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Making a Difference: Seventy Years of UNESCO Actions

What has been the impact of UNESCO’s programmes and initiatives? How have UNESCO’s values and ideals been translated into practice over the past 70 years? Which place does history occupy within this specialized agency of the United Nations? 17 historians from different countries will address these questions during the celebration of the 70th anniversary of UNESCO (1945). During these two days of dialogue a wide range of topics will be covered, from world heritage conservation to post-conflict reconstruction, from peace building to dissemination of knowledge. Through these different themes, the continued relevance now and in the future of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will be at the heart of the conference.
UNESCO, 125 Avenue de Suffren, Paris, 28-29 October 2015
Online registration
To learn more: Is UNESCO changing the world? Poul Duedahl's response
A New Vision of the History of UNESCO

Richard Hoggart at UNESCO

« Chaque fois qu’un vieillard meurt en Afrique, c’est une bibliothèque inexplorée qui brûle. » Richard Hoggart, Assistant Director-General for Social Sciences, Human Sciences and Culture of UNESCO from 1970-1975, wrote that his inward motivation to join UNESCO came from hearing this line spoken by the Delegate from Mali, M. Hampâte Ba, at the 1966 General Conference. In 1978 Richard Hoggart wrote “An Idea and its Servants: UNESCO from within” about his experiences here. In the preface he makes the following statement: “All organisations need regular, frank and fair criticism. UNESCO does not get enough of that (…). It must learn to live less self-protectively, more bravely”. Hoggart died 10 April 2014, but he has left behind a library of ideas to explore. See a bibliography of his works available at UNESO Library.

Mandela, UNESCO and Apartheid

UNESCO Archives celebrates Nelson Mandela with a selection of items on apartheid and his words upon the receipt on the 1991 Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize.
- Withdrawal of the Union of South Africa (1956): Selection of Correspondence
- Withdrawal of the Union of South Africa
Paragraph 3 of Director-General’s 1955 report
- UNESCO Courier articles:
1992 Apartheid: the Beginning of the End
1983 Racism
1977: Southern Africa at grips with racism
1967: Apartheid
- Mandela’s speech upon the awarding of the 1991 Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, video of the ceremony.

"UNESCO is now born", DG speeches

On 12 November 2013 UNESCO’s General Conference elected Irina Bokova for a second four-year term as Director-General of the Organization. The UNESCO Archives marks this event by publishing the speeches by all the nine elected Director-Generals who have led the Organization since 1946.

Julian Huxley: 1946 1st General Conference(see page 74)
Jaime Torres Bodet: 1948 3rd General Conference
Luther H. Evans:1953 2nd Extraordinary General Conference (see page 104)
Vittorino Veronese: 1958 10th General Conference (see page 329)
René Maheu :1962 12th General Conference(see page 286) and 1968 15th General Conference(see page 244)
Amadou Mahtar M’Bow:1974 18th General Conference and 1980 21st General Conference
Federico Mayor Zaragoza:1987 24th General Conference and 1993 27th General Conference
Koïchiro Matsuura:1999 30th General Conference and 2005 33rd General Conference
Irina Bokova:2009 35th General Conference and 2013 37th General Conference

Albert Chinua Achebe – UNESCO fellow

When Chinua Achebe applied for a UNESCO Fellowship for creative artists in 1962, he had already written Things Fall Apart and was Director of External Broadcasting at the newly created Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation. In his application, he wrote: “A change will only come as we get more confident in ourselves, and especially in our past.”

UNDP legal instruments

As part of the ongoing project to migrate our legal instruments database, descriptions of the legal instruments signed between UNESCO and the Special Fund/UNDP have been published along with a description of UNDP. Please see:

AtoM Progress Report – September 2012

Work in AtoM has been principally focused on the migration of data from our legacy legal instruments database, however, the records of former Deputy Director-General M.S. Adiseshiah have also been added. Please see :

Legal Instruments - Migrating Databases

UNESCO Archives has begun migrating data on the legal instruments in its holdings from an older database to the ICA AtoM catalogue where it will be publicly available. This will be the fourth generation of database - not including the index cards and registers!

Another Hammarskjöld - Independent Commission files described

In 1988, Director-General Federico Mayor created an Independent Commission to advise the Director-General on ways and means of improving staff efficiency and management in the Unesco Secretariat. The Commission is informally known as the Hammarskjöld Commission after its Chair, Knut Hammarskjöld. The final report is available in UNESDOC. Description of the archival files has been entered in AtoM.Samples from the audio recordings are available in the Multimedia Archives.

Dag Hammarskjöld: "A Man of the Next Generation"

On 15th December 2011, UNESCO celebrated the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld (Sweden), Secretary-General of the United Nations. On this occasion, The Courier and the UNESCO Archives pay tribute to this great visionary and intellectual in action.
Speech by Mr Gunnar Lund
Speech by Mr Alain Dejammet
Speech by Mr Hans Corell
Speech by Ms D. Houphouët-Boigny
Speech by Kaj Falkman


    Creation of UNESCO