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UNESCO: United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization

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60 Years - 60 Posters

To mark its sixtieth anniversary, UNESCO has created an exhibition of the 60 most beautiful posters which have illustrated the Organizations priorities over the past six decades. Some are signed by famous artists, and others were products of the imaginations of staff members.

All reflect the history of the international challenges of their time, and are a testimony to the continuity of the Organization and the mandate of its Constitutions.
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Thinking and Building Peace
The French sailor and painter Titouan Lamazou, UNESCO Artist for Peace, created and donated his design for the poster marking the Organization’s 60th anniversary, unveiled by the Director-General at an exhibition in October 2005 entitled 60 Posters, 60 Years. These framed posters, equipped with night illumination, were displayed along the Avenue de Suffren side of the Headquarters building in Paris. Lamazou, who has authored a series of portraits of women from around the world, also features 60 faces on his poster.
International Mother Language Day (21 February)
UNESCO declared International Mother Language Day in 1999 to respond to the crisis of disappearing languages. It is estimated that many of the 6,000 languages spoken today around the world may disappear in the next 20 years, representing an irreparable loss for humanity. Each year, Member States observe the event through dance, poetry, song, theatre, storytelling and other cultural exchanges, with the aim of encouraging linguistic diversity and multilingual education. This poster is the work of the UNESCO’s Annick Coueffé, a French graphic artist.
Education for All : The Quality Imperative
At the World Education Forum held in Dakar (Senegal) in April 2000, the international community entrusted UNESCO with coordinating the Education for All (EFA) movement. The meeting adopted six goals, all of which implicitly or explicitly integrate a quality dimension. Goal 6, in particular, commits countries, with the support of their EFA partners, to improve all aspects of the quality of education. This quality imperative is also the theme of the 2005 Global Monitoring Report, an annual publication on the assessment of EFA.
2005-2014 : Décennie des Nations Unies pour l’éducation en vue du développement durable
UNESCO has long been concerned with activities related to sustainable development, contributing to many of the streams of action generated by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 1992. In December 2002, the UN proclaimed a Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014) and UNESCO was designated as lead agency for its promotion. This poster is the work of the artist Kaci
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (21 March)
The fight against racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance is at the heart of UNESCO's mandate. UNESCO, through research, contributes to identifying effective responses to the obstacles hampering the full exercise of human rights: extreme nationalism, ideologies of intolerance and new forms of discrimination arising from technological and scientific progress. This poster by Abracadabra was created in observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
International Mother Language Day (21 February)
UNESCO declared International Mother Language Day in 1999 to respond to the crisis of disappearing languages. It is estimated that many of the 6,000 languages spoken today around the world may disappear in the next 20 years, representing an irreparable loss for humanity. Each year, Member States observe the event through dance, poetry, song, theatre, storytelling and other cultural exchanges, with the aim of encouraging linguistic diversity and multilingual education. The slogan on the poster was translated into many languages.
United Nations Year for Cultural Heritage: Let’s share our treasures
On the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of the World Heritage Convention, the United Nations proclaimed 2002 Year for Cultural Heritage in order to focus international commitment to the cultural heritage cause and attract public awareness, in particular young people. UNESCO, lead agency for its observance, issued a poster created by Beatriz Hervella and Luis Sardá, using a symbol based on the very figures of the year 2002. It conveys the idea of “culture, mirror of humanity” expressed via a calligraphic effect.
World Book and Copyright Day (23 April)
UNESCO’s commitment to copyright dates from as far back as 1952, when the Universal Copyright Convention was adopted and the © sign became the globally-accepted symbol for the protection of works by writers, musicians, photographers and other creators. Today, this legislative text includes 99 States Parties, while a 1971 revised version includes 64. UNESCO sets aside every 23 April , the anniversary of the deaths of Cervantes and Shakespeare, to promote reading and the protection of intellectual property.
Indigenous Peoples – Education
The International Decade of the World's Indigenous People (1995-2004) has brought with it advances such as the establishment of the Permanent United Nations Forum on Indigenous Issues and the appointment of a Special Rapporteur. The Decade aimed to strengthen international cooperation for the solution of problems faced by the world’s 350 million indigenous people in such areas as human rights, the environment, education and health. In November 2003, UNESCO organized a public debate in Paris on their education rights. This poster by Abracadabra was issued on this occasion.
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty : 17 October
The United Nations system has made poverty eradication a priority target for international action, designating on its behalf a Day, a Year (1996) and a decade (1997-2006), and making it the first of eight Millennium Development Goals which all 191 Member States have pledged to meet by the year 2015. The goal is to halve the number of people living in poverty by 2015 which persists, even worsens, in parts of the developing world, and increases in regions where it had long been in decline, such as in the industrialized economies of the West and in Eastern Europe. Taking inspiration from Japanese calligraphy, UNESCO’s Mika Shino designed this poster.
