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Lead Agency

UNESCO’s Global Leadership and Co-ordination Role for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2014)


Martin Gerner

In the future, advocacy in the field of International Relations will increase in importance. Mandates pertaining to particular issues have therefore been announced and officially assigned. In analysing the normative framework of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005–2014) the prominent and novel concept of lead agency is introduced, applied and comprehensively discussed. The major characteristics and implications of this concept are illustrated in the context of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and its mandate for global leadership and co-ordination. This publication contributes to the theory and practice of organizational leadership performance by proposing viable criteria for assessing achievements and challenges. The interdisciplinary approach adopted meets the needs of both practitioners in the field of education for sustainable development and scholars dealing with regime theory and new institutionalism.


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Abstract The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is mandated lead agency for the United Nations Decade of Educa- tion for Sustainable Development which takes place from 2005 until 2014. This global mandate comprises both leadership and co-ordination. An in-depth look is taken at how UNESCO meets normative expectations and accomplishes its challenging mission. In doing so, the objectives crucially envisaged are twofold: Providing comprehensive understanding of the United Nations decade in accor- dance with the organisation’s functional mandate, and discussing the implement- ing commitment on the basis of sound regime criteria. To this end, theory-based techniques are combined with document and data analysis in order to obtain well-balanced views on institutional effectiveness, efficiency, compliance, lead- ership, topicality, context and power. As a result, UNESCO’s performance as lead agency ranges between accomplished, attainable and challenging, most no- tably diverging in regional perspective. Moreover, this study of its kind aims to describe, explain and qualify general mechanisms that constitute and affect leadership assignments of international organisations. Key words: lead agency; sustainable development; UNESCO; decade; mandate; leadership; education; regime theory; new institu- tionalism Resumen La Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (UNESCO) tiene como mandato como lead agency para el Decenio de las Naciones Unidas de la Educación para el Desarrollo Sostenible que tiene efecto desde 2005 hasta 2014. Este mandato global afecta tanto al liderazgo así como a la coordinación. Merece la pena echar un vistazo profundo a...

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