An interview with H.E. Ms. Katalin Bogyay, the President of the General Conference of UNESCO
In this interview, given few weeks before the end of her mandate, the President of the 36th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO provides an insight into her Presidency, assesses her work during the two years of presidency, and explores her vision of the future of the Organization.
37th Session of the general Conference
5 November 2013
H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the 36th Session of the General Conference, opened the 37th Session of the governing body by delivering a speech that marked the end of her mandate. She expressed gratitude to all Member States and their representatives at UNESCO for their trust and confidence, and for the openness and cooperative spirit with which they have supported her work as the President of the General Conference. Ms. Bogyay highlighted the achievements of her presidency in celebrating cultural diversity through intercultural exchanges and inter-faith dialogue, in promoting gender equality and raising awareness of the role of women in conflict resolution, and in exercising soft power of UNESCO– cultural, scientific, and sports diplomacy, for advancing peace.
Madam President passed the baton to H.E. Dr Hao Ping, Vice-Minister of Education of the People’s Republic of China, elected as the President of the 37th Session of the General Conference.
To acknowledge her dedicated work during a two year mandate, H. E. Ms Katalin Bogyay was given the Nehru Gold Medal of UNESCO.
The opening of the 37th general Conference featured a music performance by the Hungarian gypsy band, Budapest Bar.
8th Youth Forum
29-31 October 2013
H.E. Mrs Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference, participated in the 8th edition of the Youth Forum on the theme “Youth and Social Inclusion: Civic Engagement, Dialogue and Skills Development”. On 31st October, Madam President gave a closing speech to the Forum, which is an integral part of the General Conference as a platform where youth can discuss their civic engagement towards building democratic and sustainable communities. This year, the youth representatives from all over the world discussed the skills and competencies for young people to successfully enter the active life and to put their innovation, creativity and entrepreneurialism into practice. The forum also touched upon the challenges related to social inclusion and intercultural dialogue. Representatives of the Youth Forum will give a report at the plenary session of the 37th Session of the General Conference.
- Speech (pdf)
Meeting the Young Professionals of UNESCO
11 October 2013
H.E. Ms. Katalin Bogyay, the President of the General Conference of UNESCO, met with the Young Professionals working at UNESCO in different sectors and divisions, to hear their views about the Organization and their visions of its future. The President remarked that the future of UNESCO lies in the hands of the young people from different corners of the world, bringing multiculturalism, pluralism and diversity, together with professionalism and dedication to this Organization.
2013 Budapest Water Summit
9 October 2013
By the invitation of the Chair of the Organizing Committee, H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference of UNESCO, participated in the opening ceremony of the Budapest Water Summit. The opening featured H.E. Mr János Áder, President of Hungary; H.E. Mr Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Ms Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO; H.R.H. Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan, Chairman, United Nations Secretary General's Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation; H.R.H. Prince Khaled bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, Chairman, Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water; and Mr Benedito Braga, President of the World Water Council
The 2013 Budapest Water Summit, the theme of which is "The Role of Water and Sanitation in the Global Sustainable Development Agenda", forms part of the events of the UN International Year of Water Cooperation. Led by UNESCO, this initiative aims to generate ideas and provide guidance on such pressing issues as drinking water, integrated water management, international water cooperation, innovative water technologies, sanitation and waste water treatment, to contribute to the development of water-related goals for the post-2015 development agenda.
192th Session of the Executive Board
1st October 2013
Addressing the last session of the Executive Board before the 37th Session of the General Conference, the President put the past two years into perspective, remarking on the exceptional professionalism, dedication and the spirit of solidarity among all constituent parts of UNESCO in the turbulent times. Stressing to the Members of the Board the duty of countries to seek mutually beneficial and realistic consensus at UNESCO, the President of the General Conference sounded the note of optimism concerning the future of the Organization. She thanked the Chair of the Executive Board and the Director General of UNESCO for the collaboration achieved between the Members States and the Secretariat. “I would like to see this house operating in harmony,” she remarked, “fueled by the professionalism and dedication of its many elements – the Member States and the Secretariat, and never losing the intellectual edge that has defined this organization from its early days.”
- Speech (pdf)
Award Ceremony of the 2013 World Fair Play Awards
18 September 2013
H.E. Mrs Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference, attended the ceremony of the World Fair Play Awards 2013, held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, on 18 September 2013.
Since its establishment by UNESCO and other international organizations, in 1963, the International Committee for Fair Play (ICFP) aims to defend and promote sportsmanship worldwide.
- Speech (Pdf)
Madam President opened the ceremony and stressed the importance of ethical framework of fair play for maintaining the traditional foundations of sport, reflecting the respect for honest competition, friendship, equality, integrity, and tolerance, in the face of the growing commercial and competitive pressures in the world of sports. During that ceremony, H. E. Mrs Bogyay was awarded with the Special Trophy of Fair Play for promoting sports diplomacy from the International Fair Play Committee.
At the occasion of that unique ceremony which also marked the 50th anniversary of the ICFP, three outstanding personalities of the sporting world were recognized for their unparalleled achievements by three most prestigious trophies of the worldwide Fair Play movement:
- Lord Sebastian COE (United Kingdom) received the “Jean Borotra” Trophy for a Career and a Life in the Spirit of Fair Play;
- Carlos GONÇALVES (Portugal) received the “Willi Daume” Trophy for Promotion of Fair Play;
- Jochen WOLLMERT (Germany) received the “Pierre De Coubertin” Trophy for an act of Fair Play.
