Director General visits New York City and the United Nations

On 17-19 September UNESCO Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura, visited New York City and the United Nations.

On 18 September the Director-General gave the Special Address at the White House Conference on Global Literacy, an event organized by Mrs Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States, in her capacity as Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literacy Decade. The meeting included the President of the United States George W. Bush, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and USAID Administrator Randall Tobias, along with 32 first ladies and spouses of world leaders, 41 ministers of education from around the world, and numerous other personalities including leaders from the private sector and philanthropy.

The Director-General highlighted UNESCO's coordination of the UN Literacy Decade and the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE). He announced that in 2007-2008 UNESCO will organize regional literacy conferences to take place in Qatar, Azerbaijan, Mali, Costa Rica and other countries. He said, "I am confident that the presence here of so many eminent and distinguished persons will create new momentum and boost our efforts to provide literacy to all as a basic human right."

For her part, Mrs Bush spoke of her lifelong love of reading, and of the need to invest in literacy to advance economic prosperity, the well being of women and children, and public health. President Bush voiced strong support for redoubling efforts to bring literacy to all the world's people. "One way to defeat hopelessness is through literacy," he said, "So this literacy initiative is vital as far as the United States of America is concerned, and we want to help." Secretary of State Rice said, "When we promote literacy, we build the foundations of human progress and freedom." Recalling the high value placed by her own family on education, she said, "As someone whose life was transformed by education, I have been proud to be an educator myself because I have no doubt that education is the single greatest force for equality in the world."

Following the conference the Director-General met with UN General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed al-Khalifa, who formerly served as Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Bahrain to UNESCO. They discussed UNESCO's programmes and fields of action in the UN system. The Director-General attended sessions of the General Debate and the luncheon hosted by the Secretary-General in honour of Heads of State. On these occasions he had the opportunity to greet many Heads of State from all over the world.

The Director-General met with United States Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs Kristin Silverberg, accompanied by US Ambassador to UNESCO Louise V. Oliver. They discussed the central role of literacy in development and the recently announced $1 million contribution by the United States to UNESCO’s for the Literacy Assessment and Monitoring Programme (LAMP), as well as the upcoming Session of UNESCO’s Executive Board and the November meeting of the EFA High Level Group in Cairo.

The Director-General attended the Appeal of Conscience Foundation reception for the awarding of the Appeal of Conscience World Statesman Award to His Excellency Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil. The Appeal of Conscience Foundation was founded in 1965 by Rabbi Arthur Schneier to promote mutual understanding, tolerance and the rights of individuals and minorities.

  • Auteur(s):Office of the Spokesperson
  • Source:Flash info n°143-2006
  • 25-09-2006
Europe and North America Latin America and the Caribbean Africa Arab States Asia Pacific