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 Claudia Schmied, Austrian Minister of Education, Arts and Culture 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 Wolfgang WALDNER, State Secretary for European and International Affairs 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. Dr Claudia Schmied, Federal Minister of Education, Arts and Culture
“Please allow me to express my warmest gratitude to Mr Matsuura for his efforts to promote UNESCO.”
“The United Nations’ key comparative advantage lies in its universality, in its multilateralism, and in its promotion of core values and principles for worldwide peace and human security. Through the specialized agencies, the United Nations are able to integrate normative work and operational analysis and approaches. UNESCO provides a platform to address a full range of global issues relevant today, and in the current situation of the global economic crisis, UNESCO is more relevant than ever.”
“(…) we are deeply convinced that equal access to education is a fundamental right. UNESCO's work in this field is, from our point of view, unique. Austria highly appreciates that education is still high on the agenda for both the Organization and Member States, and in order to reach the EFA education for all goals, we have to increase our efforts.”
“Austria (…) fully supports UNESCO's implementation scheme for the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. Austria welcomes the proposal made by Hungary’s Minister Hiller to proclaim a U.N. international decade of languages.”
“In the cultural sector, the promotion of cultural diversity, the safeguarding of our common heritage in all dimensions, and the dialogue of cultures are among Austria's top priorities. The effective implementation of the relevant UNESCO conventions is of major importance to us. We also attach great importance to the Memory of the World program.”
“As for the field of social and human sciences, Austria's interests correspond closely with those of UNESCO, endeavouring to encourage and disseminate human rights research, while at the same time promoting education in this field.”
“A free press (…) is one of most essential components of a democratic society. Freedom of speech is a fundamental human right. UNESCO’s medium-term goal to establish integrated communication and information policies in conformity with the principles of press freedom will help to create pluralistic media and free flow of information.”
“We must ensure that UNESCO offers a forum of dialogue and consensus-building, and that UNESCO is able to envisage a strategy focused on policy advice, standard-setting and capacity-building.”
“I would like to congratulate Ms. Irina Bokova to her nomination as future Director-General, and I assure her of the full and entire support of my country.”
34 session of the General Conference H.E. Dr Hans Winkler, Minister of State for European and International Affairs
Austria fully supports all initiatives of UNESCO and has also supported and encouraged the reform process. UNESCO has to hold the place it deserves within the United Nations family.
“UNESCO must become the prime mediator for convincing the world community that we need to intensify all possible efforts to secure the access of everybody and everywhere to the chances of an emerging knowledge society.”
Austria urges UNESCO to work towards reducing cultural divide and promote the dialogue of civilisations. Austria actively contributes to this dialogue and participated recently in the high-level conference on inter-religious and intercultural understanding and cooperation for peace in the General Assembly in New York.
“Education and training of young people for women and by women is increasingly important, and it seems therefore appropriate to call upon UNESCO to support this process of involvement of women in the formation of future generations.”
Austria accords high priority to the UNESCO’s inter-religious dialogue programme. A conference of European imams was held in Vienna in April of 2006 in order to promote understanding between cultures. Furthermore, a new Chair in intercultural and inter-religious dialogue for southeast Europe was created in Graz.
“Austria, together with Hungary, have put forward initiatives in the United Nations in New York aiming at preserving the diversity of languages in the world, and we left very satisfied that the General Assembly proclaimed 2008 the International Year of Languages. Austria has high expectations in UNESCO in this respect.”
Austria would like to see UNESCO continue its efforts with regard to education in human rights. The 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights could be the right moment to renew efforts in this field.
“One of UNESCO’s most successful and visible activities is the World Heritage Programme. Austria is convinced that the growing number of World Cultural Heritage Sites can help to better understand the cultural vitality and diversity of countries and regions.”
“With the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions in October 2005, UNESCO has set a milestone in this field.”