Addresses delivered in the general policy debate by the Head of Delegation at the General Conference
37 session of the General Conference His Excellency, Mr George Mina, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Australia to UNESCO 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. Mrs Gita Kamath, Permanent Delegate of Australia 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 Sally Mansfield, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Australia to UNESCO
“(…) Mr Matsuura, and on behalf of Australia I would like to thank you for the determination, for the courage and the good will you have brought to this position over the past 10 years. (…) Madame Irina Bokova (…) Australia congratulates you, and we have great confidence that the Secretariat, with its vast and its very important mandate, is in good hands.”
“In spite of the financial crisis and ensuing economic crises the Australian Government has chosen to increase its level of official development assistance (…). While the primary focus of our aid programme will remain on Asia and the Pacific which receives over 56% of our aid budget, we do also expect to see a significant rise in our aid to Africa in the order of 40%, particularly in terms of more scholarships. The current government has made education its flagship element of our aid programme and education will become the programme’s largest sector. Support there will extend not only from basic education, but also through technical and vocational skills-building and improving tertiary level qualifications, as I think UNESCO has made clear to us over the recent years, it’s not just education for all, it’s quality education for all.”
“With regard to UNESCO’s budget we have signalled our intention to join the consensus on the budget agreed in the Executive Board. That doesn’t mean that we won’t continue to push for greater transparency and accountability in the Organization (…). We would urge that UNESCO first establish the goals and then the programmes and then align in accordance with those priorities the resources available, both financial and human.”
“Australia’s major contribution to UNESCO over the past two years has probably been through the World Heritage Committee. (…) Safeguarding the integrity of this convention is a priority and we must ensure that when we list a site on World Heritage List that that is meaningful and that the List does not become devalued over time. (…) In partnership with UNESCO we have run two workshops: --one in Cairns for the Pacific Island Countries, and another in China--and we have a third taking place in November. These workshops have shown the great value in sharing expertise, particularly in regards to managing of science by bringing regional experts together to share their experiences and learning from one another; this is a great strength of UNESCO. We all need to focus on actively managing the future direction of the World Heritage Convention and also its processes.”
“(…) the Global Monitoring Report on Education […] contains a wealth of fabulous information on the state of play in education around the world. (…) I was particularly pleased earlier this year that the Australian aid agency, AusAID, chose UNESCO as a vehicle through which to provide assistance to Iraqi school children displaced by the conflict there and now living in Jordan. And I think Australia would regard UNESCO as a key institution that can play a greater role in providing this sort of assistance in post-conflict situations (...).”
“These events remain beyond the control of man; but I think that only underlines the importance of the work that UNESCO does in considering issues such as oceans governance and sharing the best of science.”
34 session of the General Conference H.E. Ms Sally Mansfield, Permanent Delegate of Australia to UNESCO
Australia welcomes Singapore, its ASPAC colleague, and Montenegro in the UNESCO family.
“Australia has frequently registered its view that UNESCO needs to deliver greater programme productivity and better budget accountability. We have pushed for zero nominal growth and it remains our preferred option. But we accept that a consensus has emerged around the figure of $631 million.”
Australia encourages further implementation of reforms. Such reforms will engender a more relevant, responsive and effective Organization and one that can address challenges decisively. UNESCO’s programmes, based on the needs of the Member States, must have clear objectives that can be measured and achieved. “UNESCO very much needs to be driven by Member States’ concerns rather than by the Secretariat.”
“To be effective, the three key actors – UNESCO with its collective voice, the Member States and their National Commissions – all need to work closely together, respecting each other’s areas of responsibility and keeping one another informed of our interests and areas of activity.”
Australia is strongly committed to the Education for All Fast Track Initiative and will contribute $40 million towards this programme.
Australia also notes the efforts of the United Nations to work together and the positive effects of this scientific collaboration. Australia is an active partner of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and will host the IOC secretariat office in Perth. This network of early warning systems has achieved now a highly practical application in the Pacific area.
“Australia was very pleased as well to see the International Convention against Doping in Sport come into force earlier this year…” Furthermore, Australia contributed to the Voluntary Fund for this Convention.
“UNESCO has had a high profile in Australia this year. It is the 60th anniversary of both our UNESCO Delegation and it is the 60th anniversary of our National Commission […] We were delighted to be able to celebrate this with the World Heritage Listing of the Sydney Opera House.”
“We congratulate New Zealand, which as Chair of the World Heritage Committee, has done much to put greater focus on the Pacific region.”
Australia is willing to share its experience in the field of protection of the world’s natural and cultural heritage. Climate changes pose a unique set of challenges in this area and Australia can share its best practices in managing the Great Barrier Reef.