Enrique Peña Nieto: "UNESCO is the most important agency of the United Nations"
On 18 October, the President-elect of the United States of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, met with UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, at the Headquarters of the Organization. This was his first visit in his capacity as President-elect to a body of the UN System. In his view, “UNESCO is the most important agency of the United Nations”.
In their meeting, Peña Nieto highlighted that Mexico’s and UNESCO’s efforts to foster a knowledge-based economy converge. He noted that one of his major priorities is to transform the education system to ensure quality, relevance and significance. In this regard, the President-elect said his government intends to ensure universal access to secondary and higher education, to democratize access to information technology and communication and to allocate at least 1% of Mexican GDP to the development of science and technology.
Irina Bokova, in turn, offered UNESCO’s cooperation to safeguarding freedom of expression and security for journalists. The president agreed that this is an issue of great importance to Mexico in order to consolidate its democracy.
In the field of culture, the President-elect underlined Mexico's leading role in protecting and safeguarding the world's cultural heritage. With 31 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List, Mexico is one of the top five countries in the world in this regard. Both the President and the Director-General highlighted the priority given to the global fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property, including illicit archaeological excavations, an issue that is especially important to the people of Mexico. In this respect, Peña Nieto promised to deploy Mexico's leadership to promote within the framework of UNESCO the strengthening of multilateral efforts to prevent the looting of archaeological sites that is affecting his country and a large number of Latin American countries and other regions.
The General Coordinator for the Transition Government, Videgaray Luis Caso, Vice Coordinator for International Affairs, Emilio Lozoya Austin, Ambassador of Mexico to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Carlos de Icaza and the Social Communication Coordinator, David Lopez Gutierrez accompanied the President-elect during the visit.
Mexico is a founding Member of UNESCO (1946). It was the seventh country to sign UNESCO’s Constitution and the first in Latin America. Today, it is the tenth largest contributor to the Organization’s budget and a Member of its Executive Board during the period 2011-2015.