Vienna, 2 November 2011 – Austria was elected a member of the Executive Board of UNESCO, the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture with the vote of 170 member states in Paris today. Austria will be represented in the 58 member steering and managerial body of the international organisation until 2015.
“This election as a member of the Executive Board has occurred at a very important time for the organisation: UNESCO has gained greatly in importance and topicality against the background of the current global political situation”, Austrian Vice-Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said commenting on the successful election. He pointed to the growing importance of education and culture in the development of states, to social change in ever more complex modern societies and the part played by science in solving global problems such as climate change or the supply of renewable energy.
“Austria is delighted to be able to bring in its expertise in all of these areas”, the Vice-Chancellor said; “Austria’s membership in the UNESCO Executive Board integrates seamlessly in the foreign policy commitment of Austria, which following two years of successful membership in the United Nations Security Council is also currently represented in the UN Human Rights Council.”
State Secretary Wolfgang Waldner, who represented Austria at the UNESCO General Conference in Paris last week where he presented Austria’s priorities, is pleased by the successful candidature and the new opportunities this will offer for shaping UNESCO policies: “Austria will be able to pursue its initiatives and priorities in the area of freedom of the press and the protection of journalists, the dialogue process between cultures and religions, as well as human rights and tolerance in the UNESCO Executive Board as a supplement to work in other institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council or the Alliance of Civilisations.”
Austria has been a member of UNESCO since 1948 and has twice previously been represented in the Executive Board of the organisation (1972-1976 and 1995-1999). In over sixty years of membership Austria has brought comprehensive expertise into numerous areas and has been represented by many experts and scientists in UNESCO commissions and bodies.
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