• UNESCO's founding vision was born in response to a world war that was marked by racist and anti-Semitic violence. UNESCO's duty remains to reaffirm the humanist missions of education, science and culture.
  • It has 195 member states and is based in Paris, France.
  • It accorded recognition in 2011 to Palestine as its 195thmember. 
  • UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It is the successor of the League of Nation’s International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

Aims and objectives:

  • UNESCO's aim is "to contribute to the building of peace, eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, sciences, culture, communication and information".
  • It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture. 
  • UNESCO's programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
  • UNESCO develops educational tools to help people live as global citizens free of hate and intolerance. 
  • UNESCO works so that each child and citizen has access to quality education. By promoting cultural heritage and the equal dignity of all cultures, UNESCO strengthens bonds among nations. 
  • UNESCO fosters scientific programmes and policies as platforms for development and cooperation. 
  • UNESCO stands up for freedom of expression, as a fundamental right and a key condition for democracy and development. 
  • Serving as a laboratory of ideas, UNESCO helps countries adopt international standards and manages programmes that foster the free flow of ideas and knowledge sharing.
  • It is a global development agency with missions that include promoting sex education, literacy, clean water and equality for women.  
  • It is responsible for promoting peace, social justice, human rights and international security through International cooperation on educational, science and cultural programs.  
  • It is known for its World Heritage Mission which encourages world countries to protect Natural and Cultural Heritage sites.  
  • It publishes the Global Education Monitoring report and Gender Parity Index.  
  • It also leads the Man and Biosphere Programme for protecting Biosphere reserves across the world.
  • Advancing cooperation in education, the sciences, culture, communication and information holds strategic stakes at a time when societies across the world face the rising pressures of change and the international community faces new challenges.

UNESCO Creative City  

  • The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was launched in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities which recognized creativity as a major factor in their urban development.  
  • It aims to foster mutual international cooperation with and between member cities committed to investing in creativity as a driver for sustainable urban development, social inclusion and cultural vibrancy. 
  • Recent Developments - Hyderabad has now been officially designated as a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy and Mumbai in Film Category.
  •  These 2 cities are among 66 cities named by UNESCO in the list of new Creative Cities which aims at pushing the Sustainable Development Goals through innovative thinking and action.
  • The following three Indian cities have been added to UCCN - Varanasi for Music, Jaipur for Crafts and Folk Art and Chennai for Music.

India & UNESCO 

  • The Intergovernmental committee has added “Kumbh Mela” as an intangible heritage.  
  • UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation - Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, has won the award in 2017.  It has become the first temple in Tamil Nadu to be given the prestigious award from the UN body.  
  • The LAMO Centre, Ladakh won the Award of Distinction in 2018.

The World Heritage Convention:

  • The most significant feature of the 1972 World Heritage Convention is that it links together in a single document the concepts of nature conservation and the preservation of cultural properties.
  • The Convention sets out the duties of States Parties in identifying potential sites and their role in protecting and preserving them. 
  • By signing the Convention, each country pledges to conserve not only the World Heritage sites situated on its territory, but also to protect its national heritage. 
  • It explains how the World Heritage Fund is to be used and managed and under what conditions international financial assistance may be provided.
  • The Convention stipulates the obligation of States Parties to report regularly to the World Heritage Committee on the state of conservation of their World Heritage properties.
  • The overarching benefit of ratifying the World Heritage Convention is that of belonging to an international community of appreciation and concern for universally significant properties that embody a world of outstanding examples of cultural diversity and natural wealth.

About World Heritage committee:

  • The World Heritage Committee meets once a year, and consists of representatives from 21 of the States Parties to the Convention elected by their General Assembly. At its first session, the Committee adopted its Rules of Procedure of the World Heritage Committee.
  • The Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention.
  • It defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties. 
  • It has the final say on whether a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List.
  • It also decides on the inscription or deletion of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger.