United Nations Children's Fund (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.

UNICEF has spent 70 years working to improve the lives of children and their families. Defending children's rights throughout their lives requires a global presence, aiming to produce results and understand their effects. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. 

In all of its work, UNICEF takes a life-cycle based approach, recognizing the particular importance of early childhood development and adolescence. UNICEF programmes focus on the most disadvantaged children, including those living in fragile contexts, those with disabilities, those who are affected by rapid urbanization and those affected by environmental degradation.

UNICEF History

Explore the timeline below to learn about our 70 years of work on behalf of children. These retrospective shows how UNICEF’s mission evolved with the needs of children around the world.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund is created by the General Assembly to provide supplies and assistance to children after World War II
The first UNICEF National Committee is established, and UNICEF prints its first greeting card
The UN General Assembly reaffirmed and expanded the UNICEF mission, transforming the Fund into a permanent UN agency
The Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted, having formulated ten principles that determine the actions of all those responsible for the full realization of children’s rights
UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for the promotion of brotherhood among the nations”
The United Nations declares the International Year of the Child to increase awareness and spur action on children’s rights
Belarus ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women
The Child Survival Revolution is launched with GOBI: ‘G’ for growth monitoring, ‘O’ for oral rehydration therapy, ‘B’ for breastfeeding and ‘I’ for immunization
UNICEF and partners work to fight famine in the Horn of Africa and Sahel regions
UNICEF supports children affected by war and HIV/AIDS
‘Education for All’ means girls as well as boys
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, enters into force in 1990 and becomes the most widely and rapidly accepted human rights treaty in history
Leaders of more than 150 countries gathered at the World Summit for Children at the UN to discuss issues related to the political and humanitarian rights of children
Belarus ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child
UNICEF and UNESCO invent the ‘school-in-a-box’
The UNICEF Office was opened in Minsk
The Declaration and the Plan of Action “A World Fit for Children” was adopted
At the United Nations Special Session on Children, child delegates address the General Assembly for the first time
UNICEF and partners organize a record-breaking humanitarian response to the tsunami in the Indian Ocean
UNICEF launches the “Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS” campaign to put children and their needs at the forefront of the global fight against the disease
Maxim Mirnyj became the first UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in Belarus
The Main Agreement on Cooperation between Belarus and UNICEF was signed
Vladimir Pougatch became the second UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in Belarus
UNICEF takes a lead role in the international response to earthquake devastation in Haiti, focusing on child health and nutrition in the aftermath
UNICEF hosts the first Forum of the Global Partnership on Children with Disabilities, to mainstream disability rights into child-focused policies and programmes
UNICEF celebrates the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and activates its 2014–2017 Strategic plan, a road map for realizing the rights of every child, particularly the most disadvantaged
193 countries adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals
The era of the Millennium Development Goals comes to an end and the Sustainable Development Goals become the centerpiece of the Post-2015 Development Agenda
UNICEF Executive Board approved UNICEF country program for Belarus 2016-2020 at the UN Headquarters in New York
Belarus ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The Ministry of Communications and Informatization of the Republic of Belarus issued a postage stamp “70th anniversary of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)”
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) turns 70 years old
Irina Velichko, Deputy Permanent Representative of Belarus to the United Nations, took up the post of one of the UNICEF Executive Board Deputy Chairmen
UNICEF in Belarus turns 20 years old

UNICEF was created with a distinct purpose in mind: to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child’s path. We advocate for measures to give children the best start in life, because proper care at the youngest age forms the strongest foundation for a person’s future.

UNICEF Executive Board

The Executive Board is the governing body of UNICEF, providing intergovernmental support and oversight to the organization, in accordance with the overall policy guidance of the United Nations General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.

The Executive Board reviews UNICEF activities and approves its policies, country programmes and budgets. It comprises 36 members, representing the five regional groups of Member States at the United Nations. Its work is coordinated by the Bureau, comprising the President and four Vice-Presidents, each officer representing one of the five regional groups.

More information on the Executive Board can be found in the Informal Guide.

Convention on the Rights of the Child

UNICEF is guided by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and strives to establish children’s rights as enduring ethical principles and international standards of behavior towards children.  

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty in history, and UNICEF uses it as the conceptual basis for work.

The Convention changed the way children are viewed and treated – i.e., as human beings with a distinct set of rights instead of as passive objects of care and charity.

The unprecedented acceptance of the Convention clearly shows a wide global commitment to advancing children’s rights.  

In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 3.1.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors & Advocates

UNICEF’s celebrities have a wide range of talents and achievements, but they all share a commitment to improving the lives of children worldwide. And in each case a celebrity’s association with UNICEF comes about because he or she has already demonstrated that commitment. 

Fame has some clear benefits in certain roles with UNICEF. Celebrities attract attention, so they are in a position to focus the world’s eyes on the needs of children, both in their own countries and by visiting field projects and emergency programmes abroad. They can make direct representations to those with the power to effect change. They can use their talents and fame to fundraise and advocate for children and support UNICEF’s mission to ensure every child’s right to health, education, equality and protection.