UNESCO Conventions Ceremony

 Conventions Ceremony
Last update: 24 أكتوبر 2022

The Conventions Ceremony, held on the margins of the sessions of the General Conference, is aimed at highlighting the standard-setting activity of UNESCO and the importance of implementing the normative instruments adopted by the Organization.

During this formal event, representatives of Member States have the opportunity to submit instruments of ratification or to sign UNESCO's conventions. By taking part in this collective effort, Member States of the Organization reaffirm their determination to cooperate in order to achieve the objectives pursued by the various conventions of UNESCO. 

2nd Conventions Ceremony, held the margins of the 41th session of the General Conference

The second UNESCO Convention Ceremony was celebrated on 19 November 2021, on the margins of the 41st session of the General Conference, bringing together the representatives of Zambia, Tunisia, Cuba and Botswana who made public their commitment to the normative mandate of UNESCO. Instruments of ratification of four different conventions in the fields of culture and education were deposited on that day.

This General Conference is a reminder of the power of our normative mission, a very important function and aspect of our mandate, which is less known to the wider public, but which is actually, again, the skeleton that defines and unites us.
Audrey Azoulay Director-General of UNESCO

The Ceremony was attended by H.E. Mr. Santiago Irazabal Mourão, President of the General Conference and H.E. Mr. Agapito Mba Mokuy, Chairperson of the Executive Board, as well as a number of States’ representatives.

The four instruments of ratification which were deposited during the Ceremony bring their respective conventions a step closer towards their universal scope and confirm that the normative mandate of the Organization is as relevant today as ever. The prominent attendance of this solemn event reaffirms the central role that UNESCO’s conventions and recommendations play in pursuance of the noble goal for which UNESCO was created 75 years ago. This is further demonstrated by the adoption of the General Conference, at its 41st session, of the two new recommendations, on open science and on ethics of artificial intelligence.

Pictures of the 2nd Conventions Ceremony (41C)

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1st Conventions Ceremony, held the margins of the 40th session of the General Conference

On the margins of the debates of the 40th session of the General Conference, UNESCO took a moment, on 15 November 2019, to celebrate its normative mandate with the convening of its first Conventions Ceremony. The conference room of the Executive Board was brimming with Ministers and Ambassadors, who honoured the event emphasizing their States’ commitment to UNESCO’s normative mandate. The diversity of conventions on which States took action at the Ceremony reflects the broadness of UNESCO’s interdisciplinary mandate, in areas as diverse as the recognition of diplomas of higher education, the prevention of doping in sports and the protection of cultural heritage.

To exist, a treaty must be signed, ratified and then implemented; and ideally by all States. We aim at this universality [...] For this international legal language to be spoken by everyone – not just legal professionals – our standards need to be shared as widely as possible.
Audrey Azoulay Director-General of UNESCO

The Ceremony was organized by the Office of International Standards and Legal Affairs, on behalf of the Director-General as Depositary of the UNESCO Conventions. In this role, which is less known to the general public, the Director-General is the custodian of the original of the UNESCO Conventions and receives the signatures and the instruments by which States formally accept treaty commitments. The Ceremony gave prominence to a legal process that, while often taking place behind the scenes of international relations, still plays a central role in the life of an international treaty and the pursuit of the goals of our Organization.

The Ceremony was a solemn event, during which representatives of twelve States apposed their signatures to UNESCO Conventions or handed to the Director-General the instruments expressing their consent to be bound by these Conventions. It is noteworthy that, following the deposit of four new instruments of ratification during the Ceremony, the Revised Convention on the Recognition of Studies, Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees and Other Academic Qualifications in Higher Education in African States (Addis-Ababa, 2014) entered into force on 15 December 2019.

The success of the Ceremony reaffirms that conventions are at the core of UNESCO’s mandate. It is in this spirit that a new tradition of celebrating the Member States’ commitment to the Organization’s normative mandate is born.

Pictures of the 1st Conventions Ceremony (40C)

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