Addresses delivered in the general policy debate by the Head of Delegation at the General Conference
37 session of the General Conference Her Excellency, Ms Jet Bussemaker, Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands Speech delivered during the General Policy Debate of the 37th session of the General Conference - revised and corrected version of the verbatim records of plenary meetings
36 session of the General Conference H.E. Mr Robert Zeldenrust, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Permanent Delegate to UNESCO Speech delivered during the General Policy Debate of the 36th session of the General Conference and posted as received
35 session of the General Conference H.E. Mrs Sharon Dijksma, State Secretary of Education, Culture and Science
“I am happy to align myself fully with speech made by the Swedish presidency of the European Union.”
“Challenges like education for all and protection of cultural and natural heritage need international cooperation. (…) UNESCO should focus on a limited number of tasks that cannot be performed as well or better at a national or local level by other international organizations or by civil society.”
“Is UNESCO, the way it is currently organized, able to fulfil all its tasks in an effective manner? My answer is no. Of course, much of the work UNESCO does is essential and world-class, but with regard to the main issues on our agenda, our contribution is still insufficient. An important reason for this is that the relationship between the Members States and the Secretariat has turned upside down. UNESCO has become an international secretariat supported by Member States, instead of an organisation of Member States supported by a secretariat.”
“Please allow me to share a few suggestions with you how to get the responsibility back to the Member States. Why don't we change the General Conference, for example, into a forum to discuss the plans of the Member States? Because, let's be honest, it is us, the Member States, and not the Secretariat, who have to solve the major problems in the fields of education, science and culture.”
“Furthermore, I believe we should make better use of our permanent representatives. (…) and that could easily be repaired by regularly convening the General Conference at the level of permanent representatives, for example once a month, to discuss one or more specific items.”
“UNESCO's future and the way we will deal with the challenges of today and the next decades are our responsibility as Member States. In order for us to succeed we, the Member States, should not try to shift this responsibility to the Secretariat, but we should take it on our own shoulders, leaving to the Secretariat the important role of supporting us in our endeavours. That way we can really make a difference in this world.”
34 session of the General Conference H.E. Mr Ronald Plasterk, Minister of Education, Culture and Science
Gender equality is a human rights issue and a question of justice. Without the full involvement of women, it will be impossible to solve global challenges of the world. Gender equality, together with reducing poverty and fighting famine, is part of the goals set up for 2015.
However, women and girls all over the world still encounter all kinds of discrimination and are victims of human traffic, genital mutilations and systematic rape. Furthermore, they are also denied proper education. Education is a foundation on which gender equality must be built.
The Dutch Government has taken actions to ensure gender equality in the country, but much is still to be done. More women should be involved in decision-making processes, in the business community and academia fields.
“UNESCO is in a unique position under its mandate to promote gender equality. […] Gender equality must remain on the international agenda. We can, of course, all contribute to this by keeping the issue high on the domestic agenda in each of our own countries.”
The Netherlands welcomes the priorities set up by UNESCO in the Medium-Term Strategy for the years 2008-2013. Education is the key to address gender equality issue as well as the African continent problems. UNESCO has the required experience in the field of education that has to be shared with Member States.
“The Netherlands wants the United Nations as a whole to be more effective including in the area of promoting equal treatment for men and women. And while the new “One UN” reforms and UNESCO’s involvement in them are of vital importance, achieving gender equality remains a task and a responsibility for the entire United Nations organization.”
“I applaud UNESCO for introducing a separate action plan to apply the gender equality principle throughout its own Organization, but UNESCO should also ensure that the same applies to UNESCO institutes, programmes and projects.”