UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is a specialized agency that belongs to the United Nations System (UN), and serves to create the right conditions for a dialogue to take place. civilized among different cultures, peoples and countries, focusing on common values.

This organization promotes the preservation of world security and peace by promoting cooperation among nations, through science, education, communication, culture and information. This organization has more than 10 Associate Members and 195 Member States; Associate Members are groups of territories or territories that do not themselves assume the conduct of foreign relations. UNESCO’s headquarters are located in Paris and it also has more than 50 offices in different countries of the world.

UNESCO: main objectives

UNESCO also has the figure of “goodwill ambassador”, and there is no doubt that the organization has had very notable successes, highlighting the work it has done to rescue cultural heritages such as Abu Simbel (Nubia, 1200 BC) or the restoration of Borobodur (Javanese Buddhist temple, VIII BC), works that were very complicated and cost a lot of money (safeguarding some heritage has a cost of more than a billion dollars).

It has also had some difficulties in meeting its objectives, such as the case of Dubrovnik, which despite being one of the first sites in the world to be named as a World Heritage Site (1979), was bombed and destroyed, as was Baghdad. and Sarajevo, among others.

In recent years, many conflicts have arisen because many people believe that UNESCO is a kind of bank that has a duty to provide the necessary resources to safeguard cultural heritage, as clarified by the assistant to the general director Mounir Bouchenaki. It is important to bear in mind that UNESCO, through no fault of its own, received the same discredit of the UN’s ineffectiveness, in addition to the fact that the United States withdrew its financial support for many years.

Strategies and activities carried out by UNESCO

The activities and strategies developed by UNESCO are focused on the goals and objectives of the international community, where the internationally agreed development goals are reflected, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Thus, all UNESCO’s competencies, within the fields of communication, education, culture, science and information, contribute to achieving these objectives.

UNESCO: main challenges

  • Equality between men and women.
  • Africa.

It also focuses on some global goals:

  • Achieve quality education for everyone in the world, ensuring that everyone has access to learning.
  • Promote science and policies related to scientific knowledge focusing on sustainable development.
  • Promote cultural diversity, a culture of peace and intercultural dialogue.
  • Address and solve social and ethical problems.
  • Promote the construction of knowledge societies focusing on communication and information.

All these objectives go hand in hand with data and figures that have been obtained with studies. For example, today about 776 million people (16% of the world’s adult population) cannot read or write.

Despite great strides since 200, 75 million children (55% girls) still do not have access to primary education. Every year millions of children around the world leave school without having learned the basics of writing, reading and arithmetic.

That is why one of the objectives and main activities of UNESCO is to provide quality education for all people by establishing a global coordination of education and assisting Member States to achieve this objective.

Criteria for declaring UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Today it is common that some of the most important tourist destinations in the world have already been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The agency makes these appointments with cultural and natural properties, finding 754 places that have been declared as heritage (582 cultural, 149 natural and 23 mixed), which are found in a total of 129 countries.

The criteria used when declaring a place as heritage has changed in recent years. In the beginning, only art galleries, temples and ancient cities of Europe could be considered heritage sites. But today, heritage preservation includes many places in the world, including the concentration camps of Auschwitz (1979) and Gembaku Dome in Hiroshima (1996).

The concept of “intangible” has recently been added, which includes the traditional languages ​​of certain ancient peoples, dances, medical practices and even traditional clothing. Some examples that we can highlight would be the Traditional Japanese Street Theater, the Barranquilla Carnival of Colombia, etc.

For a place or custom to be named heritage, it must be exceptional and must have the so-called “exceptional values”. Likewise, governments are required to get involved and have the commitment to take charge; so that the appointment of an estate also implies an obligation on the part of the governments and states that request the appointment. In this case, UNESCO grants the label, which is like “a brand”.

An estate can only be named if the state requesting the appointment has taken certain financial and legal measures to ensure the preservation of the site. When UNESCO receives the proposal, it is analyzed by an intergovernmental committee, which is held at the world heritage convention, which has 21 representatives.

UNESCO history

UNESCO was created after the Second World War, in November 1945, and a United Nations conference was held in London, just after the end of the war, with the main objective of establishing a cultural and educational organization.

In this event, more than 37 States or countries met and, together with the impulse of the United Kingdom and France (two territories that had been greatly affected by the armed conflicts), an organization was created that had the objective of educating a culture of peace and security in order to promote and strengthen the intellectual and moral solidarity of humanity, this in order to prevent a third world war.

By the time the conference ended, all 37 states had signed the Constitution that gave rise to UNESCO. This document entered into force a year later, in November 1946, after having been ratified by 20 signatory countries.

Twelve years later, in 1958, what would become the official (and permanent) Headquarters of UNESCO was inaugurated in Paris, which was designed by the architects Pier-Luigi Nervi (Italy), Bernard Zehrfuss (France) and Marcel Breuer (United States). United).

Conclusion on the importance of UNESCO

Since it was founded after the Second World War, UNESCO has the main objective of helping to preserve places, beliefs and cultures, by fostering a dialogue between countries and their governments. Although in some cases it can provide financial resources for the restructuring of assets, its job is not only to provide financial support to governments, but also strives to create a dialogue that can forge conceptions of sustainable development based on human rights.

Samantha Robson
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Dr. Samantha Robson ( CRN: 0510146-5) is a nutritionist and website content reviewer related to her area of ​​expertise. With a postgraduate degree in Nutrition from The University of Arizona, she is a specialist in Sports Nutrition from Oxford University and is also a member of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

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