United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
A specialized agency of the United Nations, founded in 1946 and based in Paris, which promotes international collaboration in education, science, culture, and communication. In education, it supports the spread of literacy, continuing education, and universal primary education; and in science, assists developing countries, and international interchange between scientists. It encourages the preservation of monuments and sites, and of other aspects of culture such as oral traditions, music, and dance. By 1989 UNESCO's ‘World Heritage List’, designed to protect landmarks of ‘outstanding universal value’, comprised 315 sites in 67 countries. In the field of communication, UNESCO is committed to the free flow of information. In 1980 its supreme governing body approved a New World Information and Communication Order despite opposition from those who believed it threatened press freedom. In 1984 the USA (which had been due to supply about a quarter of UNESCO's budget) and in 1985 the UK and Singapore withdrew, alleging financial mismanagement and political bias against Western countries. Following reforms, the UK rejoined in 1997 and the USA in 2003.