Question of Palestine home
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
6 September 1995
United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization
Hundred and forty-seventh Session
PARIS, 6 September 1995
Item 3.4.6 of the provisional agenda
APPLICATION OF 146 EX/DECISION 5.2.1
CONCERNING EDUCATIONAL AND CULTURAL
INSTITUTIONS IN THE OCCUPIED ARAB TERRITORIES
In this document, the Director-General reports to the Executive Board on the measures he has taken to give effect to 146 EX/Decision 5.2.1.
Decision required: paragraph 26.
1. At its last session, the Executive Board adopted 146 EX/Decision 5.2.1, which expressed its appreciation and thanks to the Director-General for his efforts to ensure the implementation of UNESCO’s resolutions and decisions. In the operative part of this decision, the Executive Board ‘expresses its gratitude to and thanks the Member States that have already contributed or have pledged themselves to contribute financially and technically to the implementation of the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (PAPP), in particular Italy and Saudi Arabia’, and ‘invites the Director-General to facilitate the submission to Member States and funding sources of the UNESCO/PAPP projects endorsed by the Joint UNESCO/Palestinian Co-ordinating Committee’.
2. Immediately after the adoption of this decision, the Director-General sent the Assistant Director-General of the Bureau for Relations with Extra-Budgetary Sources to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in order to meet local representatives of the international donor community, as well as the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) and the ‘Ministry’ of International Co-operation of the Palestinian Authority. This was followed up by consultations at the headquarters of the major multilateral and bilateral development agencies, such as the World Bank (Washington), UNDP (New York), the Commission of the European Communities (Brussels), the relevant Austrian (Vienna), Belgian (Brussels), Canadian (Hull), German (Bonn), Norwegian (Oslo) and Swiss (Berne) authorities.
3. AU these contacts resulted in the collection of some preliminary indications of the interest for specific areas of the programme. From this first round of consultations it transpired that bilateral cooperation would constitute an important channel to secure financing of a number of PAPP projects. As an easy reference for the Palestinian Authority in their bilateral negotiations in the fields of competence of UNESCO, we have listed the 27 projects contained in the PAPP document according to the relevant Palestinian ‘Ministries’ or institutions handling them (see annex).
4. From 15 to 16 June, UNESCO participated in the United Nations inter-agency meeting, which was held in Gaza City under the chairmanship of the United Nations Special Co-ordinator in the Occupied Territories. The objectives of this meeting were:
(a) to examine the evolving role of the United Nations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip;
(b) to prepare the strategies of the United Nations system on how to provide assistance to the Palestinian people for the next meeting of the ad hoc Liaison Committee and the Consultative Group, chaired by the World Bank, which was supposed to take place on 10 and 11 July 1995 in Paris but was postponed sine die;
(c) to strengthen the role of the Local Aid Co-ordinating Committee.
5. It might be useful at this point to recall that the United Nations Special Co-ordinator in the Occupied Territories held the first United Nations inter-agency meeting in December 1994 in Gaza (at which UNESCO participated) for representatives of those agencies having offices in the West Bank and Gaza. This meeting established the framework for United Nations co-ordination in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and was built around six priority sector groups, covering education, employment generation, health, infrastructure and housing, institution building and the private sector. These priority sector groups provide a forum thereby allowing interested United Nations agencies and programmed to set plans in order to maximize mutual co-operation and minimize overlap. Membership in priority sector groups is on a self-selected basis whilst the role of focal point has been delegated to those United Nations agencies with substantive involvement in each sector.
6. At the suggestion of the United Nations a donor co-ordination mechanism was established by the ad hoc Liaison Committee, which took the form of a Local Aid Co-ordination Committee with 12 sectoral working group subcommittees, which became operational in January 1995. These sectoral working groups, whose membership is composed of donor countries and the Palestinian Authority, provide a vital forum for keeping abreast of recipient and donor interests and priorities. The United Nations is a co-chair and co-secretariat of the Local Aid Co-ordination Committee and secretariat functions for most of the 12 sectoral working groups have been delegated to United Nations agencies already acting as focal point for corresponding priority sector groups of the United Nations co-ordination mechanism. UNESCO was designated as the focal point in the Sectoral Working Group for Education with France as the ‘shepherd’, representing the donors. Since the Organization is not permanently represented in the field, UNICEF is provisionally acting on our behalf.
