Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Building Bridges

Magazine article UNESCO Courier

Building Bridges

Article excerpt

ONE major subject left off the agenda of the Rio Summit on Environment and Development was the extremely sensitive issue of population. However the topic is set to come storming back. Another big world conference is to be held in Cairo in 1994 specifically on this question which presents such a serious challenge to our future.

UNESCO starts off better prepared for it perhaps than other international institutions since it is the only organization in the United Nations system with a social science sector.

Over the next two years, studies that have already been begun on international migrations will be continued and others including studies designed to improve birth control policies will be launched. In particular, fertility rates will be examined in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean.


1994 will also be the International Year of the Family (an important meeting is scheduled to be held in Malta) during which UNESCO will offer states technical assistance for drawing up family policies following on from the studies that have been carried out for several years with this in mind. UNESCO is particularly concerned to develop studies on the family and education. In 1995 it will contribute to the United Nations Year for Tolerance and to the World Summit for Social Development. It will also pursue a variety of other activities ranging from youth to questions of ethics in research on the human genome.

In all these fields, as one of the officials responsible for the sector, Souleyman Balde, points out, "UNESCO does not do, but gets things done". In other words, in close co-operation with non-governmental organizations, states, networks of researchers and other bodies, it promotes studies on topics which it considers crucial and helps specialists to compare their findings and to make the results known.

In response to the appeal for peace launched by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and to the requests of countries that are struggling to emerge from war, UNESCO is also working for the consolidation of peace and democracy. This involves a series of activities including helping demobilized soldiers to return to civilian life, the preparation of elections, and providing an introduction to parliamentary life and the concept of the public good in countries that in some cases have no real experience of democracy. …

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