International organisations


General information about UNESCO

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the UN.
On November 16, 1945, in London representatives of 37 founding countries signed the founding document of the Organization, the Constitution (Charter), which came into force on November 4, 1946 after ratification by 20 states.

The main purpose of the Organization is to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture.
Today, the Organization has 195 Members and 10 Associate Members.
Armenia became a member of UNESCO on June 9, 1992.


UNESCO has 3 main bodies:

  • The General Conference is the main decision-making governing body of the Organization.
    The sessions of the General Conference are held once every two years, mainly to determine the policies and the main lines of activity of UNESCO and approve its program, set for a certain period of time, its budget and its medium-term strategy. The next, 39th Session of the General Conference will take place in November, 2017. Representatives of Member and Associate Member States of the Organization take part in the Sessions. Each Member State has one vote.
    The General Conference elects the Members of the Executive Board.
    The working languages of the General Conference are English, Arabic, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and French.
  • The Executive Board with its significance is the second governing body of the Organization.
    The Sessions of the Executive Board are held twice a year to ensure the proper implementation of the Organization’s Program and the decisions adopted by the General Conference and to carry out the preparatory work for the next General Conference. The last, 201st Session of the Executive Board took place on April 19 – May 5, 2017. The upcoming, 202nd Session will take place on October 4-18, 2017.
    The Executive Board comprises 58 Member States, whose mandate lasts 4 years.

  • The Secretariat is the executive branch of the Organization, which consists of the Director-General and the Staff appointed by him/her. The Director-General is appointed by the General Conference on the suggestion/nomination of the Executive Board. His/her term in office is 4 years.
    The 9th Director-General of the Organization is Irina Bokova, who was appointed in November, 2009. She was reappointed in November, 2013.
    The elections of UNESCO’s new Director-General will take place at the 202nd Session of the Executive Board and the 39th Session of the General Conference that are to take place during the autumn of 2017.

UNESCO’s fields of activity are education, the natural sciences, humanities and social sciences, culture and information and communication.


Armenia’s Cooperation with UNESCO

UNESCO is the only UN Specialized Agency to have a network of National Commissions for UNESCO. They are UNESCO’s partners in the Member States. They may have different structures and may operate under the subordination of different agencies, depending on country-specific matters.

The activity with UNESCO is coordinated by the Armenian National Commission for UNESCO (henceforth, the National Commission).
It was established on October 10, 1992.

The current Charter and composition of the National Commission were approved by the RA Prime Minister’s Decree No. 58-A of January 29, 2015.

According to the 1st Article of the Charter: "the Commission is an inter-agency consultative body, the main aim of the activity of which is to coordinate and ensure the cooperation between the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the governmental bodies, institutions and non-governmental organizations of the Republic of Armenia in the fields of education, science, culture and communication and information".

The National Commission strengthens and develops the ties between UNESCO and the educational, scientific and cultural organizations and circles of Armenia, ensuring Armenia’s participation in UNESCO’s Programs and activities and where necessary, presenting Armenia’s position on issues related to the competence of UNESCO.

The President of the National Commission is the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Secretary-General is the Head of the Department of International Organizations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Apart from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the National Commission comprises of seven other ministers- the Ministers of Culture, Education and Science, Economy (currently-Economic Development and Investments), Nature Protection, Justice, Sport and Youth Affairs and the Minister-Chief of Staff of the Government of RA. The Chief of Staff of the Presidential Office, the President of the National Academy of Sciences, the Mayor of Yerevan, the Director of the Museums and Archives of the Mother See of Holy Echmiatsin and the Director of the Mesrop Mashtots Scientific Research Institute of Ancient Manuscripts (Matenadaran) are also, upon agreement, included in the composition of the National Commission.

The Secretariat of the National Commission is located within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as the UNESCO Desk of the Department of International Organizations.

