UNESCO: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization

The Organisation

Special Issue

The New Courier: UNESCO at 60

UNESCO's First and Latest

Did you know that some of UNESCO’s present institutes and programmes actually predate the Organization’s creation? Such is the case of the International Bureau of Education, established in 1925.

Likewise, Index Translationum was initiated by the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation in 1931. In its 60 years of existence, UNESCO has had its share of "firsts". Here are some of them - with updates on the latest developments.
Goodwill Ambassadors
The diplomat and businessman Sheikh Ghassan I. Shaker was first to be appointed in 1990. Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, is the latest to join the ranks in 2005.
French physicist and Nobel Prize laureate Louis de Broglie was UNESCO’s first prize winner in 1952 when he received the Kalinga Prize. The latest laureate is Indian artist Ashok Sukumaran, winner of the main Digital Arts Award, “City and Creative Media”.
Thirteen fellows from six countries were the first awardees in 1947. Between 1948 and 1968, some 11,000 people received fellowships and study grants, 17% of them women. Today, about 20 awards are given monthly. The Fellowships Section distributed awards to some 350 people from 123 countries during the period 2004-2005, 56% of them women.
Field offices
The first to open was in New York in 1946. The latest was in 2004, the UNESCO Office for Iraq, currently based in Amman.
Member States
In 1945, 37 countries signed the UNESCO Constitution, which came into force a year later after ratification by 20 signatories. They became the first founders of the Organization. With the entry of Brunei Darussalam in March 2005, the Organization now comprises 191 Member States and 6 Associate Members.
National Commissions
Brazil was the first Member State to set up one in 1946, followed by six others the same year. The latest to establish its national commission for the first time was Solomon Islands in 2002, bringing the current total to 192.
Non-governmental organizations
The first agreement with an NGO was in 1946 with the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), now known as the International Council for Science. To date, 230 NGOs maintain official relations with UNESCO and many others cooperate on an occasional basis.
The Kalinga Prize for the Popularization of Science, created in 1951, was the first. Today, the number of prizes stands at 33, the latest being the UNESCO/Jikji Memory of the World Prize, established in 2004. Funded by the Republic of Korea, it commemorates the inscription of the Jikji, the oldest known book of movable metal print in the world.
World Heritage sites
The nomination of the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador was the first to reach UNESCO in 1978, followed by 11 others in seven countries. Twentyfour new sites were inscribed in 2005, the latest being the Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos in Cuba. Today, the list comprises 812 sites from 137 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention.
Associated Schools Project Network
Launched in 1953 with 33 secondary schools in 15 Member States, the latest to join are five schools in Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in 2004. The current total for 2005 is 7,900 institutions in 175 countries.
Artists for Peace
Céline Dion, the popular Canadian singer, was the first appointee in 1999. The latest is French sculptor and poet Gérard Voisin in 2005.
The first to be established was in Sendai, Japan in 1947. In 2005 the movement includes 3,600 clubs, centres and associations in 90 countries.
Commemorative medals
UNESCO issued its first medals, a set of three, in 1961 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The newest medal was issued in October and commemorates UNESCO’s 60th anniversary.
Europe and North America Latin America and the Caribbean Africa Arab States Asia Pacific