4-day-experience in the 36th General Conference of UNESCO…

Now that I’m back home sitting on my desk and far from the UNESCO world,I can just tell you that the last days in the “big house” were an amazing experience!

For one day and a hafl(26th and 27th),Discussions at the forum were focused on “How does UNESCO contribute to building a culture of peace and to sustainable development”. It provided an opportunity to explore bold and innovative ideas and ways of promoting peace and prosperity in a globalized world, through UNESCO’s fields of competence. Keynote addresses were made day by  Pal Schmitt, President of the Republic of Hungary,  Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of the Republic of Gabon,  Alassane Ouattara, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, Tillman Thomas, Prime Minister of Grenada,  Pascal Irenée Koupaki, Prime Minister of the Republic of Benin. Raila Odinga, Prime Minister of Kenya, Boris Tadic, President of the Republic of Serbia and other special and important participants.

On the 28th morning and just before heading to the airport,I assisted to the presentation of the Youth Forum draft by the 2 youth delegates.A special thank was made by the representative of Indonesia followed by a big applause from the member states.

During evening social events,me and Roopa were socializing with the delegates and gathering the contacts of the National Commissions.We even talked about the March Meeting2012 to the representatives of Ghana who promised to arrange a meeting with the Minister of Education on Monday.

Most of the UNESCO offices in the countries belong to the Ministry of Education and they seem open to youth participation.For instance,encouranging the youth particpation in the National Commissions was one of the most recurrent recommendations of the Youth Forum and the General Conference.

I also had the chance to meet many interesting UNESCO staff: Mme Sonia Bahri,the chief of Science Policy & Capacity Building division,Mme Monthy,training officer at the Training & Career  Development Section who enlighted me about the internship in UNESCO and others that helped me a lot in my work.And what’s better than a dinner in a chic French restaurant with my predecessor Maxime Moulin (LO to UNESCO 2009-2010)!!!

I feel really sad that I had to leave before the end of the General Conference.Every day spent in UNESCO headquarter offers new opportunities for IFMSA.

This is the end of my first and not last adventure in Paris.I can proudly say that IFMSA participation was a real success and that we met all our expectations .

This is just the beginning of a long partnership story between IFMSA and UNESCO…

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UNESCO General Conference-36th Session in Paris, France

Today marked the opening session of the UNESCO General Conference 36th Session in Paris, France. Live from the UNESCO headquarter. Lamia Jouini, LO to UNESCO and Roopa Dhatt, Vice President for External Affaires share their first day of conference wandering from booth to booth, building to building and even to event.

Lamia and I began our day in a hurried rush, as we went to get our official badges to enter the world of national delegations, NGOs, and various partners. UNESCO has a different flavor that many of the other UN agencies as it embraces culture and diversity to its true meaning. From the room filled with people adoring their national costumes to our agenda filled with culture heritage events, we could feel that we were in an UNESCO assembly–an organization dedicated to education, science, and culture.

For Lamia the opening day was “From the Youth Forum to the General Conference, just older delegates, fancier attire or “costumes,” more careful wording and diplomacy, but the same excitement and enthusiasm as our IFMSA delegates.”

We spent the day among some familiar youth delegates and many new faces. The events were primarily routine events with the opening session, establishment of the credentials committee, adoption of the agenda and the chairs, very similar to our GAs.

In the evening we attended an evening reception to honor the inauguration of the permanent exhibition OPEN UNESCO. This expo on OPEN UNESCO is about : “Enhancing awareness of UNESCO’s role, its activities throughout the world, the work conducted by its staff on a daily basis and its specificities within the United Nations system are the goals of this exhibition.

OPEN UNESCO

Open UNESCO is staged in an original, entertaining and appealing way, based on seven “island” stands, each focusing on a theme:
1. UNESCO: an idea in action;
2. crisis preparedness and response;
3. knowledge sharing;
4. cultural diversity;
5. one planet, one ocean;
6. human rights;
7. and peace and dialogue.

crisis preparedness and response

knowledge sharing

cultural diversity

one planet, one ocean

human rights

Visitors are invited – within the seven areas, adorned with symbolic objects – to listen to the stories of the Organization’s staff, represented by a flamboyant character, to watch a large animated fresco or to sit behind a console and select videos, pictures, interviews, sound recordings and multimedia publications.

