First meeting of the International Scientific Committee for the UNESCO History Project

The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, convened on 30 June the first meeting of the International Scientific Committee for the UNESCO History Project.

This advisory body, composed of eleven recognized specialists from various regions of the world in the field of history of international relations and related disciplines, was established as a follow-up to the international symposium on UNESCO’s history organized in November 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary celebrations, to guide and supervise the implementation of the UNESCO History Project (CL/3710) launched in April 2004.

The purpose of this history project is to examine the Organization’s place in the sphere of international relations, to initiate a wide range of studies on the action and impact of the Organization, and to encourage a historical reflection on UNESCO’s past orientations, activities, accomplishments. In this context, the scientific committee will be called upon to take or encourage all appropriate measures, such as the awarding of study grants or the support to the publication of books, monographs and brochures on the history of UNESCO.

“One of the overarching aims of the UNESCO History Project is to encourage different perceptions of UNESCO’s history and to stimulate reflection on how and why the Organization has interacted, over time, with such a variety of different players and partners. Any history of UNESCO will need to draw on diverse sources. It will also need to move beyond the institutional framework, and look at the multiple levels and forms of the Organization’s work”, emphasized Mr Matsuura in his opening speech.

Mr Matsuura further expressed the hope that “within the next few years UNESCO will succeed in further developing its work in the historical sciences”. “As I have already said, our success here is integral to UNESCO’s overall mission to promote greater inter-cultural exchange and dialogue. To quote the eloquent title of Roger-Pol Droit’s recent intellectual history of the first sixty years of the Organization: history is about “Humanity in the Making”. If the UNESCO History Project can contribute to this process – and help to educate humanity in the principles of tolerance, respect and understanding – then our efforts in pursuit of peace will be significantly advanced. We will not only be facilitating research on UNESCO’s history, we will actually be making it”, he added.

Mr Matsuura seized this opportunity to inform the members of the Committee of his recent decision to launch a UNESCO Oral Archive, based on the collection of interviews of significant former staff and personalities closely associated with UNESCO activities. He also mentioned his decision to make UNESCO’s correspondence files available for research after 20 years, instead of 30 years as was the case until now, in order to facilitate the work of researchers and the interested public.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash info n°105-2006
  • 03-07-2006
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