Director-General’s first official visit to Argentina: promoting human rights and regional cooperation
On 30 November 2010, UNESCO Director-General began her first official visit to Argentina, where she will meet Argentinean leaders in Buenos Aires, hold talks at the International Centre for the Advancement of Human Rights, a UNESCO Category II Centre, and participate to the 20th Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Governments in Mar del Plata. She will be in Argentina until 5 December.
During the first day of her visit, the Director-General held a meeting with Mr Lino Barañao, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovative Production. They spoke about ways to strengthen cooperation between UNESCO and Argentina in this field, especially with regard to the importance of promoting women’s involvement in the natural sciences. Minister Barañao expressed Argentina's interest to establish a UNESCO Category II Centre on science and technology and a Television channel solely focused on the subject.
Irina Bokova also met with Ms Estela de Carlotto, the President and founder of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights organization that seeks to locate children kidnapped during the Argentinean military dictatorship (1976-1983) and to return them to their biological families. The Director-General commended the work of the Grandmothers, which has led to the location of more than 10 percent of the estimated 500 children kidnapped or born in detention during the military dictatorship. She was encouraged to hear that this has inspired the creation of the Argentinean Forensic Anthropology Team and the establishment of a National Genetic Data Bank.
The Director-General visited the “Parque de la Memoria”, a public space to remember the victims of the repressive regime and spoke with its Director Ms Nora Hoshbaum. She went on to meet the Secretary of State for Human Rights, Mr Eduardo Luis Duhalde, and to visit the International Centre for the Advancement of Human Rights. Under the auspices of UNESCO, this centre operates from the building formerly occupied by ESMA (Escuela de Suboficiales de Mecánica de la Armada), the Navy Mechanics School. During Argentina’s military dictatorship, ESMA was the largest centre for the detention and execution of civilians. Irina Bokova then visited the Archivo Nacional de la Memoria, where she underscored the relevance of teaching human rights to the younger generation.
Concluding her first day in Buenos Aires, the Director-General met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Héctor Timmerman, with whom she discussed ways of enhancing collaboration between UNESCO and Argentina.
Throughout the day, Irina Bokova was accompanied by Senator Daniel Filmus, representative of Argentina to UNESCO’s Executive Board.