Before the representatives of the 193 member states, the vice-president of the Swiss Confederation highlighted UNESCO’s importance as an instrument for science diplomacy, education for all and the promotion of culture and diversity. "UNESCO's mandate encourages us to reflect together on what we want and can be, and to act together", he said. Mr Cassis praised Switzerland's contribution to UNESCO's new 2022–29 strategy – the focus of the General Conference.
Synergies for more effective multilateralism
He also called for stronger and more effective multilateralism by encouraging better synergies between UNESCO and the other UN agencies. “These systemic partnerships are imperative to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda, which is UNESCO’s aim,” he added. Mr Cassis also reiterated Switzerland's unwavering commitment to encouraging respect for fundamental rights and its support for the recommendation on the ethics of artificial intelligence. Finally, Mr Cassis took the opportunity to congratulate UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay on her re-election for a second term as head of the organisation.
75th anniversary of UNESCO
This year marks the 75th anniversary of UNESCO. At the end of the day, Mr Cassis will attend the celebratory event alongside some 30 heads of state and government. His speech will highlight the spirit of dialogue and innovation that Switzerland cultivates through the international organisations that it hosts, particularly in Geneva. He will also take the opportunity to promote Switzerland's candidacy for the Security Council for the period 2023–24.
Strong Swiss backing for UNESCO
Switzerland's annual contribution of CHF 3.7 million puts it among the largest contributors to UNESCO in per capita terms. It is currently a member of the organisation's Executive Board until 2023. UNESCO's mission is to contribute to the building of a culture of peace, the eradication of poverty, to sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.
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