Some athletes who also attended the ceremony received awards such as:
- Christiana Pavlou (Cyprus), the “IOC President’s Prize for the Youth”
- Dániel Gyurta (Hungary), a World Fair Play Diploma for an act of Fair Play
- Raymond Poulidor (France), the Special Fair Play Trophy of CIFP
37th Session of the World Heritage Committee, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
16-24 June 2013
By the invitation of H.E. Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and H.E. Dr Sok An, Chairperson of the Committee and Deputy-Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay took part in the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee.
The session was opened by the Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairperson of the 37th session of the WHC Dr Sok An, Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference of UNESCO, Ms Alissandra Cummins, Chairperson of the Executive Board of UNESCO and Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. In her welcoming speech, Madam President underlined that UNESCO is based on the power of international consensus. UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee is an amazing laboratory of global cooperation on safeguarding our shared cultural treasure – these are issues that concern all human beings and issues that do not recognize national boundaries. The President called the members of the WHC to therefore adhere to the spirit of consensual decision-making.
- Speech (pdf)
The opening ceremony was marked by the return to Cambodia of two major treasures of national artistic and cultural heritage, two life-size masterworks known as "Kneeling Attendants" (8th century Khmer statues) from the Metropolitan Museum in New York to the Kingdom of Cambodia's National Museum, undertaken with UNESCO's active cooperation.
The opening of the session featured a celebration of cultural heritage and colorful cultural performances. Some 1400 participants from 121 countries, and press corps of more than 550 media professionals from 17 countries attended the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee, which added 19 new sites to the World Heritage List.
On 16 June, the President of the General Conference, together with the Director-General of UNESCO, members of UNESCO Secretariat and members of the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia, met with His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni, who underscored the "strong ties which unite the Kingdom of Cambodia and UNESCO".
H.E. Ms Bogyay had the opportunity to hold seperate meetings with the Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen, the Deputy Prime Minister and Chairperson of the 37th session of the WHC, Dr Sok An to discuss various issues related to UNESCO's mandate and programmes in that sphere, as well as the relationships between UNESCO, Cambodia and Hungary.
In the framework of her trip, Ms Bogyay visited:
· The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, a complex of buildings which serves as the royal residence of the king of Cambodia.
· The National Museum, hosting some 14.000 pieces, which is one of the world’s largest collections of Khmer art, ranging from sculptures, ceramics and ethnographic objects.
· The Tuol Sleng Museum, where Madam President witnessed the tragic pages of the history of the genocide of the people of Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge regime.
The President made the journey from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap to visit Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations, Baphuon, Ta Prohm and its atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins, Angkor Wat and the Terrace of the Elephants ahead of the closing ceremony of the event.
Madam President took this occasion to pay a visit to the UNESCO's National Office in Cambodia, where she was welcomed by the Chief, Mrs Anne Lemaîstre and her staff. The meeting featured a presentation of the activities of the Office. The President congratulated the staff of the office for ensuring highest quality of technical input delivered with full accountability.
MINEPS V, Berlin, Germany
29 – 31 May
On the invitation of the Director General of UNESCO, Mme Irina Bokova, H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference of UNESCO, participated to the Fifth International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education and Sports (MINEPS V) held in Berlin, Germany.
The main themes of the Conference was the access to sport as a fundamental right for all; the promotion of public investment in physical education and sport programmes; and the preservation of the integrity of sport. In her closing speech, Madam President called this important Congress an ultimate platform for sports diplomacy, clearly demonstrating the power of UNESCO to bring together the entire world for thinking and acting towards positive changes.
- Speech (pdf)
H. E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, underlined the importance of the concept of Fairplay in sport and proposed, as the Ambassador of Hungary to UNESCO, to create an International Day of Fairplay.
The participants at the 5th world conference of sports ministers in Berlin (MINEPS V) adopted an extensive list of recommendations to curb corruption in sport, share the socio-economic benefits of sport more equitably and ensure access to sport for all. The Berlin Declaration emphasizes that sport is a fundamental right for all, regardless of ethnic origin, gender, age, impairment, cultural and social background, economic resources or sexual orientation. It also underscores the threat to the integrity of sport from transnational organized crime, doping, the manipulation of sports competitions and corruption, which, like sport itself, has become a global phenomenon.
Using the opportunity of Madam President’s stay in Berlin, the Academy of Cultural Diplomacy in Berlin invited her to give a lecture on “Culture and Sustainable Development”. She urged the audeince to be bold and unconventional in their thinking about the role of culture in sustainable development, and to look into our cultural traditions to redefine how we relate to each other and to the environment in which we live in. The thinking should start with, and be based on the right type of values that underpin social justice and that can be found within our cultures. As the international community gears towards elaborating a post-2015 agenda for development, it will crucial to incorporate culture as one of the most important determinants of social and economic development.
Bucharest Forum “Levant, cradle of the cultural diplomacy. Rediscovering the Mediterranean”, Romania
23 – 25 May
By invitation of Prof. Dr. Emil Constantinescu, Former President of Romania, President of the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy, Berlin, H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay took part in the Conference “The Bucharest Forum. The Levant – the cradle of cultural diplomacy. Rediscovering the Mediterranean”.
