On 5 May, 2017, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, participated in the High Level Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) Action Group, chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, gathering Principals of all concerned UN entities to discuss areas of action and explore future collaborative efforts in this vital field.
Following General Assembly Resolution 70/291 -- which “encourage[d] United Nations entities, in line with their mandates, to implement relevant recommendations of the Plan of Action, including by providing technical assistance to Member States upon their request” -- the High-level PVE Action Group was established to spearhead the implementation of the United Nations PVE Plan of Action (A/70/674-A/70/675) both at United Nations Headquarters and in the field through a coherent and coordinated “All-of-UN” approach.
This was the first meeting chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General, and a key opportunity to underline his priority focus on prevention in all UN action to strengthen the foundations for sustainable peace and development. He pointed to the importance of PVE in this respect, in particular to address the root causes of conflict and the radicalisation leading to violent extremism, and called for more integrated approaches, across all pillars, drawing on the experience and strengths of all parts of the UN system, to support Governments and societies in achieving their goals.
This meeting took place in the context of the advanced discussion between Member States on measures to strengthen UN action in counter terrorism, as presented in the recent Report by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly on the “Capability of the United Nations system to assist Member States in implementing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy” – in line with General Assembly Resolution 70/291 adopted on 1st July 2016.
This was an opportunity to review efforts across the UN system to implement the Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism – with a focus on supporting Governments, a focus on developing national PVE plans and national ownership, and with youth engagement as a cross-cutting priority.
In the mapping exercise of PVE programmes at headquarters and in the field across the UN family, UNESCO is leading in the UN system, with actions at the global, regional and national levels.
“All of this is part of UNESCO’s contribution to the surge for peace called for by the Secretary-General, “ said Irina Bokova, “with a focus on prevention, on empowering youth with skills for jobs, with skills for cultural literacy, on strengthening the resilience of societies.”
The Director-General reviewed the wide range of actions led by UNESCO at every levels – starting with support to educations systems and planning, resources for teachers and training, as well as a focus on technical and vocational education and training.
“This is our leadership of Sustainable Development Goal 4, including to advance global citizenship education, because we know prevention starts on the benches of schools.”
Irina Bokova pointed to UNESCO’s work on building a clearing-house of best practices on global citizenship education, and in disseminating policy guidelines for PVE. She underlined UNESCO’s action at the regional level, notably through the NetMed Youth project, with 10 countries around the Mediterranean. UNESCO’s action to protect humanity’s cultural heritage was also essential, she said – referring to the reconstruction of the mausoleums of Timbuktu, Mali, and UNESCO’s leadership with UNODC and all relevant partners to take forward United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199, to halt the illicit trafficking of cultural goods, a factor of financing for terrorism. The Director-General also highlighted UNESCO’s leadership in strengthening action to prevent the radicalization of young people over the Internet – through groundbreaking international conferences in Paris (2015) and in Quebec, Canada (2016), as well as through a global social media campaign -- #Unite4Heirtage.
“We need precisely such collaborative efforts, led at every level, bringing along governments as well as civil society and all media,” said Irina Bokova.
The Secretary-General thanked all participants for their contribution, calling for ever more integrated action, to make a real difference on the ground, in support of Governments and societies.
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On 10 May, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova will participate in the third edition of Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, Republic of Rwanda, in the presence of President Paul Kagame and leaders from government, business and international organizations.
Geared towards connecting, innovating and transforming the continent into a knowledge economy, the Summit will focus on “Smart Cities: Fast Forward” and include the unveiling of an Africa Smart City Blueprint. The Director-General will join the opening session of the Summit on harnessing the potential of Smart Cities for Africa, with President Paul Kagame, Dr Hamadoun Touré, Executive Director of Smart Africa, Mr Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union, Mr Jean-Philibert Nsengimana, Minister of Youth and ICT of Rwanda and representatives from the African Union, the African Development Bank and the private sector. She will highlight the role of education, skills, youth empowerment and partnerships to bridge divides and build inclusive, sustainable cities.
The Summit will showcase homegrown, cutting-edge technologies, real-world solutions and proven strategies government leaders need to build livable, workable, sustainable cities. It will explore how Smart Cities can respond to a growing number of challenges and issues related to water management, transport, housing, health, education, sustainable environments and public safety. The Africa Smart Women and Girl initiative, which will be presented by the First ladies of Africa, will highlight the crucial role Women and Girls play in African’s digital transformation agenda.
