France and UNESCO

France is a founding member of UNESCO and is Organization’s host State with delegations from 195 countries in Paris. France is the fifth-largest contributor to UNESCO’s regular budget. Nearly a quarter of UNESCO staff are French.

France works at UNESCO on an interministerial level with the Ministry of National Education, Ministry of Higher Education and Research, Minister of Culture and Communication, and the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy all active in their fields of competence.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs follows political, institutional and budgetary issues and coordinates the action of the various ministries.

While the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs organizes France’s action it is the French Delegation to UNESCO and the French National Commission for UNESCO that communicate France’s action to the organization. It plays a special role as an interface between UNESCO and French civil society. It is responsible for managing UNESCO-associated school networks and university chairs, and mobilizing scientific expert networks.

France’s priorities at UNESCO fall within the framework of the organization’s mandate for peace. Sustainable development is a key objective, particularly as regards the least developed countries in Africa. This includes access to quality education, in a more general context of gender equality.

France is at the root of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and also advocates for multilingualism.

France has ratified all of UNESCO’s major conventions on heritage protection. To date, UNESCO has included 38 French cultural and landscape sites on its World Heritage List, including, in 2012, the mining basin of Nord Pas de Calais. As regards intangible cultural heritage, 11 traditions and skills, such as the gastronomic meal of the French feature on the World Heritage List.

French scientific expertise also contributes to UNESCO’s programmes, including the International Oceanographic Commission studies of which include tsunami prevention measures, the International Hydrological Programme for water resource management and the Man and the Biosphere programme which preserves biodiversity through a network of protected natural parks.