UNESCO congratulates the African Union on its 50th Anniversary
In advance of the 21st Summit of African Union, to be held in Addis Ababa on 19-27 May 2013, the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, presents her congratulations to all African women and men on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the African Union.
“The African Union is a force for solidarity and for peace across the continent,” said Irina Bokova. “For fifty years, it has promoted a more integrated and prosperous Africa -- this role is all the more essential at this time when Africa is rising. UNESCO has always stood with the cause of African unity, and it will continue to support pan-African cooperation and the African renaissance.”
As one of its global priorities, UNESCO has worked closely with the Organization of African Unity since its creation, supporting its work to deepen regional integration, pan-African cooperation and inclusive development.
UNESCO helped to launch the Regional Conferences of Ministers of Education and of Ministers of Science and Technology, which laid the ground for the African Union’s Conference of Ministers of Education. The Organization’s support to the education goals of the African Union was strengthened with the creation of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in Africa, based in Dakar, Senegal (BREDA). Support has ranged from educational planning and capacity-building, to teacher training and curriculum design.
Girls and women’s education have always been a shared focus. In 1993, UNESCO organized the first Pan-African Conference on Girls and Women’s’ Education in Burkina Faso, and created, jointly with the African Union, a specialized center in Ouagadougou on this issue.
UNESCO was the first agency of the United Nations to provide assistance to national liberation movements on the continent in the 1970s, through a Regional Office in Lusaka. The Organization also established a special programme for a South Africa free of apartheid.
Supporting the great wealth of Africa’s cultural diversity, as well as African languages, has always been a pillar of UNESCO’s cooperation with the African Union – to strengthen social cohesion and promote inclusive, sustainable development by safeguarding and promoting Africa’s cultural heritage and the diversity of its cultural expressions.
UNESCO launched its flagship General History of Africa in 1964, just one year after the creation of the Organization of African Unity -- to reveal and preserve the history, traditions and cultures of Africa and to share these with the world, highlighting the great contribution of African peoples to humanity as a whole.
The General History of Africa gave new impetus to integration on the continent through a new vision of the past. The first phase of the project closed in 1999, with the publication of eight volumes, in 13 languages. The adaptation for the pedagogic use of the collection was launched in 2008, and the volumes have been translated into Portuguese. UNESCO is now launching a 9th volume on modern developments, with the support of Brazil and close cooperation with African experts.
“UNESCO’s cooperation with the African Union builds on shared values, on common objectives and, as importantly, on a clear vision of the future of the continent as a dynamic and global leader,” said the Director-General.
Collaboration with the African Union focuses today on several key issues – promoting the goals of African States to provide quality education to all of their citizens; strengthening the foundations for a culture of peace across the continent on the basis of dialogue and reconciliation; and advancing science and technology for sustainable development across the continent. Promoting media development and training for journalists is another area of focus, as is safeguarding and promoting the cultural heritage and diversity of cultural expressions across the continent.
The young people of Africa are a core priority of all UNESCO’s action across the continent, working through an African Youth Strategy, to provide relevant skills, to promote civic participation and to ensure the voices of young people are heard.
All of this work builds on the goals set by the African Union, including through the consolidated plan of action for sciences and technology in Africa, the Second Decade of Education for Africa (2006-2015), the Charter of African Cultural Renaissance, and other frameworks.
Recent flagship events have included the African Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for Youth Employment, Human Capital Development and Inclusive Growth, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 1 to 3 April 2012, co-organized with the African Union, the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the Association for the Development of Education in Africa. On 26-28 March 2013, UNESCO, the African Union and the Government of Angola organized the Pan-African Forum on Sources and Resources for a Culture of Peace, in Luanda.
In the field of culture, UNESCO and the African Union have worked closely to safeguard Africa’s cultural heritage -- tangible, intangible, and documentary – including in situations of conflict, as in Mali. This has encompassed also a strong focus on capacity-building for African cultural institutions, as well as support to African cultural industries and events – such as the 23rd Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), held last February in Burkina Faso.
UNESCO recently deepened cooperation with the International Centre for Research and Documentation on African Traditions and Languages (CERDOTOLA), based in Yaoundé, Cameroon, to safeguard and promote African languages and African heritage, amongst its Member States -- Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda and Sao Tome and Principe.
“This Golden Jubilee is a great moment for Africa and for the world,” said the Director-General. “This is a time to celebrate, and to look with confidence and determination to consolidating Africa’s rise. UNESCO will advance with Africa every step of the way.”
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