The conference focused on the evolution of the cultural ties and cultural diplomacy between the Balkans, Middle East and Northern Africa from the second half of the 20th century to the present and aimed to promote the realization of common projects between researchers and intellectuals who are able to constitute the basis of a common area of cultural cooperation. In her closing speech, Madam President underlined that cultural diversity, both tangible and intangible, is an important source of UNESCO’s soft power is its. UNESCO celebrates diversity as a source of inspiration, and uses it for mutual enrichment, and not as a source of division.
- Speech (pdf)
By the invitation of H.E. Mr. Titus Corlatean, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania, the President was invited to discuss Romania's deep commitment towards multiculturalism and intercultural dialogue and to visit world heritage sites and to have official meetings.
H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay met the Minister of Education, the Minister of Culture and the Deputy State Secretary of Foreign Affairs to discuss various issues related to UNESCO's mandate and programmes, as well as the relationships between UNESCO and Romania.
She visited world heritage sites in Bukovina, the Ortodox monasteries in Suceava, Sucevita, and Moldovita.
She also visited Csango Land, where she visited the school of Lespese in Bacau country. This school is a very good example of safeguarding the cultural diversity, especially in regards to music, craft and languages, as is offers special classes to keep alive the Csango Hungarian language.
23 – 24 May 2013
The UN General Assembly, in its Resolution 54/115 adopted in 1999, recognized the Day of Vesak as an International Day of Observance at the United Nations Headquarters and other United Nations Agencies. This year, by the invitation of Venerable Dr. Bodagama Chandima Nayake Thero, International Affairs Advisor to His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka on religious and Cultural Affairs, H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference, participated to the VESAK Day held at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. It was an opportunity to reflect upon the teachings of the Buddha and to focus on inter-faith dialogue as a vehicle towards world peace. The celebration was a continuation of the UNESCO Ambassadors visit to Thailand and Sri Lanka in 2012 for interfaith dialogue meetings.
On 23 May, the President delivered a special address at the inaugural session on “Buddhism and Interfaith Dialogue: reconciliation through Education,” during which she posed a fundamental question: How can we use the diversity of faiths to build a peaceful and harmonious world, rather than to reinforce the divisions between humans? The answer lies in achieving interreligious understanding and solidarity, which arises from a combination of education and dialogue. As a representative of Christian tradition, the President also explored the inter-faith tolerance and respect inherent in the teachings of Christ.
- Speech (pdf)
H.E. Prof. Karunaratne Hangawatte, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to UNESCO and Mr Jānis Kārkliņš, Assistant-Director General of UNESCO for Communication and Information, who represented the Director-General of UNESCO, also took part in the opening ceremony. H. E. Mr Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations and H.E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, sent special messages for that occasion. Venerable Master Chin-Kung, founder of Pureland College in Australia delivered a keynote address.
This session was followed by the Symposium on “Contribution of Religious Teachings towards reconciliation” chaired by Madam President. In her opening remarks she recalled a famous quote that “there will be no peace among the nations without peace among the religions. There will be no peace among the religions without dialogue among the religions,” and reiterated her message for this symposium – that inter-faith dialogue is a precondition of genuine, lasting peace.
- Speech (pdf)
The Symposium featured prominent religious thinkers and leaders in Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam, as well as the renowned scholars from different cultural traditions as Ven. Dr Tawalama Dammika Thero, Head of the International Buddhist Centre in Geneva; Swami Veetamohananda, President of the Centre Védantique Ramakrishna in France; Monsignor Francesco Follo, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to UNESCO; Ven. Thich Minh Tam, president of the Supreme Sangha in France; Shaykh Abd al Wahid Pallavicini, President of Comunita Religiosa Islamica in Italy; and Dr Gabor Karsai, Director of the World Servers International and Sopron Monastery Retreat Centre in Hungary.
The second day was dedicated to roundtable discussions on interfaith dialogue as a way forward towards sustainable peace and global harmony and provided opportunity to reflect on the teachings of the Buddha as well as the contributions made by the other religions towards peace and co-existence. H.E. Prof. Karunaratne Hangawatte, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to UNESCO, opened the roundtable followed by religious observances of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The Ambassadors to UNESCO from the Republic of Serbia, India, Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, Kingdom of Cambodia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Republic of Madagascar, the Republic of Sudan, as well as the Former Ambassador of France to UNESCO took the floor on interfaith dialogue to share their thoughts and experiences in promoting culture of peace as a path towards reconciliation.
On 22nd May, H. E. Mrs Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference, gave a dinner in the honour of the Celebration of Vesak Day.
International Congress "Culture: Key to Sustainable Development", Hangzhou, China
15 – 17 May 2013
By the invitation from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and the Government of the Republic of China, H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay took part in the International Congress “Culture: Key to Sustainable Development”, held in Hangzhou (China) from 15 to 17 May 2013.
This was the first international congress specifically focusing on the linkages between culture and sustainable development organized by UNESCO since the Stockholm Conference in 1998. As such, the Congress provided the very first global forum to discuss the role of culture in sustainable development in view of the post-2015 development framework with participation of the global community and the major international stakeholders.
In her closing speech, the President stressed that the post 2015 development agenda must have culture as one of the basic pillars, because it is culture that nurtures those values that we, as
human beings, need in order to give economic development a human face.
