Remarks by head of the Russian delegation and Minister of Science and Higher Education Mikhail Kotyukov at the General Policy Debate of the 40th session of the UNESCO General Conference, Paris, November 14, 2019
In light of the growing international disunity and the extreme challenges facing the world, such as the threat of international terrorism to our common cultural heritage, increasing inequality, including in the field of information, and the alarming rate of youth radicalisation, we need UNESCO, more than ever, to fulfil its noble mission, that is, to construct the defences of peace in the minds of men and women.
Russia, which is deeply committed to UNESCO’s ideals, would like this humanitarian intergovernmental organisation to operate without any political bias, but strictly in keeping with its mandate and the priorities approved by the member states. While working towards peace based on “humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity,” this respected platform should also help preserve the traditional atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding, the couture of consensus and respect for the identity and legitimate interests of nations.
Education has a huge role to play. We must enhance the level of general knowledge about the mission and mandate of the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee as a global mechanism for consultation and coordination. Our efforts must be directed towards strengthening preschool education, technical and vocational education, at introducing ICT and at promoting the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme and the UNESCO Associated Schools Network. We must focus on the training of teachers, who are the main pillar of education.
We expect this General Conference to adopt the Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications, which has been drafted with active support from our experts. Another important document is the Convention against Discrimination in Education. We hope that the UNESCO Secretariat will not put up with gross infringement on its provisions by the member states, primarily Ukraine and Latvia, where the educational space is being gradually cleansed of the Russian language.
In this context, we stand up for the development of multilingualism and intercultural dialogue. In August 2020, the Republic of Tatarstan will be the venue of a large-scale international forum on the role of education in the development of intercultural dialogue.
We believe that all-round support should be given to the International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP) as the basic instrument for attaining a number of sustainable development goals. We propose enhancing the status of IBSP to the level of an intergovernmental programme. It is extremely important to promote the ideals of academic endeavour, including among men and women of science. The establishment of a new UNESCO-Russia award, the international Dmitry Mendeleev prize, will serve this goal and will also be an adequate conclusion of the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements. Madam Director-General, I would like to thank you once again for supporting this idea and for actively contributing to its elaboration.
We welcome the key role played by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO in the drafting of a research programme and action plan of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030). We see great potential in such natural sciences programmes as Man and the Biosphere (MAB), the International Geoscience and Geoparks Programme (IGCP), and the International Hydrological Programme (IHP).
We hope that the General Conference will give the green light to the drafting of a global code of ethics for artificial intelligence. We are ready to share our expert potential in this sphere, which we have accumulated during the drafting of the National Strategy for the Development of Artificial Intelligence.
The rapid development of new technology provokes radical changes in the structure of society and is consequently increasing the role of social sciences. We firmly believe that the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme should focus on global interdisciplinary topics to confirm UNESCO’s role as the global laboratory of ideas.
UNESCO should pay more attention to the ethics of information society, responsible behaviour of players in the media environment and digital infrastructure security, as well as efforts to enhance the quality of journalistic education and professional standards.
We reaffirm our resolve to continue working actively in the fields of sports and anti-doping in strict compliance with the International Convention against Doping in Sport.
We support the involvement of young people in UNESCO activities. We believe that this work must be transparent, inclusive and conducted in close cooperation with the UNESCO National Commissions based on a fair geographical distribution.
In the context of our traditional friendly ties with African countries, we support Priority Africa at UNESCO. As President Vladimir Putin said at the recent Russia-Africa Summit held in Sochi, “we invariably advocate the principle stipulating African solutions for African problems.”
To wind up my remarks, I would like once again to call for redoubling efforts to rebuild the monuments that have been destroyed by terrorists in Syria. Faced with this challenge, we must show the above-mentioned “moral and intellectual solidarity” based on the UNESCO ideals and principles.