Guide to Archives of International Organizations. Printable version

 Mandate and Objectives

UNICEF believes that nurturing and caring for children are the cornerstones of human progress. UNICEF was created with this purpose in mind – to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path. We believe that we can, together, advance the cause of humanity.
Brief Overview of Main Activities

We advocate for measures to give children the best start in life, because proper care at the youngest age forms the strongest foundation for a person’s future. We promote girls’ education – ensuring that they complete primary education as a minimum – because it benefits all children, both girls and boys. Girls who are educated grow up to become better thinkers, better citizens, and better parents to their own children. We act so that all children are immunized against common childhood diseases, and are well nourished, because it is wrong for a child to suffer or die from a preventable illness. We work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among young people because it is right to keep them from harm and enable them to protect others. We help children and families affected by HIV/AIDS to live their lives with dignity. We involve everyone in creating protective environments for children. We are present to relieve suffering during emergencies, and wherever children are threatened, because no child should be exposed to violence, abuse or exploitation. UNICEF upholds the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We work to assure equality for those who are discriminated against, girls and women in particular. We work for the Millennium Development Goals and for the progress promised in the United Nations Charter. We strive for peace and security. We work to hold everyone accountable to the promises made for children. We are part of the Global Movement for Children – a broad coalition dedicated to improving the life of every child. Through this movement, and events such as the United Nations Special Session on Children, we encourage young people to speak out and participate in the decisions that affect their lives. More detail at
Geographical Scope

We work in 190 countries through country programmes and National Committees.
Working Languages: English

 Origins and Process of Creation

By resolution UN/GA/57 (I) of 11 December 1946, the United Nations General Assembly established the United Nations International Children's Fund Emergency Fund (UNICEF), following the decision of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) on termination of its activities in August 1946 to apply its residual assets to a fund to provide relief for the suffering children in war-devastated Europe. By resolution 417 (V) of 1 December 1950, the General Assembly decided to shift the main emphasis of the Fund toward programmes of long-range benefit to children of the developing countries. By resolution 802 (VIII) of 6 October 1953, it unanimously voted to continue the Fund for an indefinite period. The official name was shortened to United Nations Children’s Fund but the well-known acronym UNICEF was retained.
Creation date and Birthplace:

Founded in 1946
Chronology of Highligts in the History of the Organization


 Governing Bodies

UNICEF relation to UNGA & ECOSOC: UNICEF is a subsidiary body of the General Assembly, to which it reports through the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. As an integral part of the United Nations, its work is reviewed annually by the Economic and Social Council (in accordance with General Assembly resolution 802 (VIII), section 5 (b)) and by the General Assembly. The UNICEF financial report and accounts and the report of the Board of Auditors are submitted to the General Assembly and are reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions and by the Fifth Committee. UNICEF Executive Board The Executive Board is the governing body of UNICEF. It is responsible for providing inter-governmental support to and supervision of the activities of UNICEF, in accordance with the overall policy guidance of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. The Board meets three times each year, in a first regular (January), annual (June) and second regular session (September). The Board, like the governing bodies of other United Nations funds and programmes (UNDP, UNFPA and WFP), is subject to the authority of the Council. Its role is to:
  • Implement the policies formulated by the Assembly and the coordination and guidance received from the Council; Receive information from and give guidance to the Executive Director on the work of UNICEF;
  • Ensure that the activities and operational strategies of UNICEF are consistent with the overall policy guidance set forth by the Assembly and the Council;
  • Monitor the performance of UNICEF; Approve programmes, including country programmes;
  • Decide on administrative and financial plans and budgets;
  • Recommend new initiatives to the Council and, through the Council, to the assembly as necessary;
  • Encourage and examine new programme initiatives; and
  • Submit annual reports to the Council in its substantive session, which could include recommendations, where appropriate, for improvement of field-level coordination.
The Board has 36 members, elected for a three-year term with the following regional allocation of seats: 8 African States, 7 Asian States, 4 Eastern European States, 5 Latin American and Caribbean States and 12 Western European and Other States (including Japan). The officers of the Board, constituting the Bureau, are elected by the Board at its first regular session of each calendar year from among Board members. There are five officers—the President and four Vice-Presidents—representing the five regional groups at the United Nations. Officers of the Board are elected for a one-year term. The Board year runs from 1 January to 31 December. The Economic and Social Council elects States to sit on the UNICEF Executive Board from States Members of the United Nations or of the specialized agencies or of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Board sessions are held at United Nations Headquarters in New York. All formal meetings of the Board are interpreted in the six official languages of the United Nations (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish and Russian). A set of established Rules of Procedure facilitates the conduct of meetings. The Office of the Secretary of the Executive Board (OSEB) is responsible for maintaining effective relationship between the Board and the UNICEF secretariat. Under the guidance of the President and the Bureau and through regular contacts with them, it organizes the business of and services all Board sessions. The office has similar responsibilities in relation to the wide range of informal consultations, briefings and Bureau meetings. In addition, OSEB provides editorial and technical services for all documentation submitted to, or resulting from, meetings of the Board, working closely with the United Nations Secretariat, which translates and produces most documents in the required official languages. Documents are distributed to Board members six weeks before the start of each session. The office maintains a permanent record of all deliberations and decisions of the Board. In close collaboration with the Programme Division and the concerned UNICEF field offices, OSEB organizes and arranges field visits by Board members and the President of the Board.
Organizational Chart

Field Offices

UNICEF is the leading advocate for children’s rights, active in 190 countries through country programmes and National Committees through a network of Regional Offices: Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States; East Asia and the Pacific; Eastern and Southern Africa; Industrialized countries; Latin America and the Caribbean; Middle East and North Africa; South Asia; West and Central Africa