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  • How does it work ?
    The General Conference is the primary decision-making body, comprising representatives of all Member States. It meets every two years to determine the policies and main lines of work of the Organization. Following the principle of one vote per country, it approves UNESCO’s programme and budget. Every four years, it appoints the Director-General on the basis of the recommendation of the Executive Board.
    The Executive Board, composed of 58 Member States, meets twice a year to ensure that decisions taken by the General Conference are implemented. It is also responsible for preparing the work of the General Conference and examining the Organization’s programme and budget.

    The Secretariat consists of the Director-General and staff. The Director-General is the executive head of the Organization. He or she formulates proposals for appropriate action by the Conference and Board and prepares a draft biennial programme and budget. The staff implements the approved programme. There are over 2000 staff members from some 160 countries (April 2003). Under a new decentralization policy, more than 640 staff members work in UNESCO’s 53 field offices around the world.

    UNESCO is the only UN agency to have a system of National Commissions in its Member and Associate States. The Commissions form a vital link between civil society and the Organization. They provide valuable insight concerning the Organization’s programme and help implement many initiatives including training programmes, studies, public awareness campaigns and media outreach. The Commissions also develop new partnerships with the private sector, which can provide valuable technical expertise and financial resources.

    UNESCO plays an integral role in the UN system and works closely with a wide range of regional and national organizations. Some 330 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) maintain official relations with UNESCO and hundreds more work with the Organization on specific projects.

    How is it financed?

    The regular two-year budget is financed by Member States through assessed contributions. The proposed regular budget for 2004 and 2005 is US$610 million. UNESCO also receives from substantial extra-budgetary funding to strengthen its programmes, especially in the field, and to increase its outreach activities. In 2002-2003, these extra-budgetary resources amounted to some US$400 million.

    Photo: Takis artwork at UNESCO Headquarters



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