Created in 1946 from the residual resources from the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to secure the fate of Europe’s children, few then imagined that it would still be in existence today. In the six and a half decades since it was formed, UNICEF continues to assist children affected by war and crisis, but has also taken on a much broader and ever-evolving role in international development, working across political, national and social divides to provide integrated services to children and advocate for the full spectrum of their rights.
In the first decade of the 21st century UNICEF’s work continued on all aspects of children’s well-being. Child survival remained a core theme; global progress on child survival meant that the number of young children dying each year declined to well below 10 million, from more than 12 million in 1990 – even as the global under-five population continued to increase. UNICEF’s humanitarian work was strengthened by the updating of the Core Commitments for Children in Emergencies. Protection of vulnerable children and combating HIV/AIDS figured more prominently in UNICEF programmes than ever before, as did gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls, work with and for adolescents, and partnership building. Education, nutrition, health and immunization continued to be fundamental components of UNICEF’s programming, all of which has taken a human-rights based approach with a focus on results.