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U.S. Policy Statements

34th General Conference

UNESCO held its 34th General Conference at its Paris Headquarters from October 16 to November 2, 2007. The United States participated actively in this gathering whose task is to determine UNESCO’s policies, programs and budget for the coming two years.

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings led the U.S. delegation, delivering a formal address to the Conference plenary and remarks to the Ministerial Round Table on “Education and Economic Development.” White House Science Advisor Dr. John H. Marburger, III, in turn made remarks to the Ministerial Roundtable on “Science and Technology for Sustainable Development and the Role of UNESCO.” National Science Foundation Director Arden Bement also participated in the round table.

The Conference notably adopted, by consensus, a resolution on “Holocaust Remembrance” introduced by the United States, Russia, Australia, Canada, and Israel and co-sponsored by 65 other UNESCO member states. The resolution “requests the Director-General to consult with the United Nations Secretary-General regarding his outreach programme, with a view to exploring in consultation with Member States, what role UNESCO could play in promoting awareness of Holocaust remembrance through education and in combating all forms of Holocaust denial in accordance with the United Nations General Assembly resolutions…”

Also adopted was a Resolution introduced by the U.S. and co-sponsored by many African states that urged UNESCO to expedite implementation of the Teacher Training Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA) (PDF 124kb).

The United States Library of Congress chose the General Conference as a platform to launch the World Digital Library project. The project was launched with an exhibit that illustrated how the World Digital Library will operate by means of a prototype containing material contributed by partner libraries in Brazil, Egypt, and Russia. Librarian of Congress Dr. James H. Billington hosted a reception for a large number of UNESCO individuals, who are all very enthusiastic about this project. On this occasion, the Library of Congress and UNESCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate future collaboration on the project.

Finally, NASA and NOAA provided a special exhibit, a digital video globe displaying various data, called the “Magic Planet,” which was the focal point for a presentation entitled "Observing and Understanding our Globalized World through History, Sciences, Culture, and Communications." This exhibit helped make the overall theme of the General Conference, “Planet Earth: from Space to Place,” a great success.

Remarks by U.S. Representatives

October, 2007 - James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, Remarks at the World Digital Library Reception (PDF 15kb)

October, 2007 - Margaret Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education, Remarks at the UNESCO Plenary Session

October, 2007 - Margaret Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education, Remarks at the UNESCO Ministerial Roundtable on Education and Economic Development (PDF 17kb)

October, 2007 - John H. Marburger III Remarks at the UNESCO Ministerial Roundtable on Science, Technology and Innovation for Sustainable Development and the Role of UNESCO