Director-General Opens Way for Reinforced Cooperation with Bangladesh
Praising Bangladesh for its leadership in promoting cultural diversity and its achievements in human development, Irina Bokova pledged to strengthen UNESCO’s relations with the country during her first official visit to the country that concluded on 11 May.
Over the course of three days, the Director-General discussed the country’s policies and opportunities for reinforced cooperation with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and all senior members of her Cabinet, including for education, culture, and science and technology, and finance.
“Bangladesh is one of the countries that has made the most rapid progress on the human development index, a direct result of your country’s positive efforts,” said the Director-General at the close of her visit. “UNESCO stands ready to support you in your efforts to reach out to the marginalized, improve the quality of education, strengthen research on ocean science and biodiversity and integrate cultural policies into sustainable development.”
The Director-General was present for the adoption of the Dhaka Ministerial Declaration on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions by 33 countries of the Asia-Pacific region. The declaration includes a set of objectives to integrate culture into national policies, promote cultural and creative industries, collect and share information, and ensure civil society participation in decision making. The Declaration calls upon UNESCO to foster regional cooperation, share best practices, build capacities in the field of cultural expressions and raise awareness of the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. To date, only 12 out of 44 countries in the Asia Pacific region have ratified the Convention.
“UNESCO has a sense of responsibility after the adoption of this Declaration,” said Mrs Bokova. “We will work with you to promote cultural policies for sustainable development, because we believe that it is culture that binds societies and makes them more just, resilient and at ease with themselves.”
During her visit, the Director-General also visited the International Mother Language Institute, established for the research and preservation of languages. On this occasion, she stressed the importance of multilingualism for maintaining cultural diversity and supporting early education in mother tongue language. She discussed educational challenges and innovations, including in mother tongue language, with Sir Fazle Abed, the founder and chairperson of BRAC, the world’s largest non-governmental organization.
Ms Bokova also laid wreaths at Shaheed Minar, a national monument commemorating those killed during the Language Movement demonstrations of 1952, and at the National Memorial honouring the martyrs of the Liberation War of 1971. She attended presentations chaired by the Speaker of Parliament on the country’s cultural diversity and heritage at the monumental National Assembly building, designed by Louis Khan.