About UNICEF

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child.

a child with mother

Our Mission

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

In all of its work, UNICEF takes a life-cycle based approach, recognizing the particular importance of early childhood development and adolescence. UNICEF programmes focus on the most disadvantaged children, including those living in fragile contexts, those with disabilities, those who are affected by rapid urbanization and those affected by environmental degradation.

UNICEF was created with a distinct purpose in mind: to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path. We advocate for measures to give children the best start in life, because proper care at the youngest age forms the strongest foundation for a person’s future.

We promote girls’ education – ensuring that they complete primary education as a minimum – because it benefits all children, both girls and boys. Girls who are educated grow up to become better thinkers, better citizens, and better parents to their own children. We act so that all children are immunized against common childhood diseases, and are well nourished: no child should suffer or die from a preventable illness. We work to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS among young people because it is right to keep them from harm and enable them to protect others. We help children and families affected by HIV/AIDS to live their lives with dignity.

We involve everyone in creating protective environments for children. We are present to relieve suffering during emergencies, and wherever children are threatened, because no child should be exposed to violence, abuse or exploitation.

UNICEF upholds the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  We work to assure equality for those who are discriminated against, girls and women in particular. We work for the Millennium Development Goals and for the progress promised in the United Nations Charter. We strive for peace and security. We work to hold everyone accountable to the promises made for children.

We are part of the Global Movement for Children – a broad coalition dedicated to improving the life of every child.  Through this movement, and events such as the United Nations Special Session on Children, we encourage young people to speak out and participate in the decisions that affect their lives. 

We are active in more than 190 countries and territories through country programmes and National Committees.

We are UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.

All children have a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential – to the benefit of a better world.

India 1949

UNICEF was established in 1946 by the United Nations to safeguard the lives of children struggling to survive in the aftermath of World War II – and in doing so, to help rebuild destroyed societies and restore hope for a better future. For more than 70 years, UNICEF has worked relentlessly in the world’s toughest places to bring life-saving aid and long-term support to children whose lives and futures are endangered by conflict, crises, poverty, inequality, and discrimination. 

Boys in Afghanistan

Despite remarkable challenges around the world, UNICEF staffers fight for the rights of every child seeking safe shelter, nutrition, protection from disaster and conflicts, and equality.

UNICEF staff

UNICEF works with the United Nations other United Nations agencies to make sure that children are on the global agenda. UNICEF strikes a balance between thorough research and practical solutions for children.

 

AR 2016

Our annual report outlines our efforts to realize the rights of every child and break the cycle of poverty and inequity around the world. Read the full report to see what UNICEF is doing to protect children.

FAQs about UNICEF

Get answers to some of the frequently asked questions about UNICEF.