Director-General inaugurates exhibit on Iraq and UNESCO post-conflict responses

Director-General inaugurates exhibit on Iraq and UNESCO post-conflict responses
  • © UNESCO/A. Wheeler

On 14 September 2009, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, inaugurated at the Organisation’s Headquarters, together with Mr Muhyi K. Alkhateeb, Ambassador and permanent delegate of Iraq to UNESCO, an exhibit on Iraq and UNESCO post-conflicts/post disaster (PCPD) responses.

The Director-General explained the Organization’s approach in PCPD situations as an attempt “to bridge the gap between emergency and early recovery by focussing on the rehabilitation of national and local capacity in all the areas of our competence”.

“Our PCPD work is not a departure from our mandate. On the contrary and as the exhibition illustrates so aptly, standard UNESCO interventions, such as for the restoration of a historical site or the provision of textbooks, take on an added dimension in a country experiencing or attempting to move past civil conflict so as to make a meaningful transition to development”, he underlined.

Mr Matsuura went on to describe some of the concrete projects UNESCO had been able to achieve in Iraq, in full partnership with the Government of Iraq, the UN family, and major donors such as the European Commission and the Governments of Japan, Qatar and Germany. He mentioned in particular the restoration of the Al-Askari Shrine in Samara, the support for the holding of national exams in 2003, the creation of Textbooks Online and the recent launch of the Educational Television satellite channel, the encouragement of initiatives such as the Professional Code of Conduct for broadcasts and safety training for journalists and media organizations, the mapping and conserving of the ancient system of Kahrez wells.

In presenting these activities, the Director-General underscored UNESCO’s strong emphasis on country ownership and participation through partnership with national and local authorities.

“I believe the Iraq experience shows clearly that UNESCO’s ability to advise on the overall development of evidence-based educational, scientific, cultural and media policies that reinforce sustainable transition from emergency contexts to reconstruction and development is vital in PCPD contexts. The Organization may not be a humanitarian agency, but its presence is clearly of value from the very beginning of a crisis because of its bridging capacity, which meets urgent needs on the one hand, and helps lay the foundation for recovery and development on the other”, concluded Mr Matsuura.

For his part, Ambassador Alkhateeb paid tribute to Mr Matsuura’s tireless efforts to the benefit of Iraq in all fields of competence of UNESCO, and called on the international community to pursue its efforts in favour of the country’s sustainable development.

  • Author(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash Info N° 165-2009
  • 15-09-2009
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