International Year for the Culture of Peace: Peace is in our hands
The United Nations designated UNESCO as lead agency for the observance the International Year for the Culture of Peace. A public awareness campaign was launched, based of Manifesto 2000, encouraging people to sign a commitment drafted by a group of Nobel Peace Prize laureates. A special logo was chosen from some 250 proposals, featuring a peace symbol of two joined hands, the result of a collaboration between German artist Barbara Blickle and Spanish graphic designer Luis Sardá. The surrounding phrases are the six pledges of the manifesto.
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The World Education Forum held in Dakar (Senegal) in April 2000 adopted six major goals for education, two of which also became Millennium Development goals later in the same year. The goals covered the attainment of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and gender equality, improving literacy and educational quality, and increasing life-skills and early childhood education programmes, all of which were to be achieved within 15 years. The poster features the @ sign, symbol of the growing interconnections of the 21st century, thus linking literacy and technology.
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International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition
The transatlantic slave trade lasted over 400 years, from the late 1400s until its abolition in the 1800s. UNESCO’s General Conference of 1997 adopted a resolution proclaiming 23 August of each year for its remembrance. Cultural events and debates were organized the following year, beginning in Haiti where, on the night of 22 to 23 August 1971, slaves in Bois Caïman launched an uprising. This rebellion would play a critical role in the abolition of slavery. The commemorative poster is the work of illustrator Kin Wessel.
Literacy makes a difference (8 September)
UNESCO is the United Nations’ specialized agency for education. Since its creation in 1945, it has worked to improve education worldwide through technical advice, standard setting, innovative projects, capacity building and networking. Its close links with education ministries and other partners in its Member States put it in a key position to press for action. The worldwide celebration of International Literacy Day every 8 September serves to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.
1492-1992 : Five-hundredth Anniversary of the Encounter between Two Worlds
UNESCO launched a project in 1989 to commemorate the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492. The celebration of the encounter between Europe and the New World represented a unique opportunity to reflect on the circumstances and consequences of this interchange between peoples and cultures, and their resulting transformations, borrowings and contributions to one another. The poster features the work of the German-born American painter Richard Lindner.
The rights of the child
In November 1989, the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child, its most broadly ratified treaty, with 191 States Parties. This convention recognizes the vulnerability of children and brings together in one comprehensive code protections for children concerning all categories of human rights. It firmly guarantees non-discrimination and recognizes that the best interests of the child must guide all actions. Special attention is paid to refugees, the disabled or members of minorities. This poster was created by the French artist Mélois.
Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Ptolemy I founded the legendary Library of Alexandria over 2000 years ago, the largest of its kind in the Middle East and Africa. Over the centuries, it has been destroyed several times over, and then reconstructed. At the Egyptian government’s request in 1986, UNESCO helped give an international dimension to the scheme for the revival of the ancient library. An international appeal was launched the following year and the project was successfully completed in 2002. The French painter Raymond Moretti conceived this juxtaposition of images representing the Egypt of yesterday and today
UNESCO is fifty years old
On 16 November 1995, when the General Conference held its twenty-eighth session in Paris, fifty years had elapsed since the day when a conference in London attended by representative of 44 States adopted UNESCO’s Constitution. The celebration of the Organization’s creation aimed to improve the public’s perception of its mission, objectives and achievements with a series of awareness-raising campaigns, among them, a poster designed by Jean-Luc Chamroux. This design was also adopted as the year’s official logo.
1995, the United Nations Year for Tolerance, saw the launching of a worldwide campaign for tolerance, non-violence and appreciation of social and cultural diversity. It was UNESCO that initiated this undertaking and assumed the coordinating role of lead agency for the year. A declaration was signed by Member States and six specially-created flags of tolerance were hoisted. All of UNESCO’s sectors organized a wide array of special events, meetings and publications. The German graphic artist Helmut Langer created this poster.
1988-1993: Silk Roads: Roads of Dialogue
For more than two thousand years, the Silk Roads linked East and West, thus paving the way for an exchange of philosophies, religions, art and knowledge that has helped shape the world we live in today. In 1988, UNESCO launched a five-year major project on an integral study of the Silk Roads as “roads of dialogue.” UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Ikuo Hirayama created this poster. A painter and active campaigner on behalf of cultural heritage, he has awarded over 100 fellowships in a programme he specially created for the Silk Roads project.
