|On 11 December 1946, the new United Nations created the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund – UNICEF – to provide humanitarian relief to children in the aftermath of World War II.|
By David Koch
NEW YORK, USA, 7 December 2006 – UNICEF was never meant to be here today, in the first decade of the 21st century. Yet today, a world without UNICEF is unimaginable. On the eve of UNICEF’s 60th anniversary, which will be marked with events at its headquarters in New York tomorrow, here is a brief look back.
UNICEF was brought to life in December 1946 by unanimous vote at the first session of the UN General Assembly. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, as it was then known, was to provide short-term relief to children in post-World War II Europe.
Then as now, UNICEF was funded entirely by voluntary contributions – and once the immediate post-war needs of Europe’s children had been seen to, many thought UNICEF should cease to exist.
|In the 1980s, UNICEF launched the ‘Child Survival Revolution’ in response to global economic contraction and declining overseas development assistance. Low-cost health interventions saved millions of lives.|
1946-1959: An agency for children is born
Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ahmed Bokhari, argued passionately that children around the world faced an ongoing spiral of disease and poverty that stymied global development, and that UNICEF’s mission was as invaluable as ever. His argument prevailed:
1960-1979 The development decades
UNICEF was to provide more than just humanitarian relief. In the 1960s and ’70s, nutrition and health, education and family issues became additional areas of focus. In this period:
1980-1989: The silent emergency
Despite decades of humanitarian work, by 1980 some 15 million children were still dying of preventable causes each year. At this time, the ‘Child Survival Revolution’ began:
1990-1999: Recognizing child rights
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1990, went on to become the most universally adopted international treaty in history. Also during this decade:
2000-2006: Children at the heart of development
The Millennium Development Goals set forth in 2000 have served as a blueprint for global development toward 2015. Since the start of the new century:
|Children are at the heart of the eight Millennium Development Goals. MDG 1 vows to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, and MDG 4 commits to reducing infant mortality.|
Today and beyond
What began as a temporary experiment 60 years ago has grown to become the world’s leading agency for children. Today, UNICEF is active in over 190 countries, uniting people and partners to make the world a better place for future generations.
Sixty years is but a blink of an eye in the course of history, but in that brief span of time the world has become a different place for children entirely. With the Millennium Development Goals as our guide, UNICEF will continue to evolve and respond to the challenges children face in a complex yet wondrous world.
Unite for children.
2000-2006: Children at the heart of development.
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