The General Conference, which takes place every two years, will hold its 33rd session from October 3 to 21 at Organization Headquarters in Paris. The session coincides with UNESCO's 60th anniversary, which will be marked by a special ceremony will be held on 5 October. The General Conference, UNESCO's supreme decision-making body, brings together more than 2,000 participants, including a large number of ministers and several heads of state and government.
The examination and adoption of the Programme and Budget for 2006-2007 and the preparation of the Draft Programme and Budget for 2008-2009 will be at the heart of the session. The Conference will also name a Director-General for the next four years and renew half the membership of the Organization’s Executive Board.
Three standard-setting instruments figure on the agenda of the General Conference: a Preliminary Draft Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions; a Draft International Convention against Doping in Sport; a Universal Draft Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights.
Numerous other items are also on the agenda, including an assessment and future prospects for the Education for All programme, as well as a strategy for establishing a global tsunami warning system.
Scheduled events are:
Friday, September 30 – October 2: Youth Forum
The fourth session of the Youth Forum will be held from September 30 to October 2, just before the 33rd session of the General Conference. (Rooms II, VI, VIII and IX)
Some 200 young delegates, from more than 120 countries, are expected to attend the Forum whose theme is: “Young people and the Dialogue among Cultures, Civilizations and Peoples: Ideas for action in education, the sciences, culture and communication.” This theme will be debated in plenary sessions and in three working groups (All different, all unique: celebrating cultural diversity through dialogue; Safeguarding the future: practicing dialogue for sustainable development; Learning to live together: promoting dialogue for peace and reconciliation). The Forum’s recommendations and proposals for action will be included in a final report to be presented to the General Conference. A Fair of Youth ONGs will be held during the Forum, as well as various events including the concert “Melody for Dialogue among Civilizations”.
Monday, October 3: Opening of the 33rd session of the General Conference
The opening session will take place at 10 a.m. (Room I) with speeches by the President of Sri Lanka, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (12 noon), and the President of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor (12.30 p.m.).
During the afternoon session (3 p.m.), the Conference will elect its President and Vice-Presidents. The 172nd session of UNESCO’s Executive Board a few days ago recommended Ambassador Musa Bin Jafaar Bin Hassan, Permanent Delegate to UNESCO of the Sultanate of Oman, as President of the 33rd General Conference.
Tuesday, October 4: Start of General Policy Debate
This plenary session will feature the introduction to the general policy debate and the report of the Director-General (Room I)
+ Meeting of the Presidents and Secretaries-General of National Commissions for UNESCO (Room XII, 7.30 a.m. to 9 a.m.)
Wednesday, October 5: Ceremony to mark UNESCO's 60th anniversary
The general policy debate will continue during the morning in Room I. In the afternoon, a ceremony (3.15 p.m.) will mark the 60th anniversary of the Organization. The President of Germany, Horst Köhler, and the President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, will speak on the subject of human dignity (5 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. respectively).
+ The draft programme and budget for 2006-2007 will be examined by the Administrative Committee (Room XI). It is based on a US$610 million scenario. Discussions will also bear on an additional proposal of US$25 million in voluntary extra-budgetary contributions to reinforce the implementation of the Organization's main priorities.
+ Inauguration of the Education for All exhibition in the presence of Princess Firyal, UNESCO Ambassador for Education for All (Ségur Hall, 7 p.m., invitation only), and launch of LIFE, a new UNESCO initiative to fight illiteracy.
Thursday, October 6
General policy debate continues (Room I)
+ Draft International Convention against Doping in Sport will be examined by Commission II (Room II)
+ Round Table “Promoting sustainability through education: Objectives, strategies, and UNESCO’s mission in the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development” (2005-2014), organized by the National Commissions of Sweden and Germany and the Education Sector (Room II, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.).
+ “Women’s economic empowerment: The ‘Magic Potion’ of Development”. Professor Rae Lesser Blumberg will address this debate outlining her theory that enhancing women’s economic empowerment comes close to being a “magic potion”, that boosts both gender equality and the wealth and well-being of nations. With greater economic power, women gain more say in household decisions, prioritizing nutrition, health and education of both boys and girls. (5 p.m. to 6 p.m., Room XVI, Bonvin)
Friday, October 7: Education for All Round Table
General policy debate continues (Room I)
+ A round table for Ministers of Education will be organized on 7 to 8 October on the theme “Education for All”. The Director-General will open the debate on October 7 at 9.30 a.m. (Room X).
