National Statement of United States Ambassador Crystal Nix-Hines to the 199th Executive Board

[As delivered]

Merci Messieurs Les Présidents, Madame la Directrice Générale, Excellences.

C’est le premier conseil exécutif depuis les élections, et nous tenons à féliciter nos collègues et L’Ambassadeur Worbs pour leurs nouveaux mandats.

Nous voulons également exprimer notre profonde gratitude envers les Etats Membres pour leur confiance, et pour avoir permis aux Etats-Unis de continuer son action au sein de ce conseil.

Nous ne prenons pas cette confiance à la légère.

I’ll say it again; we do not take this trust lightly.

Having just returned from meetings in Washington with senior government officials, as well as with representatives of our Congress, I know that resolving our funding issues is a major priority of my government.

Although it will not be easy, as a result of the concrete ways UNESCO is working to advance peace and security in the global system, and improve its governance, we have a compelling case:
UNESCO is the only multilateral organization developing educational tools to deter youth radicalization; the only UN organization with a specific mandate to promote Holocaust education, for the prevention of mass atrocities.

And a key multilateral organization bringing crucial stakeholders together to discuss how to limit the illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts; an influential convenor of the media, civil society and governments to work together to improve journalist safety and combat impunity and an important implementor of the the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda and COP 21.

The spate of recent violent extremist attacks, and the horrific experience of Assiatou, a 15-year-old girl abducted by Boko Haram who spoke here last month, are sobering reminders of what we’re up against, and why UNESCO’s peace-building work is so crucial.

We appreciate the Secretariat’s rapid implementation of our PVE resolution, adopted with 85 co-sponsors. UNESCO’s newly released Teacher’s Guide, and forthcoming policy guidance to help Member States prepare national PVE plans to support the UN’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, will be invaluable resources to governments worldwide.

Together with UNESCO and other partners, and the support of the Friends of PVE Education Group, we are working to develop digital educational materials to impart global citizenship skills and deter youth radicalization.

The first module — centered on the theme of propaganda – will help youth resist manipulation by showing how the recruitment tactics being used today mirror those used in previous atrocities to constrict rationale choice and foment hatred and violence.

Amid heartbreaking images of cultural destruction, we support the Director General’s plans to hold a Unite4Heritage conference this spring. We encourage UNESCO to appoint a high profile Special Envoy to heighten attention to this issue, as well as promote the development of additional measures to deter illicit trafficking of stolen artifacts and safeguard heritage sites, including those of imperiled religious minorities.
UNESCO is also making significant environmental contributions, from protecting marine and coastal environments to capacity building for freshwater security to conservation through biosphere reserves. We commend the Science sector for these efforts.

We hope UNESCO will achieve some concrete deliverables arising from the excellent Feb 5 Journalist Safety Conference, include a visible social media campaign to bring attention to the issues of safety imprisonment and Impunity.

Looking toward the selection of a new Director General, we embrace the Ambassador of Mexico’s suggestion to have a retreat this spring to discuss the future goals and direction of the organization — including the desired leadership qualities of the next DG. Mr. Chair, we encourage you to implement this proposal.

We thank the 67 co-sponsors of our draft resolution on UNESCO’s Role in Encouraging Girls and Women to Be Leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design, and Math Fields, and urge its adoption.

The resolution supports the Secretariat’s strong interest in amplifying and coordinating UNESCO’s efforts to enhance education and promote gender equality in these sectors as part of the 2030 Agenda. And so we should. Despite a saturation of low-skilled labor, and an unmet, global demand for skilled technology and engineering workers, many young women never even consider such careers. Two women I met on a recent trip to Africa are illustrative: one never imagined being an engineer because she thought it meant driving a train.

Another only thought about a computer science career after a female mentor introduced her to a coding class. By helping Member States deliver high-quality, inspiring, gender-sensitive training, UNESCO can change the trajectories of young women all around the world.

We plan to aid these efforts by launching a teacher training program with UNESCO later this year. More on that soon.

Finally, we look forward to celebrating the Fifth International Jazz Day at the White House. Jazz has always been a powerful medium to bring diverse cultures together, and in today’s tumultuous world, we need unity, understanding, et bien sur, de la musique fantastique.
Merci. Thank you.