UNESCO and its mandate for international cooperation can be traced back to a League of Nations resolution on 21 September 1921, to elect a Commission to study feasibility. On 18 December 1925, the International Bureau of Education (IBE) began work as a non-governmental organization in the service of international educational development. However, the work of these predecessor organizations was largely interrupted by the onset of World War II.
After the signing of the Atlantic Charter and the Declaration of the United Nations, the Conference of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME) began meetings in London which continued between 16 November 1942 to 5 December 1945. On 30 October 1943, the necessity for an international organization was expressed in the Moscow Declaration, agreed upon by China, the United Kingdom, the United States and the USSR. This was followed by the Dumbarton Oaks Conference proposals of 9 October 1944. Upon the proposal of CAME and in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO), held in San Francisco in April–June 1945, a United Nations Conference for the establishment of an educational and cultural organization (ECO/CONF) was convened in London 1–16 November 1945 with 44 governments represented. A prominent figure in the initiative for UNESCO was Rab Butler, the Minister of Education for the United Kingdom. At the ECO/CONF, the Constitution of UNESCO was introduced and signed by 37 countries, and a Preparatory Commission was established. The Preparatory Commission operated between 16 November 1945, and 4 November 1946—the date when UNESCO's Constitution came into force with the deposit of the twentieth ratification by a member state.
The first General Conference took place between 19 November to 10 December 1946, and elected Dr. Julian Huxley to Director-General. The Constitution was amended in November 1954 when the General Conference resolved that members of the Executive Board would be representatives of the governments of the States of which they are nationals and would not, as before, act in their personal capacity. This change in governance distinguished UNESCO from its predecessor, the CICI, in how member states would work together in the organization's fields of competence. As member states worked together over time to realize UNESCO's mandate, political and historical factors have shaped the organization's operations in particular during the Cold War, the decolonization process, and the dissolution of the USSR.
Among the major achievements of the organization is its work against racism, for example through influential statements on race starting with a declaration of anthropologists (among them was Claude Lévi-Strauss) and other scientists in 1950 and concluding with the 1978 Declaration on Race and Racial Prejudice. In 1956, the Republic of South Africa withdrew from UNESCO claiming that some of the organization's publications amounted to "interference" in the country's "racial problems." South Africa rejoined the organization in 1994 under the leadership of Nelson Mandela.
UNESCO's early work in the field of education included the pilot project on fundamental education in the Marbial Valley, Haiti, started in 1947. This project was followed by expert missions to other countries, including, for example, a mission to Afghanistan in 1949. In 1948, UNESCO recommended that Member States should make free primary education compulsory and universal. In 1990, the World Conference on Education for All, in Jomtien, Thailand, launched a global movement to provide basic education for all children, youths and adults. Ten years later, the 2000 World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal, led member governments to commit to achieving basic education for all by 2015.
UNESCO's early activities in culture included, for example, the Nubia Campaign, launched in 1960. The purpose of the campaign was to move the Great Temple of Abu Simbel to keep it from being swamped by the Nile after construction of the Aswan Dam. During the 20-year campaign, 22 monuments and architectural complexes were relocated. This was the first and largest in a series of campaigns including Mohenjo-daro (Pakistan), Fes (Morocco), Kathmandu (Nepal), Borobudur (Indonesia) and the Acropolis (Greece). The organization's work on heritage led to the adoption, in 1972, of the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. The World Heritage Committee was established in 1976 and the first sites inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1978. Since then important legal instruments on cultural heritage and diversity have been adopted by UNESCO member states in 2003 (Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage) and 2005 (Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions).
An intergovernmental meeting of UNESCO in Paris in December 1951 led to the creation of the European Council for Nuclear Research, which was responsible for establishing the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in 1954.
Arid Zone programming, 1948–1966, is another example of an early major UNESCO project in the field of natural sciences. In 1968, UNESCO organized the first intergovernmental conference aimed at reconciling the environment and development, a problem which continues to be addressed in the field of sustainable development. The main outcome of the 1968 conference was the creation of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme.