- Speech (pdf)
At the end of the Conference, the Hangzhou Declaration “Placing Culture at the Heart of Sustainable Development Policies” was adopted. The Declaration is calling for a new approach toward sustainable development, and urges governments, civil society and the private sector to harness the power of culture in addressing the world’s most pressing developmental challenges, such as environmental sustainability, poverty, and social inclusion.
Madam President took that opportunity to meet the national authorities and visit world heritage sites.
Ambassadors of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the United Arab Emirates, Nicaragua, Cote d’Ivoire, Slovakia, Iran, Peru, as well as the Chair of UNESCO Executive Board have also taken part in the UNESCO conference in China.
Deputy-Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia
H. E. Mrs Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference, met H. E. Dr Sok An, Deputy-Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, and Chairperson of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO.
It was an occasion to discuss the 37th Session of the World Heritage Committee which will be held in Phnom Penh from 16 to 27 June 2013. H. E. Dr Sok An took this occasion to invite Madam President to attend the 37th Session and pay a visit to UNESCO World Heritage sites of Angkor.
World Jazz Day, Dakar, Senegal
H. Exc. Mrs Katalin Bogyay, President of UNESCO’s General Conference was among jazz lovers attending a charity gala dinner in Dakar, Senegal on 29 April 2013. At the invitation of the Minister of Culture in Senegal, Mr. Abdoul Aziz Mbaye, several ministers, philanthropists, music patrons and jazz enthusiasts were gathered to raise funds for the Teranga Jazz Festival Association, which will be in charge of organizing an annual celebration of the International Jazz Day, from 2014 onwards.
In her speech during the Gala dinner, the President underlined that “Jazz is a great liberating experience. It is no wonder that as a gateway to personal freedom, jazz was perceived as a serious threat by totalitarian regimes”……..“I remember that jazz was banned or heavily restrained in the Communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe, including in my home country Hungary. Jazz was considered dangerous because it is a window for emotional freedom for both performers and the listeners”.
Mrs Bogyay expressed her admiration for the two distinguished musicians who performed during the gala dinner, Mr. Doudou Ndiaye Rose, "master of Senegalese drums", and Vieux Mac Faye and Samba Diabaré Samb, who have been named “living human treasures" by UNESCO. She also paid tribute to the late Adama Faye, who is considered the father of modern Senegalese music.
Katalin Bogyay explained the importance of the International Jazz Day, which was proclamed by UNESCO’s General Conference, under her presidency, in 2011. “For me jazz embodies the synthesis of different cultures and traditions into a common language of humanity. Today, more than ever we need the power of jazz to bring people together. It is time to use this instrument of peace to mend ties between people and societies and to remain united”.
“I am honored to be here, in Senegal, for this wonderful celebration. Although New Orleans is regarded as the birthplace of jazz, the roots of the music are here in Africa,” Mrs Bogyay said. “And let us not forget that the year 2013 marks the beginning of the International Decade for People of African Descent, consecrated to the theme, “Recognition, justice and development for people of African heritage.” “So it is Africa as a whole that is in the limelight with the celebrations that we are launching tonight in the capital of Senegal,” she concluded.
- Speech (pdf)
She attended a roundtable on the "Sources of African Jazz, and influence on the music" at Douta Seck House.
- Speech (pdf)
Mme President took advantage of her visit in Dakar and Saint Louis to meet with:
- H.E. Mr Abdoul Aziz Mbaye, Minister of Culture
- H.E. Mr Serigne Mbaye Thiam, President National Commission & Minister of Education
- H.E. Mr Cheikh Mamadou Abiboulaye Dieye, Minister of telecommunications and the digital economy, Mayor of Saint Louis and his cabinet.
They discussed various issues related to UNESCO's mandate and programmes, and the prospects of closer cooperation with the Organization in the future.
- "la casse de tous petits "- a kindergarten class for children between 3 and 7 which focusses on african oral traditional education, and a workhop on cartoon animation at the Cultural Center
- exhibition of black music
- the village des arts of Soumbedioune
Goree Island (UNESCO World Heritage) where, hosted by Mr. Hamadi Boucoum, Director of World Heritage at the Minister of Culture, she had a private visit to the maison des esclaves and toured the island.
Saint Louis (UNESCO World Heritage), where hosted by H. E. Mr M. Cheikh Mamadou Abiboulaye Dieye, Minister of Telecommunications & the Digital Economy and Mayor of the City of Saint Louis, she enjoyed a tour of the city in carriage and boat.
Madam President took this occasion to pay a visit to the UNESCO's Regional Office for Education in Africa and UNESCO's representative in Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and The Gambia, where she was welcomed by the Director, Mrs Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, and her staff. The meeting featured a presentation of the activities of the Office. The President congratulated the staff of the office for ensuring highest quality of technical input delivered with full accountability.
The visit of H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay featured radio interviews in Dakar with RFI on the Jazz Day, chief editor of West Africa Democracy Radio, press conference at Douta Seck, national TV press.