The objectives and functions of the National Commission are set forth in Articles 3 and 4 of its Charter.
In accordance with Article 5 of the Charter the National Commission holds the explicit right to grant the permission for the use of UNESCO’s Logo.


Armenia’s involvement in UNESCO’s bodies

Armenia has ratified 19 of UNESCO’s legal instruments (14 conventions, 4 Protocols and 1 Agreement), of which:

  • 6 Conventions, 3 Protocols to Conventions and 1 Agreement in the field of Culture
  • 4 Conventions in the field of Education
  • 2 Conventions in the field of Communication and Information
  • 1 Convention and its Protocol in the field of Natural Sciences
  • 1 Convention in the field of Humanities and Social Sciences

Armenia regularly pays its annual Membership Fee to UNESCO: in 2017 it amounted to 8,001 EUR and 10,081 USD.

Armenia is included in UNESCO’s Second Regional Group (Eastern Europe) and the Francophone Group.

Currently Armenia is a member to the Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict operating within the framework of the 1999 Second Protocol to the 1954 Convention (2013-2017), to the Subsidiary Committee of the Meeting of States Parties to the 1970 Convention (2015-2019) and the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage operating within the framework of the 2003 Convention (2016-2020).


Items included on the Lists established under UNESCO Conventions

The cultural values/sites included on the UNESCO World Heritage List belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located. This List comprises monuments and memorial complexes that are of outstanding universal value. States Parties to the convention can only nominate sites that are within their territory.

Armenia is represented in the List with the following properties:

  • Monasteries of Haghpat and Sanahin (1996, 2000)
  • Cathedral and Churches of Echmiatsin (St. Hripsime, St. Gayane, St. Shoghakat) and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots (2000)
  • Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley (2000)

The following properties are on the Tentative List:

  • The Basilica and Archaeological Site of Yererouk (1995)
  • The Archaeological Site of the City of Dvin (1995)
  • The Monasteries of Tatev and Tatevi Anapat and the Adjacent Areas of the Vorotan Valley (1995)
  • The Monastery of Noravank and the Upper Amaghou Valley (1995)

The Armenian Monastic Complexes of St.Stepanos, St.Thaddeus and Dzordzor which are on the territory of the Islamic Republic of Iran were inscribed on the World heritage List in 2008 under the nomination 'Armenian Monastic Ensembles of Iran' proposed by Iran.

In 2016 the remains of Ani, the capital of the Armenian Kingdom of the Bagratides, currently located within the territory of Turkey, were inscribed on the List under the nomination 'Archeological Site of Ani'.

The Nominations of 'Nemrut Dag' (1987) and 'Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape' (2015) (comprises the Armenian Church of St. Sarkis and a range of other Armenian historical-architectural constructions) are also inscribed on the List.

Several Lists are established under the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. In the Convention “intangible cultural heritage” is defined as an entirety of traditions, customs and cultural expressions, as well as knowledge and skills some groups of people and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. The inscription by the Organization of an element on any of the lists doesn’t imply ownership.

Armenia is represented on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the following elements:

  • Duduk and Its Music (2008)
  • Armenian Cross-Stones Art. Symbolism and Craftsmanship of Khachkars (2010)
  • Performance of the Armenian Epic of 'Daredevils of Sassoun' or 'David of Sassoun' (2012)
  • Lavash, the Preparation, Meaning and Appearance of Traditional Bread as an Expression of Culture in Armenia (2014)

The Tentative List currently includes the following nominations:

  • Ashoogh Love Romance: Performance, Music and Text of the Armenian Bard Tradition (2014)
  • Trndez: the Feast of the Newlyweds and the Precursor of Spring in Armenia (2016)

UNESCO Programs

Numerous programs are implemented within the frameworks of UNESCO. They are financed either from the regular budget of the Organization or from extra-budgetary sources.