In communication, the free flow of information has been a priority for UNESCO from its beginnings. In the years immediately following World War II, efforts were concentrated on reconstruction and on the identification of needs for means of mass communication around the world. UNESCO started organizing training and education for journalists in the 1950s. In response to calls for a "New World Information and Communication Order" in the late 1970s, UNESCO established the International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems, which produced the 1980 MacBride report (named after the Chair of the Commission, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Seán MacBride). Following the MacBride report, UNESCO introduced the Information Society for All programme and Toward Knowledge Societies programme in the lead up to the World Summit on the Information Society in 2003 (Geneva) and 2005 (Tunis).
In 2011, Palestine became a UNESCO member following a vote in which 107 member states supported and 14 opposed. Laws passed in the United States in 1990 and 1994 mean that it cannot contribute financially to any UN organisation that accepts Palestine as a full member. As a result, it withdrew its funding which accounted for about 22% of UNESCO's budget. Israel also reacted to Palestine's admittance to UNESCO by freezing Israel payments to the UNESCO and imposing sanctions to the Palestinian Authority, claiming that Palestine's admittance would be detrimental "to potential peace talks". Two years after they stopped paying their dues to UNESCO, US and Israel lost UNESCO voting rights in 2013. More recently UNESCO declared that the temple mount, where the original Jewish temple was built had no religious meaning for the Jewish Religion. This vote was considered by the Jewish community as anti semitic by nature.
UNESCO implements its activities through the five programme areas: education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information.Education: UNESCO supports research in comparative education; and provide expertise and fosters partnerships to strengthen national educational leadership and the capacity of countries to offer quality education for all. This includes the
UNESCO Chairs, an international network of 644 UNESCO Chairs, involving over 770 institutions in 126 countries.
Environmental Conservation Organisation
Convention against Discrimination in Education adopted in 1960
Organization of the International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA) in an interval of 12 years
Publication of the Education for All Global Monitoring Report
Publication of the Four Pillars of Learning seminal document
UNESCO ASPNet, an international network of 8,000 schools in 170 countries.
UNESCO does not accredit institutions of higher learning.UNESCO also issues public statements to educate the public:
Seville Statement on Violence: A statement adopted by UNESCO in 1989 to refute the notion that humans are biologically predisposed to organised violence.
Designating projects and places of cultural and scientific significance, such as:
Global Geoparks Network
Biosphere reserves, through the Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB), since 1971
City of Literature; in 2007, the first city to be given this title was Edinburgh, the site of Scotland's first circulating library. In 2008, Iowa City, Iowa became the City of Literature.
Endangered languages and linguistic diversity projects
Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity
Memory of the World International Register, since 1997
Water resources management, through the International Hydrological Programme (IHP), since 1965
World Heritage Sites
World Digital Library
Encouraging the "free flow of ideas by images and words" by:
Promoting freedom of expression, freedom of the press and freedom of information legislation, through the International Programme for the Development of Communication and the Communication and Information Programme
Promoting universal access to Information and Communications Technology, through the Information for All Programme
Promoting pluralism and cultural diversity in the media
Promoting events, such as:
International Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World: 2001–2010, proclaimed by the UN in 1998
World Press Freedom Day, 3 May each year, to promote freedom of expression and freedom of the press as a basic human right and as crucial components of any healthy, democratic and free society.
Criança Esperança in Brazil, in partnership with Rede Globo, to raise funds for community-based projects that foster social integration and violence prevention.
International Literacy Day
International Year for the Culture of Peace
Founding and funding projects, such as:
Migration Museums Initiative: Promoting the establishment of museums for cultural dialogue with migrant populations.
UNESCO-CEPES, the European Centre for Higher Education: established in 1972 in Bucharest, Romania, as a de-centralized office to promote international co-operation in higher education in Europe as well as Canada, USA and Israel. Higher Education in Europe is its official journal.
