24.10.2012 - ODG

UNESCO Director-General celebrates UN Day and explores challenges and imperatives of multilateralism

© UNESCO/Paola Leoncini-Bartoli

On the occasion of the celebration of United Nations Day hosted by the Embassy of the Russian Federation in London and by the United Nations Association to the United Kingdom, the Director-General, Ms. Irina Bokova, delivered a keynote speech in the presence of Mr. Alexander Yakovenko, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the UK, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, Chairman of UNA-UK and former British Ambassador to the UN, Mr. William John Morgan, Chairman of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, as well as Ambassador Matthew Sudders, Permanent Delegate of the UK to UNESCO and Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO.

The celebration was attended by the diplomatic community, members of the British Parliament, academics and experts, as well as representatives of the United Nations.

Irina Bokova explored the challenges facing multilateralism today, referring to the need to address "societies that are more connected than ever but also increasingly diverse and fragile." "Managing diversity within States," she declared, "is becoming a core issue of global governance."

She pursued by emphasizing that "the stakes of peace today lie in education, culture, the sciences and communication, as foundations for sustainable development".

"The UN is the only repository of international legitimacy" said Sir Jeremy Greenstock.

In concluding her keynote address, Irina Bokova underscored that the challenge of multilateralism today rests on the ability to build more just and inclusive societies that make the most of their diversity to advance respect for human rights and human dignity.

The celebration featured also the presentation of the Sir Brian Urquhart Award for Distinguished Service to the United Nations to Sir Richard Jolly, former Special Adviser to the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and principal coordinator of the Human Development Report.

During her visit to the United Kingdom, the Director-General also met with State Minister for International Development, Mr. Alan Duncan, the State Secretary for International Development, Ms. Justine Greening, Professor William John Morgan, Chair of the United Kingdom's National Commission for UNESCO -- during which meetings she discussed progress in the reform agenda, the refocusing of the Organization on its core priorities in the context of the ongoing preparation of UNESCO's Medium-Term Strategy, as well as developments in relation to the Transparency Initiative.

The Director-General held a working meeting also with senior representatives of DFID's UN and Commonwealth Department and Education Policy Team at the Human Development Department, during which she presented UNESCO's specific role and priorities in the context of the UN Secretary-General's new global initiative "Education First" in her capacity as Executive Secretary of its Steering Committee.

She highlighted the three target areas where UNESCO is best placed to take the lead -- notably, literacy for girls and women, a new deal on teachers, and fostering global citizenship through 'whole-school' approaches. All of this is fully aligned with the EFA goals and framework.

Irina Bokova also recalled UNESCO's recognized expertise in monitoring education trends that will provide it a leading role in assessing progress and achievements under the initiative.

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