02.07.2015 - ODG

Director-General meets John Whittingdale, United Kingdom Secretary of State of Culture, Media and Sport


On 1 July, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met the United Kingdom Secretary of State of Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Honourable John Whittingdale. She was accompanied by Ambassador Matthew Sudders, Permanent Delegate of the United Kingdom to UNESCO.

The Director-General underlined her relentless commitment to strengthening UNESCO's action to bolster international responses to the destruction of cultural heritage and illicit trafficking of cultural goods, highlighting the measures taken to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2199, working with a wide range of partners.

The Secretary of State noted the increasing actions taken by the UK government in this field, working with museums, customs, police and other key actors. He pointed to the interest for UNESCO to contribute to these efforts.

Irina Bokova welcomed the encouraging statements that the United Kingdom will ratify the 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in Armed Conflict, which forbids targeting cultural heritage or using it for military purposes. The Secretary of State underlined the commitment of the Government here, agreeing with the Director General on the need to bolster a rules-based international order through such conventions. 

Discussion followed on the need to fight the radicalisation that fuels cultural cleansing, when the Director General presented UNESCO's work, including the new Framework for Action, Empowering Youth to Build Peace. The importance of responding to hate speech on the internet and through social media, especially for young people, was highlighted.

Irina Bokova provided an overview of UNESCO's action to promote freedom of expression as well as the safety of journalists, namely by leading the implementation of the UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists. The Secretary of State underlined his great interest in these issues and UNESCO's work in this field and looked forward to stronger cooperation.

The Director-General underlined the 70th anniversary celebrated this year of UNESCO's creation, and the historic role played by the United Kingdom in the Organisation's birth.

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