“It is in this context,” he added, “I totally associate myself with the UN Secretary-General’s remarks before the Security Council on Saturday on the situation in the Gaza Strip. It is our hope that his message will be heard by all parties, and that efforts to bring peace, reform and development to the region will prevail.”
Mr Matsuura welcomed the holding of this Eighth Meeting of the Joint UNESCO/Palestinian Authority Committee, which demonstrates UNESCO’s continued support of the Palestinian Authority to aid in their implementation of necessary reforms and the development of priority actions. He thanked Mr Yahya Yaklef, President of the UNESCO National Commission for Palestine, Mrs Lamis Al-Alami, Mister of Education and Higher Education, Mrs Khouloud Deibes, Minister of Tourism and Antiquities and of Women Affairs, as well as representatives of various line ministries. On this occasion, Mr Matsuura particularly thanked Mr Elias Sanbar, Ambassador, Permanent Observer of Palestine to UNESCO, for facilitating the arrangements for this meeting and for all his efforts to make relations between UNESCO and the Palestinian Authority “cordial and productive”.
The Director-General reiterated UNESCO’s support to the Palestinian Reform and Development Plan (PRDP) which was successfully endorsed by the international community at the Paris Donor Conference last December. He recalled that UNESCO fully supports the implementation of this ambitious three year programme that provides the best available framework for supporting a sustainable peace and development process in the region. “Critical to the implementation of the PRDP are not only donor support but also the revitalization of the Quartet’s roadmap for peace, as well as the prospect of the establishment of a Palestinian state,” he stated. “There is a clear opportunity – indeed an imperative – to invest in the PRDP process with renewed energy and purpose. One of the main tasks of our meeting will be to review what has been achieved and to identify concrete opportunities for UNESCO to support this recovery and development process in the Palestinian Territories and the implementation of the PRDP within its fields of competence.”
Mr Matsuura then highlighted the different field activities carried out by UNESCO in the area of developing institutional capacities in education, culture and cultural tourism as well as media legislation. He also expressed his satisfaction on the results of the UNESCO mission from last December, under the direction of the Deputy Director-General of UNESCO, in the Palestinian Territories which identified new priorities for cooperation in the different domains of competence of UNESCO, particularly in favour of quality education, teacher training; higher education and research; cultural heritage; media literacy; the gender equality and youth.
The Director-General invited the Committee to continue in this direction and examine in ways new areas for priority action, with the aim to develop flagship projects around which UNESCO could focus its support: “Let us therefore agree on concrete projects that address these priority needs, where UNESCO can make a real difference,” stated Mr Matsuura. “I also invite you to explore ways in which we can collaborate in activities that will help bring relief to those affected by violence in the Gaza strip. I firmly believe that UNESCO has a duty to bring back hope, especially to children and youth,” he added.
Mr Matsuura ended his address by expressing his hope that, “despite the difficulties and challenges, the year 2008 will witness real progress towards the concrete fulfilment of the Palestinian people’s aspiration to peace and prosperity.” The Director-General also announced his intention to return to the Palestinian Territories in the near future.
Author(s): Office of the Spokeswoman - Source: Flash Info N° 030-2008 - Publication Date: 05-03-2008