Director-General meets with Secretary-General of The Commonwealth Secretariat

On 19 October 2006, the Director-General, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, held very fruitful talks with the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Mr Donald MacKinnon.

Their discussions centred around the cooperation that exists between UNESCO and the Commonwealth Secretariat, as well as possible areas where the two Organizations could establish cooperation in the future.

In the area of education, Mr Matsuura and Mr MacKinnon talked about education as a preventive tool against AIDS, and expressed satisfaction at the work being carried out by the joint UNESCO/Commonwealth Chair on AIDS in the Caribbean. They also discussed UNESCO’s EducAID programme, as well as the important role of education statistics and the role played in this regard by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and UNESCO’s Teacher Training Initiative for Sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA) programme, which is playing an important role in helping countries in their efforts to achieve the education Millennium Development Goals. For his part, Mr MacKinnon informed the Director-General of the triennial meeting of Ministers of Education of the Commonwealth, which will take place in South Africa in November 2006, expressing the hope that UNESCO would be able to participate in this important meeting, which brings together some 53 Ministers, teacher groups, education NGOs and other education providers.

In the area of culture, the Director-General and Mr MacKinnon discussed the possibility of cooperation in the context of the Commonwealth Foundation’s ongoing project aimed at compiling the criteria required in order for mixed (multi-cultural, diverse) communities to live together peacefully. The report of this study will presented to the Heads of State of the Commonwealth in 2007. Mr Matsuura agreed that given UNESCO’s accrued experience on questions linked to the issue of cultural diversity, the Organization would have a lot to contribute to such a report.

Mr Matsuura and Mr MacKinnon also discussed the group established by the Commonwealth Secretariat to study how best to bring information to those who do not have it due to lack of the relevant infrastructures. They agreed that there is a need for the two organizations to work together and align their activities in this area as in others.

Finally, Mr Matsuura and Mr MacKinnon discussed how UNESCO could contribute to the Commonwealth’s activities to rain journalists, especially through the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). They also discussed the importance of implementing the recommendations of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) if the information gap is to be bridged.

Other areas of discussion included the ongoing cooperation on the development of tsunami warning systems, both at the regional and the global level, and of the need to further encourage countries to establish their national systems, without which no tsunami warning system can be effective.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash info n°164-2006
  • 20-10-2006
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