UNESCO is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN) which contributes to the building of peace, eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, science, culture, communication and information.
Due to its high international authority UNESCO affects the formation of state policy and implements large-scale cultural, educational, informational and scientific programs.
UNESCO was founded at the UN Conference held in London in November, 1945. 37 states signed the Charter of the new international organization on the 16th of November, 1945. The current number of UNESCO members is 195 states.
The General Conference is the supreme body of UNESCO. It is composed of authorized delegations of all Member States and Associate Members. The General Conference meets in regular sessions every two years. It determines the policies and the main lines of work of the Organization; it approves the four-year program and budget, as well as the medium-term (eight-year) strategy. The General Conference accepts new members, elects the Director-General, the Members of the Executive Board and intergovernmental committees, and approves international and legal acts under its authority.
Between sessions of the General Conference the main governing body of UNESCO is the Executive Board, composed of the representatives of 58 Member States. The Executive Board meets in regular session twice a year (in spring and in autumn).
A standing body of UNESCO is the Secretariat, located at the headquarters of the Organization in Paris. Around 2,000 employees from more than 170 Member States of UNESCO work there.
The Director-General of UNESCO since November 15, 2009 has been Irina Bokova, the representative of Bulgaria.
UNESCO has a wide network of regional, cluster and national offices, institutes and centers in many countries, including the UNESCO Office in Moscow and the UNESCO Institute for Information technologies in Education (IITE). The Republic of Belarus closely cooperates with these offices.
According to the UNESCO Charter, Member States set up National Commissions to involve institutions that work in the sphere of education, science and culture into UNESCO activities. National commissions operate in the majority of UNESCO Member States.
Cooperation between the Republic of Belarus and UNESCO
Belarus joined UNESCO in 1954.
Since that time Belarus has been taken an active part in UNESCO activities. The country was elected a member of the Executive Board four times, for the periods of 1989-1992, 2000-2001, 2002-2005, 2009-2013.
There were several visits of the UNESCO Director-General to the Republic of Belarus: in 1991 — Amadou-Mahtar M'Bow, in 1998 — Federico Mayor Zaragoza, in 2002 — Koichiro Matsuura, in 2014 – Irina Bokova. As a result of these visits Memoranda of cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Belarus and UNESCO were signed.
According to the Charter of UNESCO the National Commission for UNESCO has been created in Belarus. It consists of the heads of the Ministries of education, culture, information, sports and tourism, and the Academy of Sciences of Belarus, representatives of the Administration of the President and the Council of Ministers, rectors of leading higher education institutions, museum directors, heads of public organizations. The Chairman of the National Commission to UNESCO since August 2013 is V.V. Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus.
Working body of the National Commission is the Secretariat, which implements its activity under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus. Contact information: vul. Lienina, 19, 220030 Minsk, Tel.: 375 17 3278316, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs programme involves more than 800 UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN networks in 134 countries.
There are eight UNESCO Chairs in Belarus:
The UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) was initiated by UNESCO in 1953. Today it is one of the most successful and long-lasting projects of the Organization. It unites more than 9,000 institutions (preschool institutions, schools, teachers’ training colleges) in 180 countries.
11 educational institutions have the status of UNESCO Associated Schools in Belarus. National Coordinator of the UNESCO Associated Schools in the Republic of Belarus is Kazyuchits Alla Olegovna, the chief inspector of the general secondary education of the Ministry of Education (tel. 375 17 222 66 47, Fax: 375 17 200 84 83, e-mail: email@example.com).
The UNESCO Clubs movement in Belarus is very dynamic. 56 clubs unite more than 2000 children and young people in all regions in Belarus. The main mission of the Belarusian UNESCO Clubs Association is the advocacy of humanitarian principles and ideas of UNESCO in education, science, culture and communication.
Cooperation in the field of science
UNESCO contributes to promotion of knowledge, builds collaborative networks of scientists, conducts researches in the field of social, human and natural sciences, develops the standards for intellectual cooperation, ensures the implementation of the international conventions.
In the field of natural science Belarus is an active participant of the UNESCO programme “Man and Biosphere” (MAB) since its creation in 1971. The first International Congress on Biosphere Reserves was held in Minsk in 1983.
Under the programme the World Network of 610 biosphere reserves was created throughout the world, which covers all the world's major ecosystems in 117 countries.
Belarus has currently been elected for the period 2011-2015 into the International Coordinating Council of the Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB). The task of this council is to assess the activities of biosphere reserves and to decide on their inclusion into the World Network.
MAB National Committee has been established and successfully operates in Belarus. It coordinates the activity of the three Belarusian Biosphere Reserves, which have been introduced in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves:
In the field of humanities and social sciences the Republic of Belarus takes an active part in UNESCO Bioethics Programme, created in 1993. International conferences and seminars are organized and international legal instruments in the field of bioethics are elaborated under the Program.
In 2006 the National Bioethics Committee was established in Belarus at the Ministry of Health.
Philosophy has a special place among humanities and social sciences. Our country shares this approach of UNESCO by holding every year an international conference celebrating on November 15 World Philosophy Day.
UNESCO is involved in international efforts to combat doping in sport, mainly through the implementation of the International Convention against Doping in Sport. Since its entering into force 173 states joined the UNESCO Convention against Doping in Sport (February 1, 2007). Belarus is a party to the Convention since February 2009.
Cooperation in the field of culture
Adopted in 1972, the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage is based on the fact that some sites of cultural or natural heritage are of exceptional interest to the world community and therefore they should be considered as a part of the world heritage. With respect to the sovereignty of the States on whose territory the cultural and natural heritage is situated, and without infringement upon property rights provided by national law towards heritage, the States Parties to the Convention recognize that the protection of world heritage is the responsibility of the world community as a whole. Nowadays the World Heritage List includes 962 cultural and natural sites, located in 157 States Parties.
In Belarus there are four sites inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage List:
A number of Belarusian sites have been included in the Tentative list of objects and can be considered for nomination to World Heritage List in future.
UNESCO provides support to Member States in preservation and promotion of intangible cultural heritage, making an emphasis on strengthening the public consciousness on the need to preserve this heritage for future generations. The Convention on the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been adopted in 2003. Today 151 States have already joined it. The Republic of Belarus was (2005) among the first ten countries that ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding are made under the Convention. One of the intangible cultural heritage elements of Belarus, a Christmas ritual of Semezhevo village, Minsk district, “Kalyady Tsars”, is included in the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.
With the support of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Fund information resource dedicated to the intangible cultural heritage of Belarus has been worked out and the national inventory of intangible cultural heritage of our country was prepared.
Being a Party to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, Belarus was elected in 2013 a member of the Intergovernmental Committee for Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
Belarus is also a Party to the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and the Second Protocol to the Convention.
Cooperation in the field of communication and information
One of the main objectives of UNESCO in the sphere of communication and information is to promote the free spreading of ideas and universal access to information, as well as to contribute to the expansion of communication and information capabilities.
To this end, Member States of UNESCO created the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) in 1980, promoting media development. Belarus was elected a member of this body for the period 2013-2017.
The UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP) was created in 2001 in order to discuss political, legal, ethical and social issues associated with the building of a global information society.
The programme “Memory of the World” plays an important role in the preservation of documentary heritage of humanity. The main objective of this programme is to ensure the safety through digitizing manuscripts, archives and rare books of universal value. In 2009 on the initiative of Belarus Radziwills’ archives and library in Nyasvizh, that was stored in relevant institutions of Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine and Finland, were included to the Register of the “Memory of the World”.