United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization


What is UNESCO?

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was founded on November 14, 1945. This specialized United Nations agency based in Paris pursues a mission of contributing to peace and global security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific and cultural reforms.

Its aim is to further universal respect for justice, human rights and fundamental freedom as defined in the Charter of the United Nations. UNESCO replaced the League of Nations International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation.

UNESCO’s objectives include contributing to building peace, eradicating poverty, and promoting sustainable development and intercultural dialogue via a series of programs. One of the organization’s priorities is to ensure universal access to education, to challenge and address social and ethical challenges while protecting and encouraging cultural diversity, and to build knowledge societies rich in information and communication.

The mission as outlined in the Millennium Development Goals underpins all UNESCO strategies and activities.   


The UNESCO Chair of Applied Research for Education in Prison was an outcome of the Dakar Framework for Action, Education for All: Meeting Our Collective Commitments. This framework was adopted by 164 countries in Dakar, Senegal, in 2000, thus affirming that education is a universal right for every person, no matter the circumstance, and that education is an essential tool for social development.

The International Conference on Education, held in Geneva in November 2008, reiterated the importance of upholding Article 26 of the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This article stipulates that education is a fundamental human right and that quality education is essential for the development of an inclusive society where human, social and economic development is possible. Participants all recognized that education is a broad concept and that education is an important tool in the reintegration of former offenders into the community.

In this context, a broad concept of education as a social inclusion tool can become a guiding principle that aims to promote lifelong learning and access to education and learning opportunities for all social classes. The member states recommended that they “collect and use relevant data on all categories of the excluded to better develop education policies and reforms, thus aiming for inclusion” and to “recognize UNESCO’s leading role regarding inclusive education through promoting the exchange and dissemination of best practices.” These and other mandates form the mission statement of the UNESCO Chair of Applied Research for Education in Prison.

During the 179th session of UNESCO’s Executive Board in April 2008, participants decided to launch a strategy for technical and vocational education. Many member states view education as a determining factor in the success of economic and social reform in both industrialized and developing countries. Therefore, the strategy would play a key role in the pursuit of access to education for all.

The final document approved during the 2009 Sixth International Conference on Adult Education in Belem (CONFINTEA VI) furthered the cause by including a commitment to “providing adult education in prison at all appropriate levels.” Mr. Paul Bélanger and Mr. Jean-Pierre Simoneau, both UNESCO Chair representatives, attended this conference.

During December 2010, the UNESCO Chair in Applied Research for Education in Prison was established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at its Paris headquarters.

In 2011, the Cégep Marie-Victorin’s UNESCO Chair in Applied Research for Education in Prison was officially created. This is the only chair in the world concerned with providing access to education in prison and also the first research-based UNESCO chair within a Canadian college.

The creation of this UNESCO Chair in Applied Research for Education in Prison combined UNESCO’s strategic priorities as outlined in its mediumterm strategy documents 34C/4 and 34C/5 and 34C/5 approved budget.

In 2015, the UNESCO chair was renewed for the 2015 to 2019 mandate and recognized for exceptional work.

L’UNESCO: its goals and philosophy click here


Find out more about UNESCO’s education objectives for 2015

to 2030 by visiting this webpage: http://uis.unesco.org/


You can view a clip of the day UNESCO was created during its inaugural conference

in London and find out more about its origins here: