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Our history

UNICEF past, present and future


Food to Europe
After World War II, European children face famine and disease. UNICEF is created in December 1946 by the United Nations to provide food, clothing and health care to them.




© UNICEF/ICEF-3895/Jack Ling



UNICEF becomes permanent part of the UN
The UN General Assembly extends UNICEF’s mandate indefinitely. UNICEF begins a successful global campaign against yaws, a disfiguring disease affecting millions of children, and one that can be cured with penicillin.


Danny Kaye
The movie star Danny Kaye becomes UNICEF’s “Ambassador at Large.” His film Assignment Children, about UNICEF’s work in Asia, is seen by more than 100 million people.


© UNICEF/HQ54-001





Declaration of the Rights of the Child
The UN General Assembly adopts the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which defines children’s rights to protection, education, health care, shelter and good nutrition.



Following more than a decade of focus on child health issues, UNICEF expands its interests to address the needs of the whole child. Thus begins an abiding concern with education, starting with support to teacher training and classroom equipment in newly independent countries.


© UNICEF/ICEF-4771/M & E Bernheim


© UNICEF/HQ65-0002



Nobel Peace Prize
UNICEF is awarded the 1965 Nobel Peace Prize “for the promotion of brotherhood among nations.”



International Year of the Child
Marked by celebrations around the world, people and organizations reaffirm their commitment to children’s rights.


© UNICEF/HQ93-1868/Charton


© UNICEF/HQ93-1616/Lemoyne



Breastfeeding Code approved
The World Health Assembly adopts the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes in order to encourage breastfeeding, and in so doing diminish the threats to infant health.



Child Survival and Development Revolution
UNICEF launches a drive to save the lives of millions of children each year.  The ‘revolution’ is based on four simple, low-cost techniques: growth monitoring, oral rehydration therapy, breastfeeding and immunization.


© UNICEF/C43-12/McCloskey


© UNICEF/HQ91-0241/Toutounji



Landmark UNICEF study
UNICEF’s study Adjustment with a Human Face prompts a global debate on how to protect children and women from the malign effects of the economic adjustments and reforms taken to reduce national debt in poor countries.



Convention on the Rights of the Child
The Convention is adopted by the UN General Assembly. It enters into force in September 1990. It becomes the most widely- and rapidly-accepted human rights treaty in history.


© UNICEF/HQ94-1385/Little


© UNICEF/HQ90-0117/Mera



World Summit for Children
An unprecedented summit of Heads of State and Government at the United Nations in New York City sets 10-year goals for children’s health, nutrition and education.



Children and conflict
War’s effect on children receives serious attention in the Machel Report: The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children, a study supported by UNICEF.


© UNICEF/HQ95-0986/Chalasani


© UNICEF/HQ95-0492/Lemoyne



United Nations Security Council debates children and conflict
The Council’s first open debate on the subject reflects the strength of international concern over the effects of war on children.



Say Yes for Children campaign launched
The Global Movement for Children begins mobilizing every citizen of every nation to change the world with children. The Say Yes for Children campaign builds on this momentum, with millions of children and adults around the world pledging their support for critical actions to improve children’s lives.


© UNICEF/HQ02-0148/Markisz



Special Session on Children
A landmark Special Session of the UN General Assembly was convened to review progress since the World Summit for Children in 1990 and re-energize global commitment to children's rights. It was the first such Session devoted exclusively to children and the first to include them as official delegates.



Nobel Prize

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1965 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to UNICEF

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