Vendredi 19 Juillet 2019  
 

N°62 - Deuxième trimestre 2003

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  M./Mr Brian Aggeler

The US returns to UNESCO
 
By Mr Brian Aggeler Permanent Observer to UNESCO
 
United States President George W. Bush announced on September 12, 2002, that “as a symbol of our commitment to human dignity, the United States will rejoin UNESCO” and “will participate fully in its mission to advance human rights, tolerance, and learning.”  Ever since that historic announcement, the United States has been preparing for its reentry into UNESCO, now set for October 1, 2003.  
We are committed to implementing effectively President Bush’s decision to rejoin UNESCO.  Reflecting the high level of interest in this issue, recent US government visitors to UNESCO have included the White House Science Advisor, the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, and many others.  During a ceremony at the New York City Library last February, Laura Bush was named UNESCO’s Ambassador for its Decade of Literacy.  Preparations are underway to open a larger US mission to UNESCO, headed by an ambassador with an expanded staff to facilitate a deeper level of engagement on UNESCO issues.
As a full member of UNESCO, the United States will be the largest contributor to the organization; indeed, it was the prospect of the new US contribution which enabled UNESCO to move beyond years of zero nominal growth and consider a significant budget increase for the next biennium.  But the US hopes to contribute more to UNESCO than funds.  The United States hopes to bring its intellectual resources to this organization, to help it more effectively carry out its important mandate.  The groundwork for this has already begun with a series of broad interactive consultations, notably in the areas of education and science, wherein UNESCO was invited to participate in national sector meetings and conferences.
As a key part of its return, the US is seeking a seat on UNESCO’s governing Executive Board in order to engage fully with the organization.  This is an essential aspect of the US desire to participate fully in UNESCO’s mission, and we hope to use our role on the board to bring our full support behind UNESCO’s most important work.     
Education is one of the key US priorities for UNESCO.  The United States believes educational reconstruction in post-conflict nations can help meet the needs of nations in the most difficult circumstances, and believes the useful preliminary work which UNESCO has done in Afghanistan could be expanded.  Also in the education sector, the US supports reinforced efforts in the classroom for tolerance, democracy, and peace, to assist nations in teaching their young people how to contribute constructively and effectively in a democratic society.
The US has strongly supported UNESCO’s leadership role in HIV/AIDS education and prevention, providing critical funding over the past few years for activities in this field implemented by UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning.  These efforts complement US President Bush’s recently announced $15 billion AIDS initiative.  And, as Mrs. Bush said during her remarks in New York City, “In this Decade of Literacy, we must create learning environments for refugees and for millions affected by poverty and HIV and AIDS.”
The US looks forward to supporting UNESCO’s activities to promote sustainable development in key sectors, such as access to clean water.  To complement UNESCO’s efforts, the United States encourages member countries to foster partnerships with national academies of sciences to leverage S&T and engineering resources to support capacity building in developing countries.  The United States hopes to play a positive role in helping UNESCO reenergize its programs in these priority areas.
Even while it was not a full member of UNESCO, the United States continued to support valuable UNESCO projects and programs including the World Heritage Convention and the International Oceanographic Commission, which the United States helped found.  While the United States will be bringing its own views and expertise to the organization, there is recognition in the US government that, after many years outside the organization, the US has much to learn from those states which have been full members.  
We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of friends and colleagues in other delegations as well as the UNESCO Secretariat in sharing their insights and expertise.  As full members of the organization, we look forward to building on this close cooperation to reach our common goals.  The opening lines of UNESCO’s constitution, penned by the American poet Archibald MacLeish, declare that “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.”  In returning to its rightful place as a full member of the organization, the United States plans to play a vital role in UNESCO’s pursuit of that worthy goal.
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