» UNESCO Director-General celebrates the memory of Madame de Staël
23.06.2017 - ODG

UNESCO Director-General celebrates the memory of Madame de Staël

© UNESCO/Christelle ALIX

On 22 June 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, participated in the opening session of a one-day conference, entitled ‘Madame de Staël: a woman of our times,’ on the occasion of the bicentennial of her passing. The event took place in the presence of several personalities, including the former President of the Swiss Confederation, H.E. Mr Pascal Roger Couchepin, the former Minister of National Education of France, Mr Xavier Darcos, and Mr Jacques Berchtold, the Director of the Bodmer Foundation (Switzerland).

Madame de Staël was a French woman of letters of Swiss origin. Through her culture and her passionate commitment to freedom, Germaine de Stael revolutionized political literature and contributed to the creation of modern Europe.

The event was organized at the initiative of the French, German and Swiss Permanent Delegations to UNESCO, and the French National Commission for UNESCO, to honor Madame de Staël’s unique voice and to share her universal message of mutual understanding and peace.

In her remarks, the Director-General highlighted Madame de Staël’s contribution to shaping European citizenship.

“It is perhaps her most precious legacy -- to affirm that one can be passionately French, Swiss or German, and at the same time deeply European, and citizen of the world”, said Irina Bokova.

“Germaine de Staël is also a symbol of an ambition at the heart of UNESCO’s work – the idea that culture, literature, a free press can change the world and societies”, underlined the Director-General, insisting on the strong links between de Staël’s writings and convictions, and UNESCO’s own mission and mandate.

Mr Daniel Janicot, President of the French National Commission for UNESCO, recalled the context in which this day of commemoration was organized, with the aim to shed light on the many insights offered by Germaine de Staël, and their strong relevance to addressing major contemporary challenges.

The Chairperson of the Executive Board, H.E. Mr Michael Worbs, speaking on behalf of the 58 Member States of the Executive Board, commended the organisation of this day of commemoration, reflecting on a unique European thinker, who can still provide, 200 years after her death, many sources of inspiration for contemporary societies.

H.E. Ambassador Stefan Krawielicki, Permanent Delegate of Germany to UNESCO, underscored one of the main dimensions of de Staël’s work, her promotion and defence of the “regards croisés” between nations, States, peoples, convinced by the idea that everyone should “see himself/herself through the other’s eyes”.

Mr Rainier d’Haussonville, descendent of Madame de Staël and co-heir of the Castle of Coppet, in Switzerland -  de Staël’s last home - emphasized the importance of safeguarding, promoting and diffusing the spirit of her legacy, along the lines of the “Groupe de Coppet”.



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