Opening of the 175th Session of the Executive Board: Promotion of Dialogue and Reform of the United Nations, central themes of the address given by Koïchiro Matsuura

Opening of the 175th Session of the Executive Board: Promotion of Dialogue and Reform of the United Nations, central themes of the address given by Koïchiro Matsuura
  • © UNESCO/M. Ravassard

The Director-General of UNESCO, speaking on 2 October 2006 during the opening of the general debate of the 175th Session of the Executive Board, outlined two major themes that are not only UNESCO priorities, but also those of the international community: the strengthening of dialogue among cultures, civilizations and religions and the reform of the United Nations.

The Director-General stated that these two subjects stated, “will profoundly and substantially influence the way we evolve and carry out our mandate in the coming years. For these reasons they have been taken into account in the proposals of the C/4 and the C/5 which you will examine.”

On the question of the necessary evolution and the reinforcement of activities of the Organization in favour of dialogue in its widest sense, Mr Matsuura recalled recent events, “which again displayed, sometimes tragic, the crucial importance of this topic.”

“The prevention and the resolution of numerous conflicts and crises are founded on a better understanding and comprehension of the culture, values and religion of “the other”. They are founded on constant dialogue, openness, without priori, where each person brings their own vision, their experience, their best-practices, and not in spirit of conquest or superiority, but with a profound desire to achieve mutual enrichment through reciprocal exchanges and sharing of fundamental values. This diagnosis, we are numerous to state it, numerous to support it, without nevertheless being able to create the optimal conditions for its concrete realization,” stated Mr Matsuura. “It is for these reasons I included dialogue and mutual comprehension as the central themes within my preliminary mid-term strategic proposals, in order to mobilize the full potential of UNESCO, in its various fields of competence, in the service of this vital objective for the future of our world. It is in this spirit that I conceived the document 175EX/5 Add. submitted for your attention, which responds to your request to better highlight, within the framework of the Plan of Action of UNESCO for the promotion of dialogue among peoples, the links between the different proposed activities; this document underscores how much all of the disciplines that we manage should be mobilized in order to ensure tangible progress,” he added.

As for the reform process of the United Nations System, even if the High-Level Group on the Coherence of the United Nations System has not yet submitted its final report, the Director-General wished to inform the Member States of important developments since the session of last April.

Stressing that the reforms underway are a challenge for UNESCO, Mr Matsuura underscored that they also offer several new opportunities to improve our presence and increase our possibilities of action at the international and country levels. “Today’s world increasingly values knowledge as the key to achieving peace and sustainable development. UNESCO is a specialized agency that has knowledge at the centre of its mission. I am convinced that the nature of UNESCO’s mandate, and the concentration of competencies we possess – in education, the sciences, culture and communication – makes UNESCO more relevant than ever before.”

The Director-General continued his address by explaining point by point the consequences of the reform on the future of UNESCO. On this occasion, he recalled to the Members of the Board the position he had taken in the bodies responsible for the elaboration of the reform to ensure that the specificity of each specialized agency be taken into account and that the link between normative and programme activities not be cut. UNESCO contributed in an active and continual fashion to the reflections underway to attain the greatest coherence and efficiency of the United Nations System. Backed by the experience from the framework of reform undertaken by the Director-General since his election in 1999, UNESCO found a way to attribute the ongoing reflections. The Director-General also spoke of his intention to continue the reform of the Organization in order to ensure greater coherency with the reform of the rest of the system.

On this occasion, the Director-General stressed the fact that the success of the reform process lies largely in the support offered by the Member States during the implementation phase, just as they supported it during the elaboration phase. “We have an obligation to Member States to continue to strengthen our capacity, and to respond more effectively to their needs,” he said. “This will require considerable reinvestment in UNESCO, in terms of resources, energy and commitment. These are challenges that the Secretariat and Member States must embrace together.” The draft 34 C/4 and the 34 C/5 submitted to the Executive Board anticipating these demands.

The full speech of the Director-General is accessible on the website of the Executive Board:

  • Author(s):Le Porte-parole
  • Source:Flash info n°149-2006
  • 03-10-2006
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