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UNICEF History

Milestones: Year by year through UNICEF's history

"On 11 December 1946, the global community proclaims a new ethic of protection and care of children, establishing the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to respond to the millions of displaced and refugee children deprived of shelter, fuel and food in the aftermath of World War II.

"The story of UNICEF is a story of childhoods lost and reclaimed, childhoods nurtured and protected. It is the story of how much good the human family can do when it unites to protect the rights of its youngest and most vulnerable citizens."*

The following year-by-year account provides an overview of significant events and achievements through UNICEF's history from its creation in 1946.


Great Moments in UNICEF History, narrated by Sir Roger Moore 

UNICEF 1990-1999: Recognizing Child Rights

UNICEF 1960-1979: The Development Decades

UNICEF 1946-1959: An Agency for Children is Born

1946-1955 | 1956-1965 | 1966-1975 
1976-1985 | 1986-1995

Milestones for years later than 1995 are in preparation.
*Quotation from 1946-2006: Sixty Years for Children.








UNICEF at 65

On UNICEF's 65th birthday, this article takes a look at the organization's history.

History in multimedia

The following multimedia website on UNICEF’s history was released for the organization’s 60th Anniversary. Each segment includes an illustrated timeline, posters and stamps, and video interviews about developments in the given period. Some include music and coins as well.

1946-1959 | 1960-1979
1980-1989 | 1990-1999

60-year documentary

Well-known actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Vanessa Redgrave and her son, documentary filmmaker Carlo Nero, produced the film 'Wake Up World' -- tracing the history of UNICEF from a very personal point of view. Read more and watch an excerpt.

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