Director-General Bokova and Cardinal Parolin underline joint commitment for people-centered action
At the margins of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova met with His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness Pope Francis, on 21 September, 2016.
Both leaders addressed a range of acute global problems, highlighting the importance of mutual understanding and global solidarity, and placing the human being at the centre in times of increasing global and societal divides.
Agreeing on the vital role of education in securing a future of dignity for all, the Director-General briefed the Cardinal on UNESCO's work and recent activities on education for values, global citizenship, respect for human rights, and dialogue for reconciliation and peace.
She highlighted UNESCO's action relating to the revision of textbooks and learning materials, countering hate speech on the Internet, and the recently developed Teachers Guide for the Prevention of Violent Extremism, emphasizing UNESCO's efforts towards building more inclusive and resilient societies.
Both stressed that a renewed focus on youth was urgently needed, and referred to the wide youth mobilization in the context of 2016 International World Youth Day, hosted by Poland.
The Cardinal underlined the importance of languages, multilingualism as intrinsic elements of building greater respect for cultural diversity and to counter marginalization. He referred to the imperative of harnessing broader cultural literacy to foster mutual understanding.
Director-General Bokova and Cardinal Parolin expressed their urgent concern for the protection of cultural and religious minorities, and the vital role played by cultural and religious heritage for the identity, history and dignity of communities, an issue that UNESCO is increasingly called upon for policy advice and assistance. Both reaffirmed the direct link between the preservation of cultural heritage and respect for, and appreciation of, cultural diversity.
Acknowledging an ever more important responsibility to protect, shared by world leaders and the multilateral community at large, the Cardinal highlighted the important role of religious leaders, and of UNESCO as a platform for protection and prevention though education and culture.
Both leaders expressed their joint commitment to promote these issues in close partnership and collaboration, towards a new vision for humanity. Director-General Bokova recalled her instructive discussions with His Holiness Pope Francis during her official visit to the Holy See in March 2015, and extended an open invitation for His Holiness to visit UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.
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