United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
The United Nations Children’s Fund is a United Nations agency responsible for providing humanitarian and developmental aid to children worldwide. Operating out of U.N. headquarters in New York City, it is among the most widespread and recognizable social welfare organizations in the world, with a presence in 192 countries and territories. UNICEF’s activities include immunizations and disease prevention, administering treatment for children and mothers with HIV, enhancing childhood and maternal nutrition, improving sanitation, promoting education, and providing emergency relief in response to disasters.
UNICEF has its origins in the International Children’s Emergency Fund (ICEF), created in 1946 by the U.N. Relief Rehabilitation Administration to provide immediate relief and healthcare to children and mothers affected by World War II. The same year, at the urging of Polish physician Ludwik Rajchman, the U.N. General Assembly established the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to further institutionalize its post-war relief work. In 1950, UNICEF’s mandate was extended to address the long-term needs of children and women, particularly in developing countries, and in 1953 it became a permanent part of the United Nations System. The agency’s name was subsequently changed to its current form, though it retains the original acronym.
UNICEF relies entirely on contributions from governments and private donors. Its total income as of 2018 was $5.2 billion, of which two-thirds came from governments; private groups and individuals contributed the rest through national committees. It is governed by a 36-member executive board that establishes policies, approves programs, and oversees administrative and financial plans. The board is made up of government representatives elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, usually for three-year terms.