To address the increasing hunger and disease among European children in the wake of World War II, in 1946 the United Nations established a temporary agency, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). In addition to its charge to relieve famine, UNICEF worked with the World Health Organization, founded by the UN in 1950, to reduce INFANT MORTALITY rates, establish mass immunization programs, and organize malaria control demonstration areas in Latin America, Europe, and Africa, as well as tuberculosis testing programs in India, Europe, North Africa, and China.

As a result of its efforts, in 1953 the UN General Assembly established UNICEF as a permanent body under a new name, the United Nations Children's Fund. Its mandate to the world's children remained the provision of safe water, health care, nutrition, sanitation, and education. It also retained its original charge to supply emergency assistance to children affected by crises of war and natural disasters in coordination with other UN and humanitarian agencies. In recognition of its role in uplifting the world's children, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee selected UNICEF as its 1965 recipient. The 1989 UN CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OFTHE CHILD further guided UNICEF's mission to aid countries in implementing its provisions and to uphold international standards of CHILDREN'S RIGHTS established by the convention and its two protocols adopted in 2000 regarding children engaged in armed conflict and trafficking in children, CHILD PORNOGRAPHY, and CHILD PROSTITUTION.

Under the direction of the General Assembly and the UN's Economic and Social Council, UNICEF is administered by an Executive Board headquartered in New York City. The Executive Board's thirty-six seats are regionally allocated and members serve for a period of three years. The Board is assisted in its work of identifying special program needs and monitoring program effectiveness by the Innocenti Research Centre, located in Florence, Italy, which was created in 1988 to help collect and analyze data on indices of children's well-being for UNICEF.

UNICEF is funded entirely from voluntary sources. Governments and intergovernmental organizations contribute nearly two-thirds of its income. The remainder of its budget is largely funded by private sector groups and individuals as well as nongovernmental organizations, principally the UNICEF National Committees, which exist in thirty-seven countries. These National Committees promote UNICEF's programs within their states and raise funds for its projects through private sector partnerships and selling UNICEF greeting cards and products. In 2001, UNICEF contributions totaled $1.2 billion. From contributions received, UNICEF allocates direct program aid to countries proportionate to need, determined by assessing a state's mortality rate of children under five, the population of its children, and its income level (GNP per capita).

The goals of UNICEF for the first decade of the twenty-first century included the continued promotion of education, especially targeting increased enrollment of girls and child workers, eradication of child trafficking, institution of programs to prevent violence against women and girls, establishment of special programs for children with disabilities, reintegration of child soldiers into their communities, provision of HIV/AIDS information and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of the disease, as well as continued collaboration with the World Health Organization to prevent common childhood diseases and malnutrition. Immunization programs to eliminate vaccine-preventable diseases of childhood remained a major priority; in 2001, UNICEF provided 40 per cent of the vaccines for the world's children and was the main supplier of vaccines to developing countries.

See also: Child Pornography; Child Prostitution; International Organizations; Juvenile Justice: International; Soldier Children: Gobal Human Rights Issues; Vaccination.


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UNICEF. Available from www.unicef.org.