The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is a United Nations program headquartered in New York City that provides long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries. It is one of the members of the United Nations Development Group and its Executive Committee.
UNICEF was created by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II. Maurice Pate, American humanitarian and businessman, co-founded the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) with Herbert Hoover in 1947. Pate served as its first executive director from 1947 until his death in 1965. In 1953, UNICEF became a permanent part of the United Nations System and its name was shortened from the original United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund but it has continued to be known by the popular acronym based on this previous title.
UNICEF relies on contributions from governments and private donors, UNICEF’s total income for 2008 was $3,372,540,239. Governments contribute two thirds of the organization’s resources; private groups and some 6 million individuals contribute the rest through the National Committees. It is estimated that 91.8% of their revenue is distributed to Program Services. UNICEF’s programs emphasize developing community-level services to promote the health and well-being of children. UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 and the Prince of Asturias Award of Concord in 2006.
Most of UNICEF’s work is in the field, with staff in over 190 countries and territories. More than 200 country offices carry out UNICEF’s mission through a program developed with host governments. Seventeen regional offices provide technical assistance to country offices as needed.
Overall management and administration of the organization takes place at its headquarters in New York. UNICEF’s Supply Division is based in Copenhagen and serves as the primary point of distribution for such essential items as vaccines, antiretroviral medicines for children and mothers with HIV, nutritional supplements, emergency shelters, family reunification, educational supplies, among others. A 36-member Executive Board establishes policies, approves programs and oversees administrative and financial plans. The Executive Board is made up of government representatives who are elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, usually for three-year terms.
Recent executive directors of UNICEF include Carol Bellamy (1995–2005), a former head of the Peace Corps, and Ann Veneman (2005-2010), a former United States Secretary of Agriculture whose mandate included increasing the organization’s focus on the Millennium Development Goals. Since 2010, the current Executive Director of UNICEF has been Anthony Lake, a former US National Security Advisor.
UNICEF is an intergovernmental organization (IGO) and thus is accountable to those governments. UNICEF’s salary and benefits package is based on the United Nations Common System.
UNICEF National Committee
There are National Committees in 36 [industrialized] countries worldwide, each established as an independent local non-governmental organization. The National Committees raise funds from the private sector.
UNICEF is funded exclusively by voluntary contributions, and the National Committees collectively raise around one-third of UNICEF’s annual income. This comes through contributions from corporations, civil society organizations around 6 million individual donors worldwide. They also rally many different partners – including the media, national and local government officials, NGOs, specialists such as doctors and lawyers, corporations, schools, young people and the general public – on issues related to children’s rights.
On 7 September 2006, an agreement between UNICEF and the Spanish Catalan association football club FC Barcelona was reached whereby the club would donate 1.5 million euros per year to the organization for five years. As part of the agreement, FC Barcelona will wear the UNICEF logo on the front of their uniform. This was the first time a football club sponsored an organization rather than the other way around. It was also the first time in FC Barcelona’s history that they have had another organization’s name across the front of their uniform.
In January 2007 UNICEF struck a partnership with Canada’s national tent pegging team. The team was officially re-flagged as “UNICEF Team Canada”, its riders wear UNICEF’s logo in competition, and team members promote and raise funds for UNICEF’s campaign against childhood HIV-AIDS. When the team became the 2008 tent pegging world champions, UNICEF’s flag was raised alongside the Canadian flag at the games, the first time in the history of international Grand Prix equestrian competition that a non-state flag has flown over the medal podium.
The Swedish club Hammarby IF followed the Spanish and Canadian lead on 14 April 2007, also raising funds for UNICEF and displaying the UNICEF name on their sportswear. The Danish football club Brøndby IF participated in a similar arrangement from 2008 to 2013.
Australian A-League club Sydney FC announced they would also enter into a partnership with UNICEF raising funds for children in the Asia-Pacific region, and would also display the UNICEF logo for the remainder of the 2011-12 A-League season.
Race driver Jacques Villeneuve has occasionally placed the UNICEF logo on the #27 Bill Davis Racing pickup truck in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
In Botswana, UNICEF has funded the development of new state-of-the-art HIV/AIDS education for every schoolchild in Botswana from nonprofit organization TeachAIDS.
UNICEF recently announced a landmark partnership with Scottish club Rangers F.C. UNICEF will partner the Rangers Charity Foundation and have pledged to raise £300,000 by 2011.
In 2010, UNICEF created a partnership with Phi Iota Alpha, making them the first Greek Lettered Organization UNICEF has ever worked with. In 2011, Phi Iota Alpha raised over $20,000 for the Tap Project and the Trick or Treats for UNICEF Campaign.
In 2013, they agreed a contract with Greek association football champions Olympiacos F.C. who will don the organization’s logo on the front of their shirts.
UNICEF Ambassadors are leaders in the entertainment industry, representing the fields of film, television, music, sports and beyond. They help raise awareness of the needs of children, and use their talent and fame to fund-raise, advocate, and educate on behalf of UNICEF.
UNICEF World Warehouse
The old UNICEF World Warehouse is a large facility in Denmark, which hosts UNICEF deliverable goods as well as co-hosts emergency goods for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Until 2012 the facilities was a 25,000m2 warehouse at Marmormolen in Copenhagen. With construction of a 45,000m2 UN City that is to house all UN activities in Copenhagen under one roof, the warehouse service has been relocated to outer parts of the Freeport of Copenhagen. The facility houses the UNICEF Supply Division which manages strategic transport hubs in Dubai, Panama and Shanghai. The warehouse contains a variety of items, e.g., food supplements, water purification tablets, dietary and vitamin supplements, and the “School in a box” (illustrated above).
UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre
The UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre in Florence, Italy, was established in 1988. The centre, formally known as the International Child Development Centre, has as its prime objectives to improve international understanding of issues relating to children’s rights, to promote economic policies that advance the cause of children, and to help facilitate the full implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in industrialized and developing countries.
It reaffirms the centre’s academic freedom and the focus of IRC’s research on knowledge gaps, emerging questions and sensitive issues which are relevant to the realization of children’s rights, in developing and industrialized countries. It capitalizes on IRC’s role as an interface between UNICEF field experience, international experts, research networks and policy makers and is designed to strengthen the centre’s institutional collaboration with regional academic and policy institutions, pursuing the following goals:
- Generation and communication of strategic and influential knowledge on issues affecting children and the realization of their rights;
- Knowledge exchange and brokering;
- Support to UNICEF’s advocacy, policy and programme development in support of the Millennium Agenda
- Securing and strengthening the centre’s institutional and financial basis.
*Three interrelated strategies guide the achievement of these goals:
- Evidence-based analysis drawing on quantitative and qualitative information, the application of appropriate methodologies, and the development of recommendations to assess and in form advocacy and policy action.
- Enhanced partnerships with research and policy institutions and development actors, globally and at regional level, in developing and industrialized countries.
- Communication and leveraging of research findings and recommendations to support policy development and advocacy initiatives through strategic dissemination of studies and contribution to relevant events and fora.