UNESCO's Outreach to Parliamentarians

By Sayyad, Ahmed | Canadian Parliamentary Review, Autumn 2002 | Go to article overview

UNESCO's Outreach to Parliamentarians


Sayyad, Ahmed, Canadian Parliamentary Review


Parliamentarians rank among UNESCO's major partners in the promotion of human development and peacekeeping through the various programs the organization is known for including fields such as education, science, culture and communication.

UNESCO's programme for a dialogue with parliamentarians was launched in 1994 to ensure that the Organization's values and objectives are clearly reflected in all national policy-making and legislation. Both as members of civil society and as its elected representatives, parliamentarians are responsible for implementing these national policies and legislation. They introduce the concerns of their electorates into parliamentary debates and adopt lines of action in order to address these issues in the most effective manner.

By facilitating dialogue amongst legislators across all regions, UNESCO aims to reinforce this global network representing civil society and to enhance its ability to resolve global issues in national contexts. In so doing, UNESCO is trying to ensure that globalization can work for all. The programme is open to legislators actively involved in parliamentary institutions and associations at national, regional and international levels. Consequently UNESCO's co-operation is wide-ranging and includes partnerships with national leagues of parliamentarians, regional parliamentary bodies, and international organizations such as the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

The following are some examples of how the partnership has worked in various countries.

Mexico

* UNESCO and the Mexican committee for education and culture have signed a letter to improve communication and the sharing of information.

Africa

* The recent establishment of the Forum of African Parliamentarians for Education (FAPED) was spearheaded by the parliaments of Senegal and Mauritius and its goal is to develop partnerships through the Education for All Program.

Thailand

* The UNESCO office in Bangkok plans to establish ties between legislators and major regional organizations(1) to develop a cooperative approach to solving problems related to sustainable development.

Israel

This type of cooperation also existed in Israel, where a commission for future generations will soon be established as part of the Knesset. This was possible thanks to the active participation of the UNESCO national commission and of the Friends of Parliament League.

Also, other parliamentary bodies will be mobilized as part of UNESCO's action for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, September 2002) and for the World Information Summit in 2003 and 2005.

These examples are just a few illustrations of the prolific action that has resulted from the Co-operation Agreement signed between UNESCO and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in 1997. This served to define the terms of reference for dialogue so that parliamentarians may be better informed about UNESCO's domains of expertise.(2)

Globalization with a Human Face

The Millennium Declaration of 2000 that was signed by political leaders at the United Nations Millennium Summit took stock of the major issues facing humankind during the 1990's and highlighted the policies implemented worldwide to resolve all crises.

This Declaration has been an important inspiration in the shaping of UNESCO's programme priorities such as the right of all to education, the strengthening of international scientific and intellectual co-operation, the promotion of cultural pluralism, and broadening public access to information.

Specifically, all UNESCO action is oriented towards two key objectives, namely to reduce poverty(3) and to provide easier access to knowledge so that globalization no longer means marginalization.

A Round Table was organized as part of this summit to discuss the Dialogue of Civilizations. Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO, remarked that intercultural dialogue is essential to furthering peace between nations and peoples. …

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