Paris, UNESCOs generalkonferens 8 oktober 2009
Tobias Krantz, Högskole- och forskningsminister
Tal på engelska av Tobias Krantz, Swedish Statement at UNESCO General Conference 35th Session 8 October 2009
Swedish Statement at UNESCO General Conference 35th Session 8 October 2009 - General Policy Debate
If you'll bear with me, I will now say a few words as representative of Sweden. Of course we stand by the EU positions, and it gives me great pleasure to announce that Sweden will contribute financially to the proposed external evaluation. Now I would like to emphasize a few areas of special importance to Sweden.
Sweden would also like to thank our Director-General Mr. Matsuura for his efforts in making UNESCO more efficient and transparent. We also welcome the nomination of Ms. Bokova as new Director-General. We are particularly glad that we for the first time have a woman nominated for this position. Mahatma Gandhi said "You must be the change you wish to see in the world". Finally electing a female Director-General sends a signal that UNESCO's priority of gender equality is not just a plan on paper.
We wish the new Director-General the best of luck continuing to reform the Organization. UNESCO needs to become more efficient and results driven and more focused on its core missions.
Freedom of expression is the fundament for a functioning society. If established facts can't be challenged a society cannot evolve.
An independent and free press is a core condition to make sure other human rights are upheld. According to the Freedom of the Press Index the current situation is not encouraging. The freedom of the press is declining in almost every part of the world. The survey for 2009 shows the seventh straight year of decline in global media freedom. Only 17 percent of the world's population live in countries with a free press. In 2009 alone, 33 journalists have been killed and almost 200 imprisoned. They have been deprived of their fundamental human rights for trying to spread information.
I could use all my time on this podium telling you horrific examples, but for today I'll just mention one of the many who have paid too high a price for trying to bring news to the rest of us. The Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak was imprisoned in 2001 while exercising his rights as a journalist. He has now been held for over eight years without trial. We call for his immediate release.
Every single story like that is an unacceptable tragedy. Freedom of the press must be at the top of UNESCO's agenda in the coming years. UNESCO should organize, in cooperation with major non-governmental organizations and other institutions, an annual forum on freedom of expression and freedom of the press. We cannot allow the freedom of expression to be undermined. We must speak up on behalf of those who have had their own voices silenced.
As lead agency for education and research UNESCO has an important normative role to play in today's globalized world.
New knowledge is needed to face the grand challenges of our time.
- The climate change is becoming more evident than ever. We need new scientific breakthroughs to combat the threat.
- The economic crisis stresses the importance of international cooperation. How could governance be developed in a more global, interdependent world?
- Poverty, water shortage and food safety are other areas where new knowledge and new discoveries is the only way forward.
- The new influenza underlines the need of research in the field of medicine.
We who have plenty must take our responsibility and invest heavily in education and research to face these grand challenges. We must also make sure knowledge is spread across the globe. Here UNESCO has a unique role to fulfil as a clearinghouse for ideas. We share more challenges than ever. We must face them together.
Sweden strongly support the Education For All agenda. Luckily, we are past the debate in whether or not primary education and literacy for all should be a priority for UNESCO. But consensus on what needs to be achieved isn't enough. We need to actually achieve results.
Nelson Mandela said: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world". Sure, education is important to create new knowledge that can be turned into growth and prosperity. But it is also important because education creates more decent societies.
The financial crisis have affected us all. The desire to find the fastest road to recovery will dominate the debate for months and maybe years to come. It might be tempting to focus on short-term solutions, but I want to underline the importance of remaining far-sighted. Investments in education and research may not be a "quick-fix" for the crises at hand, but it is essential in building a world economy that can stand strong when again challenged.
UNESCO, as the organization for promoting education and research, must speak up and make sure the long-term perspective isn't lost.