During the visit the Director-General is expected to meet with President Paul Kagame and to visit the Genocide Memorial of Kigali in Gisozi.
Within the framework of the Fourth World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, UNESCO, in collaboration with the Government of Azerbaijan, organized a High-level meeting on the importance of girls’ education for peaceful and sustainable societies. Investing in girls' education is an urgent and important humanitarian objective and a priority for the global community today. According to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report Gender review for 2016, “Conflict reinforces gender inequality. Girls are almost two and a half times more likely to be out of school if they live in conflict-affected countries. Refugee girls are less likely to finish primary education, transition into and complete secondary education.”
At the same time, educated girls and women are strong powerful agents of change. Research has shown how empowering girls means a better future for societies as a whole: girls’/women's education leads to better reproductive health, improved family health, economic growth, for the family and for society, as well as lower rates of child mortality, malnutrition and child marriage. In this sense, girls’ education can thus be a powerful tool to nurture a positive sense of identity and belonging and to provide them with the knowledge, values, attitudes and behaviors, which foster responsible global citizenship, critical thinking and empathy and provide powerful tools to fight against and prevent violent extremism.
The meeting, co-hosted by Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and Mr Mikayil Jabbarov, Minister of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan, featured keynote addresses by the First Ladies of Ethiopia, Ms Roman Tesfaye Abneh, the First Lady of Mali, Ms Keïta Aminata Maiga, and the First Lady of Rwanda, Ms Jeanette Kagame as well as by the Chairwoman of the State Committee for Family, Women and Children Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ms Hijran Huseynova. Moderated by Ms S. Gülser Corat, Director for Gender Equality at UNESCO, the High Level Meeting was concluded with the launch of the Global Humanitarian Call to Invest in Girls’ Education.
All speakers stressed the importance of girls’ education as a tool to counter violent extremism, and called for increased investments in quality education for all. Quoting Malala Yousafzai, the Director General noted that extremists are afraid of books and pens, and frightened by the power of education, they are also afraid of women and the power of their voice. She stressed that: “Education is the way to disarm processes that can lead to violent extremism by undermining prejudice, by fighting ignorance and indifference”.
On the margins of this High-Level Meeting, the Director General had a bilateral meeting with Ms Jeanette Kagame, the First Lady of Rwanda, during which they reiterated commitment to gender equality and opportunities for collaboration.
“Transforming”, “motivational” and “enlightening” were the words used to describe the Seventh International Forum of NGOs organized in partnership with UNESCO and hosted by the MiSK Foundation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on 3 and 4 May. The event brought together a record 2,000 participants from UNESCO’s NGO partners and young women and men from 70 different countries who exchanged views on the theme Youth and their Social Impact, a subject at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate and a priority for the Organization.
The meeting, UNESCO’s seventh NGO Forum, was the first to take place in the Arab region. It was also Saudi Arabia’s largest NGO conference ever, thanks to the joined efforts of the NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee, UNESCO’s Secretariat and the MiSK Foundation.
“There are countless initiatives led by youth, all giving shape to a new humanism, to new forms of citizenship for peace and respect for human dignity. This forum was a privileged moment of exchange and reflection on the challenges facing youth today”, said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, in her closing speech at the Forum. “I am inspired because I see here a lot of energy, many ideas and strong leadership. And strong leadership is what helps us move forward,” she added.
Tackling issues such as digital illiteracy, youth unemployment, the destruction of cultural heritage, climate change and especially the crucial role of youth in shaping policies and creating jobs, the Forum called on NGOs, governments and the private sector to scale up young people’s initiatives locally, nationally and internationally, to integrate young people at all levels of the public and private sectors and accompany them in developing the competences they need to maximize their active citizenship and social impact, particularly through non-formal and informal learning.
A roster of inspiring personalities shared their experience and insights with the participants. They included Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, Carl Lewis, US Olympic medalist, Hajat Sindhi, scientist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Jacques Attali, French writer and economist, Noura Al Khaabi, UAE Minister of State and Justin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg,.
Young change-makers from UNESCO’s NGO partners and UNESCO Youth Networks, many of whom have overcome obstacles such as disability, inequality, war, and bereavement, shared their stories and spoke of their commitment to projects that positively impact the world around them.