7. The meeting lasted two days with the participation of 25 United Nations agencies. Working groups were created within the framework of the sectoral groups. The following agencies participated in the UNESCO Working Group for Education: FAO, IAEA, UNDP, UNICEF, UNIFEM, UNITAR, UNRWA, WFP and WHO. The Palestinian Authority was represented by officials of the ‘Ministry’ of Education and Higher Education, and the Consul General of France attended on behalf of the donor community.
8. UNESCO’s contribution to the United Nations strategy in the field of education was essential in that it reflected the Director-General’s policy concerning the role of UNESCO in the peace-building process in the Middle East. The meeting adopted the other sectoral group papers with some amendments. All these strategy papers will form part of the United Nations document to be presented to the Consultative Group meeting in Paris, chaired by the World Bank.
9. Due to the recent developments in the peace process, UNESCO and UNRWA are currently discussing ways and means to respond promptly to the realities of the new situation. Since the adoption of decision 7.4 by the Executive Board in 1968 (78 EX/Decision 7.4), textbooks used in UNRWA/UNESCO schools for Palestinian refugees were regularly reviewed in accordance with the above-mentioned decision. However, with the onset of the peace-building process in 1993, and the establishment of the ‘Ministry’ of Education and Higher Education of the Palestinian Authority, it is satisfying to be able to say that such a review is now no longer necessary and should consequently be rescinded.
10. In implementation of General Conference 27 C/Resolution 18 and Executive Board decisions, UNESCO continued to provide financial assistance for the capacity-building of the ‘Ministry’ of Education and Higher Education through its regular programme and through Member States, such as Finland, Malaysia and Mauritius for workshops and study tours. The Office of the PEACE programme (Palestinian European Academic Co-operation in Education) established at UNESCO is now fully operational and has launched a campaign to encourage initiatives, especially at the level of individual universities and of NGOs of higher education. It now has 41 member institutions: 23 in Europe, ten in the United States and eight Palestinian universities.
11. Since the last session of the Executive Board, two missions took place in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, one from 4 to 11 June 1995 sent by IIEP for preliminary preparation for the workshop to be held in January 1996, regarding the training of top administrators in Palestinian schools; the second from 19 to 20 July to participate in an international workshop on technical and vocational education, organized by the ‘Ministry’ of Education and Higher Education of the Palestinian Authority with UNESCO’s technical and financial assistance. The participants in the workshop recommended the creation of an advisory body in technical and vocational education within the ‘Ministry’of Education and Higher Education. It was also suggested that a close link between technical and vocational education, general education and higher education should be established. A modular approach for community colleges was also proposed, together with greater flexibility and more rapid reaction to the fast changing new technology. Finally, the workshop proposed to have another session in 1996/1997 in order to make an evaluation of the progress realized in the development of technical and vocational education. Upon the request of the Palestinian Authority, it was agreed that UNESCO will give its support from its UNEVOC project, in co-operation with the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, to organize the next workshop.
12. The construction of the kindergarten, financed by Daimler-Benz, was terminated at the end of August and UNESCO organized an inauguration ceremony on 12 September, in collaboration with Daimler-Benz and the ‘Ministry’ of Education and Higher Education, to which were invited President Arafat, Economy Minister Spoeri of Baden-Württemberg (Germany), Ms Ute-Henriette Ohoven, Special Ambassador of UNESCO for Children in Need, high-level responsible from the Palestinian ‘Ministry’ of Education and Higher Education and from Daimler-Benz, as well as the locally stationed diplomatic corps.
13. The Curriculum Development Centre is already operational since 1 July 1995.
14. The renovation of 17 schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, financed by Saudi Arabia, foreseen for completion in March 1996 according to the Plan of Operations, will in fact be terminated by the beginning of November 1995, local conditions permitting.
15. Within the framework of the UNESCO Fellowship Bank scheme, new offers have been received for Palestinian students from Burkina Faso, INCORVUZ (International Corporation of Graduates of Soviet Educational Institutions, an NGO of category ‘C’ with UNESCO), the National Federation of UNESCO Associations of Japan and the Philippines.
