On Nov. 22, UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova distanced herself from UNESCO’s election of Syria to two human rights committees, with her spokesperson telling UN Watch, ”given the developments in Syria, the Director-General does not see how this country can contribute to the work of the Committees.”
However, only three weeks earlier, her approach toward Syria’s role at UNESCO appeared very different. This is from the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), November 1, 2011:
Education Minister Discusses Prospects of Cooperation with UNESCO
PARIS, (SANA)- Syria discussed on Tuesday cooperation with The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the framework of its participation in the UNESCO’s 36th general conference.
Minister of Education Saleh al-Rahed, heading the Syrian delegation, discussed with Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, means of boosting cooperation in all spheres.
The Minister underlined Syria’s support to the reform steps taken by the UNESCO and means of boosting relations with the Organizations and its offices.
“Being a member of UNESCO Executive Council has enabled Syria to participate in setting up the main strategy, plans, and programs of the UNESCO in the framework of seeking to upgrade relation with the organization in order to meet all its goals,” the Minister said.
He pointed out to the joint and vital projects carried out in Syria in cooperation with the UNESCO, expressing desire for further cooperation in the field of providing experts to help implement the activities and programs of the Damascus-based Regional Center for Early Childhood Development.
Al Rashed highlighted the UNESCO’s decision of granting full membership to Palestine, hailing its efforts toward giving the Palestinians their rights.
For her part, UNESCO Director-General underlined the importance of continuing cooperation with Syria in the framework of the Organization’s pursuit to help the member states achieve the activities and programs which are a UNESCO priority, particularly in the field of material and immaterial cultural heritage, education, quality, curricula, early childhood and youth, pointing out that these programs should be based on dialogue.
She said that the decision of granting full membership to the Palestinians has declared the time of real work, as efforts should be combined to achieve the Organization’s goals.