FIDEPS: International Fund for the Development of Physical Education and Sport
Jean-Michel Folon was born in Brussels in 1934. In 1955 he abandoned his architectural studies in order to devote himself to drawing. Through the medium of the poster he found an opportunity to champion the causes he believed in: human rights, the ecological balance, sport. His tremendous success in the print media and in advertising can be attributed to the purity of his line, the limpidity of his colour gravitations and the humorous quality of his levitating figures with hearts in place of heads, his flurries of birds and his eyes and mouths afloat in mid-air.
Creating the spirit of peace
In order to get its message across in as many countries as possible, UNESCO disseminates its posters in the Organization’s six official languages. This Russian edition of the 1988 slogan Creating the spirit of peace is also available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese. Peace is an underlying theme in all of UNESCO’s fields of competence. Out of fourteen major programmes during this period, one was devoted to peace, international understanding, human rights and the rights of peoples.
1988-1997: World Decade for Cultural Development
UNESCO launched the World Decade for Cultural Development in January 1988 at a ceremony in Paris during which the Swiss artist Hans Erni presented the logo he created for the occasion. He described his design, widely used in all promotional material for the decade, as “five faces from the five continents of the Earth symbolizing the manifold creativity of social and cultural life”. The decade was proclaimed in order to encourage countries to reflect, adopt policies and undertake activities to ensure the integrated development of their societies.
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Save Angkor
The Japanese painter Ikuo Hirayama created this poster to focus public attention on the preservation of the monuments of Angkor, capital of the Khmer empire between the 9th and 15th centuries. The renowned artist, who also serves as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, is a long-standing champion of the Organization’s cultural heritage campaigns. With the return of peace in Cambodia, an international preservation programme for Angkor was initiated while at the same time UNESCO gave the site formal recognition with its inscription on the World Heritage List in 1993.
Stop the looting of archaeological sites
Headless statues. Niches without the figures once adorning them. Tombs looted of their relics. Villages without the religious figures which once represented their spiritual world. Churches and palaces stripped of their most beautiful objects. Children growing up without ever having seen the highest cultural achievements of their own culture. These are some of the sad results of the illicit traffic in cultural objects which UNESCO wanted to highlight with the publication of this poster, designed by the artist Kaci.
International Year of Peace
The painter Kaii Higashiyama, one of the great masters of the Japanese school, contributed this design to UNESCO on the occasion of the International Year of Peace, proclaimed by the United Nations in 1986. The design entitled Two Moons shows the moon, symbol of truth in Asian tradition, reflected in peaceful waters. The poster is the result of a collaboration between UNESCO, the National Federation of UNESCO Associations in Japan and the International Association of Art.
Peace and Human Rights
Born in 1905 at Bielostok (Russian Federation), Benn settled in Paris in 1930 and established an artistic reputation before the Second World War. Benn’s wartime experiences, including internment and over two years spent in hiding from the Gestapo, gave rise to a series of paintings inspired by verses from the Psalms. On this poster, the world of humankind is symbolized by hands uplifted in a gesture of prayer to a white dove, the messenger of peace. The artist donated this design to UNESCO.
1946-1986: UNESCO’s 40th Anniversary celebrated in Bangkok
Like all offices in the field network, UNESCO Bangkok, which also serves as Regional Bureau for Education, celebrated the Organization’s 40th anniversary in 1986. This poster, designed by the French graphic artist Yvaral, was widely disseminated in the entire network. Born in Paris in 1934, he defines his work as an attempt to arrive at a “combinatory visual language based on simple programmable elements”. He established and used “moiré patterns, interferences, optical accelerations, effects of depth and half-tone volumes introducing notions of space and time wherein movement is generally the result of a change of position on the part of the viewer”.
UNESCO : Twoscore Years
A hundred graphic arts schools in all regions of the world participated in a poster competition in 1985 after which an international jury awarded the prize to Gioia Aloisi, a student from Italy. The poster celebrated two events – UNESCO’s fortieth anniversary and the International Year of Peace, whose emblem is featured. A major exhibition retracing the four decades of the Organization’s existence was mounted in the Fontenoy building and inaugurated by French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac. A UNESCO Prize for Peace Education was awarded to Brazilian educator Paulo Freire at a ceremony in Paris.
The heritage – Memory of the World
Every day, irreplaceable parts of the world’s documentary heritage disappear. In the 1980s, UNESCO launched the Memory of the World Programme to promote the preservation of the valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world and to ensure their wide dissemination. An international advisory committee maintains a register to protect and digitize documents corresponding to the selection criteria for world significance. This poster was produced thanks to the generous contribution of the French artist Le Yaouanc.