The International NGO Forums are designed as platforms for NGOs with official partnership agreements with UNESCO to share their experiences and best practices, discuss ways in which they can help address critical global issues and support UNESCO’s action.
Previous editions have been held in Beijing (China), Paris (France), Querétaro (Mexico), Sozopol (Bulgaria) and Yamoussoukro (Côte d’Ivoire). They were dedicated to themes such as peacebuilding, access to water, women and poverty, rapprochement of cultures or the role of youth in safeguarding cultural heritage. They have been behind the creation of several grassroots initiatives that contribute to the achievement of UNESCO’s objectives.
On 5 May, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova opened the 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue in Bakou in the presence of H.E. Ilham Alijev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, addressing the world’s largest gathering on intercultural dialogue.
“We have no choice – we must remain true to the compass setting of human rights and dignity, and we must respond, ‘Hard power’ is not enough,” Ms Bokova said. “We need the ‘soft power’ of education, knowledge, culture, communication, the sciences, to strengthen the values we share and recognise the destiny we hold in common.”
Convened by the government of Azerbaijan in partnership with UNESCO, the UN Alliance of Civilizations, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN World Tourism Organization, the Council of Europe and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Forum seeks to advance intercultural dialogue by finding new avenues for human security, peace and sustainable development, serving as a platform for exchange and cooperation. Over two days, it brings together representatives from international organizations.
Over 800 participants from 120 countries, representing academia, the private sector and civil society will be part of a dialogue aimed at cooperation among peoples in addressing some of the world’s most vexing issues including the global growth of violent extremism, the mounting migration and displacement crisis, deepening economic inequality, and the rise of divisive political populism. As President Alijev underscored “the impact of the success of dialogue can be seen in every area”.
Following the opening, the Director-General launched the UNESCO publication entitled Interculturalism at the Crossroads: Comparative perspectives on concepts, policies and practices, prepared in partnership with UNESCO’s UNITWIN Network on Interreligious Dialogue for Intercultural Understanding. Assimilation, multiculturalism and presently interculturalism have all been proposed as possible policy conduits for managing socio-cultural diversity. This book, in focusing on the latter concept, offers fresh analysis, policy discussion and practical exploration of intercultural dialogue through in-depth case studies from across the world.
UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova will open an international seminar focusing on the Rise of Violent Extremism and Lessons of the Holocaust, in Baku, Azerbaijan, on 5 May 2017, in the context of the 4th World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue.
Organized by the Aladdin Project, a Paris-based NGO promoting intercultural relations, in partnership with UNESCO, the seminar will explore how education can mitigate the rise of violent extremism and promote intercultural dialogue. It will explore also how education about past genocide and mass atrocities, such as the Holocaust, can contribute to better intercultural relationships.
The seminar will gather international figures involved in supporting intercultural dialogue globally such as Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti emeritus of Bosnia Herzegovina; Bakthiar Amin, former Minister for Human Rights in Iraq and Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, as well as high-level representatives of all faiths in Azerbaijan. It will also involve Holocaust scholars and educators, notably Dorit Novak, Director General of Yad Vashem (Israel) and Prof. Steven Katz, academic advisor to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Teachers and education policy-makers of Azerbaijan will also participate in the discussions to identify measures that can be taken to foster tolerance and intercultural dialogue through education in the region.
UNESCO published the first-ever policy guide on Education about the Holocaust and Preventing Genocide last month. It provides effective responses and a wealth of recommendations for education stakeholders who wish to engage in or to reinforce this education.
DULALA association (D’Une Langue A L’Autre), in partnership with UNESCO, will host an award ceremony for the multilingual ‘Kamishibai’ contest on 10 May 2017 at UNESCO headquarters during the Week of Living Languages organised by the French Ministry of Education.
The contest challenges education professionals to bring forward a creative and innovative project, open to linguistic diversity, by creating a multilingual story (using at least four languages) adapted to Kamishibai. This Japanese story-telling style is traditionally used in travelling theatres where artists narrate stories by scrolling illustrations.
Four winners, selected by a jury composed of book, language and education experts, will receive an award. With presentations from public policy representatives and education and multilingualism experts, the event will also be an occasion to reflect on the interests and stakes of a multilingual, inclusive, and ethical education.