191th Session of the Executive Board
10 to 26 April 2013
The President of the General Conference sits ex officio in an advisory capacity on the Executive Board (Ex. Board, Rules of Proc., rule 9.1). On the 17th April 2013, during its 191th session, the President addressed the Executive Board, noting that the responsibility for making sure that UNESCO can fulfill its noble mission is shared by all Member States, to an equal degree. In the recent times this responsibility has included guiding the Organization through difficult times, but also giving it a new impetus in the rapidly transforming world, and empowering it to be more responsive to the real global challenges, and that the path towards fulfilling this responsibility lies through an open and constructive dialogue. “Let us dream together, let us be positive together, and let us work together for the better future that is ours to share,” declared the President as the urged to use the difficult situation as an opportunity for the much needed positive change.
- Speech (pdf)
Roundtable on Science and Diplomacy, Budapest, Hungary
By the invitation from Prof. Romain Murenzi, Executive Director of the Trustees of the World Academy of Art & Science (TWAS), and Prof. József Pálinkás, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay took part in the roundtable
on “Science and Diplomacy: Central Europe and Southern Mediterranean – Sharing experiences in the framework of the 2013 Italo-Hungarian International Year of Culture and Science”. The roundtable aims to highlight the role of international scientific cooperation and diplomacy in building capacity to strengthen national research and innovation system and to improve scientific governance, through institutional networks like science academies and targeted policies like those aimed at reducing the gender gap in science.
In her opening speech, the President stressed that science recognizes no boundaries – no state borders, no cultural divides, no gender divisions. In its essence, science is an enterprise that unites humanity, because it is the entire humanity that has come to rely on science to meet its broader needs and promote the overall well-being. The President talked about science diplomacy as an important component of “Soft Power” that manifests itself through relations between people and communities in various spheres of science, as well as in arts, culture, sport, and other areas of human activity.
- Speech (pdf)
After the opening ceremony, Madam President participated in a media conference where she discussed the importance of expanding the engagement of women in science and engineering fields, building science cooperation between Central Europe and the Southern Mediterranean, and supporting nations with less-developed research infrastructure through international cooperation.
World Science Forum 2013
H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference of UNESCO, attended the information meeting for the Permanent Delegates and Observers to UNESCO concerning the World Science Forum 2013, to be organized, after Budapest in 2011, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2013. It was decided that the main theme will be dedicated to "Science for Sustainable Global Development" and that the forum will contribute to a better understanding and appreciation of the role of science in the global society of the 21st century. Topics to be discussed will relate to the governance of science, technology and innovation in the era of globalization and knowledge based economy.
Madam President gave a dinner at her residence in the honour of Prof. Jacob Palis, President of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Prof. József Pálinkás, President of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Prof. Balázs Gulyás, founding director of the World Science Forum.
Minister of Culture of India
H. E. Mrs Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference, gave a lunch in the honour of H.E. Ms Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Minister of Culture of India.
The lunch was an occasion to discuss the preparations for the celebrations of the anniversary of Amrita Sher-Gil, a world renowned Indian-Hungarian artist of the early 20th century, at UNESCO Headquarters. During Madam President’s visit to India last February, it was decided that the Celebration of Amrita Sher-Gil’s life and work will continue throughout the year in Hungary, as well as at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
Science, networks, awareness colloquium
H. E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference of UNESCO, gave a speech at the opening ceremony of the Science, Networks, Awareness colloquium on the theme of science diplomacy, which was organized in the framework of the International Year of Water Cooperation. This conference aimed to present the importance of scientific dialogue in bringing people together and to highlight the example of cooperation around water in the Eastern Mediterranean. Madam Chairperson underlined that when it comes to water, cooperation is not an option – it is an imperative for safeguarding a vital life resource and a precondition for peaceful coexistence. She welcomed to the event the representatives of the scientific communities of Israel and Palestine, and noted that facilitating this type of scientific cooperation, which takes place despite the political barriers between communities, is the very essence of what UNESCO is and what it does for the world.
- Speech (pdf)
Celebration of the World Poetry Day in Cairo, Egypt
18 – 23 March
By the invitation from the Italian Cultural Institute in Egypt and the Supreme Council of Culture of Egypt, H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay took part in the series of events dedicated to the International Cairo Poetry Festival and the Celebration of the World Poetry Day at the Opera house in Cairo.
18th of March was the occasion for opening Cairo International Poetry Festival by H.E. Mr. Said Tawfik, Deputy Minister of Culture and Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Culture; a prominent Egyptian poet Ahmed Abdel Moati Hegazy, founder of Cairo Festival of Poetry;
and H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference. In her speech she stressed the need to restore the role of poetry and art as mediators between humanity and the world, and as a link between cultures for a peaceful co-existence.
- Speech (pdf)
20th of March
featured the visit of H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference, to Bibliotheca Alexandrina by the invitation of its Director Mr Isamel Serageldin, to give a lecture on “Culture and Peace”. The lecture was organized by the Center for Democracy and Social Peace Studies. Ms. Bogyay reminded the audience that UNESCO’s vision of peace is not only the absence of violence;
it is the presence of various positive factors that guarantee the rights and the well-being of people and prevent the emergence of conflict. Genuine peace is not to be found where life-threatening poverty keeps people in dire need of basic commodities, leaves them unable to fend for themselves and their families, and creates fertile ground for the seed of conflict to grow. Madam President emphasized the role that women have played in the Egyptian revolution, and noted with concern the reports of escalating violence against women, calling for a united stance against all forms of violence against women and girls, and for promoting human rights for all, including the rights of women to live free of violence and discrimination and to participate fully in social, economic and political life. The lecture was followed by a question and answer session, involving the students and youth participating in the meeting.
