Becoming the leading voice: 2006–2020

See how UNICEF has become the world’s primary voice for child survival and development.

A photo of 2 women.
19 May 2021

As the world faced multiple crises — natural disasters, climate change, rising poverty and inequality that affect the most vulnerable and the COVID-19 pandemic — UNICEF took a leading role in ensuring global recovery, challenging systemic inequity around the world and prioritizing investments for children.


A magnitude 7 earthquake kills nearly 160,000 people and displaces more than 1 million people from their homes in Haiti. UNICEF leads the international response on behalf of children.

A mother receives antibiotics at a medical tent for displaced earthquake survivors in Jacmel. Haiti, 2010.
Haiti, 2010: A mother receives antibiotics at a medical tent for displaced earthquake survivors in Jacmel.

The upheaval of the Arab Spring and the crisis in the Syrian Arab Republic pose major challenges for UNICEF and other humanitarian agencies.

A boy and a girl look through a fence. Iraq, 2013.
Iraq, 2013: Two Syrian children at the Domiz refugee camp.


In joining the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI), UNICEF commits to greater transparency in all its work, so that its methods can be understood.

UNICEF hosts the first Forum of the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities.

A child delegate is interviewed.
United States, 2012: A child delegate is interviewed at the Forum of the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities.


UNICEF launches the first version of RapidPro – an open-source platform for sharing real-time data across health, education and youth engagement platforms.

A health worker checks cholera alerts from RapidPro on a mobile phone.
Burundi, 2015: A health worker checks cholera alerts from RapidPro on a mobile phone in Nyanza Lac.

On February 11, 2014, India – where once there were 200,000 crippling cases of polio a year – celebrates six years without a case of wild poliovirus. 

 A newborn child is vaccinated.
India, 2014: A newborn child is vaccinated at a rural childcare health centre in Dandwal village.


Mobile technology makes the distribution of medicine and supplies faster and more accurate. This becomes especially important during the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

Adolescent girls read text messages.
Liberia, 2015: Adolescent girls read U-Report text messages on mobile telephones in Monrovia, Liberia. Developed by UNICEF, U-Report allows subscribers to ask questions and get real time answers on pressing issues, as in the case of Ebola.

The UNICEF Office of Innovation inspires new and creative approaches, partnerships and technologies that can improve the lives of children.


UNICEF is at the forefront of fighting Zika virus, which causes microcephaly in the womb and can impair the physical and intellectual development of babies. 

A mother holding her baby up.
UNICEF/UN011574/Ueslei Marcelino
Brazil, 2016. Alice (15) holds her 4-month old baby born with microcephaly in Recife.


Generation Unlimited, a global partnership of policy-makers, CEOs, civic leaders, and philanthropists is launched at the United Nations General Assembly. It’s aim is to expand education, vocational training, and employment opportunities for young people.

Generation Unlimited logo


More than 1.5 million children in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe are left without homes, schools, health centres, food or protection in the wake of Cyclone Idai. UNICEF brings safe water and sanitation kits, vaccination and screening for malnutrition, and psychosocial support them.

A boy carries an infant
UNICEF/UN0291173/de Wet AFP-Services
Mozambique, 2019. Helcio Filipe Antonio holds Anderson Tackdi in the Samora Michel High School in Beira. The school was used as a living space for people from Buzi who had been displaced by the floods caused by Cyclone Idai.

On the 30th Anniversary of the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF takes stock of the achievements of the past three decades and advocates for the critical work that remains. UNICEF also supports young petitioners to file a complaint with the Committee on the Rights of the Child to address the climate crisis. 

Two girls jumping
Turkey, 2019. Girls celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


As the COVID-19 pandemic grips the world, UNICEF plays a key role in the United Nations’ global response to the crisis and as part of the global vaccine distribution plan — COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX). We are leading efforts to procure and supply COVID-19 vaccines so that all countries have fair and equitable access to the vaccine.

Vaccine supplies handled in packages
Lebanon, 2020. UNICEF employees transfer vaccines from a warehouse damaged by a deadly explosion that took over 150 lives and left many people homeless.

Throughout its history, UNICEF has worked to drive change for the most disadvantaged children. Today we continue to work to promote the rights and well-being of children everywhere.

Discover why we do what we do in our mandate and mission.