International Fund for the Development of Physical Education and Sport
The General Conference of 1978 set up an intergovernmental committee to orient and supervise UNESCO’s actions on the role of education in sport and sport in education. The committee, for its part, adopted an international charter and established a fund to promote the development of its activities. The Swiss artist Hans Erni , born in 1909, created the fund’s poster. Science, mythology and history are recurring themes in his works which encompass paintings, sculpture and lithography. His style juxtaposes the world of Antiquity with the contemporary.
Education for all
The literacy poster was produced in cooperation with the International Association of Art, reproducing a lithograph originally published by Vision Nouvelle. Israeli-born artist Théo Tobiasse proclaims aloft his lyricism with the strikingly distinctive sensibility of oriental Judaism. Faces, bodies and symbols express the aspirations of the human adventure. His inspiration comes from mythology and the Bible. The fabric of his work, woven of dreams and hopes, are expressed with a very personal luxuriance of colour.
Science and Technology
The Japanese artist Shoichi Hasegawa created this poster. Born in 1929, his mastery of colour etching has won him many distinctions: the Ljubljana International Engraving Exhibition Prize (1965); First Prize for Engraving at the Como International Exhibition (1968); and the Tokyo Third Civilization Exhibition Prize (1972). His work blends delicacy and density of sign. The modernity in the highly structured freedom of his compositions follows his country’s tradition. This poster was produced in cooperation with the International Association of Art, from a lithograph originally published by Vision Nouvelle.
Culture and the Future
Serge Hélénon was born in 1934 in Fort-de-France (Martinique). His engravings are an invitation to meditation on the human image and more especially that of the African - his condition, attitudes and distinctive features. His carborundum cutting (Goetz method) reflects a heritage rich in signs. Hélénon reins in his impulsive force by the subtle application of flat colour tints checked by black lines. The poster was produced in cooperation with the International Association of Art, from a lithograph published by Vision Nouvelle.
Born in 1907 in Aleppo (Syrian Arab Republic), member of the French Academy of Fine Arts, Carzou is the creator of an art that owes more to drawing than to painting and creates a deserted, phantasmagorical world described by Roger Caillois as “a universe in a state of shock, as though abandoned, untouched by climate or events, made of silence and emptiness”. His inimitable style, based on a profusion of horizontal and vertical lines, throws up unreal perspectives, but his fantastic landscapes and characters are nevertheless recognizable. The poster was produced in cooperation with the International Association of Art, from a lithograph published by Vision Nouvelle.
International Year of Peace
The United Nations designated 1986 International Year of Peace. One of the posters issued on this occasion is the work of Maria Helena Vieira da Silva. Born in Lisbon (Portugal) in 1908, her original form of expression dislocates perspective and ushers in a new representation of space. She “invents” a “pictorial locus”, capturing reality in its mobility and metamorphoses, through duration and memory. Her influence and her authority are unanimously acclaimed.
World Day of Young Music (1st October)
The poster, by the French artist Auriac, aimed to encourage musical events throughout the world. It is the result of a collaboration between the International Federation of Jeunesses Musicales, the International Association of Art, and the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs and Associations. International Music Day is traditionally celebrated on October 1. In the course of International Youth Year in 1985, this day was devoted to World Day of Young Music.
Associated Schools
In 1983, UNESCO convened an international congress in Sofia (Bulgaria) to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet). Committed to promoting the ideals of UNESCO, ASPnet schools work towards international understanding by conducting pilot projects to prepare young people to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world. As of September 2005, the network included some 7,800 educational institutions, ranging from pre-school to teacher training, in 175 countries. The poster features a painting by the Bulgarian artist Deichko Uzunov.
International Year of Disabled Persons
On the occasion of the 1981 International Year of Disabled Persons, UNESCO convened a major international conference in Torremolinos (Spain) on the problems of the handicapped, especially in education. A poster was issued, using a design by Jacek Cwikla, first-prize winner in a contest organized by UNESCO and the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (ICOGRADA). The Polish Cwikla’s black and white design shows two differently-shaped candles, their flames united in a graphic representation of the year’s theme: “full participation of disabled persons in society”.
Save our common heritage
The year 1982 marked the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention. This landmark treaty on the protection of the world’s cultural and natural heritage gave rise to the World Heritage List which, in 2005, included 812 sites in 137 States Parties. A poster was printed for the occasion, thanks to the voluntary contribution of Japanese photographer Banri Namikawa. The striking image is a symbol of the peril threatening our cultural heritage and attempts to attract public attention to this danger.