- Speech (pdf)
21st of March was the day for the charity gala “Poetry will save us” – an initiative of the Italian Embassy in Cairo and the Italian Cultural Institute to raise funds for the paediatric hospital 57367 in the Egyptian capital. The event was part of the celebrations of UNESCO's World Poetry Day. The gala took place at the Opera house in Cairo and was attended by poets from Hungary, Switzerland, Portugal, Tunisia, Iraq, Yemen, Egypt and Italy. Madam President, at the World Poetry Day Celebrations, asked the audience if the incredible transformative power of poetry could be used for conflict prevention, reconciliation, and peace-building. Echoing the theme of the conference, the President posed the question: Can poetry save us? Her answer was a resolute yes. Poetry, Ms. Bogyay asserted, can empower us to be daring and bold in confronting and solving the most complex issues and crises. Yemeni poet, Abdulaziz Al-Maqaleh, was named the winner of the Cairo International Poetry Encounter, during the closing ceremony of the Festival.
- Speech (pdf)
H.E. Mrs Katalin Bogyay took the opportunity of her mission to meet with:
Dr Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad Al Tayyeb, Grand Sheikh of the Al Azhar, Grand Imam of the Al Azhar;
The representatives of Coptic Pope Theodoros II, Fr. Saraphim Elsouriany, Secretary of His Holiness, and Bishop Thomas of El Qussiya.
During her meetings, Madam President stressed her message that no single cultural paradigm can have a domination over others, and the differences should be celebrated though a true interfaith and intercultural dialogue between different religions and cultures.
In addition, H.E. Ms Bogyay had meeting with:
- H.E. Mr Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the Arab League and Ms. Samia Bibars, Head of Department for Cultural Relations of the Arab League.
- Mrs Camelia Sobhi, Assistant Minister of Culture responsible for International affairs
- Mr Boutros Boutros-Ghali
- Egyptian artists and intellectuals during a dinner hosted by the Hungarian Ambassador to Egypt, H.E. Mr Peter Kveck
Madam President took this occasion to pay a visit to the UNESCO Office in Cairo, where she was welcomed by the Director of UNESCO Office, Mr Bechir Lamine, and his staff. The meeting featured a presentation of the activities of the Office. The President congratulated the staff of the office for ensuring highest quality of technical input delivered with full accountability.
The visit also served as an occasion to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites,
including Historic Cairo, accompanied by Dr. Osama Moustafa Elnahas, General Director of the Department of Repatriation of Antiquities and International Organizations,
as well as the visit to the Giza Plateau.
The visit of H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay featured multiple TV appearances and radio interviews in Cairo and Alexandria. Her visit was also covered by the major literary journals and newspapers.
Forum on Science and technology: Impact on Society and Economy, Trieste, Italy
By the invitation from the Board of Trustees of the World Academy of Art & Science (WAAS), H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay took part in the Forum dedicated to the theme “Science and technology: Impact on Society and Economy”. This Forum is the first step in a series of
events planned by the Academy to formulate a comprehensive package of solutions to mobilize the enormous untapped potentials of human and social capital.
In her opening speech, the President called for a sharper focus on values in scientific progress today, reminding the audience that to address adequately the major global problems of today, such as climate change, instability of financial markets, chronic underdevelopment and persisting inequalities, we need to think outside conventional boundaries, and redefine the very idea of how we relate to each other and to the environment in which we live in.
She also remarked on the important role played by civil society actors such as the World Academy of Art and Science. UNESCO, and the entire United Nations system, in confronting the global challenges of today, depend on the partnerships between governments, civil society and private sector to mobilize the required thinking power and resources.
- Speech (pdf)
During the opening ceremony, H. E. Mrs Katalin Bogyay was elected as fellow of the World Academy, whose members are chosen for eminence in the arts, the natural and social sciences, and the humanities, and are mandated by the Academy’s founders to explore “the social consequences and policy implications of knowledge”.
World Summit on the Information Society Review Meeting (WSIS+10)
25 February 2013
The event dedicated to the review of the World Summit on Information Society was held at UNESCO Headquarters from 25 to 27 February 2013. UNESCO is designated as one of the leading agencies, along with ITU and UNDP, to follow up on the decisions made at WSIS sessions in Geneva (2003) and in Tunis (2005). The opening ceremony featured Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO; Dr Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of International Telecommunication Union (ITU); Dr Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); Mr Jean-Guy Carrier, Secretary-General of International Chamber of Commerce; and H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference. In her speech, the President underlined the central place that Freedom of Expression occupies in UNESCO’s mandate, as a basic and inalienable human right, and as one of the four pillars of knowledge society espoused by UNESCO, together with the universal access to information, quality education for all, and respect for cultural and linguistic diversity.
- Speech (pdf)
On 26 February 2013, H. E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference, chaired one of the roundtables in the framework of the World Summit on the Information Society Review Meeting (WSIS+10)
on the theme “the Linguistic Diversity : Review of National and International Policies and Measures”. In her introduction, she noted that cultural diversity is unimaginable without the diversity of languages in which these cultures are expressed. UNESCO has been emphasizing the concept of “knowledge societies”, which stresses plurality and diversity instead of a global uniformity in order to bridge the digital divide and to form an inclusive information society. The President reminded the participants of the roundtable that the World Summit on Information Systems clearly recognized in its Action Plan the central role that “cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content” play in establishing Information Society and in sustainable development in general.
