Press release

Seychelles highlights importance of UNESCO at General Conference on its 70th anniversary

November 27, 2015

The 38th session of the UNESCO General Conference held between 3rd and 18th November was both a celebration of the Organisation’s 70th anniversary and a reaffirmation of the crucial role that it plays in the promotion of peace, security and development.  A record number of heads of states addressed the Conference, including President François Hollande of France who chose UNESCO as the venue for his first address to the international community after the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13th November :  “What better place to affirm the need to hold fast than here at UNESCO, an institution which was born of the will to unite the whole of humanity through education and culture and which found a welcoming home in Paris”.

Member-states emphasised the important contribution that UNESCO, whose fields of competence are education, culture, science and communication and information, can play in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by the members of the United Nations in September. 

The 38th session was the occasion for a high level meeting of Ministers of Education to endorse the Education 2030 Framework for Action.  The UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030, launched on World Science Day for Peace and Development (10th November), shows that all countries now see research and innovation as key to fostering sustainable economic growth and furthering development.

The General Conference adopted a Strategy for Reinforcing UNESCO’s Action for the Protection of Culture and the Promotion of Cultural Pluralism in the Event of Armed Conflict, to integrate protecting cultural heritage and diversity into human interventions in conflict and emergency situations.  It also proclaimed 5th May as African World Heritage Day.

Access to knowledge and information was reinforced in a Resolution on Internet Universality. The General Conference also issued a Recommendation on the Preservation and Access to Documentary Heritage, including digital heritage.  

Member-states approved the creation of the UNESCO Global Geoparks label with the aim of underlining the importance of outstanding geological sites and landscapes and to promote sustainable development.  The 1978 International Charter for Physical Education, Physical Activity and sport was revised to reinforce the protection of sport from doping, violence, corruption and manipulation. 

Ahead of the International Conference on Climate Change (COP21), the General Conference tasked the Organisation to prepare a Declaration on Ethical Principles of Climate Change when it adopted a resolution proposed by a number of member-states, including Seychelles and several other Small Island Developing States.         

The Seychelles delegation was headed by Ambassador Bernard Shamlaye who is the country’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO.  The other delegates were Dr Marie-Reine Hoareau, Secretary General of the National Commission for UNESCO, Mrs Irène Auger de St Jorre and Mr Ian Madeleine. Mr Ziggy Adam participated in the UNESCO Youth Forum held just before the 38th session and whose deliberations were taken into account by the General Conference.

UNESCO has 195 member-states and 10 Associate Members, with Montserrat welcomed as the tenth at this session of the General Conference.