Eternal Borobudur
The restoration work at Borobudur (Indonesia) was completed in 1983, bringing to a close the most important programme of its kind since the international campaign to save the monuments of Nubia. The campaign to safeguard this thousand-year-old Buddhist sanctuary on the island of Java was launched in December 1972, its success thanks to a unique combination of technical skills provided by an international team of experts and large-scale financing from contributions by UNESCO’s Member States. The commemorative poster features the work of the artist Srihadis.
International Simón Bolívar Prize
UNESCO created the International Simón Bolívar Prize on the initiative of the Government of Venezuela to reward individuals or institutions who have made a particularly meritorious contribution to the liberty, independence and dignity of peoples, and to the strengthening of solidarity among nations. The first laureates in 1983 were H.M. King Juan Carlos I of Spain, and Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa. The poster is based on a design by the artist Polev.
Handle with care – Fragile: Man and the Biosphere programme
UNESCO’s Programme on Man and the Biosphere (MAB) develops the basis for the sustainable use and conservation of biological diversity and the improvement of the relationship between people and their global environment. Since its launch in 1970, the network of biosphere reserves today numbers 482 in 102 countries, each one of them like a living laboratory that tests ways of managing natural resources while fostering economic development. The poster features the work of Tad Wakamatau.
A peace forum of fifty eminent personalities met at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters in November 1980. A poster was produced the same year, created with the cooperation of the International Association of Art and a contribution from the Kajima Foundation of Japan. Designed by the Japanese artist Hasao Domoto, it shows a white sun at the centre of a movement of waves which form circles recalling the world’s oceans. At the heart of the sun the word Peace glistens.
Peace and Justice
The poster is a creation of the artist Benn. Born in 1905 in Bielostok (Russian Federation), he began to give drawing lessons as an adolescent and, in 1924, founded an academy of painting in a garret. In 1929, he earned a scholarship to France where he eventually settled. Benn’s best-known work is the series entitled Psalms, paintings on biblical themes in memory of his parents who perished during the war. His style is characterized by a simplicity of line and a sense of fervour.
Stop the culture smugglers
Since its creation, UNESCO has undertaken efforts towards the protection of cultural property against the threats of armed conflict, theft, clandestine excavations and illicit traffic. French graphic artist André François contributed to the Organization’s activities to check the illegal art trade by designing a poster aimed towards local populations, tourists and art dealers. François achieved fame with his striking cover drawings for The New Yorker and Punch, his illustrations well-known for their mastery of visual shorthand.
Victory in Nubia
In 1980, UNESCO concluded its twenty-year international campaign to save the treasures of Nubia from the rising waters of the Nile when the Aswan High Dam was built. During the campaign, workmen, engineers, architects and archaeologists combined their efforts to move to safety twenty-two temples in what must rank as one of the greatest technical exploits of the century. The success of the Nubian campaign gave rise to twenty-six others, as well as operational projects for the protection of monuments and sites such as those in Angkor, Mostar and Ethiopia. The poster was designed by Isa Chit, a graphic artist from UNESCO.
Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The Catalan painter Joan Miró has been associated with UNESCO since its earliest days and his ceramic murals, Wall of the Sun and Wall of the Moon are permanent architectural features of UNESCO House. While serving as honorary counsellor of the International Association of Art, Miró created a poster on behalf of UNESCO’s campaign for human rights, in collaboration with the Parisian printing house Arte. The year 1978 marked the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one of the great achievements of the United Nations.
International Anti-Apartheid Year
The word apartheid, from Afrikaans, literally means “separateness.” As early as 1976, UNESCO’s General Conference proclaimed its practice as a hindrance to the development of education, science, culture and communication. At a world conference on actions against apartheid, held the following year in Lagos (Nigeria), UNESCO recommended the observance of International Anti-Apartheid Year. The observance of the year was marked by a series of symposia and the publication of books and research papers. Public awareness material like this poster by Salsi was disseminated.
Concurso de dibujos infantiles: “Cómo viviré en el año 2000”
Durante el Año Internacional del Niño, celebrado en 1979, la UNESCO llevó a cabo un amplio espectro de actividades en todos sus ámbitos de competencia para atraer la atención de la comunidad mundial sobre los niños y sus necesidades. Con objeto de llegar a la audiencia infantil y juvenil, se convocó un concurso de dibujo en cooperación con el UNICEF, el ACNUR, las Comisiones Nacionales y varias organizaciones de medios de comunicación. En el concurso, cuyo lema era “Mi vida en el año 2000” participaron niños de 85 países. Un jurado internacional concedió el primer premio a Hu Ziaozhu, un niño chino de siete años.
Europe and North America Latin America and the Caribbean Africa Arab States Asia Pacific