Friday, October 21, 2005

Close of the General Conference of UNESCO

Read the full UNESCO message on the closure of the General Conference.

"The adoption of three standard-setting texts and the re-election of Koïchiro Matsuura as Director-General of UNESCO marked the 33rd session of UNESCO’s General Conference, which closed today. The texts adopted are: the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions; the International Convention Against Doping in Sport; and the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. A day of reflection about human dignity, as well as two Ministerial Round Tables – one on Education for All (EFA), another on the basic sciences – and an exhibition about EFA, were also organized during the 33rd session. Every two years the General Conference, UNESCO’s highest decision-making body, brings together representatives from all Member States (191, since Brunei Darussalam joined the Organization recently). Eight heads of state and more than 200 ministers1 were among the 3,700 participants of the session, held at UNESCO Headquarters from October 3 to 21.........

"For 2006-2007, the General Conference adopted a budget of US$610 million - in keeping with the scenario proposed by the Director General – to which are to be added US$25 million in extra-budgetary voluntary funding to reinforce activities in priority areas. Education – 'priority of priorities,' according to Mr Matsuura – received a budget of US$107 and will benefit from the lion’s share of the extra budgetary funding. The Natural Sciences sector is to receive close to US$56 million, and the Social and Human Sciences close to US$31 million. The Culture Programme was allocated US$50.5 million, and the Communication and Information Programme close to US$33 million."

In an unusual step, the U.S. Delegation called for a vote on the budget at the General Conference, and voted against the budget. An observer reported that the U.S. delegation said its negative vote was because of: (1) lack of program concentration on priorities, and (2) funding of the Cultural Diversity Convention is in the budget, which the U.S. thinks will do harm. The vote was 126-1, with no abstentions.

The U.S. Mission to UNESCO has provided links to statements on issues raised in the General Conference on its website, as well as on the Executive Board Meeting that preceeded the General Conference, and on the Science Round Table held in conjunction with the General Conference.

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