UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is a UN organisation dedicated to building peace and contribute to the UN’s development goals through cooperation between member states in education, science, culture and communication/information.
UNESCO was founded in 1945 and has 195 member states. Sweden has been a member since 1950. Member states pay membership fees to UNESCO and are primarily responsible for the implementation of UNESCO’s four year programme.
UNESCO’s constitution states that all member states should have a national advisory and expert body. In Sweden’s case this is the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO.
UNESCO has a Board with representatives from 58 Member States. The Board implements the programme adopted by the General Conference which is held every second year with representatives of all Member States.
The Director-General, Ms Audrey Azoulay, leads the work of the UNESCO.
The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO
Sweden joined UNESCO in January 1950, thereby becoming member state number 52. The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO was established in the autumn of 1951, in accordance with UNESCO’s constitution (art VII) which says:
‘Each Member State shall make such arrangements as suits its particular conditions for the purpose of associating its principal bodies interested in educational, scientific and cultural matters with the work of the Organization, preferably by the formation of a National Commission broadly representative of the government and such bodies’.
The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO is seated within the Swedish Ministry of Education and Research. The members of the Commission are appointed by the Government for a period of four years. The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO has two tasks: to advise the Swedish Government on UNESCO related matters and raise awareness in Sweden about UNESCO and its work.
There are many actors working with UNESCO-related matters in Sweden: NGOs, individuals who perform expert tasks within UNESCO, scientific bodies or academics, or are involved with, for example, the World Heritage sites, Creative Cities or UNESCO academic chairs.
In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted new global goals for sustainable development – Agenda 2030. The agenda has 17 goals ranging from education to sustainable cities and is applicable in all countries.
These global goals replace the Millennium Development Goals that world leaders agreed on in 2000. Despite progress with regards to several of the Millennium Development Goals many challenges remain, such as eradicating hunger, achieving full equality and improving health care.
UNESCO supports countries worldwide in the implementation of Agenda 2030. Several of the goals are within UNESCO’s mandate, especially development goal 4 on education.
UNESCO’s work in education ranges from pre-school to university and adult education. Education is an effective way to combat poverty and contribute to long-term peace and security, democracy and justice. UNESCO’s work in education aims to ensure quality lifelong learning for all, assist countries with expertise in education, strengthen countries’ capacities in educational issues and to spread information on educational development and good practices through networking and dialogue.
UNESCO’s work in education also includes the teaching of human rights, environmental education, promotion of science and technology, sexual rights and sexual health, information technology in education, renewal of secondary schools and improved training. Sweden shares UNESCO’s vision of education for all and also the need for education for sustainable development.
UNESCO’s scientific work is conducted through international cooperation between countries and researchers, as well as through advice to decision makers on scientific matters. UNESCO also develops guidelines and ethical principles, and disseminates research findings to the least developed countries. However, UNESCO is not a research funding organization: the work is done primarily through networking and partnerships between researchers.
Sweden shares UNESCO’s vision that scientific cooperation contributes to the creation of inclusive knowledge societies for sustainable development. Sweden is working to ensure that UNESCO’s work in science will foster knowledge-sharing and knowledge-building in the least developed countries, and that UNESCO facilitates interdisciplinary research through closer cooperation between the natural and social sciences. Sweden also emphasizes gender equality as a catalyst for sustainable development, and encourages UNESCO to take on a normative role in this area, for example by formulating global guidelines for research.
UNESCO’s cultural program is dominated by the implementation of several inter-governmental conventions where heritage, culture and sustainable development are important themes.
UNESCO also runs programs to strengthen museums, language and creativity as well as developing methods to protect cultural heritage in disasters and armed conflicts. UNESCO publishes books, reports and journals in the field of culture, such as the World Heritage Review.
Free speech and the right to information are key elements in the construction of modern knowledge societies. Therefore they are the overall objectives for UNESCO’s work in communication and information.
Sweden shares UNESCO’s vision of building knowledge societies based on freedom of expression and access to knowledge and information for all. This includes also the safety of journalists.
”Can I apply for an internship?”
We usually offer one or two internships per semester (starting in January and September) for students currently enrolled at Swedish institutes of higher learning. Interns need to be fluent in Swedish. Find more information here.
Those who want to apply for an intership at the UNESCO secretariat in Paris, or at UNESCO field offices, can find information on UNESCO’s website.
Swedish National Commission for UNESCO has published books and pamphlets that can be downloaded from our library.