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Unesco NZ Welcomes Us Back Into Fold

Media Release 15 September 2002


The United States decision to rejoin UNESCO - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation - has been welcomed by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO.

UNESCO New Zealand Chair, the Hon Margaret Austin says the US announcement is most satisfying and a real endorsement of the ongoing relevance of the organisation, established after the Second World War to foster peace and understanding amongst nations through dialogue and shared activities in education, science, culture and communications.

President Bush announced the decision to rejoin UNESCO in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly saying that the United States will now participate fully in the organisation's mission to advance human rights, tolerance and learning.

The US left UNESCO in 1984 citing poor management. Mrs Austin says the organisational reforms of recent years have paved the way for the super-power's return.

"New Zealand was the second country to join UNESCO in 1946. As a small state, we regard an international forum, such as UNESCO, as extremely important in facilitating the necessary dialogue to allow nation states to understand each other and work together. The United States has a great contribution to make with its enormous intellectual and cultural resources," Mrs Austin says.

"The United States was a founding member of UNESCO and its renewed commitment to the organisation will not only add significantly to revenues, and hence the ability to deliver effectively resourced programmes, but it will also enhance the status of the organisation and its capacity to realise its mandate. Despite the obvious tensions in the world today, we must hope that the US decision to rejoin UNESCO signals a commitment towards working to develop a global culture of peace."

Mrs Austin says UNESCO, which now has 189 member states, is a unique organisation within the United Nations system. It is the intellectual forum and standard setter and promotes collaboration among nations in education, science, culture and communications.

Mrs Austin says now that the United States has come back into the fold, she hopes that Singapore, which is the only outstanding member to rejoin, will reconsider its position.

For more information or comment please contact: The Hon Margaret Austin Telephone: (03) 358 8687 or 025 923 244

© Scoop Media

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