What is UNESCO?
UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in education, sciences and culture. UNESCO’s programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in the 2030 Agenda, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015. UNESCO’s Headquarters are located in Paris and the Organization has more than 50 field offices around the world. It has 193 Members and 11 Associate Members (As of April 2020) and is governed by the General Conference and the Executive Board. Three UNESCO member states are not UN members: Cook Islands, Niue, and Palestine. While three UN member states (Israel, Liechtenstein, United States) are not UNESCO members.
As early as 1942, in wartime, the governments of the European countries, which were confronting Nazi Germany and its allies, met in the United Kingdom for the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME). World War II was far from over, yet those countries were looking for ways and means to rebuild their education systems once peace was restored. The project quickly gained momentum and soon acquired a universal character. New governments, including that of the United States, decided to join in. Upon the proposal of CAME, 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. Scarcely had the war ended when the conference opened. It gathered together representatives of forty-four countries who decided to create an organization that would embody a genuine culture of peace. In their eyes, the new organization was to establish the “intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind” and thereby prevent the outbreak of another world war.
UNESCO focuses on a number of goals, including:
• Providing a high-quality education to all students and promoting lifelong learning
• Mobilizing scientific knowledge and policy for long-term development
• Taking up new social and ethical concerns
• Promoting cultural variety, intercultural communication, and a peace culture
• Through information and communication, we can create inclusive knowledge societies.
• The emphasis is on global priority topics such as “Africa” and “Gender Equality.”
UNESCO’s Areas of Specialization Education Transforms Lives
Education transforms lives and is important to UNESCO’s objective of promoting peace, eradicating poverty, and promoting sustainable development.
The Organization is the only United Nations institution tasked with overseeing all sectors of education.
It has been entrusted with the leadership of the Global Education 2030 Agenda via Sustainable Development Goal – 4.
The ‘Education 2030 Framework for Action’ (Incheon Declaration) serves as a road map for achieving the global education 2030 objective. Its work ranges from early childhood education to university education and beyond Global citizenship and sustainable development, human rights and gender equality, health and HIV/AIDS, and technical and vocational skill development are among the topics covered. It is becoming increasingly clear that no progress can be long-term without a substantial cultural component. UNESCO has taken a three-pronged strategy to ensure that culture is given its proper position in development policies and processes: Leads global advocacy for culture and development. Engages the international community in order to establish clear policy and legal frameworks. On the ground, works with governments and local partners to protect heritage, boost creative enterprises, and promote cultural pluralism.
Some of UNESCO’s most important agreements and international treaties for protecting and safeguarding the world’s cultural and natural heritage:
• The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions is a treaty that aims to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions (2005)
• The Convention for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)
• The Universal Declaration of Cultural Diversity is an international treaty that aims to promote cultural diversity (2001)
• The Convention for the Protection of the Cultural Heritage of the Sea (2001)
• The Convention for the Protection of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage (the Convention) (1972)
• The Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Traffic in Cultural Property (Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Traffic in Cultural Property) (1970)
Science for a Better Future
Science empowers us to solve today’s urgent economic, social, and environmental concerns, as well as to achieve sustainable development and greener society.UNESCO aims to support nations in investing in Scientific, Technology, and Innovation (STI), developing national science policies, reforming science institutions, and developing ability to monitor and assess performance using STI indicators. UNESCO also collaborates with its member countries to promote informed judgments on the use of science and technology, particularly in the subject of bioethics.Humanities and Social Sciences UNESCO assists individuals in creating and using knowledge for just and inclusive communities, as well as in understanding one another and working together to establish enduring peace. It promotes mutual understanding among member states through intergovernmental programmes such as the Management of Social Transformations (MOST), the Youth Programme, and the Culture of Peace and Nonviolence Program, which include initiatives for democracy and global citizenship, intercultural dialogue, and peace-building.
Information and communication
UNESCO promotes freedom of expression and journalist safety, combats online hate speech, and disinformation and misinformation through public awareness campaigns. It also promotes open solutions, such as open educational resources, access for disadvantaged people, and multilingualism in cyberspace, to facilitate universal access to information and knowledge.
UNESCO’s Global Priorities – ‘Africa’ and ‘Gender Equality’
With a bolder and more targeted strategy, UNESCO is paying attention to 54 African nations.Adoption of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which pave the way for the African Economic Community and the African Renaissance.
Equality of Gender
As equal citizens, women and men, according to UNESCO, must have equal chances, choices, capacities, power, and knowledge. Equipping girls and boys, as well as women and men, with the information, beliefs, attitudes, and skills needed to address gender inequities is a prerequisite for creating a sustainable future for all.
The 2019 report is the first version of the annual report released in India by UNESCO.
It emphasized the triumphs and issues related to children with disabilities’ right to an education (CWDs). The 2019 State of School Report from UNESCO is designed to assist the education system in better responding to the learning requirements of CWDs. This will allow us to make considerable progress toward our united goal of leaving no one behind and providing fair opportunities for excellent learning to all children and youth.