UNESCO 36th General Conference Kingdom of Belgium H. Exc. Mr. Kris Peeters, Minister-President of the Government of Flanders 27 th October 2011

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1 UNESCO 36th General Conference Kingdom of Belgium H. Exc. Mr. Kris Peeters, Minister-President of the Government of Flanders 27 th October 2011 Madame President of the General Conference, Madame President of the Executive Board, Madame Director-General, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have the honour of addressing the General Conference for the second time today, at such an important moment for the Organization and its Member States. This morning we talked about how to create a culture of peace, as is your ambition, Madame Director-General. In this regard, Belgium encourages UNESCO to join forces in the international remembrance of the Great War Commemorations. They will offer an excellent opportunity to send a universal message of peace and tolerance. 1

2 In this context we are working on a Flanders Fields Declaration which calls for human rights, respect for international law, cooperation between people, disarmament and multicultural integration, in order to secure a better future. These are pivotal times for the Organisation. A reform process is being undertaken. Belgium, and its regions and communities, want to reiterate their full support to this reform. We are, however, very aware of the challenges that remain. When confronted with the request to present an alternative budget proposal, reflecting zero nominal growth, you have shown leadership and wisdom, Madame Director-General, by keeping the focus on programmes and programme delivery. UNESCO s capacity to deliver, is crucial to its success in the future. And this capacity relies on strengthening its governance, its presence on the field, the capacities of its staff, its networks and partnerships, and its outreach to other organizations. 2

3 We encourage UNESCO to build on existing expertise, both in the Organization and in the Member States, and to strengthen its current instruments. UNESCO s wealth goes beyond budgetary resources. It is to be found in its networks, in the National Commissions, in the many nonprofit organisations that provide day-to-day support. We urge UNESCO to put these networks to best use, to build on their commitment. The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme, the Creative Cities Network and the Associated Schools Project Network all provide direct links with civil society, schools and universities. Their potential could and should be further developed. Mesdames, Messieurs, Un autre défi pour l avenir est de préserver la pertinence et la crédibilité des conventions de l UNESCO. Dans ce cadre nous nous engageons à participer activement dans le processus de réflexion relatif à ces instruments. Par ailleurs, nous examinons avec d autres Etats 3

4 Membres les possibilités de renforcer la gouvernance de la Convention du patrimoine mondial. En ce qui concerne la Convention sur la diversité des expressions culturelles, que les communautés et les régions de la Belgique ont soutenu depuis de longues années, nous sommes confiants que sa ratification sera faite dans les plus brefs délais. Ladies and gentlemen, Education for All remains at the heart of UNESCO s priorities in the education sector. But we would also like to highlight the importance of Education for Sustainable Development. During the Belgian EU Presidency in 2010, we developed Council Conclusions on this issue, in order to realise a more sustainable society. Madame President, Madame Director-general, UNESCO s strength lies at the crossroads of its competences, beyond sectoral boundaries. 4

5 UNESCO s added value in tackling today s challenges, lies in the focus on this interdisciplinary character. This organisation our organisation has to contribute to the public good. Our shared governance has to be to the benefit of all mankind. This is why eradicating poverty should be one of our top priorities. Poverty is not a fate, but ignorance can be its precondition. Let us fully engage ourselves to promoting emancipation, freedom of expression and equality. This is the first step on the road to development. These are indeed pivotal times. It is up to us, Member States, to continue in the consensual spirit that guided us before and bring our vision of a new UNESCO into action. I call upon all of you, dear colleagues, to support this Organisation s new impetus, hand it your trust and support, and give it its rightful place in the world. Thank you. 5

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