The Director-General moves ahead with UNESCOs programmes and actions
Since taking up office as Director-General of UNESCO on 15 November 2009, Irina Bokova has endeavoured to advance her vision of a “new humanism for the 21st century” and to promote UNESCO’s comprehensive approach to global issues. The following are some highlights of the first nine months of her mandate.
During the 1Goal Education for All Summit held in Pretoria (South Africa) in July 2010, the Director-General argued for education to be made a top political priority of governments and global governance. She has been pushing also for education to be placed high on the G-20 agenda, which will take place in the Republic of Korea in October 2010. Speaking at the Ninth High-Level Group meeting on Education for All (EFA) in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Irina Bokova called on governments and donors to redouble their efforts to protect educational gains made over the past decade that are under threat from the global economic downturn.
At the launch of the United Nation’s International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures - 2010, held at UNESCO Headquarters, the Director-General established the ‘High Panel on Peace and Dialogue among Cultures’ to strengthen UNESCO’s activities pertaining to dialogue among cultures and peace. The panel is composed of eminent personalities who will reflect on the new dimensions of peace in the contemporary world and accompany UNESCO’s work in this area. Irina Bokova embodied UNESCO’s leadership in the international year at the third Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in May 2010, where she underlined UNESCO's actions over the past 65 years to uphold cultural diversity, promote tolerance and build a culture of peace through international cooperation.
The Director-General has called upon governments to prevent and punish crimes against journalists, noting that freedom of information has been under great threat. At the ceremony for the World Press Freedom Prize, held in Brisbane (Australia), she condemned the fact that “countless journalists all over the world continue to endure harassment, intimidation or physical assault in the course of defending our right to know.”
At the UN Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen (COP15), Irina Bokova presented UNESCO’s climate change initiative. “Thanks to its interdisciplinary capacities, UNESCO can render a unique contribution to mitigation and adaptation to climate change through distinct action in education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. All these efforts are closely coordinated with the response of the entire UN system to the new global challenge,” she stated.
In her message on the occasion of the International Youth Day (12 August) and launch of the 2010 ‘UN international Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding’, the Director-General emphasised UNESCO’s commitment to empowering youth and ensuring that their voices are heard, especially in view of the Organization’s current co-chairmanship of the United Nations Interagency Network on Youth Development.
While in New York (USA) to participate in the Annual Ministerial Review meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Irina Bokova underscored the importance of gender equality for the achievement of all internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and particularly those related to education. She expressed her deep satisfaction with the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the Resolution on System-wide Coherence which establishes the new United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, to be known as “UN Women”.
“Education, science and culture must have a place on the governance agenda.” This was the message the Director-General took to the 40th World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2010.