This round table will divide into four sessions. The first (October 7, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) will take stock of the situation five years after the World Education Forum in Dakar: it will hear the experiences of countries which have made the most progress since 2000 but also address the obstacles encountered elsewhere (35 countries are far from meeting their targets). The other sessions will focus on: Resource mobilization and aid effectiveness for Education for All (October 7, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.); Strengthening partnerships in education at the country level (October 8, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.); UNESCO’s role and future strategy in the Education for All drive (October 8, 12 noon to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.). The ministers taking part are expected to adopt a communiqué at the closing session (October 8, 4.30 p.m. to 5 p.m.).
Saturday, October 8 General policy debate continues (Room I)
+ Education for All Round Table continues (Room X)
Monday, October 10: Presidents of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Tajikistan
General policy debate continues (Room I)
+ Speeches by the Chairman of Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency, Ivo Miro Jovic (12 p.m.) and the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmonov (12.25 p.m.)
+ Universal Draft Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights will be examined by Commission III (Room II). The commission will also consider creating a World Philosophy Day.
+ 15th session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (Room IV, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.).
Tuesday, October 11: President of Portugal and Prime Minister of Thailand
End of general policy debate (Room I)
+ Speech by the Prime Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra (12 noon), and the President of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio (12.25 p.m.).
+ Continuation and end of the 15th session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (Room IV, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
Wednesday, 12 October: Nomination of next Director-General
The Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura, will respond to the general policy debate (Room I)
The General Conference will elect the Director-General who will serve for the next four years (Room I). The Executive Board has proposed to the General Conference the nomination of the current Director-General.
+ The strategy for installing a global tsunami warning system will be examined by Commission III (Room II).
Thursday, October 13: Round Table: Basic Science
A round table will be organized on 13 and 14 October (Room X) for Science Ministers on the theme “The Basic Sciences: The Science Lever for Development”. This round table will examine the challenges facing the basic and engineering sciences to serve as a catalyst for development, and look at measures to be taken to strengthen capacities in the basic science.
The round table will be divided into five sessions. The first (October 13, 9.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m.) will ask what are the priority challenges that basic science must take on. The subsequent sessions will look at the national and regional priorities for cooperation in the basic sciences (October 13, 3 p.m. to 5.30 p.m.), building capacity in the basic sciences: relevance to developing countries (October 13, 5.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. and October 14, 9.30 a.m. to 11 a.m.), science policy and the role of the basic sciences for governmental decision-making (14 October, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). The last session, chaired by the Director-General, will be devoted to the conclusions and to the adoption of a communiqué on basic science (October 14, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.).
Friday, October 14: Executive Board renewal
Continuation and end of Basic Science Round Table (Room X)
+ Election of 29 of the 58 members of the UNESCO’s Executive Board.
Saturday, October 15
Informal information meeting of the States Parties to the Convention Against Discrimination in Education (Room IX, 9.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m.). The meeting will prepare the seventh consultation of Member States on the implementation of the convention, adopted in 1960.
Monday, October 17 - The Preliminary Draft of a Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions will be examined by Commission IV (Room II). In 2003, two years after the approval of the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, the General Conference gave UNESCO the task of drawing up a binding international standard-setting instrument, which guarantees the protection of cultural diversity.
+ An evening debate will be organized by UNESCO's MUSEUM magazine and the Guimet Museum (6 place d'Iéna, Paris, 7.30 p.m.) on the theme of Cultural Diversity and Heritage: the Contribution of Historians. The debate will bring together representatives of Member States, museum and heritage professionals as well as representatives from the academic world (by invitation).
Tuesday, October 18
Debate on the protection of the diversity of cultural contents and artistic expressions may be continued.
Wednesday, October 19
Adoption in plenary session of the commissions’ reports.
+ Conference of high-level experts on the UNESCO Initiative to train teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa (Room XII, 9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.). Policy-makers from 17 countries, as well as a range of partners including donors, will identify actions with a view to guiding the initiative, which will be launched next January.
Thursday, October 20
Adoption in plenary session of reports from commissions.
+ Continuation of Conference of high-level experts on the UNESCO Initiative to train teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa (Room XII, 9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.)
Friday, October 21
In the morning, investiture ceremony of Director-General
Close of General Conference
+ Continuation and end of Conference of high-level experts on the UNESCO Initiative to train teachers in Sub-Saharan Africa (Room XII, 9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m.)