What Are the Functions of UNESCO?

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, fosters international peace and development by encouraging intercultural dialogue in education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. The organization has a large number of components, including learning institutions, nongovernmental organization partners, sponsored prizes and funding for professionals in many fields.

UNESCO’s general goals include attaining quality education for all, sustainable development, social and ethical equity, cultural diversity and an inclusive, global society. To meet these goals, UNESCO, a specialized agency of the United Nations, works through its own organizations and through affiliated governments and NGOs. One important part of UNESCO’s support for cultural diversity and sustainable development is its World Heritage Site program, which designates places with special cultural or physical importance, thereby raising their profile and discouraging their destruction while fostering intercultural dialogue.

UNESCO encourages education by funding a number of initiatives to train teachers and journalists to encourage education and a free press, both important components for democratic societies. It also monitors the state of global education, shining a light on countries and regions that consistently fail their students. UNESCO sponsors a series of International Days, such as World Poetry Day on March 21, World Teachers’ Day on Oct. 5 and Human Rights Day on Dec. 10. These days bring attention to important communities or issues in the world.