UNICEF works in over 190 countries and territories to protect the rights of every child. UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families.
The United Nations Children’s Fund is a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children around the world. It was established in 1946 as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) by the U.N. General Assembly, at the behest of Polish physician Ludwik Rajchman, to provide immediate hunger relief and healthcare to children and mothers in countries devastated by World War II. In 1950, UNICEF’s mandate was extended to address the long-term needs of children and women in developing countries, and in 1953 it became a permanent part of the United Nations System. The agency’s 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 contribute 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. Most of its work is in the field, with a presence in 192 countries and territories. Its network includes 150 country offices, headquarters and other offices, and 34 “national committees” that carry out its mission through programs developed with host governments. Seven regional offices provide technical assistance to country offices as needed.
UNICEF’s Supply Division is based in Copenhagen and New York, both serves as point of distribution for such essential items as vaccines, antiretroviral medicines for children and mothers with HIV, nutritional supplements, emergency shelters, family reunification, and educational supplies. UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965, the Indira Gandhi Prize in 1989 and the Prince of Asturias Award of Concord in 2006.