Free Software Directory: since 1998 UNESCO and the Free Software Foundation have jointly funded this project cataloguing free software.
FRESH Focussing Resources on Effective School Health.
OANA, Organization of Asia-Pacific News Agencies
International Council of Science
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors
ASOMPS, Asian Symposium on Medicinal Plants and Spices, a series of scientific conferences held in Asia
Botany 2000, a programme supporting taxonomy, and biological and cultural diversity of medicinal and ornamental plants, and their protection against environmental pollution
The UNESCO Collection of Representative Works, translating works of world literature both to and from multiple languages, from 1948 to 2005
GoUNESCO, an umbrella of initiatives to make heritage fun supported by UNESCO, New Delhi Office
The UNESCO transparency portal has been designed to enable public access to information regarding Organization's activities, such as its aggregate budget for a biennium, as well as links to relevant programmatic and financial documents. These two distinct sets of information are published on the IATI registry, respectively based on the IATI Activity Standard and the IATI Organization Standard.
UNESCO and its specialized institutions issue a number of magazines.
The UNESCO Courier magazine states its mission to "promote UNESCO’s ideals, maintain a platform for the dialogue between cultures and provide a forum for international debate." Since March 2006 it is available online, with limited printed issues. Its articles express the opinions of the authors which are not necessarily the opinions of UNESCO. As of 2016, the latest issue posted was October–December 2011.
In 1950, UNESCO initiated the quarterly review Impact of Science on Society (also known as Impact) to discuss the influence of science on society. UNESCO also publish museum international quarterly from the year 1948.
UNESCO has official relations with 322 international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Most of these are what UNESCO calls "operational", a select few are "formal". The highest form of affiliation to UNESCO is "formal associate", and the 22 NGOs with formal associate (ASC) relations occupying offices at UNESCO are:
The institutes are specialized departments of the organization that support UNESCO's programme, providing specialized support for cluster and national offices.
UNESCO awards 22 prizes in education, science, culture and peace:Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize
L'Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science
UNESCO/King Sejong Literacy Prize
UNESCO/Confucius Prize for Literacy
UNESCO/Emir Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah Prize to promote Quality Education for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities
UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Education
UNESCO/Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Prize for Outstanding Practice and Performance in Enhancing the Effectiveness of Teachers
UNESCO/Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science
UNESCO/Institut Pasteur Medal for an outstanding contribution to the development of scientific knowledge that has a beneficial impact on human health
UNESCO/Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation
Great Man-Made River International Water Prize for Water Resources in Arid Zones presented by UNESCO (title to be reconsidered)
Michel Batisse Award for Biosphere Reserve Management
UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights
UNESCO Prize for Peace Education
UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence
UNESCO/International José Martí Prize
UNESCO/Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science
UNESCO/Juan Bosch Prize for the Promotion of Social Science Research in Latin America and the Caribbean
Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture
Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes (UNESCO-Greece)
IPDC-UNESCO Prize for Rural Communication
UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize
UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize
UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences
Carlos J. Finlay Prize for Microbiology
International Simón Bolívar Prize (inactive since 2004)
UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education
UNESCO/Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences (inactive since 2010)
UNESCO Prize for the Promotion of the Arts
UNESCO counts 195 member states and 9 associate members. Some members are not independent states and some members have additional National Organizing Committees from some of their dependent territories. UNESCO state parties are the United Nations member states (except Liechtenstein), Cook Islands, Niue, and the State of Palestine.
Elections for the renewal of the position of Director-General took place in Paris from 7 to 23 September 2009. Eight candidates ran for the position, and 58 countries voted for them. The Executive Council gathered from 7 to 23 September, the vote itself beginning on the 17th. Irina Bokova was elected the new Director-General.
The list of the Directors-General of UNESCO since its establishment in 1946 is as follows:
This is the list of the sessions of UNESCO General Conference held since 1946:
UNESCO headquarters are located at Place de Fontenoy in Paris, France.
