The Role of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in the Protection of Human Rights in Nigeria




It has always been presupposed that United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have a lot of activities going on not only in Nigeria but the countries of the world in general. Their role can only be understood by examining their activities in the educational scientific and cultural disposition, particularly as it affects human rights.

UNESCO is an Agency of the United Nations (U.N) created by the provisions of Articles 53 and 63 of the United Nations Charter. It is created not only as an instrument for reconstruction but also as an instrument for building peace through understanding and exchange of useful knowledge to economically less developed countries and for national cultural relations programs. Countless efforts at international cooperation in education, science and culture were made in London in 1945. Thus, the general theme that runs through the activities of UNESCO in Nigeria and other countries is the diffusion of culture and education of humanity for justice, liberty and peace as indispensable to the dignity of man constitute a sacred duty to maintain and protect these principles by all nations based on the spirit of mutual assistance and concern.

Basically, UNESCO was founded due to the experiences of the Second World War of 1939-1945. Hence it was established to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations of the world through education, science culture in order to further universal respect for justice, rule of law, human rights and the fundamental freedom to all people and nations of the world without difference on account of race, sex language or religion.

Nigeria and many developing nations are members of UNESCO. UNESCO has been carrying out a series of programmes in Nigeria involving direct and indirect actions designed to deal with the complex problems in the development of education, science, culture and information, respectively.

In 1947 and 1949, UNESCO expanded its role of information service to the publication of books such as “A book of NEEDS’. This book outlined the basic needs and situations in member countries. It also produced pamphlets on children as victims of war. There are several newsletters on war-devastated laboratories, art galleries, museums and libraries.

Nigeria actually benefited from the activities of UNESCO in a number of ways. This study will consider some of these in Nigeria and other parts of the world.


This study is aimed at examining the role of UNESCO in the protection of human rights in Nigeria and the world generally.

Looking at the basic functions of UNESCO, the study shall assess its activities in Nigeria, such as promoting and protecting education, science, technology, and culture worldwide.

By studying the standard setting and specific human rights of UNESCO, we can see the necessity of having an international agency in the promotion of peace, unity and educational advancement of the world.

Today, many people and societies are denied the right to education by their government or for religious or cultural reasons. The research is aimed at looking at how UNESCO has been able to do away with this discrimination in education in the countries and societies affected by these problems.

Also, freedom of information is one of the important aspects of human rights, which many people are denied. One of the roles of UNESCO is to protect and promote the dissemination of information so that the world will be informed about what is happening around them.

The study is meant to analyze how and what had UNESCO done or done to check the hoarding of knowledge by the people or societies affected by the phenomenon.

There are some harmful cultural and uncivilized practices in some countries in the world which affect the rights of the people in the designated countries. The study shall expose these places and highlight what UNESCO did in such circumstances in order to promote human rights in that aspect.


As the title of the thesis indicates, the study shall cover a very wide area of UNESCO activities in the world.

Since no person, society, or country is an Island living on its own, it must live with other people of the world. Hence education, science, information and culture touch on all aspects of human endeavour. This means that UNESCO activities in the above fields cover a wide area. In fact, the whole nations of the world. Thus, this study has a multidimensional geographic coverage. The research covers that aspect of human rights classified as second-generation rights, particularly the right to education, information and culture. This is because these are the human rights areas covered by UNESCO activities. However, they are not justiciable rights under our constitution, and that is why most countries could sometimes flout the provisions without legal remedy to the victims.

They, therefore, rely on the activities of organized civil society groups for implementation.
Nationally, it shall examine UNESCO’s role in promoting and protecting Nigeria’s education, information and culture.

Regionally, UNESCO has relevance in Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western parts of Africa, especially those countries ravaged by war and natural disasters. This means they will need the services of UENSCO in Education, information and cultural integration. Countries like Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Liberia, Congo, Western Sahara etc., fall into this category.

Internationally, it covers most developing countries such as the Middle East, Asia, some parts of Northern Europe, the Pacific, and Latin America; Earthquakes, hurricanes, Tsunamis, and political disturbances abound in the above-mentioned regions.

This means the societies living in those places shall be lacking in the basic right to education, information and cultural affiliation. This study shall focus on these areas to see what UNESCO has done or is doing or about to do to provide the necessary human rights to the people affected.


Since the study covers several regions and countries, there is a dearth and great difficulty in data collection and analysis.

In education, information and culture, UNESCO possessed enormous records of its activities in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific Islands and North and South America. These records are found in all their archives and libraries in book forms and computer diskettes. Several textbooks are written on UNESCO’s roles and functions. They are also found in the internet public and private libraries of countries of the world. Hence, it is not easy to review this subject matter information.

In addition to the above, there is the problem of the cost of obtaining these data. Books and journals are expensive to get. Even going through the internet is not cheap. Every step taken to procure and print information on the internet must be paid squarely.

Where the required information on UNESCO activities is obtained, there is still the problem of analyzing the statistical data, which is very technical in some instances. There is the problem of time to study the books and records of UNESCO activities in education, information and culture all over the world. Notwithstanding the above problems, the researcher shall take the bull by the horn to cross these difficult hurdles to present the best study into UNESCO’s activities to promote and protect human rights in education, information and culture.


The need to know the basic roles of UNESCO in promoting and protecting human rights to education, information, science, technology and culture in the world justified the need to undergo this study.

Also, looking at the research topic and the inherent problem, we can see the significance of researching in this area.

Several countries are faced with war, natural and man-made disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and industrial and chemical pollution that affect people in these places. Hunger, poverty and diseases affect many societies in several countries. This makes the people and government in such areas to be lacking in basic rights to education, science and cultural affiliation. UNESCO must do something about them.

Therefore, the research becomes significant because it shall examine how UNESCO tried to provide education, information, and knowledge on the science and culture of those affected societies. So that in the final analysis, the problems associated with the provision of education, science and culture shall be studied in a way that some laudable solutions could be preferred to ameliorate these problems. This will enhance the performance of UNESCO in all its field of endeavour. Thus, this research topic is significant in contributing to the knowledge of worldwide UNESCO activities.


1. Ladan M.T. Nigeria “Law, Human Rights and Administration of Justice in Pub. By A.B.U. Press, Zaria (2001)

2. Ngu, S.N. Pub. “International Organisation and Human Rights (2nd Dada Press, Ltd. Ilorin (1955) nd Ed)

3. Tokumbo I. Research and Human Rights Made Easy Published by Legal Resource Development Centre, Lagos (3rd Ed.) 1999

4. Ayo M.A. Nigeria Lagos “Human Rights and the Administration of Justice in (Pub) by Nigerian Institute of Advance Legal Studies (1991)

The Role of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in the Protection of Human Rights in Nigeria

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