UNESCO in general


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was founded on 16 November 1945. UNESCO is a United Nations agency working for world peace and international understanding through international co-operation in education, natural and social sciences, culture and communications.


Through its strategies and activities, UNESCO is actively pursuing the Millenium Development Goals, especially those aiming to:

– halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty in developing countries by 2015 – achieve universal primary education in all countries by 2015 – eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005 – help countries implement a national strategy for sustainable development by 2005 to reverse current trends in the loss of environmental resources by 2015.


Governing Bodies


a) General Conference:


The General Conference consists of the representatives of the States Members of the Organization. It meets every two years, and is attended by Member States and Associate Members, together with observers for non-Member-States, intergovernmental organizations and NGO’s.


The General Conference determines the policies and the main lines of work of the Organization. Its duty is to set the programmes and the budget of UNESCO. It also elects the Members of the Executive Board and appoints, every four years, the Director-General. The working languages of the General Conference are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.


The General Conference meets every two years in ordinary session. If required, it may also hold extraordinary sessions. Since the founding of UNESCO, the General Conference has met 33 times in ordinary session and 4 times in extraordinary session. 34.General Conference will be held in Paris, at UNESCO Headquarters in autumn 2007.


b) Executive Board:


The Executive Board assures the overall management of UNESCO. It prepares the work of the General Conference and sees that its decisions are properly carried out. The functions and responsibilities of the Executive Board are derived primarily from the Constitution and from rules or directives laid down by the General Conference. Every two years the General Conference assigns specific tasks to the Board. Other functions stem from agreements concluded between UNESCO and the United Nations, the specialized agencies and other intergovernmental organizations.


Its fifty-eight members are elected by the General Conference. The Executive Board meets twice a year.


c) Secretariat:


It is the executive organ of the organization. Under the authority of the Director General, the Secretariat is expected to translate into reality the programmes approved by the General Conference. The Director-General is appointed every six years by the General Conference.


UNESCO and Turkey


a) In General:


Turkey is among the 20 founding members of UNESCO. It has signed the UNESCO Constitution on 16 November 1945 and it was approved by the Turkish Grand National Assembly with the law dated 20 May 1946, number 4895.


Since 1971 Turkey has a Permanent Delegation to UNESCO and is an active member of the organization. It participates in UNESCO meetings and provides limited financial support to UNESCO projects. Turkey’s role and positive contributions within UNESCO have increased after its election to the Executive Board in 2001. The visit of Mr. Matsuura, General Director of UNESCO to Turkey in February 2002 has strengthened the excellent relations between Turkey and UNESCO.


There are five geographical groups within UNESCO. Turkey is a member of the I. Group which covers Western Europe.


In 1996 singer, composer, writer, conductor and film director Omer Zülfü Livaneli was appointed as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.


Turkey was represented in the UNESCO Executive Board by the following persons:



Reşat Nuri Güntekin 1946-1949
Ahmet Kutsi Tecer 1949-1952
Prof. Bedrettin Tuncel 1958-1966
Prof. Erdal İnönü 1978-1983
Prof. Talat Halman 1991-1995
Prof. Orhan Güvenen 2001- 2005


b) National Commission:


The UNESCO National Commissions are national cooperating bodies set up by the Member States for the purpose of associating their governmental and non-governmental bodies with the work of the Organization.


The Turkish National Commission for UNESCO was established with the Decree issued by the Council of Ministers on 25 August 1949, number 3-9862. The National Commission comprises of the General Assembly, Executive Board and Secretariat. The Chairperson of the National Commission is Prof. Arsın Aydınuraz.


The Turkish Ministry of National Education is responsible for the budget of the National Commission.


Turkish National Commission for UNESCO

Göreme Sokak No: 7/9 Kavaklıdere 06680 ANKARA / TURKEY

Telephone: (90-312) 426 58 94; (90-312) 427.19.48

Fax: (90-312) 427.20 64

E-mail:  [email protected]

Web site: http://www.unesco.org.tr


c) Milestones in Turkish-UNESCO relations in 2004-2007:


– Semra Aygün, researcher in the Science and Technical Research Council of Turkey, has been awarded with one of the 15 scholarships mutually granted by UNESCO and L’Oreal.


– Meral Özgüç, Professor at the Hacettepe University in Ankara, has been appointed as one of the members of the International Bioethics Committee. Memebership will due to expire in autumn 2007.


– During the 169th Executive Board Meeting held in Paris on 14-29 April 2004, the Turkish delegation has proposed a draft resolution regarding the “Strategy on Philosophy” which was unanimously adopted by the Board. The first World Philosopy Day was held in Santiago/Chile in 2005, second was held in Rabat/Marocco in 2006 and the third one will be hosted by Turkey in 2007 in İstanbul.