- Speech (pdf)
The major theme of the roundtable was the national policies and practices that promote linguistic diversity in the country, as well as the international legal instruments that assist countries in this regard. The keynote speakers for the panel were Dr. Bhim Lal Gautam from Tribhuvan University, Nepal; Dr. Melchior Ntahonkiriye from the University of Burundi; Dr. Krisztina Károly from Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary; Ms. Ana Vilacy Galucio from theMuseu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Brazil and Ms. Anahit Minasyan of the Culture Sector, UNESCO.
On 26 February evening, H. E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference, attended the World Summit Gala Award ceremony showcasing past ten years of best practice in e-Content and Creativity which was initiated by Austria in 2003 in the framework of the United Nations’ WSIS.
Madam President presented the award in the e-Culture & Heritage category for the film “Twelve Canoes”, about the indigenous Yolngu people of Ramininging, in Australia. H.E. Ms Gita Kamath, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Australia to UNESCO, received the award on behalf of the winner.
The other winners for the following categories were:
- e-Annual Report/Estonia in e-Government & Institutions category
- mPedigree/Ghana in e-Health & Environment category
- Eureka.in/India in e-Learning & Education category
- Mini Mundi Tamagotchi/Guatemala in e-Entertainment & Games category
- Videolectures.net/Slovenia in e-science & Technology category
- Kiva Microfinance/USA in e-Business & Commerce category
- Deafplanet/Canada in e-Inclusion & Participation category
NGO: The New Humanity
On 22nd of February, as a follow up to the Genfest 2012 event organized in Budapest, Hungary last year, H.E. Mrs Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference, met a delegation of youth led by Ms Chantal Grévin, representative of New Humanity Association in Paris. The delegates represent Youth for a United World (Youth4 United World) and want to be actors and observers for brotherhood. The network is active in 30 countries and promotes peace awareness through actions called “fragments of brotherhood”.
On May 1st they will hold a “United World Week” in Jerusalem to demonstrate that young people can build a culture of peace.
Celebration of International Mother Language Day 2013
On 21 February, the International Mother Language Day Celebration was launched by H.E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference of UNESCO. H.E. Mr Shahidul Islam, Ambassador of Bangladesh to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, as well as Mr Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education, also participated in the opening event. In her speech, Madam President underlined the importance of supporting mother tongues as a way to maintain our linguistic diversity, and to successfully transmit knowledge between generations. She stressed the importance of providing education and educational resources, such as books, in the native tongues of the peoples of the world.
- Speech (pdf)
This event was co-organized by the Permanent Delegations of Hungary and Bangladesh to UNESCO and UNESCO’s Education Sector. Several prominent keynote speakers contributed to the Conference, included Mr Tibor Frank, Professor and Director, School of English and American Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary; Mr Philippe Benoit, Professor of Bangla, Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO), Paris, France; Mr Eric Cattelain, Expert in Intercultural Communication, Université de Bordeaux 3, France ; Mr Freddy Boswell, Executive Director, Summer Institute of Linguistics International; Mr Tozammel Huq, Special Adviser to the Former Director-General of UNESCO from 1993 to 1999.
The meeting culminated by a musical performance from Baul Singers of Bangladesh.
Meeting with Director of Institute for Cultural Diplomacy
On 8th of February the President of the General Conference of UNESCO held a meeting with Mr Mark Donfried, Executive Director and Founder of the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD). This was a continuation of a dialogue started at the Annual Conference on Cultural Diplomacy held in Berlin, Germany, on 13 December 2012, where H. E. Ms Bogyay participated as a keynote speaker.
The President discussed with Mr. Donfried the prospects of fruitful collaboration between UNESCO and ICD on issues of common interest, such as the promotion of inter-cultural dialogues as a means of conducting international diplomacy. Even though the role of culture and inter-cultural communication is often overlooked in the modern statecraft, for UNESCO, as well as for ICD, this is a crucial dimension of international relations thorough which a real dialogue can be established between people and across cultural boundaries. Cultural diplomacy as the tool for exercising soft power is the priority area of the focus for Ms Bogyay, and has been a major theme of her Presidency. The discussion ended with a pledge to continue working on concrete collaborative projects in the area of cultural diplomacy.
Visit to India
30 January – 3 February
At the invitation of Dr Karan Singh, Member of Parliament of India and President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), H. E. Ms Katalin Bogyay, President of the General Conference of UNESCO, took part in the Birth Centenary Celebrations of Amrita Sher-Gil – a world renowned Indian-Hungarian artist of the early 20th century.
The ceremony was held at the National Gallery of Modern Art of New Delhi, in the presence of H. E. Ms Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Minister of Culture of India. In her opening speech, Madam President focused on the profound artistic heritage that Amrita Sher-Gil left behind in her short life, and the importance of her mixed heritage in her formation as an artist.