In addition, touch-screen planispheres enable visitors to discover world heritage, the intangible heritage, items on the Memory of the World Register, endangered languages and biosphere reserves.”

Mongolian Gala

We concluded the day with a very unique experience–the Mongolia Gala.

During this event dance, song, and music from the folk and contemporary repertories of Mongolia were represented throughout the show. “The Mongolian traditional art of khöömei and traditional morin khuur music, inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, were on the programme. Khöömei is a form of throat singing from western Mongolia, in the Altai mountains. The singer imitates nature by simultaneously producing two sounds: a continual hum and a superimposed melody of harmonics. Morin khuur (fiddle with a horse’s head), a two-stringed fiddle whose design is closely linked to horse worship, occupies a prime spot in Mongolian nomadic culture. It is most often played solo, but can also accompany dances, long songs (urtiin duu), myth recitals, ceremonies and day-to-day tasks linked to horses. Even now, the morin khuur repertoire still features airs (tatlaga) specifically aimed at taming animals. The simultaneous presence of a fundamental note and harmonics has always made it difficult to transcribe into classic notation, and explains why morin khuur is passed on orally from master to apprentice through generations.”

Day 4 in the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum in Paris:A happy ending!

Welcome to the 4th and last day of the 7th Youth Forum live from UNESCO headquarter in Paris.
IFMSA  was missing one powerful member: Our LO to SCORP Nassima as she had to leave the previous day  but the delegation was still as effective as before.
In the morning session, every region had a meeting to discuss the final report written by the drafting committee. After 2 hours of suggestions and amendments, the delegates gathered all together to agree on the final draft.
As I said before” EFFECTIVENESS ” but also “SATISFACTION” were the key words of the day.
I was extremely happy to see that my recommendation for the National Commissions to advertise the participation program in their countries and prioritize youth initiatives was adopted in the report.
We even succeeded to include the recommendations about sexual education and HIV/AIDS to which Joško, our SCORA-D contributed  during the ‘cafe discussion’ on HIV-related issues and AIDS activism. For instance, IFMSA was part of the interview and the article published in UNAIDS website http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2011/october/20111021unescoyouthforum/
In the afternoon ,me and Josko had a meeting with the HIV/AIDS UNESCO section that were very helpful and open to our questions and suggestions. We discussed new opportunities that lie ahead such as externals for the Regional Meetings and General Assemblies, collaboration on sexuality education programmes, creating a publication of good practices on sexuality education programmes driven and led by youth organizations (hint – SCORA and IFMSA!). They were very interested in that idea that definitely must be followed upon!
Later, I met the people from the Climate Change section and gathered UNESCO interesting publications about both topics.I also tried to get UNESCO send us some hard copies for our next meetings.
Last night and of course last adventures of the forum: Lamia loosing her hat and gloves that she finds back  while waiting for the metro in the possession of a youth delegate from Uganda. Joško experiencing the Magheb culture in a nice Algerian restaurant with Tunisian and Algerian delegates. And last but not least Josko forgetting the IFMSA posters twice in the way to our way back home.  This time we did take the right metro direction 🙂
Dear IFMSA friends, this is the end of the IFMSA participation to the 7th UNESCO Youth Forum. Being both an IFMSA observer and a Tunisian young delegate was a rewarding learning experience: Exchanging of leadership experiences, identifying youth problems and advocating for change, contributing to the recommendations, observing the intercultural interaction…
The youth forum is organized every 2 years and the delegates are selected by the National Commissions. Therefore,I’d invite all of you to be in contact with your national commissions so that you may get the chance to be part of the next big adventure.
And as s LO to UNESCO,I would like to emphisize on the importance of UNESCO as one of the main partner of our Federation.I encourage all of you to seek for more information about what this UN agency is doing and how you can benefit from it.
Hope you were pleased to read this report and thank you very much for you trust. Also big thank you to my fellow IFMSA delegates Joško Miše (SCORA Director) and Nassima Dzair (SCORP LO) in being part of this amazing adventure and for giving input for the blog.
Your devoted LO to UNESCO Lamia Jouini.