– The letter of intent regarding the membership of Turkey to the International Center for Synchotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications for the Middle East (SESAME) was submitted to the UNESCO Secretariat. The Charter of SESAME became effective as of 15 April 2004. – Within the framework of the ongoing standard setting process regarding the Declaration of Universal Norms on Bioethics, a meeting of experts from Turkey in the field of bioethics was organized by the Turkish Bioethics Committee and Turkish National Commission for UNESCO on 15 September 2004 in Ankara.


d) Turkey’s participation in subsidiary organs:


Executive Board Representative : Prof. Orhan Güvenen Term : 2001-2005


Headquarters Committee Member Term : 2003-2005


Intergovernmental Council for the International Hydrological Programme Member (Term expires : 34th General Conference)


Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Member


Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage Rapporteur : O. Faruk Logoglu Member (Term expires : 2010) UNESCO institutes and centres


Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics Statistical expert : Mr Orhan Güvenen (Term expires : 31 December 2009)


e) Turkey’s cultural and natural properties inscribed on the World Heritage List and Tentative List: Turkey has signed the World Heritage Convention in 1983 and has so far registered nine locations on the World Heritage List. These locations are stated below:



1. Historic Areas of Istanbul (1985 )
2. Göreme National Park and the Rock Sites of Cappadocia (1985 )
3. Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği (1985 )
4. Hattushash (1986 )
5. Mt. Nemrut (1987 )
6. Xanthos-Letoon (1988 )
7. Hierapolis-Pamukkale (1988 )
8. City of Safranbolu (1994 )
9. Archaeological Site of Troy (1998 ) Among these locations Istanbul, Safranbolu, Hattushash, Mt. Nemrut, Xanthos-Lethoon, Great Mosque and Hospital of Divriği and Archaeological Site of Troy are registered as cultural heritage, while Hierapolis-Pamukkale and Göreme-Cappadocia are registered both as cultural and natural heritage.


– Tentative list


A “Tentative List” is an inventory of those properties which each State intends to consider for nomination during the following years. States are encouraged to re-examine and re-submit their Tentative List at least every ten years.


Turkey has registered eighteen cultural sites, among which Kekova and Güllük Dağı are also registered as natural sites, on its Tentative List.



1. Alahan Monastery
2. Alanya the fortress and the dockyards
3. Bursa and Cumalıkızık Early Ottoman urban and rural settlements
4. Edirne Selimiye Mosque
5. Ephesus
6. Güllük Dağı-Termessos National Park
7. Harran and Şanlıurfa Settlements
8. Ishakpaşa Palace 9. Karain Cave
10. Kekova 11. Konya-A capital of Seljuk Civilization 12. Mardin cultural landscape
13. Seljuk Caravanserais on the route from Denizli to Doğubeyazıt
14. Church of St. Nicholas
15. St. Paul Church, St. Paul’s Well and surrounding historic quarters 16. Sümela Monastery
17. The citadel and the walls of Diyarbakır
18. The tombstones, Urartian and Ottoman citadels of Ahlat


f) Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity:


Cultural heritage also includes the intangible heritage, which can be defined as the body of cultural and social expressions that characterizes communities and are based on tradition. These intangible forms of heritage, passed on from generation to generation are ephemeral and therefore particularly vulnerable.


In order to safeguard, transmit and revitalize this extremely precious asset of the human cultural treasury UNESCO has created a new international distinction entitled “Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.


In 2003, UNESCO proclaimed 28 Masterpieces, in addition to the 19 already proclaimed in 2001. The third proclamation will take place in July 2005.


Turkey has registered “The Art of the Meddah, Public Storytellers” on the List of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2003. “The Art of the Meddah, Public Storytellers” is a Turkish theatre form performed by a single storyteller called a “Meddah”. The tradition was developed by Turkic peoples inhabiting Central Asia around the sixth century A.D. Through the ages, similar narrative genres have flourished due to interaction among the peoples of Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East. This oral literary tradition survived throughout the Turkish world during Ottoman rule and is still practiced nowadays within and outside of Turkey.


With a view to register “Mevlevi Music” as a new Masterpiece on the List of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005, Turkey has submitted a file to the relevant UNESCO authorities.


Turkey ratified the UNESCO Convention of Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage in March 2006. Prof.Dr Ocal Oguz is a member of the Intergovernmental Committee on Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage. He was elected as one of the 18 members during the first meeting of the State Parties of the said Convention which took place from 27-29 June 2006 in Paris.


Celebration of anniversaries


Seven hundredth anniversary of the death of the Turkish humorist Nasreddin Hoca (Mulla Nasruddin, Goha) (1996).


Centenary of the birth of the Turkish poet and writer, former minister of education, Hasan Ali Yücel (1997).


Two hundredth anniversary of the death of the Turkish poet Şeyh (Sheikh) Galib (1999).


Seven hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the formation of Ottoman cultural and scientific heritage and its multinational aspects (1999).


100th anniversary of the birth of Nazim Hikmet (2002)


800th anniversary of the birth of Mevlana Celaleddin-i Belhi-Rumi (Maulana Jalal-ud-Din Balkhi Rumi), poet and philosopher (1207-1273) (2007)

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