United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Part- I

The United Nations Children's Fund is a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. 

  • Based in U.N. headquarters in New York City,  
  • It is among the most widespread and recognizable social welfare organizations in the world, with a presence in 192 countries and territories. 
  • UNICEF's activities include immunizations and disease prevention, administering treatment for children and mothers with HIV, enhancing childhood and maternal nutrition, improving sanitation, promoting education, and providing emergency relief in response to disasters. 
  • UNICEF is the successor of the International Children’s Emergency Fund (ICEF), created in 1946 by the U.N. Relief Rehabilitation Administration to provide immediate relief to children and mothers affected by World War II.  
  • The same year, the U.N. General Assembly established the United Nations International  Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to further institutionalize post-war relief work. 
  • In 1950, UNICEF's mandate was extended to address the long-term needs of children and women, particularly in developing countries.  
  • In 1953, the organization became a permanent part of the United Nations System, and its name was subsequently changed to its current form, though it retains the original acronym. 
  • UNICEF relies entirely on contributions from governments and private donors. Its total income as of 2018 was $5.2 billion, of which two-thirds came from governments; private groups and individuals contributed the rest through national committees. 
  • It is governed by a 36-member executive board that establishes policies, approves programs, and oversees administrative and financial plans.  
  • The board is made up of government representatives elected by the United Nations  Economic and Social Council, usually for three-year terms.  
  • UNICEF's programs emphasize developing community-level services to promote the  health and well-being of children 
  • It was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1965. 


UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children's rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.

Scope of Work 

  • After 1950, UNICEF directed its efforts toward general programs for the improvement of children’s welfare, particularly in less-developed countries and in various emergency situations. 
  • It eventually expanded its scope to the struggle of women, especially mothers, in the developing world. For example, it launched its 'Women in Development  Programme' in 1980. 
  • In 1982, UNICEF commenced a new children's health program that focused on monitoring growth, oral rehydration therapy, advocating breastfeeding and immunization
  • The work of the UNICEF includes: 
  • Child Development and Nutrition; 
  • Child Protection; 
  • Education; 
  • Child Environment; 
  • Polio Eradication; 
  • Reproductive and Child Health; 
  •  Children and AIDS; 
  • Social Policy, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation; 
  • Advocacy and Partnership; 
  • Behaviour Change Communication; 
  • Emergency Preparedness and Response. 
  • UNICEF mobilizes political will and material resources to help countries, particularly developing countries. 
  • UNICEF is committed to ensuring special protection for the most disadvantaged children  — victims of war, disasters, extreme poverty, all forms of violence and exploitation,  especially those with disabilities. 
  • UNICEF works with all its partners towards the attainment of the sustainable human development goals adopted by the world community. 
  • The realization of the vision of peace and social progress enshrined in the Charter of the  United Nations. 


  • UNICEF is governed by an Executive Board consisting of 36 members that are elected to  terms of three years by the United Nations' Economic and Social Council
  • The following countries are home to UNICEF Regional Offices.  
  • The Americas and Caribbean Regional Office, Panama City, Panama 
  • Europe and Central Asia Regional Office, Geneva, Switzerland 
  • East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office, Bangkok, Thailand 
  • Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office, Nairobi, Kenya 
  • The Middle East and North Africa Regional Office, Amman, Jordan 
  • South Asia Regional Office, Kathmandu, Nepal
  • West and Central Africa Regional Office, Dakar, Senegal 
  • Each region that UNICEF serves is allocated a number of seats on the Executive Board,  so all regions are represented. 
  • There are also 36 national committees across the globe, which are non-governmental organizations that help promote the rights of children and fundraise. 


  • The national committees are an integral part of UNICEF’s global organization and a unique feature of UNICEF. 
  • Serving as the public face and dedicated voice of UNICEF, the National  Committees work tirelessly to raise funds from the private sector, promote children’s rights and secure worldwide visibility for children threatened by poverty, disasters, armed conflict, abuse and exploitation. 
  • 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 and more than 6 million individual donors worldwide. 
  • It also rallies 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. 

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Blog Post written by:
Anurag Trivedi
UPSC Mentor