1 March 2012

Statement by Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Russian Federation to UNESCO, H.E. Mrs Eleonora MITROFANOVA at the Plenary Meeting of the 189th Session of the UNESCO Executive Board

Madam Chairperson of the Executive Board, Madam Director-General, Ladies and gentlemen, First of all on behalf of the Russian Delegation I would like to welcome you and wish to everyone a fruitful session for the good of UNESCO and our countries. We agree with the words of the Director-General Irina Bokova that we are in this room in a rather difficult time for the Organization. In her address at the end of the year the Director-General rightly referred to 2011 as a year of challenge for UNESCO and the whole world. You said that the world is quickly changing and UNESCO is actively involved in such change. 2012 will afford us an opportunity to step up our efforts in order to justify our expectations which have been expressed this year. In referring to the difficult financial situation you pointed out that “this situation requires renewal of our obligation, it provides a golden opportunity to accelerate our efforts to reform the Organization”. UNESCO has all it needs to demonstrate its difference and to overcome these difficulties. UNESCO today is experiencing a difficult period of its transformation and adaptation to new conditions that require fresh, meaningful, sometimes unorthodox decisions and ideas. However it will continue to be sorely needed and that it has great potential are not in doubt. This was proved at the last 36 session of the General-Conference. Therefore we feel that UNECSO can’t and must not be just another international development agency. In our opinion, it must become an effective UN system organization for capacity-building in Member States in the fields of its competence. And here it must learn to act appropriately in a rapidly changing and more and more complex international environment. As we see things, in a light of the current financial predicament and the need to reform UNESCO activities one must try to free Organization activities from the accumulation of ideas and projects which have already been completed or which have no real future. Moreover, we expect from the Secretariat the submission of the well-focused and integrated program for cooperation with other institutions, programs, funds and systems in the United Nations. This will make it possible for restructuring and dub tailing of the key functions which UNESCO performs to the international community. With the axiom to do more with less it is possible to make the best possible use of the resources states provide. As regards our country, we ever, since we joined UNESCO, have always called for the development of mutually beneficial cooperation with the member states to resolve the burning issues and supported an aspiration to achieve concessive decisions free of politicization. We have never created any problems for the Organization and we’ve always met our financial obligations to it and assigned additional resources, even when we ourselves were in the terms of serious financial obscurity. Now I would like to inform you that in a light of the appeal from the UNESCO leadership the Government of the Russian Federation in January already paid its contributions for 2012 in a regular budget and we trust that this step and those other efforts to support UNESCO will help it maintain a high level availability in its program activity. As you recall, our Organization has already experienced difficult times at the start of the 1990, when criticism also leveled against UNESCO activities and the experience of coming through the difficulties of the moment, but as we all know the Member States together with the Secretariat were able to tackle the problems and resolve the program and administrative and financial issues. According to those who were working in the Organization at that time it was one of rather tough but extremely productive periods in the Organization’s history. So we have no doubt that together we will manage to resolve the current problems as well. Of course there will be a need for internal discipline, genuine overhaul and sectoral reforms and perhaps also some refocusing of our Organization’s activities. And what is especially important – is to seek to achieve visible results in program activity on the basis of evaluation and regular monitoring. In this regard, I wish to quote from the document of the 33d session of the General-Conference on the future long term role of the UNESCO which refered, to the need “to maintain of viability and efficiency of the Organization and expand its opportunities in terms of contributing to international cooperation in its fields of competence”. We, the Member States, could usefully from time to time revisit our own past decisions especially those which have some potential, to “carrying forward” as people say. In particular why not think about holding global consultations on the vision of UNESCO’s role in the XXI century. It is well-known that priority setting is probable the most topical of the host of managerial tasks facing the Organization and that’s to the largest possible extend the opinions the all the Member States of the Organization must be taken into account. We are confident that UNESCO has a future and therefore we are counting on active involvement of the Organization and Member States in global discussion at the United Nations conference on sustainable development in Brasilia (Rio + 20). On the whole, we welcome the “road map” which has put forward the draft strategic plan which is based on three main principles: focusing on program implementation and maintaining Organization leading role, seeking new ways of making savings while enhacing the efficiency and changing our style of work and a transition from a top time management culture to what has been called culture of personal responsibility. In Russia and throughout the world we are viewing with great concern the serious humanitarian situation in Syria. Today the main task is to achieve cessation of the violence from whatever side it comes. Thanks to the Russian work with Syrians together we have managed to move towards cooperation with the international humanitarian organizations. Similar signals to the armed fighters – I think we are not seeing them. We believe that the most important thing is to give a real chance to the Syrians to overcome the crisis and to help them in this. If the international community wishes to protect peaceful civilians – and for Russia it is a paramount task – we need to bring all the parties of the armed conflict to reason. Therefore we do not consider UNESCO to be the right place at this specific juncture for discussing the situation in Syria, especially as no objective independent analytical document in the fields of competence of UNESCO has been provided so the subject for debate is not clear at all. In order to conclude on a positive note I would like to recall that at the end of the meeting with the permanent delegations on January 26 Mrs Irina Bokova stressed that it is right now that we have an opportunity to build a stronger Organization and to achieve better results in tune with immense mandate of UNESCO and demands of the XXI century. Our goal is to improve UNESCO. And we fully share this approach and believe that the strength of our Organization depends on the good will of all Member States, without exception. Thank you.