- Speech (pdf)
Madam President attended the inauguration of “Amrita Sher-Gil – The Magyar Connection”, an exhibition of photographs by Umrao Singh Sher-Gil on his years in Hungary between 1913 and 1939. In her speech she underlined the importance of maintaining and deepening intercultural dialogues using such opportunities as the celebration of Amrita Sher-Gil’s mixed national heritage. The Celebration of Amrita Sher-Gil’s life and work will continue throughout the year in Hungary, as well as at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
- Speech (pdf)
H.E. Ms Bogyay had the opportunity to hold several meetings with H.E. Ms Chandresh Kumari Katoch, Minister of Culture of India, Ms Sangita Gairola, Secretary of the Ministry of Culture of India, and Dr. Karan Singh, Honorable President of ICCR to discuss various issues related to UNESCO's mandate and programmes in that sphere, as well as the relationships between UNESCO and India.
Ms. Bogyay also met H.E. Mr. Kapil Sibal, the Minister of Communications and Information Technology of India, and discussed an issue of digital illiteracy around the globe – a modern form of illiteracy that is becoming increasingly important with the rapidly growing role of the internet and other modern communication technologies in people’s lives.
Madam President took this occasion to pay a visit to the UNESCO Office in New Delhi, where she was welcomed by the Director of UNESCO Office, Mr Shigeru Aoyagi, and his staff. The meeting featured a presentation of the activities of the Office. The President congratulated the staff of the office for ensuring highest quality of technical input delivered with full accountability; their flexibility in meeting the evolving needs of Member States and programme priorities; and their efficiency in carrying out UNESCO's mission through a coordinated action with other UN agencies in the country.
The visit also served as an occasion to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Red Fort, Humayun Tomb, Qutub Minar, Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri.
Mr Boutros Boutros-Ghali
On January 26, the President of the General Conference of UNESCO, H. E. Ms Katalin Bogyay hosted a dinner at her residence in honor of Mr and Mrs Boutros-Ghali, on the occasion of Mr Boutros-Ghali’s birthday. This was an opportunity to discuss the role of cultural diplomacy in Egypt and the events in March for the Day of Poetry, which are planned with the participation of the President.
Meeting Representatives of Pure Land Learning Association
On 25 January, the President of the General Conference, H.E. Mrs Katalin Bogyay held a meeting with the representatives of Pure Land Learning Association, to discuss various options for strengthening the existing ties and building upon the collaboration that has taken place in the area of inter-cultural and inter-faith dialogue. The President underlined the importance of the faith-based component of inter-cultural communication among people from various religious backgrounds, and noted her personal commitment for promoting a free exchange of ideas between different faiths.
The President expressed her gratitude to the Association for their emphasis on learning as a path towards respecting all religions, and thanked Venerable Chandima Thero and Venerable Wu Hsin, who were also present at the meeting, for their dedication to reaching out to other faiths and maintaining an inter-faith dialogue through various centers and initiatives.
New Year Message
Happy New Year to all of you!
Let me wish you good health and good spirit, joy, happiness and success in all your activities. And let me wish for all of us a strong, flourishing UNESCO which is able to fulfill its mission.
As the President of the General Conference, I have endeavored in 2012 to carry out the mandate of my office and facilitate communication and cooperation among the Member States and various organs of UNESCO, guided by the fundamental principle that every Member State counts, and counts equally. Cognizant of the incredible power of consensus involving all nations under this roof, I have attempted to uphold this principle, by offering unimpeded channels of communication, by promoting transparency, and by facilitating cooperation between the three main organs of UNESCO. I would like to thank you for all your trust and openness.
The quest to make UNESCO more visible and to acquaint the world’s audiences with its noble mission and work has taken me to different countries in 2012.
I have focused on the three main themes of my presidency – fostering peace and reconciliation through soft power and cultural diplomacy, celebrating cultural diversity as a source of inspiration, and highlighting the role of women in conflict resolution and conflict prevention.
I have kept you abreast of my work through my online diary (please click on it) http://www.unesco.org/new/en/general-conference/president/diary, through my speeches online www.unesco.org/new/en/general-conference/president/speeches , as well as the regular communication sent to your delegations.
Meeting the high officials from the host governments and discussing with them the opportunities for closer cooperation with UNESCO has been an important aspect of all my trips. But no less meaningful has been the contact with the people representing the local cultures and societies – the artists and musicians, the religious and community leaders, the students and the teachers, and the ordinary citizens who are the primary targets of our work.
I am deeply grateful to my colleagues, and the relevant governments who have invited me to their countries. These visits have been the occasions for an open and frank exchange of ideas and views on how to make UNESCO a more effective Organization, one that is closely attuned to the real issues and is responsive to the needs of the peoples of the world.
My wish for the coming year is that we display solidarity and unity in our quest for the right answers to the challenges we are confronting. Let us not seek the answers that are acceptable for a single country, or a specific region, or a particular political grouping. Let us seek the universal answers, the answers that leave no country excluded, the answers that acknowledge the complexity and diversity of our civilization.
The existing differences in our worldviews, in our histories, in our faiths and ways of life should never be used to divide us, or to spark conflicts amongst us. Let us accept that we are responsible for turning these differences into our strength as united human family, which shares the same home on this planet, which breathes the same air and drinks the same water. We all cherish the bright future for our children. We are all vulnerable in the face of natural and human-caused calamities. Let us be united, and accept responsibility for our own future. I am looking forward to working together with all of you in the coming year.
Looking forward to our personal encounters in the New Year.
With all my appreciations,
President of the General Conference
Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Hungary to UNESCO