World Heritage to protect sites of outstanding universal value.
- Pursuing scientific cooperation: such as early warning systems for tsunamis or trans-boundary water management agreements, to strengthen ties between nations and societies.
- Protecting freedom of expression: an essential condition for democracy, development and human dignity.
The Organisation has 195 Member States and 9 Associate Members and is presided since 2009 by the Bulgarian Director-General Irina Bokova. UNESCO has around 2000 staff members originating from over 170 countries. Around 870 of these employees work at one of UNESCO’s 65 field offices and institutes around the globe. The field offices coordinate the execution of planned activities and projects, and maintain official relations between UNESCO and its member states. There are eight central UNESCO institutes. These institutes are semi-autonomous; they are (partially) financed by UNESCO. They focus on subareas of the UNESCO mandate. The UNESCO-IHE for water education in Delft is one of these institutes (although it is not financed by UNESCO).