The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (French L'Organisation des Nations unies pour l’éducation, la science et la culture : UNESCO;) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN). Its stated purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedoms proclaimed in the UN Charter.
UNESCO has 196 Member States (it recently added Palestine in November 2011) and eight Associate Members. Most of the field offices are "cluster" offices covering three or more countries; there are also national and regional offices. UNESCO pursues its objectives through five major programs: education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture, and communication and information. Projects sponsored by UNESCO include literacy, technical, and teacher-training programmes; international science programmes; the promotion of independent media and freedom of the press; regional and cultural history projects; the promotion of cultural diversity; international cooperation agreements to secure the world cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Sites) and to preserve human rights, and attempts to bridge the worldwide digital divide. It is also a member of the United Nations Development Group.