The commissions for UNESCO

Each UNESCO member state has the obligation to set up a national commission. This commission comprises experts who are active in four main fields: education, science, culture and communication and information. Due to its structure as a federal state, Belgium has two commissions: The Flemish Commission for UNESCO and the Belgian French-speaking and German-speaking Commission for UNESCO.

UNESCO is the only organisation within the United Nations that has national commissions, thereby involving civil society in its activities, such as for example the main cultural, scientific and educational institutes. There are nearly 200 national commissions for UNESCO in the world.

The Belgian national commission for UNESCO was founded on 12 February 1949. It came under the remit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and had a mandate for the coordination of UNESCO’s governmental and non-governmental activities. This national commission no longer exists as such in the Belgian federal structure. Due to successive government reforms, most of UNESCO’s fields of activity now come under the remit of communities and regions. Currently, there are two commissions for UNESCO in Belgium: the Flemish Commission for UNESCO, founded in 2003 and the Belgian French-speaking and German-speaking Commission for UNESCO, dating back to 2006. The two commissions endeavour to strengthen their cooperation and develop synergy.

Tasks and responsibilities

The commissions for UNESCO in each member state form the national points of contact that can help UNESCO guide and implement its programmes. Although these commissions contribute to UNESCO’s activity, they also support their government by advising it on all matters within the organisation’s remit. The commissions can also take the initiative themselves to help achieve UNESCO’s goals in their countries.