Norway seeking seat on UNESCO Executive Board

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Norway is the Nordic region’s candidate for a seat on the Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the period 2025–2029.

UNESCO is the UN organisation responsible for education, science, culture and communication. It plays an important role in efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 on quality education, as well as in other priority areas for Norway such as world heritage, freedom of expression and ocean-related research.

‘The right to education, academic freedom and the safety of journalists are regrettably under increasing pressure worldwide. It is therefore important that we do our part by participating in the UNESCO Executive Board. The Nordic countries have a strong voice in UNESCO.  We provide substantial financial support and have been committed partners to UNESCO throughout the entire 75 years of the organisation’s existence,’ said Minister of Education Tonje Brenna.

Candidate on behalf of the Nordic countries

Norway was the third-largest donor of voluntary contributions to UNESCO in 2021, providing approximately NOK 200 million, in addition to its annual contribution of NOK 25 million.

The Nordic countries have long had an informal agreement to take turns in seeking a seat on the UNESCO Executive Board. This ensures that they have the opportunity to voice their views on the governance of the organisation, and are not just financial contributors. In practice, this means that the countries stand for election on a rotational basis. The candidate put forward receives the full political support of the other Nordic countries. Norway last held a seat on the UNESCO Executive Board in the period 2005–2009. Since then, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland have respectively served on the Board.

‘The world is facing challenges that no country can solve on its own. Fundamental values on which we have built our society, such as human rights, freedom of expression and knowledge-based policymaking, are under pressure. In Norway, there is broad political consensus on the need to promote binding international cooperation. That is why we consider it important to stand for election to the UNESCO Executive Board,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.

The UNESCO Executive Board meets twice a year and comprises 58 elected member states divided into six regional groups. Norway is in the group consisting of Western Europe, Canada and Turkey. 

UNESCO’s highest decision-making body is the General Conference, in which all 193 member states take part. The General Conference convenes in November every other year. Between these conferences, it is the UNESCO Executive Board that follows up and takes decisions on the organisation’s ongoing work. The Executive Board also prepares the groundwork for most of the General Conference decisions.