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UNESCO General Conference

UNESCO’s 42nd General Conference took place between the 7th and the 22nd November 2023.

The Conference is composed of the representatives of the 194 State Members of the Organisation and meets every other year. Non-State Members, Intergovernmental organizations, NGOs and foundations are also invited to participate as observers. Each State has one vote, regardless of its surface or of how much it contributes to the Organisation’s budget.

Its role consists in determining the orientation and UNESCO’s general course of action. During the three weeks, State Members adopt the Organization’s program and budget for the two following years, elect members of the Executive Council and, every four years, nominate the Director General.

The Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Romania to UNESCO, Simona-Mirela Miculescu, chaired this 42nd session of the General Conference.

As a side event of the Conference, the Youth Forum allowed young activists from all over the World to debate the social aspects of climate change, not only through the exchange of opinions but also by sharing possible solutions with the UNESCO Secretariat and State Member delegates.

Italy has reached important results, which confirm its fundamental role within the Organization:

  • it was re-elected for the 7th consecutive four-year mandate as a member of UNESCO’s Executive Council with the highest number of votes (155) in the Western Europe and North America group;
  • it was re-elected as a member of the International Coordinating Council of UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme;
  • it was re-elected as a member of the Intergovernmental Committee for Promoting the Return of Cultural Property to its Countries of Origin or its Restitution in case of Illicit Appropriation (ICPRCP).

The Minister of Education and Merit, Giuseppe Valditara, who represented Italy at the plenary session and at the Education ministerial meeting, the Minister of Universities and Research Anna Maria Bernini and the Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Maria Tripodi also attended the Conference. The Education ministerial meeting was opened by Maestro Michelangelo Pistoletto, who held a dialogue with UNESCO’s Assistant-Director General for Education, Stefania Giannini on the theme of “preventive peace”.

The Education sector also reached a major goal during the General Conference: the 194 UNESCO Member States have adopted the revision of the 1974 Recommendation concerning education for international understanding, co-operation and peace and education relating to human rights and fundamental freedoms. This instrument defines how education should be used in order to promote sustainable peace and human development. By creating links between different thematic areas, from digital technologies to climate changes and from gender issues to fundamental freedoms, the recommendation intends to contribute to creating societies that are more pacific, fair, equal, inclusive, democratic, healthy and sustainable.

In order to achieve this, the new text outlines 14 principles that aim at developing new approaches to education through the remodelling of various aspects of educative systems, among which laws and policies regarding the development of curricula, teaching practices and learning and evaluation environments.

Following a proposal from Uzbekistan, the State Members have decided that the 43rd session of the General Conference, in 2025, will be held in Samarkand.