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The role of Member States

08.07.2020 - Article

Member States’ Permanent Delegations

Member States’ Permanent Delegations represent and incorporate the positions of their countries’ governments in UNESCO’s work and jointly agree the organization’s programme and budget. Furthermore, they inform their governments of ongoing developments and priorities within UNESCO.

Coordination in Germany

The Federal Foreign Office has lead responsibility for UNESCO affairs within the German Government. The Federal Foreign Office coordinates Germany’s contribution to UNESCO’s work with the relevant departments.

National UNESCO Commissions

UNESCO is the only specialised UN agency that provides for the establishment of National Commissions in Member States. All Member States have established a National Commission. The National Commissions support the membership of the respective States in the fields of education, science and culture by involving all national institutions, associations and civil society into their cooperation with UNESCO. Above all, the National Commissions act as an interface between the state, civil society and UNESCO.

German Commission for UNESCO

Annual General Meeting of the German Commission for UNESCO
Annual General Meeting of the German Commission for UNESCO© German Commission for UNESCO / Thomas Müller

In Germany, the German Commission for UNESCO advises the Federal Government, the Federal Parliament, the 16 federal states (Länder) and all other competent bodies upon all issues arising from Germany's membership in UNESCO and the implementation of UNESCO programmes and conventions in Germany. Among other things, the German Commission for UNESCO contributes the expertise of German institutes, associations, scientific and civil society organisations and experts into intergovernmental, multilateral cooperation. It also helps to shape Germany's membership in UNESCO and contributes to the implementation of UNESCO programmes in Germany. The headquarters of the Commission is in Bonn.

The German Commission for UNESCO was founded on 12 May 1950, even before the Federal Republic of Germany joined UNESCO (11 July 1951). On 3 October 1990, it also became the legal successor to the National Commission of the GDR.

As an intermediary organisation of foreign cultural and educational policy, the German Commission for UNESCO is financed by the Federal Foreign Office. Its legal form is that of a registered association. It relies, among other things, upon the expertise and networks of its 114 members, 100 of whom are elected, and a broad network of experts and institutions who work together in specialist committees, expert bodies and ad hoc formats. Special partners are the approximately 300 UNESCO ASPnet schools, the 16 UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, 6 UNESCO Global Geoparks, 14 UNESCO Chairs, 46 UNESCO World Heritage sites, groups in charge of intangible cultural heritage and German national committees for various intergovernmental programmes.


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