» UNESCO Executive Board recommends Palestinian membership
27.09.2011 - UNESCOPRESS

UNESCO Executive Board recommends Palestinian membership

© UNESCO/Patrick Lagès - UNESCO's 187th Executive Board opened in Paris on 27 September

The Executive Board of UNESCO voted today on a recommendation to admit Palestine to the Organization. From the 58 member-states on the Board, the recommendation was passed by a vote of 40 in favor to four against, with 14 abstentions. Palestine's request for membership will now be considered at the next session of the General Conference (October 26-November 10) where a two-thirds majority vote is required for membership to be granted. Decisions for admission are taken by the General Conference and the Executive Board which are UNESCO's governing bodies.


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Moving UNESCO into the 21st century

The plenary sessions of UNESCO’s 187th Executive Board opened on 27 September with key speeches by the Board’s Chairperson, Eleonora Valentinovna Mitrofanova (Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO), and the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in which both spoke of the greatest challenges the Organisation and the world are facing today.

In her opening remarks, Ambassador Mitrofanova highlighted that the Board has made significant progress towards reforming UNESCO and the work of its governing bodies in order “to move the organization into the 21st century”. Mitrofanova also stressed that the last two years have been marked by “challenging conditions of the continued global crises, the uninterrupted series of natural disasters and deplorable acts of terrorism worldwide, social, political and cultural changes in the Arab societies, as well as in-house restructuring and reform process initiated by the Director-General.”  

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, outlined her vision of the Organisation’s priorities in the context of global realities and the reform of UNESCO itself.  She stressed that education is one of the ways out of the current global economic crisis. In this regard, the Director-General introduced UNESCO’s different private partnerships in the areas of girls’ and women’s education, culture and development and the fight against racism, among others, as key examples of the Organisation’s most recent achievements. She also highlighted the work UNESCO is undertaking to establish a road map to democracy in the Arab world. “It is our duty to help societies to build a culture of peace. A culture of peace based on education, human rights and journalists’ safety. A culture that draws lessons from natural hazards and global climate change,” said the Director-General.

In her speech, the Director-General reminded members of the Executive Board that the aim of the ongoing reform is to allow the Organisation “to keep up the pace of history and to shape its course”. She affirmed: “We must ensure UNESCO plays its rightful role, that we are visible, that we respond to the needs of member States”.

Bokova acknowledged that the global crisis is affecting the entire United Nations system. Yet, she stressed that “difficult times call for more UNESCO, not less. The challenges we must tackle today demand a stronger UNESCO”.  She added: “the stakes of peace today lie precisely in education, the sciences, culture and communication and information”.

The Executive Board is one of the three governing bodies of UNESCO that examine the Organisation’s work programme and corresponding budget estimates submitted to it by the Director-General. The current session, which ends on 6 October, is meant to prepare for UNESCO’s 36th General Conference, to be held in Paris from 25 October to 10 November 2011.

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