Content Authenticity Initiative

Press Freedom Day


« In a historical event, F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton and MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi swap their machines at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo. | Main | Rashtrapati Bhavan (Official Residence of the President of India) Hosts Conference of Heads of Central Universities / Institutes of Higher Learning. »

December 12, 2019

UNESCO reinforces itself as the Chief Global Motivator for Education, Culture, Artificial Intelligence, and Youth; Adopts a Convention facilitating Universities Exchanges.

Unesco, Paris

Unesco, Paris

Photos: Closure of the 40th General Conference of UNESCO in Paris, France. 27 November 2019. Images provided by & copyright © UNESCO/Christelle ALIX.

Paris, France, 12 December 2019 — UNESCO’s 40th General Conference concluded after adopting a draft Convention to facilitate student mobility between universities on five continents.

The General Conference, UNESCO’s governing body, meets every two years to establish the Organization’s program and budget. It brings together all 193 Member States of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

“We are entering a phase of renewal,” said Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General of UNESCO, summing up the fortieth session of the General Conference, which took place from 12 to 27 November. Noting that after more than 20 years of cuts and setbacks, the budget situation had returned to normal, she underlined that, “by accepting an increase in contributions, a rare event in the UN system, Member States have expressed their confidence in the direction given to UNESCO over the past two years.”

As demonstrated by the attendance of so many political leaders, UNESCO is once again a venue for global conversation. Participants included:

Among the decisions taken by UNESCO’s 193 Member States is the adoption of a Convention on Inter-University Mobility, which will enter into force after being ratified by twenty countries. The Convention will foster academic mobility between regions and the establishment of universal principles to improve the recognition of diplomas. It will complement UNESCO’s five regional conventions on the acceptance of higher education qualifications.

At the same time, some 100 ministers of education and as many university representatives participating in the UNESCO Chairs Programme met to promote the emergence of a more inclusive “Global Campus.” The “Global Campus” would facilitate better student mobility by responding to the rapid increase in the number of students enrolled in higher education.

The other major decision of the General Conference concerns the elaboration of an international standard-setting instrument on the ethics of artificial intelligence. Experts selected by UNESCO will be responsible for preparing a project after extensive consultation. Two intergovernmental meetings would be held in 2021 to finalize ethical standards based on fundamental human rights.

Following the ministerial meeting, Mexico announced that it would host a second Mondiacult World Conference on Cultural Policies in 2022. At the first such conference in 1982, the international community had redefined culture as the “set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group.”

The General Conference also decided to celebrate eight new world days - of Art (15 April), Islamic Art (18 November), African and Afro-descendant Culture (24 January), Engineering for Sustainable Development (4 March), Logic (14 January), Mathematics (14 March), Olive Trees (26 November) and Portuguese Language (5 May). It also decided that the first Thursday in November would be the International Day against Violence and Bullying at School, including Cyberbullying.

The General Conference was also a forum for discussions between young people and around ten government leaders on the theme (Re)Generation: Rethinking Multilateralism with Young Change-Makers. Young people from around the world took part in two weeks of discussions to determine how UNESCO could respond to the climate challenge and youth demands. Participants called on governments to step up their efforts to fight climate change, invest more in education, and take concerted action to ensure that technology serves people and their rights.

Member States have agreed on a budget for 2020-2022 of $534 million (+3%). At Sweden’s initiative, the General Conference amended the Organization’s Constitution to suspend the right to vote - as well as the right to run for election to the Executive Board - of States that are not up to date with their contributions.

At the opening of the General Conference, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres had warned against the breakup of the international community, claiming that “UNESCO’s action was essential to rally the world.”



“No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.”

— Mahatma Gandhi.


“Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.”

— Jawaharlal Nehru.


“The first duty of government is to see that people have food, fuel, and clothes. The second, that they have means of moral and intellectual education.”

— John Ruskin. StumbleUpon reddit Facebook Google Plus Tweet This Seed This on Newsvine

Edited & Posted by the Editor | 8:56 AM | Link to this Post

Start from HOME Go to Top