The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Founded in 1945, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a specialized agency of the United Nations, has a mandate in international cooperation in the fields of education, science, culture, and communication. UNESCO functions as a laboratory of ideas, setting standards to forge universal agreements on emerging issues. The Organization also serves as a clearing-house for the dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge as it assists its Member States to build on their human and institutional capacities.

The Culture Sector, as one of the Programme Sectors of UNESCO, has over the years been involved in the creation of seven international conventions in the field of culture. The Sector assists Member States in the protection and promotion of their cultural diversity through the adoption of measures encompassing heritage protection, rehabilitation and safeguarding, and the development and implementation of cultural policies and sustainable cultural industries.

Seven UNESCO Conventions in the fields of culture and heritage:

  • tangible, intangible and natural heritage
  • diversity of cultural expressions
  • copyright

Three related UNESCO Conventions in the fields of culture and heritage:

For further information:
UNESCO website

UNESCO has designated 98 International and Regional Institutes and Centres as Category 2 under the auspices of UNESCO.
Though not legally part of the Organization, these Institutes and Centres are associated with UNESCO through formal arrangements approved by the General Conference. They are selected upon proposal by Member State(s), based on the strength of their specialization in one of UNESCO’s fields of competence. Through capacity-building knowledge sharing and research, they provide a valuable and unique contribution to the implementation of UNESCO’s strategic programme objectives for the benefits of Member States.

List of Category 2 Institutes and Centres according to Sectors and Central Services, as approved by UNESCO’s General Conference:

At its 37th session (November 2013) UNESCO’s General Conference amended the integrated comprehensive strategy for category 2 institutes and centres, as approved in 37 C/Resolution 93 which supersedes all relevant prior resolutions by the General Conference on the subject.

The integrated comprehensive strategy, as well as the guidelines concerning the creation of new and renewals of existing institutes and centres under the auspices of UNESCO (category 2) as well as a model agreement between UNESCO and a Member State concerned, are contained in document 37 C/18 Part I, as presented in the DOCUMENTS box in the six official languages of the Organization.

In accordance to this global strategy, all UNESCO programme sectors will continue to further implement their own specific sector strategies for the engagement and interaction with relevant category 2 centres and institutes on specific themes.

Source: Institutes and Centres Category 2 – Official website of UNESCO;

Category 2 centres under the auspices of UNESCO are established and funded by Member States to contribute to the achievement of UNESCO’s objectives by way of global, regional, subregional or interregional activities. They are not legally a part of the Organization, but are associated with it through formal agreements between UNESCO and the Member State hosting the centre. The centres are intended to serve as international or regional centres and poles of expertise or excellence to provide technical assistance and services to Member States, cooperation partners and also to the network of UNESCO field offices. The category 2 centres are expected to contribute directly to achieving the Strategic Programme Objectives or programme priorities and themes of the Organization, and specifically to UNESCO’s programme results at the MLA level.

The centres share certain key objectives, among which are:

  • to promote the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and contribute to its implementation;
  • to reinforce capacities in the Region for actively implementing the 2003 Convention on the regional and international level;
  • to increase the participation of communities, groups and individuals in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage in the Region; and
  • to foster regional and international cooperation for safeguarding ICH.

Each centre has a specialized field of activity and set of functions in order to accomplish those shared objectives. There are to date seven centres devoted exclusively to intangible cultural heritage:

Source: Official website for category 2 centres active in the field of ICH – UNESCO