176th Session of the Executive Board: The Director-General argues in favour of increasing the budget

176th Session of the Executive Board: The Director-General argues in favour of increasing the budget
  • © UNESCO/N. Burke

During his speech at the 176th session of UNESCO’s Executive Board, which started on 16 April 2007, the Director-General asked the Organization’s Member States “to prevent any further weakening of UNESCO, which could lead, in the medium term, to suffocation,” which is why a zero real growth budget should be adopted.

After noting that since his arrival in 1999 he has led the Organization in a “context of extreme austerity,” Mr Matsuura stated that “of the four budgets executed during my terms of office, three have been zero nominal growth budgets, which (…) have entailed very sharp falls in real terms in our Organization’s budgets”. “Therefore, since my arrival, the purchasing power of the Organization’s resources has fallen by more than 15%. This is a substantial decrease. I have thus done my best to do more with less, to achieve more specific results with fewer resources, both financial and human, while at the same time undertaking reforms,” he added.

The Director-General then continued: “Today, I believe that we have reached the limit. I can no longer make savings through human resources. Any further decrease in our resources will therefore directly affect programmes, including priority programmes.”

Recalling that the compromise adopted at the time of voting the previous budget to create a special account of US$25 million, which should have been sustained by voluntary contributions to support activities under the adopted programme (C/5), has resulted in failure, the Director-General underscored that it was impossible to contemplate reproducing this scenario.

“Can our potential contribution to gradually “advancing, through the educational and scientific and cultural relations of the peoples of the world, the objectives of international peace and of the common welfare of mankind” (I quote from our Constitution) be called into question?
To take up these challenges, our programme of action should quite obviously be strengthened, and it goes without saying that a real growth budget would be necessary, which is why I propose a budget ceiling of US$658.3 million,” he continued.

Understanding that, in the current international economic context, such a budget would raise difficulties for some countries, Mr Matsuura concluded his address by announcing that he has chosen to present the zero real growth scenario, that is to say US$648.3 million, as the core scenario. “Once again I must stress that such a scenario does not mean an unchanged budget. I am doing everything in my power to reinforce, in these proposals, the strategic programme priorities, including the human capacities for their implementation. It is a compromise solution that will make it possible to “limit the damage” and prevent any further weakening of UNESCO.”

At a time where national capacities to help development are often very insufficient, the Director-General reaffirmed that multilateralism remained “the only approach for achieving sustainable peace and development,” and concluded by calling on the Member States to give UNESCO the means necessary for its ambitions.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokeswoman
  • Source:Flash Info N° 057-2007
  • 18-04-2007
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