The UNESCO Memory of the World Program reflects the diversity of languages, cultures and peoples. The objective of the Program is to prevent the existing valuable collections of the world’s archives and libraries from vanishing without trace and to promote their dissemination. The Program encompasses the Memory of the World International Register, which is a List of documentary heritage, that includes such documents, manuscripts, audio-visual materials and library and archival holdings, which have been recognized of universal value and are to be documented and preserved for all of humanity. Three items of Armenian documentary heritage are inscribed on the Register:

  • Mesrop Mashtots Matenadaran Ancient Manuscripts Collection (1997)
  • First Byurakan Survey (FBS or Markarian survey/ Astrophysicist Benjamin Markarian’s Study on Galaxies) (2011)
  • Collection of Note Manuscripts and Film Music of Composer Aram Khachaturian (2013)

The UNESCO Participation Program is one of the most important compliments to UNESCO’s regular activity. In the frameworks of the Program UNESCO provides financial support to Member States on the condition that the submitted Project Proposals relate to the activities of the Organization and are in line with its major programs and priorities.
Every two years, in the framework of the Participation Program, the National Commission submits to the consideration of UNESCO a range of Project Proposals reflecting Armenia’s areas of interest and priorities.

The UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) was founded in 1953. More than 10,000 educational institutions from 181 countries are participating in the Network. The Project has been implemented in Armenia since 1997.
Currently 10 schools from Armenia are included in the Network. These schools differ from others in the terms that within the frameworks of national programs they cooperate with UNESCO, promoting the dissemination of the values, objectives and aims pursued by the Organization.
The activities of these participating schools run through 4 main study themes:

  • World concerns and the role of the United Nations System
  • Education for Sustainable Development
  • Peace and Human Rights
  • Intercultural Learning

The UNITWIN (University Twinning and Networking) /UNESCO Chairs Program was launched in 1992. It focuses on enhancing the capacities of higher educational and research institutions, promoting knowledge sharing and collaborative work amongst them.
Currently there are 5 UNESCO Chairs operating in Armenia:

  1. UNESCO Chair on Art History and Theory (YSU)
  2. UNESCO Chair on Human Rights and Democracy (YSLU)
  3. UNESCO Chair on Education Planning and Management (NIE)
  4. UNESCO Chair on Life Sciences (NAS)
  5. UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development (NAS)

The UNESCO Calendar of the anniversaries of eminent personalities and important events

The following Anniversaries were included in the UNESCO Calendar for the years of 2016-2017:

  • 350th anniversary of the first printed Bible in Armenian by Voskan Yerevantsi (with the support of France and the Netherlands) (2016)
  • 200th anniversary of the birth of Ivan Aivazovsky (1817-1900) (joint nomination by Armenia and the Russian Federation, with the support of Italy) (2017)

Since 1998 twenty-one anniversaries submitted by Armenia have been included in the Calendar.

UNESCO Clubs, Centers and Associations

The first UNESCO Association was founded in Japan in 1947.
In 1981 the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centers and Associations (WFUCA) was established, which ensures the overall coordination of the activities of National Federations via interregional and trans-regional projects.
The “Armenian Federation of UNESCO Clubs and Associations” (AFUCA) NGO was founded on November 11, 1993. Currently it has 9 participating clubs.
AFUCA has been a member of the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centers and Associations since 1995 and a member of the European Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centers and Associations since 2000.

UNESCO Fellowships

UNESCO, through providing fellowships and educational grants, pursues the aim of enhancing the human resources and capacity-building of Member States in the fields related to the strategic objectives and priority areas of the Organization.
Since 2006 the representatives of Armenia have been granted 6 Fellowships, totaling the amount of 46,696 USD.


UNESCO, in cooperation with Member States or other companies/institutions establishes Prizes related to the various fields of the activity of the Organization, which aim to assist and promote UNESCO’s programs and policies. Within the frameworks of the calls for nominations to various Prizes the National Commission submits to the consideration of UNESCO candidatures of individuals and organizations that have had a considerable contribution in the given fields.