UNESCO's field offices across the globe are categorized into four primary office types based upon their function and geographic coverage: cluster offices, national offices, regional bureaus and liaison offices.
The following list of all UNESCO Field Offices is organized geographically by UNESCO Region and identifies the members states and associate members of UNESCO which are served by each office.Abidjan – National Office to Côte d'Ivoire
Abuja – National Office to Nigeria
Accra – Cluster Office for Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo
Addis Ababa – Liaison Office with the African Union and with the Economic Commission for Africa
Bamako – Cluster Office for Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Niger
Brazzaville – National Office to the Republic of the Congo
Bujumbura – National Office to Burundi
Dakar – Regional Bureau for Education in Africa and Cluster Office for Cape Verde, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal
Dar es Salaam – Cluster Office for Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania
Harare – Cluster Office for Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Juba – National Office to South Sudan
Kinshasa – National Office to the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Libreville – Cluster Office for the Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Sao Tome and Principe
Maputo – National Office to Mozambique
Nairobi – Regional Bureau for Sciences in Africa and Cluster Office for Burundi, Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan and Uganda
Windhoek – National Office to Namibia
Yaoundé – Cluster Office to Cameroon, Central African Republic and Chad
Amman – National Office to Jordan
Beirut – Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States and Cluster Office to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Palestine
Cairo – Regional Bureau for Sciences in the Arab States and Cluster Office for Egypt, Libya and Sudan
Doha – Cluster Office to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen
Iraq – National Office for Iraq (currently located in Amman, Jordan)
Khartoum – National Office to Sudan
Rabat – Cluster Office to Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia
Ramallah – National Office to the Palestinian Territories
Apia – Cluster Office to Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Tokelau (Associate Member)
Bangkok – Regional Bureau for Education in Asia and the Pacific and Cluster Office to Thailand, Burma, Laos, Singapore and Vietnam
Beijing – Cluster Office to North Korea, Japan, Mongolia, the People's Republic of China and South Korea
Dhaka – National Office to Bangladesh
Hanoi – National Office to Vietnam
Islamabad – National Office to Pakistan
Jakarta – Regional Bureau for Sciences in Asia and the Pacific and Cluster Office to Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and East Timor
Kabul – National Office to Afghanistan
Kathmandu – National Office to Nepal
New Delhi – Cluster Office to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka
Phnom Penh – National Office to Cambodia
Tashkent – National Office to Uzbekistan
Tehran – Cluster Office to Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Turkmenistan
Almaty – Cluster Office to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
Brussels – Liaison Office to the European Union and its subsidiary bodies in Brussels
Geneva – Liaison Office to the United Nations in Geneva
New York City – Liaison Office to the United Nations in New York
Moscow – Cluster Office to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Russia
Venice – Regional Bureau for Sciences and Culture in Europe
Brasilia – National Office to Brazil
Guatemala City – National Office to Guatemala
Havana – Regional Bureau for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean and Cluster Office to Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and Aruba
Kingston – Cluster Office to Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago as well as the associate member states of British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curaçao and Sint Maarten
Lima – National Office to Peru
Mexico City – National Office to Mexico
Montevideo – Regional Bureau for Sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean and Cluster Office to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay
Port-au-Prince – National Office to Haiti
Quito – Cluster Office to Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela
San José – Cluster Office to Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and Panama
Santiago de Chile – Regional Bureau for Education in Latin America and the Caribbean and National Office to Chile
UNESCO has been the centre of controversy in the past, particularly in its relationships with the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore and the former Soviet Union. During the 1970s and 1980s, UNESCO's support for a "New World Information and Communication Order" and its MacBride report calling for democratization of the media and more egalitarian access to information was condemned in these countries as attempts to curb freedom of the press. UNESCO was perceived by some as a platform for communists and Third World dictators to attack the West, a stark contrast to accusations made by the USSR in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In 1984, the United States withheld its contributions and withdrew from the organization in protest, followed by the United Kingdom in 1985. Singapore took the opportunity to withdraw also at the end of 1985, citing rising membership fees. Following a change of government in 1997, the UK rejoined. The United States rejoined in 2003, followed by Singapore on 8 October 2007.
