The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization - UNESCO was founded in 1945 and aims to contribute to peace, human development and world security, promoting pluralism, recognising and maintaining diversity, promoting autonomy and the participation in the knowledge society.

UNESCO is the only United Nations Agency with a specific mandate in higher education. The Directorate General for Higher Education is responsible for and supports the government’s activity in this international body at technical level.

UNESCO has a network of national bodies to assist in its mission, namely the UNESCO National Commissions that are created by each country’s government. The Directorate General for Higher Education also participates in the Advisory Board for the Portuguese National Commission.