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UNESCO Under Fire From West Coasters

The United Nations agency UNESCO has come under fire from West Coast lobby group Coast Action Network, for failing to respond to a complaint and for failing to follow its compliant procedures. John Howard reports.

In February this year Coast Action Network, (CAN) wrote to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, (UNESCO) in Paris, alleging that the New Government had breached its international obligations.

The complaint said that by allowing a resource management hearing into the merits of a proposed beech scheme to be stopped before scientific evidence could be heard, the NZ government had censored science under the UNESCO charter.

The complaint further alleged that New Zealand had breached Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights relating to the rights of all peoples' to share in scientific advancement.

An allegation was also made that if a government allows a lawful public hearing involving evidence of scientific advancement to be stopped, then there is nothing to prevent the government stopping other positive scientific advancements with which it doesn't agree, from benefiting or reaching the people.

CAN Chairman, Barry Nicolle said, " Despite emails to UNESCO and an inquiry launched by NZ Post we, and NZ Post, have received neither the courtesy of a reply or acknowledgment to our complaint or inquiries."

Mr Nicolle said "When we wrote in February, we followed UNESCO's complaint procedures. We simply cannot accept that an international organisation, who has legal responsibilities under its charter to New Zealand, can treat our legitimate complaint with contempt, while expecting the taxpayers of this country to continue providing financial support to it."

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in Darwin on February 18, "Through the United Nations we are working together to make human rights a reality for everyone - to give all human beings real choices in life, and a real say, in decisions that affect their lives."

Mr Nicolle said the words appear to nothing more than empty rhetoric.

"Ours is one complaint we know about, and I can't help thinking there will be others which UNESCO is also failing to answer," he said

Mr Nicolle will be asking politicians to consider whether New Zealand should continue to financially contribute to UNESCO.


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