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IRIS 2012-10:1/2

European Commission

New Agreement between the EU and UNESCO with regard to Education, Culture, Science and Human Rights

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Rosanne Deen

Institute for Information Law (IViR), University of Amsterdam

On 8 October 2012, the European Union (EU) signed an agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the topics of education, culture, science and human rights. UNESCO is a specialized organization of the United Nations whose objective in brief is to contribute to peace-building, sustainable development, intercultural dialogue and to fight against poverty. The organization tries to do so by improving education, science, culture and communication. The EU shares the same core values, including respect for human rights, human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law. The activities of the EU consequently cover all policy areas.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, and the Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to renew their partnership. The agreement means a more intense cooperation between the EU and UNESCO, and implies that the organizations commit themselves not only to cooperate on education, science and culture, but also on freedom of the press and human rights. Unlike previous commitments to cooperation, the content of the new agreement has a more political character, as it refers to shared universal values.

The main objective of the MoU is to provide a general framework for promoting cooperation between the two organizations and comprises the strategic goals to be followed. Both organizations promote human rights and fundamental freedoms as cornerstones of stability and development, and aim to accomplish this further through a more effective multilateral collaboration. The MoU acknowledges the need for an improved policy between the EU and UNESCO on matters of mutual interest, such as education, science and technology, culture, maritime policy and freedom of expression. The membership of the EU to UNESCO offers new opportunities to combat rising challenges and a number of advantages, which is therefore a key instrument for the economic development of the EU and an essential concept for building an open and peaceful Europe.

EU signs new partnership with UNESCO on education, culture, science and human rights, press release, 9 October 2012 EN