Flaggor utanför Unesco i Paris. Officiell bild

UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is a UN organization dedicated to building peace through cooperation between Member States in education, science, culture and communication/information.

UNESCO was founded in 1945 and has 195 Member State. Sweden has been a member since 1950. UNESCO is not primarily an aid organization; it is an organization for cooperation between Member States with global development as goal. Member States of UNESCO agree on common goals and discuss the future of education, science, culture and communication/information and it’s the Member States who primarily implement the Organization’s four year programme. Member States pay membership fees to UNESCO.

The UNESCO constitution states that all Member States should have a national commission as a national advisory and expert body, which in Sweden’s case is the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO. More information is available at www.unesco.se. All Swedish cooperation with UNESCO is guided by the over-all strategy for the period 2014-2017, e.g. Swedish representatives in UNESCO steering committees and expert programs, NGO:s with cooperation with UNESCO etc. Download the strategy here.

UNESCO is headed by a Director-General, it has a Board with representatives of 58 Member States which is responsible for implementing the programme adopted by the General Conference which meets every second year and consists of representatives of all Member States.

The Director-General (currently Mrs Irina Bokova) leads the work of the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris and its field offices. Sweden is a member of the UNESCO Executive Board until November 2017.

For more basic information go to a 12 minutes’ film in English History of Unesco

The Swedish National Commission for UnescoSweden is a member

In May 1949 the Swedish Government appointed a committee to investigate if Sweden should join UNESCO, and if so how to organize a Swedish National Commission for UNESCO. Their conclusions were presented to the Government in the autumn of 1949 and Sweden joined UNESCO in January 1950, and thereby became Member State number 52.

The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO was established in the autumn of 1951, in accordance with the Constitution of UNESCO (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 has its office at the Swedish Ministry of Education and Research. The 12 members of the Commission are appointed by the Government for a period of four years. The members represent UNESCO’s fields of competence and the standing committees for education and culture of the Swedish Parliament as well as the umbrella organization for Youth Organizations.

The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO has two tasks: to advice the Swedish Government on UNESCO related matters and to inform in Sweden about UNESCO’s fields of competence and the results of its work.

There are many actors working with UNESCO matters in Sweden: NGO:s with working relations with UNESCO, individual Swedes who are appointed or elected to perform various expert tasks in UNESCO organs, scientific bodies working in relation to UNESCO, 15 World Heritage sites and six documents/archives listed in UNESCO’s international register of Memory of the World among many others.

Agenda 2030

In late September 2015, the UN General Assembly decided on the new global goals for sustainable development, known as Agenda 2030. The new agenda has 17 goals ranging from education to sustainable cities.

These global goals replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that world leaders agreed on in 2000. Despite major progress in several of the eight Millennium Development Goals a lot of challenges remain, for example, eradicating hunger, achieving full equality and improving health care. The new development agenda is universal and therefore applicable in all countries.

UNESCO has an important role to support countries worldwide in the implementation of the new global agenda. Several of the goals are within UNESCO’s mandate:or example development goal 4 on education.



Utbildning skapar valfard

UNESCO’s work in education covers the entire field of education, 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 focuses on creating opportunities for quality lifelong learning for all, assist countries with expertise in education and to 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 encompasses projects such as the teaching of human rights, environmental education, education in science and technology, education to counter the spread of HIV / AIDS, information technology in education, renewal of secondary schools, improved training and more. Sweden shares UNESCO’s vision of education for all and the need for education for sustainable development.


UNESCO’s scientific work is conducted through international cooperation between countries and researchers and gives advice to decision makers. UNESCO also develops guidelines and ethical principles, and disseminates research findings to low-income countries. UNESCO is not a research funding organization: the work is done primarily through networking and partnerships between researchers in different disciplines and continents.

Sweden shares UNESCO’s vision that scientific cooperation can contribute to an inclusive knowledge society for sustainable development. Sweden is working to ensure that UNESCO’s work in science will foster knowledge-sharing and knowledge-building in low-income countries, and that UNESCO’s organizational structure can facilitate interdisciplinary research through closer cooperation between the natural and social science sectors. Sweden also emphasizes gender equality as a catalyst for sustainable development, and encourages UNESCO to take on a normative role by formulating global guidelines for research.


There are several inter-governmental UNESCO Conventions within the cultural field that have been ratified by many Member States (which then are called Signature States). UNESCO’s cultural program is dominated by the process of implementation of these conventions. Preservation of heritage and 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 conflict. UNESCO publishes books, reports and journals in the field of culture, such as the World Heritage Review. Sweden follows the work of all the conventions but is not a member of the committees (with Signature states) which are the steering organs of the normative instruments.


The strengthening of free speech and the right to information are key elements in the construction of modern knowledge societies. Overall objectives for UNESCO’s work in communication and information are access to information and knowledge for all and the use communication technology as a tool for developing press freedom. Sweden shares UNESCO’s vision of building knowledge societies based on freedom of expression and access to knowledge and information for all.

”Can I apply for an internship?”

We usually offer one to two internships per semester (starting in January and September respectively). The Swedish National Commission for UNESCO works mainly in Sweden and 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 can find information on the UNESCO central web www.unesco.org


Swedish National Commission for UNESCO has published books, pamphlets and posters that can be downloaded in PDF format from our website.

Senast uppdaterad 14 september 2016