OPENING OF THE EXECUTIVE BOARD
Paris, May 28 (No.2001-74) -
The Executive Board of UNESCO, chaired by Sonia Mendieta de Badaroux (Honduras),
this morning opened its 161st session (due to close on June 13), which will
chiefly focus on the examination of UNESCO’s draft 2002-2003 Programme and
Budget and Medium Term Strategy for 2002-2007, described by Director-General
Koïchiro Matsuura as “key documents for the future of our Organization”.
During the opening of the
session - in the presence of the Deputy Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Imangali
Tasmagambetov, and of the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus,
Alexander Sychov - the Chairperson of the Executive Board stressed the two
drafts mapping out UNESCO’s major priorities bore a “stamp of innovation”
and said they represented “significant strides […] towards the alleviation
of poverty, the elimination of illiteracy and the promotion of sustainable peace”.
Ms Mendieta de Badaroux added:
“Development is a process calling for a total transformation of existing
structures. The present socio-economic predicament of the developing world has
for decades now given rise to many conflicts and dilemmas, for which a lasting
solution should be found. In this process of change, UNESCO’s role is to be a
For his part, the
Director-General declared that the present session of the Executive Board marked
the end of a period of transition: “The past 18 months have served to lay the
foundations of reform […]. The phase of construction can now begin.” He said
that the draft Strategy for 2002-2007 “is the basis for a true renewal of the
Mr Matsuura spoke of the
destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan, in Afghanistan, and stressed the need to
undertake “reflection about the kind of sanctions that could be envisaged
against the perpetrators of deliberate crimes against cultural properties”.
After appealing to the
conflicting parties in the Middle East to “return to the path of dialogue and
reactivate the peace process”, the Director-General asked whether the time
might have come to “launch a major initiative to start a joint revision of
Israeli and Palestinian school text books with a view to transforming them into
instruments of a genuine will to live together. […] UNESCO would be willing to
provide the framework for such an initiative”, Mr Matsuura said.
The Director-General finally
welcomed the recent vote by the United States House of Representatives of a bill
preparing for the return of the USA to UNESCO, declaring that this would be in
the interest of all Member States.
To follow the work of the
Executive Board on a daily basis: http://www.unesco.org/exboard/index.shtml