UNICEF, also known as the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, is a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. The agency is among the most widespread and recognizable social welfare organizations in the world, with a presence in 192 countries and territories. UNICEF’s activities include providing immunizations and disease prevention, administering treatment for children and mothers with HIV, enhancing childhood and maternal nutrition, improving sanitation, promoting education, and providing emergency relief in response to disasters.
UNICEF is the successor of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), created on December 11, 1946, in New York, by the U.N. Relief Rehabilitation Administration to provide immediate relief to children and mothers affected by World War II. The same year, the U.N. General Assembly established UNICEF to further institutionalize post-war relief work. In 1950, its mandate was extended to address the long-term needs of children and women, particularly in developing countries. In 1953, the organization became a permanent part of the United Nations System, and its name was subsequently changed to its current form, though it retains the original acronym.
UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary contributions from governments and private donors. Its total income as of 2018 was $5.2 billion, of which two-thirds came from governments; private groups and individuals contributed the rest through national committees. It is governed by a 36-member executive board that establishes policies, approves programs, and oversees administrative and financial plans. The board is made up of government representatives elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, usually for three-year terms.
UNICEF’s programs emphasize developing community-level services to promote the health and well-being of children. Most of its work is in the field, with a network that includes 150 country offices, headquarters and other facilities and 34 “national committees” that carry out its mission through programs developed with host governments. Seven regional offices provide technical assistance to country offices as needed, while its Supply Division—based in Copenhagen and New York—helps provide over $3 billion in critical aid and services.
In 2018, UNICEF assisted in the birth of 27 million babies, administered pentavalent vaccines to an estimated 65.5 million children, provided education for 12 million children, treated four million children with severe acute malnutrition, and responded to 285 humanitarian emergencies in 90 countries. UNICEF has received recognition for its work, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965, the Indira Gandhi Prize in 1989 and the Princess of Asturias Award in 2006. During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, UNICEF, along with the World Health Organization and other agencies, published guidance about healthy parenting.
GOVERNANCE OF UNICEF
UNICEF relies on country offices to help carry out its work through a unique program of cooperation developed with the host government. The programs last five years and seek to develop practical strategies for fulfilling and protecting the rights of children and women. Regional offices guide this work and provide technical assistance to country offices as needed. Overall management and administration of the organization take place at its headquarters in New York City.
Guiding and monitoring all of UNICEF’s work is an executive board made up of 36 members who are government representatives. The board establishes policies, approves programs and decides on administrative and financial plans and budgets. Its work is coordinated by the bureau, comprising the president and four vice-presidents, each officer representing one of the five regional groups. These five officers are elected by the executive board annually from among its members, with the presidency rotating among the regional groups on an annual basis. As a matter of custom, permanent members of the Security Council do not serve as officers of the executive board.
The office of the secretary of the executive board helps maintain an effective relationship between the executive board and the UNICEF secretariat, and organizes field visits by board members.
SOCIAL POLICY OF UNICEF
UNICEF aims to reduce child poverty and give all children an equitable chance in life. Together with partners, we help level the playing field for disadvantaged children, including those uprooted by war and violence.
UNICEF calls for all Governments to recognize child poverty as a national policy priority and protect children from its most devastating effects. We support countries’ efforts to assess both monetary and multidimensional child poverty – measures of poverty and deprivation that go beyond income – and to address them through policies, programmes and budgets.
UNICEF helps countries strengthen and expand social protection systems that support the well-being of all children, especially those most at risk of discrimination and exclusion. This includes supporting the development and expansion of national cash transfer programmes, and strengthening social protection systems so that all families gain access to health care, education and social welfare, even in the face of humanitarian crises.
3.Public finance for children
UNICEF supports national and local governments to mobilize, allocate and improve the utilization of public financial resources to deliver more equitable and sustainable social services and contribute to better results for children.
UNICEF helps build the capacity of local governments – in both urban and rural contexts – to generate local data, plan and organize services, prepare for emergencies, budget equitably and monitor the impact of interventions on children.