The Conference was organized by the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS)* and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It was opened by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Italy, Mr Franco Frattini, Afghanistan, Mr Dadfar Spanta, and Pakistan, Mr Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi. In their opening speeches, each of the Ministers emphasized UNESCO’s important role regarding the development of a cultural network of cooperation.
In a keynote address to a Plenary Session entitled “Network of Cooperation for Knowledge Development and Capacity Building: Role of International Organizations and Centres” delivered on behalf of the Director-General, Mr Barbosa took stock of the difficult situation currently facing the region after years of war, emphasizing that “the challenge for the international community today is to develop a regional network of cultural and scientific cooperation to reconstruct the institutions in Afghanistan. As in the days when caravans travelled the Silk Road, we need to create a ‘scientific caravan’ of institutions to help the peoples of the region, in particular Afghanistan, to rebuild societies in which human well-being may be achieved through peaceful and productive work, rather than through violence.”
“UNESCO is uniquely positioned to play this role. Its comparative advantage is that it can address the whole range of issues confronting these two countries [Afghanistan and Pakistan] in a holistic manner. UNESCO is the honest broker Organization that promotes international cooperation in education, science and culture aimed at human and institutional capacity building, knowledge sharing and information exchange,” added Mr Barbosa.
Outlining some of these achievements, the Deputy-Director-General went on to explain how UNESCO’s cooperation with Afghanistan and Pakistan has progressed steadily over the years and is producing sound results in all its areas of activity, particularly as regards cultural and scientific cooperation. He underlined however, that UNESCO cannot undertake the task alone, and stated that the Organization needs the moral and financial support of the international community if it is to diversify and expand its activities in such countries.
In conclusion, Mr Barbosa underscored that “UNESCO has been utilizing its networks of institutions, both within the region and outside, to promote cultural and scientific cooperation to attain sustainable development in this region, in particular Afghanistan. Such networks, with their holistic, interdisciplinary approaches, can play a crucial role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, and the continued flourishing of science and culture in Pakistan. These efforts are pivotal contributions to peace building and political stability in the region. We hope that others will join us.
Author(s): Office of the Spokesperson - Source: Flash Info N° 126-2009 - Publication Date: 03-07-2009