24.01.2010 - ODG

Irina Bokova concludes visit to Washington, DC

© U.S. State Department

The Director-General had talks with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Friday 22 January.

Also participating in the meeting at the State Department were the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, Esther Brimmer and Ambassador David Killion, Permanent Delegate of the U.S. to UNESCO. The Director-General set out her vision of UNESCO and key actions planned, in particular with respect to gender equality, UNESCO’s contribution to the MDG review in September 2010 and UNESCO’s contribution to the international effort to assist the people of Haiti.

Ms Clinton expressed her full support for UNESCO and accepted Irina Bokova’s invitation to visit UNESCO at an appropriate moment in the near future. She expressed her strong interest in the dialogue between cultures and activities to support women and girls, especially through education. Ms Clinton stated her readiness to support an advocacy initiative on education and literacy for girls and women. The Secretary of State underlined that this was a high priority for the United States. 

Ms Bokova informed the Secretary of State about UNESCO’s action in Haiti, where her special envoy has been conducting a mission and where the UNESCO premises, relatively unharmed, are now accommodating the Education Minister and his immediate team. The Director-General explained that UNESCO has prepared emergency activities to reactive schooling. Ms Clinton expressed her appreciation of the efforts of UNESCO and the UN as a whole to respond to the emergency in Haiti.

The talks at the State Department also focused on water management, culture and development, dialogue between cultures, world heritage and press freedom. The Secretary of State offered U.S. support to UNESCO in developing innovative public-private partnerships, in order to increase concrete initiatives in the field, reflecting the programme priorities of the Organization. 

Also Friday, Ms Bokova held meetings with the U.S. State Department Coordinator for Dialogue with the Muslim World, Farah Pandit, the U.S. Global Ambassador for Gender Issues, Melanne Verveer, and the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, Esther Brimmer and her Deputy, Gerald Anderson. The Director-General met with the Ambassador of Haiti to the U.S., Raymond Joseph, to express UNESCO’s sympathy and concern following the earthquake. She informed him of the action taken by UNESCO to help with emergency assistance and explained the Organization’s plans for longer term relief efforts.

In talks with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, Ms Bokova explained UNESCO’s work in the field of education, from global advocacy, to support for education policy making and for concrete projects to assist developing countries’ education sectors. The Education Secretary was interested to learn about UNESCO’s work in Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. He confirmed his intention to develop closer cooperation with UNESCO. 

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Dominique Strauss-Kahn had a wide-ranging discussion with the Director-General in their meeting at the IMF headquarters. The impact of the global financial and economic crisis on social services was a particular focus of their exchange. Ms Bokova briefed Mr Strauss-Kahn on the launch of the 2010 Education for All Global Monitoring Report, at UN headquarters in New York, earlier in the week, and on its important warning about the likely impact of cuts to education in the wake of the global crisis.  

Ms Bokova raised the issue of how to get UNESCO’s education priority more firmly onto the agenda of major international gatherings such as the G20 or the G8. The two also discussed ways to strengthen cooperation between the IMF and UNESCO, globally and at country level, to ensure that education is sufficiently prioritized in development policies on the ground.  

The Director-General also met with James Billington, the Librarian of Congress, to discuss ways of further developing UNESCO’s cooperation with the Library of Congress on the World Digital Library project.

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