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Kiwi law expert appointed to top UNESCO role

Kiwi law expert appointed to top UNESCO role

A New Zealand cyberspace law expert has risen to the senior ranks of UNESCO, the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation at agency headquarters in Paris, France.

Elizabeth Longworth is the new executive director of the Office of UNESCO Director General Koïchiro Matsuura and began her official duties today.

"Ms Longworth's appointment demonstrates her profound commitment to UNESCO's mandate to foster the development of policies, capacities and tools for universal access to information and knowledge," says UNESCO NZ National Commission Secretary General, Elizabeth Rose.

"Her appointment is important for New Zealand as it reflects the respect with which our country and our people are regarded within the UNESCO organisational structure."

Soon after graduating from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Laws degree (LLB) in the late 1970s, Elizabeth was admitted to the bar of the High Court.

A pioneer in cyberspace law, Ms Longworth developed a specialist legal and international consultancy practice advising on information policy, privacy, e-commerce and other aspects of new technologies and information systems, peace and reconciliation issues. While representing New Zealand, Ms Longworth then chaired a UNESCO committee that considered the promotion and use of multilingualism and universal access to cyberspace. These recommendations were adopted by UNESCO in 2005.

Ms Longworth says in her new function she will continue her strong support of UNESCO's mandate to foster the development of policies, capacities and tools for universal access to information and knowledge.

"The experience of the past few years has shown that, in today's knowledge-intensive world where the forces of change are exponential, UNESCO has a vital role to play; the Organisation's work on building the capacities to generate, apply and optimize knowledge for development will increasingly be of critical importance and relevance," says Ms Longworth.

A former Director of the ICT Sector at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, New Zealand's national economic development agency, Ms Longworth was responsible for the development and implementation of national economic development strategies and programmes on ICT.

She has longstanding experience working with international agencies, including OECD, and as an expert to UNESCO, collaborating in areas such as transborder data flows, online dispute resolution, e-privacy, copyright and patenting, global networks and e-commerce.

Ms Longworth also worked as a professional mediator and facilitator and was a member of the WIPO Panel of Neutrals. From 1998 to 2000, she chaired the New Zealand telecommunications industry body on number administration and portability.



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