Israel was admitted to UNESCO in 1949, one year after its creation. Israel has maintained its membership since 1949. In 2010, Israel designated the Cave of the Patriarchs, Hebron and Rachel's Tomb, Bethlehem as National Heritage Sites and announced restoration work, prompting criticism from the United States and protests from Palestinians. In October 2010, UNESCO's Executive Board voted to declare the sites as "al-Haram al-Ibrahimi/Tomb of the Patriarchs" and "Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel's Tomb" and stated that they were "an integral part of the occupied Palestinian Territories" and any unilateral Israeli action was a violation of international law. UNESCO described the sites as significant to "people of the Muslim, Christian and Jewish traditions", and accused Israel of highlighting only the Jewish character of the sites. Israel in turn accused UNESCO of "detach[ing] the Nation of Israel from its heritage", and accused it of being politically motivated. The Rabbi of the Western Wall claimed that Rachel's tomb had not previously been declared a holy Muslim site. Israel partially suspended ties with UNESCO. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon declared that the resolution was a "part of Palestinian escalation". Zevulun Orlev, chairman of the Knesset Education and Culture Committee, referred to the resolutions as an attempt to undermine the mission of UNESCO as a scientific and cultural organization that promotes cooperation throughout the world.
On 28 June 2011, UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, at Jordan's insistence, censured Israel's decision to demolish and rebuild the Mughrabi Gate Bridge in Jerusalem for safety reasons. Israel stated that Jordan had signed an agreement with Israel stipulating that the existing bridge must be dismantled for safety reasons; Jordan disputed the agreement, saying that it was only signed under U.S. pressure. Israel was also unable to address the UNESCO committee over objections from Egypt.
In January 2014, days before it was scheduled to open, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, "indefinitely postponed" and effectively cancelled an exhibit created by the Simon Wiesenthal Center entitled, "The People, The Book, The Land: The 3,500-year relationship between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel." The event was scheduled to run from 21 January through 30 January in Paris. Bokova cancelled the event after representatives of Arab states at UNESCO argued that its display would "harm the peace process". The author of the exhibition, Professor Robert Wistrich of the Hebrew University's Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism, called the cancellation an "appalling act," and characterized Bokova's decision as "an arbitrary act of total cynicism and, really, contempt for the Jewish people and its history." UNESCO amended the decision to cancel the exhibit within the year, and it quickly achieved popularity and was viewed as a great success.
On 13 October 2016, UNESCO passed a resolution on East Jerusalem that condemned Israel for "aggressions" by Israeli police and soldiers and "illegal measures" against the freedom of worship and Muslims' access to their holy sites, while also recognizing Israel as the occupying power. Palestinian leaders welcomed the decision. While the text acknowledged the "importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its walls for the three monotheistic religions", it referred to the sacred hilltop compound in Jerusalem's Old City only by its Muslim name "Al-Haram al-Sharif", Arabic for Noble Sanctuary. In response, Israel denounced the UNESCO resolution for its omission of the words "Temple Mount" stating that it denies Jewish ties to the key holy site. After receiving criticism from numerous Israeli politicians and diplomats, including Benjamin Netanyahu and Ayelet Shaked, Israel froze all ties with the organization. The resolution was condemned by Ban ki-Moon and the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, who said that Judaism, Islam and Christianity have clear historical connections to Jerusalem and "to deny, conceal or erase any of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim traditions undermines the integrity of the site. Al-Aqsa Mosque is also Temple Mount, whose Western Wall is the holiest place in Judaism." It was also rejected by the Czech Parliament which said the resolution reflects a "hateful anti-Israel sentiment", and hundreds of Italian Jews demonstrated in Rome over Italy abstention. On 26 October, UNESCO approved a reviewed version of the resolution, which also criticized Israel for its continuous "refusal to let the body's experts access Jerusalem's holy sites to determine their conservation status." Despite containing some softening of language following Israeli protests over a previous version, Israel continued to denounce the text. The resolution refers to the site Jews and Christians refer to as the Temple Mount only by its Arab name — a significant semantic decision also adopted by UNESCO's executive board last week, triggering condemnation from Israel and its allies. U.S. Ambassador Crystal Nix Hines stated: "This item should have been defeated. These politicized and one-sided resolutions are damaging the credibility of UNESCO." In November 2016, the City Council of Beverly Hills, California passed a resolution to condemn the UNESCO resolution.