DULALA is a resource and training centre dedicated to education and multilingualism, aiming at using families and children’s languages as an outlet to better learn and live together. The association participated in UNESCO’s celebration of International Mother Language Day on 21 February 2017.
Since its inception, UNESCO has developed a number of initiatives for the promotion of mother tongue instruction and bilingual or multilingual education to enhance quality education.
La Journée du patrimoine mondial africain célébrée le 5 mai 2017 fait honneur cette année au Burkina Faso. Ce dernier organise en partenariat avec le Fond du patrimoine mondial africain (FPMA) une série d’activités incluant un forum régional des jeunes francophones sur le patrimoine mondial et un séminaire consacré au thème de la formation des professionnels du patrimoine en Afrique.
Proclamée lors de la 38e session de la Conférence générale de l’UNESCO en novembre 2015, la Journée du patrimoine mondial africain est l’occasion de célébrer le patrimoine culturel et naturel du continent. Elle vise à sensibiliser le monde entier et à mobiliser une coopération renforcée pour la sauvegarde du patrimoine africain. A cette occasion, l’historique site des Ruines de Loropéni, inscrit au patrimoine mondial depuis 2009, a accueilli du 26 avril au 5 mai 2017, une soixantaine de jeunes en provenance de différents pays d’Afrique francophone qui vont échanger et apprendre sur leur patrimoine.
Au programme : des présentations, des visites du site du patrimoine mondial, des travaux de groupe, des simulations de la session du Comité du patrimoine mondial par les participants au Forum, l’élaboration d’une Déclaration des jeunes africains, un séminaire sur la protection et la promotion du patrimoine africain et enfin, en clôture, une célébration commémorative du 5 mai en présence de hauts fonctionnaires.
En outre, le Burkina Faso n’est pas le seul pays à célébrer cette deuxième édition de la Journée du patrimoine mondial africain. Du Nigéria à Madagascar, en passant par l’Ethiopie et l’Angola, le 5 mai est commémoré un peu partout en Afrique avec des activités phares dessinées autour de thématiques proposées par le Fond du patrimoine mondial africain.
« La réussite de la protection du patrimoine passe par l’éducation, l’information et la recherche d’où le rôle des universités pour la construction d’une société plus juste, équitable et durable et la valorisation du riche patrimoine culturel. C’est pourquoi il est prévu un séminaire sur le thème de la formation des professionnels du patrimoine en Afrique. » Souligne M. Lazare Assomo Eloundou, Directeur adjoint du Centre du patrimoine mondial.
L’Afrique possède un patrimoine exceptionnel tant naturel que culturel et pourtant, c’est le continent qui a le moins de sites inscrits sur la Liste du patrimoine mondial avec 23 sites sur la liste du patrimoine en péril. Ainsi cette rencontre constitue un moment privilégié pour impliquer davantage une diversité d’acteurs clés pour la promotion et la protection du patrimoine, telles que les communautés locales, les universités, les services touristiques, les médias mais aussi les femmes et les jeunes.
Aujourd’hui des méthodes originales sont développées dans le continent afin de valoriser et faire connaitre aux jeunes leur patrimoine. C’est le cas, de l’application mobile « Vue d’Afrique » tout récemment lancée par le Bureau de l’UNESCO à Dakar et qui, à travers de belles images et vidéos, rend hommage à ce patrimoine d’une valeur exceptionnelle.
UNESCO commends the Danish government for endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, an international political commitment to protect students, teachers, schools and universities from attack in times of armed conflict
By endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration on 3 May 2017, Denmark has become the 64th country to join an expanding community of states committed to protecting education during armed conflict.
The Safe Schools Declaration, was developed through consultations with States in a process led by Norway and Argentina in Geneva in early 2015 and was opened for endorsement at the Oslo Conference on Safe Schools on May 29, 2015. During the 38th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in November 2015, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Haakon of Norway participated in an event to raise awareness about the Declaration. In 2014, together with Ms Leila Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Protect Children in Armed Conflict, Ms Bokova launched the Guidance Note on Attacks against schools and hospitals, to build on UN Security Council Resolution 1998 (2011). UNESCO is a member of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack.
Paris, 05 May—Eight sites demonstrating the great diversity of our planet’s geology have received the UNESCO Global Geopark label on 5 May, when UNESCO’s Executive Board endorsed the decisions made by the UNESCO Global Geoparks Council during its first session in Torquay, UK, last September.
