UNESCO was established on November 4th, 1946 as a specialized agency of the UN. Its 1st General Conference was held on November 19th, 1946 in Paris.

For more details, please visit The Organization’s History at UNESCO Headquarter

【The Origin of UNESCO】

 The forerunner of UNESCO is said to be International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (ICIC) established in Geneva under the League of Nations in 1922. ICIC was compromised of celebrated scholars, such as Albert Einstein (German-born theoretical physicist), Marie Curie (Polish-French physicist and chemist) and so on. Inazo Nitobe, Japanese scholar and one of the Under-Secretaries General of the League at that time, became a founding director of ICIC.

 In 1926, the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (IIIC) was established in Paris with financial aid from the French government to implement plans and policies made by ICIC. IIIC was an active institution with activities in variety of fields such as universities, libraries, intellectual property, arts, information and media. However, these activities were suspended due to the outbreak of WW II.

 Soon after WW II, in November 1945, a United Nations Conference for the establishment of an educational and cultural organization was convened in London with representatives from 44 countries. Initiated by France and the United Kingdom, the delegates decided to create an organization that would embody a genuine culture of peace. At the end of the conference, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was founded and the Constitution of UNESCO, signed on 16 November 1945, came into force on 4 November 1946.

【Present and Former Director-Generals】

  • 1999 ~ 2009   Koichiro Matsuura (Japan)
  • 1987 ~ 1999 Federico Mayor (Spain)
  • 1974 ~ 1987 Amadou-Mahtar M’Bow (Senegal)
  • 1962 ~ 1974 (acting 1959, 1961-1962) Rene Maheu (France)
  • 1958 ~ 1961 Vittorino Veronese (Italy)
  • 1953 ~ 1958 Luther Evans (U.S.A.)
  • 1952 ~ 1953 (acting DG) John W. Taylor (U.S.A.)
  • 1948 ~ 1952 Jaime Torres Bodet (Mexico)
  • 1946 ~ 1948 Julian Huxley (U.K.)

Please visit Director-General of UNESCO to find more about the director-generals

©UNESCO/Roger Lesage, UNESCO et UNESCO/Michel Claude
(Left: Maheu (right)  Center: M’Bow (middle)  Right: Mayor (right))

(Left: Matsuura (right) with the Pope   Center: Bodet (2nd from right)  Right: Evans (right))

(Office of the Director-General for International Affairs)