Other useful links:

Official website of UNESCO
The section on the UNESCO website referring to Armenia


The Destruction of the Armenian Cemetery of Old Jugha in Nakhichevan

As of December 2005, the soldiers and officers of the Azerbaijani Army have completely destroyed the thousands of unique cross-stones and tombstones of the Armenian Cemetery of Old Jugha, bringing to its culmination the state policy of the total erasure of the Christian Armenian cultural heritage on the territories of Nakhichevan and Azerbaijan.
During this act of vandalism the medieval cross-stones and tombstones of the Jugha Cemetery were crushed into pieces and thrown into the Aras River. A shooting range was instead constructed on the location of the cemetery.
Despite the existence of numerous photographic and visual evidence and proof, until now not a single international organization, in that case UNESCO as well, has given an adequate assessment to these acts of vandalism organized and carried out by Azerbaijan on the state level.
Yet back in 1998 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of RA addressed the international organizations dealing with the safeguarding of culture and cultural heritage, calling on their attention to the issue of the destruction of the cross-stones and tombstones in Jugha. Particularly letters were addressed to the Director-General of UNESCO in 1998, 2002 and 2005, presenting the situation and calling upon the Organization to take measures in order to end the cultural genocide perpetrated against the Armenian monuments in Nakhichevan. In 2005 the Armenian side also came up with the initiative to organize a fact-finding mission, which, in accordance with the explanations provided by UNESCO, didn’t take place because of security issues.
An advisory body to UNESCO, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, at the 16th Session of its General Assembly that took place in Quebec from September 30 to October 4, 2008, adopted a resolution, Point 5 of which states that the 16th General Assembly of ICOMOS resolves to:

  • ‘Draw the attention of the Azerbaijani authorities, as a State Party to the Convention on the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage, to the destruction of the Jugha cemetery and to transmit to them the concern of the international community of conservation experts,
  • Ask the Azerbaijani authorities to facilitate the access of an expert delegation from UNESCO and/or ICOMOS in order to study the site and inform the international community of the results’.

Statements related to the issue of the cross-stones of Jugha were made at various international fora and during various meetings.

Statements and Press Releases of the MFA of RA

Minister of Foreign Affairs of RA Edward Nalbandyan’s Speech at the 38th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO, 2015

Minister of Foreign Affairs of RA Edward Nalbandyan’s Speech at the 37th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO 2013

Minister of Foreign Affairs of RA Edward Nalbandyan’s Speech at the 36th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO, 2011  

Minister of Foreign Affairs of RA Edward Nalbandyan’s Speech at the 35th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO, 2009

Welcome Speech of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of RA, President of the Armenian National Commission for UNESCO Mr. Edward Nalbandyan, 2015

Edward Nalbandyan’s Speech at the Helsinki University, 2015

Head of the International Organizations Department of the MFA Vahram Kazhoyan’s response to the question of the “Armenpress” News Agency, 2016

Head of the International Organizations Department of the MFA, Secretary-General of the Armenian National Commission for UNESCO Vahram Kazhoyan’s Speech at the 38th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO, 2015

Useful Links on the Topic

"The destruction of the archaeological complex of Jugha and of the entire Armenian cultural heritage in the Autonomous Republic of Nakhijevan (Azerbaijan)", Memorandum submitted to UNESCO for the attention of Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General and Representatives of Member States at the General Conference, 2006

Statement by the Permanent Delegation of RA to the OSCE, 2005

Document presented by the Permanent Delegation of RA to the UN Human Rights Council, 2007 

Materials provided by the Republic of Armenia to the UN Special Rapporteur for her Report to the GA, 2016

Reports of the International Council on Monuments and Sites for 2002, 2006-2007

UNESCO’s official response to the 2010 petition, 2011

Official reaction of the ECHR to the Lawsuit, 2012

Additional detailed information on the topic:


Last update: 03.10.2017


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