In February 2011, an article was published in a Palestinian youth magazine in which a teenage girl described one of her four role-models as Adolf Hitler. In December 2011, UNESCO, which partly funded the magazine, condemned the material and subsequently withdrew support.
In 2012, UNESCO decided to establish a chair at the Islamic University of Gaza in the field of astronomy, astrophysics, and space sciences, fueling much controversy and criticism. Israel's foreign ministry criticized the move and stated that the university supports Hamas (which Israel and other countries designate as a terrorist organization) and houses bomb laboratories for Hamas.
The university has been linked to Hamas in the past. However, the university head, Kamalain Shaath, defended UNESCO, stating that "the Islamic University is a purely academic university that is interested only in education and its development". Israeli ambassador to UNESCO Nimrod Barkan planned to submit a letter of protest with information about the university's ties to Hamas, especially angry that this was the first Palestinian university that UNESCO chose to cooperate with. The Jewish organization B'nai B'rith criticized the move as well.
On 16 and 17 February 2012 UNESCO held a conference entitled, "The Media World after WikiLeaks and News of the World." Despite all six panels being focused on WikiLeaks, no member of WikiLeaks staff were invited to speak. After receiving a complaint from WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson, UNESCO invited him to attend, but did not offer a place on any panels. The offer also came only a week before the conference, which was held in Paris, France. Many of the speakers featured, including David Leigh and Heather Brooke, had spoken out openly against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange in the past. WikiLeaks released a press statement on 15 February 2012 denouncing UNESCO which stated, "UNESCO has made itself an international human rights joke. To use "freedom of expression" to censor WikiLeaks from a conference about WikiLeaks is an Orwellian absurdity beyond words."
In 2013, UNESCO announced that the collection "The Life and Works of Ernesto Che Guevara" became part of the Memory of the World Register. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a US congresswoman, condemned this decision, saying that the organization acts against its own ideals:
This decision is more than an insult to the families of those Cubans who were lined up and summarily executed by Che and his merciless cronies it also serves as a direct contradiction to the UNESCO ideals of encouraging peace and universal respect for human rights.
UN Watch, also condemned this selection by UNESCO.
In 2015, Japan threatened to halt funding for UNESCO over the organization's decision to include documents relating to the 1937 Nanjing massacre in the latest listing for its "Memory of the World" program. In October 2016, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida confirmed that Japan's 2016 annual funding of ¥4.4 billion had been suspended although denied any direct link with the Nanjing document controversy.UNESDOC – Contains over 146,000 UNESCO documents in full text published since 1945 as well as metadata from the collections of the UNESCO Library and documentation centres in Field Offices and Institutes.
UNESCO develops, maintains and disseminates, free-of-charge, two interrelated software packages for database management (CDS/ISIS) and data mining/statistical analysis (IDAMS).CDS/ISIS - a generalised Information Storage and Retrieval system. The Windows version may run on a single computer or in a local area network. The JavaISIS client/server components allow remote database management over the Internet and are available for Windows, Linux and Macintosh. Furthermore, GenISIS allows the user to produce HTML Web forms for CDS/ISIS database searching. The ISIS_DLL provides an API for developing CDS/ISIS based applications.
OpenIDAMS – a software package for processing and analysing numerical data developed, maintained and disseminated by UNESCO. The original package was proprietary but UNESCO has initiated a project to provide it as open source.
IDIS - a tool for direct data exchange between CDS/ISIS and IDAMS.