Eiffel tower

UNESCO celebrates its 75th anniversary, its logo lights up the Eiffel Tower |

But not far from the World Heritage monument in France, more than 20 heads of state attended a special ceremony to mark the occasion at the agency’s headquarters where artists Forest Whitaker, Renaud Capuçon, Angélique Kidjo, Aryana Sayeed, Farrah el Dibany, La Joussour, Ray Lema and Laurent de Wilde also joined in the festivities.

critical role

In a message released at the event, UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted that “UNESCO was born as a pillar of the United Nations system, following one of the most darkest in human history.

“For more than 75 years, UNESCO has promoted dialogue and mutual understanding. World heritage sites, biosphere reserves… have emerged in UNESCO,” he said.

At a time of great inequality, environmental crises, polarization and a global pandemic, the UN chief argued that UNESCO’s role is “more critical than ever...to restore trust and solidarity… better access to education for all, [to] promote cultural diversity and guide technological progress for the common good”.

Future

Working with a diverse set of partners, Mr Guterres said, UNESCO is forging a new social contract for education and lifelong learning.

The agency is also developing new tools to counter hate speech and misinformation while launching flagship initiatives in Iraq and Lebanon, using education and heritage to heal and rebuild.

For the Secretary-General, each of these efforts “testifies to the importance of UNESCO at the center of a more networked, inclusive and effective multilateralism, which brings tangible benefits to people around the world”.

New decisions

The General Conference of UNESCO, in progress in Paris until November 24, also marks this anniversary.

During the event, the 193 Member States are set to take historic decisions, including the adoption of global recommendations on the ethics of artificial intelligence and another on open science.

Earlier this week, at the event, UNESCO hosted a global meeting on education and released the Futures of Education report.

Carlos Chow/Chinchorro Regional Site Protection Program

The “Momia Guardiana” sculpture in Chile was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in July.

An adventure

A new exhibition, viewable online or at the agency’s headquarters, tells the story of UNESCO’s efforts to understand, preserve and transmit the best of humanity.

According to a note on the agency’s website, the UN cultural agency was born in the aftermath of two world wars from the conviction that political and economic arrangements between states are not enough to build lasting peace.

“Reconciliation and development require stronger foundations, deeply rooted in societal interactions and built on intellectual and moral solidarity,” explains the agency.

The exhibition includes images of “often titanic projects”, such as the rescue and removal, block by block, of the great temples of ancient Egypt, but also documentation of scientific projects concerning early warning systems for tsunamis and shared methods for studying soils, aquifers and oceans.

There are also images illuminating the exploration missions along the Silk Roads, in addition to the campaigns that collect and preserve the knowledge, traditions, music and memory of the world.

“[They] all reflect the aspiration to forge stronger links between peoples for the exchange and circulation of knowledge for centuries to come, in the hope that the full awareness of our filiation will forever dissipate the specter of war”, depending on the agency.