As a specialist agency within the United Nations (UN), UNESCO contributes to peacebuilding, fighting poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, science, culture, communication and information. UNESCO currently has 195 member states.
UNESCO’s core mission is written in its Preamble (1945): “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”. To this end, the organisation aims to stimulate cooperation in the fields of education, science and culture and promotes the development of independent media promoting the freedom of communication and information.
In 2015 the UN adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals form the new global agenda, the aim of which is to improve the global population’s living conditions by 2030. SDGs are 17 ambitious goals, each with targets to be met within the next 15 years. UNESCO is focused on achieving nine goals in which its expertise and leadership are recognised.
UNESCO plays a leading role in coordinating the Agenda 2030 which aims towards inclusive and quality education for all and the promotion of lifelong learning (SDG 4). Through its programmes, UNESCO contributes to gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls (SDG 5). Gender equality is one of the overall priorities of the UNESCO medium-term strategy 2014-2021.
Through its research programmes in water management and in the development of scientific and technical skills, UNESCO helps ensure access to clean water (SDG 6) and recognition of the role of science, technology and innovation in sustainable development (SDG 9). UNESCO stimulates the development of knowledge about the oceans and contributes to the sustainable management of oceans and coasts (SDG 14) It is committed to biodiversity and the sustainable management of natural resources through its World Heritage sites and biosphere reserves (SDG 15). The organisation also supports efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its consequences (SDG 13).
UNESCO actively takes part in creating inclusive, safe and resilient cities, targeting the preservation of humanity’s cultural and natural heritage (SDG 11). Finally, the organisation campaigns for public access to information and journalists’ safety, and works to promote good governance and the rule of law (SDG 16).
Through its conventions, which are work instruments for carrying out its programmes, UNESCO plays an important normative role. Belgium and its three Communities have ratified the 14 following conventions:
- Universal Copyright Convention (1952);
- Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, with Regulations for its Execution (1954);
- Convention concerning the International Exchange of Publications (1958);Convention concerning the Exchange of Official Publications and Government Documents between States (1958);
- International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organisations (1961);
- Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (1970);
- Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (1971)
- Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (1972);
- Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Diplomas and Degrees concerning Higher Education in the States belonging to the Europe Region (1979);
- Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region (1997);
- Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001);
- Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003);
- Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005);
- International Convention against Doping in Sport (2005)
In 1948 UNESCO began issuing the UNESCO Courier, a prestigious and high quality publication that keeps the public informed and enables them to appraise the organisation’s actions in all its fields of expertise.Today this publication is in electronic format, accessible to all.