UNESCO Global Geoparks are territories that promote geodiversity through community-led initiatives to enhance regional sustainable development. They help monitor and promote awareness of climate change and natural disasters and many of them help local communities prepare disaster mitigation strategies.
With this year’s eight additions, the world network now numbers 127 UNESCO Global Geoparks in 35 countries. They celebrate the 4.6-billion-year history of our planet and the geodiversity that has shaped every aspect of our lives and societies. Furthermore, Geoparks create opportunities for sustainable tourism, whose importance has been recognized by the United Nations, which named 2017 as International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.
The eight newly designated sites are:Arxan (China)
Arxan is a mid-low mountain region situated in China’s Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia. With 35 well-exposed volcanoes that are over 2.5million years old, Arxan features an exceptionally dense concentration of volcanic landforms, with a rich variety of lakes and natural springs. The UNESCO Global Geopark has developed extensive sustainable rural tourism services which offer the visitor a rare and unusual experience of a northern Chinese frontier area.Causses du Quercy (France)
The Causses du Quercy UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the southwest of France, at the northern end of the Midi-Pyrénées region. It features a unique karst heritage shaped by a unique geological history that led to the formation of phosphate caves containing thousands of perfectly preserved fossils that recorded life conditions 52 to 20 million years ago. It makes this area a true “natural evolution laboratory”. The study of these fossils is part of a participatory science education programme, Graines de paléontologues ("paleontologists seeds") for elementary and secondary school students.Cheongsong (Republic of Korea)
Cheongsong UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the central eastern area of the Republic of Korea. Its name is derived from “Cheongbo” and “Songsang,” meaning “green treasure” and “pine tree ecology,” respectively. The volcanic rocks in Cheongsong have exceptionally high silica content, which caused the hot lava that flowed from the area’s volcanos to form balls of dark and light layers as it cooled down. This has resulted in a unique and beautiful type of rock, locally called the Flower Stone.Comarca Minera, Hidalgo (Mexico)
© Comarca Minera, Hidalgo UNESCO Global Geopark
The Comarca Minera, Hidalgo UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the State of Hidalgo, to the east of central Mexico, The Geopark’s most remarkable geological feature are the Prismas Basalticos, basalt or volcanic rock columns, first described in 1804 by Alexander von Humboldt, the Prussian geographer, naturalist and explorer. The 2.58-million-year-old Prismas Basalticos are exceptionally tall, some over 40 metres in height. They are the most famous basalt columns in Mexico and among the tallest in the world.Keketouhai (China)
Keketuohai UNESCO Global Geopark is located in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, in the inland area of Central Asia. With its spectacular granite landforms, the Geopark has sometimes been referred to as China’s Yosemite. The mainly Kazak inhabitants of the area have a rich history and culture preserved through many distinct local traditions. The site also features the unique Botamaoyin rock paintings, which are at least 3,000 years old.Las Loras (Spain)
The Las Loras UNESCO Global Geopark is located in Spain, north of Castile and León. Its high altitude limestone moorlands, Loras, are characterized by mountainous folds of earth separated by spectacular river canyons. They dominate a spectacular landscape of natural fortresses that have been used by successive populations and cultures for refuge and protection throughout history. The area is dotted by caves, limestone cliffs, and karst landscapes resembling ruins with countless waterfalls. The well-preserved small villages of Las Loras have fine Romanesque churches, rock hermitages and examples of popular local architecture.Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca (Mexico)
The Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca UNESCO Global Geopark is located in Mexico’s mountainous Sierra Madre del Sur province. The name of the Geopark is derived from the Mixteca civilization, which flourished from the 2nd century BC to the 15th century AD and ended with the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores in the early 16th century. The UNESCO Global Geopark features trails along which visitors guided by local residents can examine the geological heritage of the region and its relation to ecological, historical, archaeological and cultural features.Qeshm Island (Iran)
Qeshm Island UNESCO Global Geopark is an island shaped like a dolphin in the Strait of Hormuz, off the southern coast of Iran. Its exposed geological formations have been shaped by erosion generating a range of spectacular landscapes and beautiful rock deserts. Its preservation is supported by green tourism activities managed by local communities.
Agnès Bardon, UNESCO Media Services: firstname.lastname@example.org