16. In implementation of General Conference 27 C/Resolution 18, UNESCO contributed to the setting up of an Internet link before the end of 1995 to give Palestinian researchers access to world scientific and technical information, as well as to equipping a small biotechnology laboratory in Birzeit University, also before the end of 1995.
17. In implementation of the Executive Board decisions, UNESCO has exceptionally undertaken to provide financial assistance for equipment and furniture to the Palestinian ‘Ministry’ of Culture and the ‘Ministry’ of Tourism and Antiquities, and to fund a workshop on Palestinian cultural policies and the role of culture in the enhancement of the peace-building process.
18. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has offered to finance a workshop for the preparation of the plans for the restoration of historic Jericho.
19. In order to launch the ‘Bethlehem 2000’ programme, approved among the PAPP projects, a photographic exhibition is currently under preparation and will be held in Paris at Christmas-time 1995. This will be the occasion for the initiation of an international campaign for the restoration of the historical and religious sites and monuments of Bethlehem, culminating in the second millenary celebrations in the year 2000.
20. The installation of the two transmitters for the Palestinian television is progressing favorably and at the same time UNESCO is contributing to the training of technicians for their maintenance.
21. UNESCO assisted the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation in the organization of a training course for high-level staff of the PBC in the Swiss Romansh and French televisions.
22. Since UNESCO is not yet permanently present in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and is not a member of the Communication Sector Working Group in the field (’shepherded’ by France), UNESCO’s participation is restricted to the Paris co-ordination meetings held between representatives of the European Union, of French Television, and the Palestinian Co-ordinator for Europe.
23. Negotiations with the Italian authorities concerning the financing of a feasibility study for the restructuring and reinforcement of WAFA (Palestinian information agency) is at an advanced stage and normally a joint mission for this study will take place before the end of the Autumn.
24. UNESCO spares no efforts to preserve the human and social make-up of the occupied Syrian Golan and will continue to examine requests for fellowships in its field of competence.
25. To consolidate the evolving peace process in the Middle East, the Director-General encourages the countries of the region to set up a Steering Committee in order to review and to make in-depth studies of all relevant textbooks in order to clarify the views expressed in them as it will contribute to developing a culture of peace, democratic values and practices, tolerance and peace education.
26. The Executive Board may wish to adopt the following draft decision:
The Executive Board,
the Director-General’s report (147 EX/13),
its gratitude to the Director-General for his highly appreciated efforts to ensure the full implementation of UNESCO’s resolutions and decisions;
to include this item on the agenda of its 150th session;
to the General Conference to adopt at its twenty-eighth session the following draft resolution:
The General Conference,
document 28 C/l 5,
the Director-General for having ensured the full implementation of 27 C/Resolution 18 and of Executive Board decisions 144 EX/Decision 4.2.1, 145 EX/Decision 5.2,1, and 146 EX/Decision 5.2.1;
the progress achieved in the peace process, between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority, which opens up a more significant new era of peace and harmony;
the hope that the negotiations in the peace process, between the other Arab parties concerned and Israel, will lead rapidly to a global peace, based on the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Arab territories, in conformity with resolutions 242 and 338 of the United Nations Security Council;
the Executive Board, at its 150th session, to change the title of this item of the agenda, in the light of progress in the peace process, and to adapt it to the evolving situation;
Executive Board 78 EX/Decision 7.4 concerning the revision of textbooks by UNESCO, since the Palestinian Authority is now responsible for Palestinian textbooks;
the necessity of enhancing the capacity-building of all the ‘Ministries’ of the Palestinian Authority within UNESCO’s fields of competence:
Notes with satisfaction
the progress achieved in the implementation of the projects financed by France, Italy, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Norway and Daimler-Benz;
the importance that should be attached to ensuring an appropriate and effective follow-up and monitoring of UNESCO’s activities in the field and to strengthening the role of the Local Aid Co-ordinating Committee of the United Nations system;
the Director-General’s initiative to envisage the setting up of a UNESCO unit in the field to monitor the Organization’s activities and to ensure co-ordination with other United Nations agencies;
the Director-General to continue his efforts with regard to the occupied Syrian Golan, within the framework of the Executive Board decisions;
the Director-General to launch an appeal to Member States, financial institutions and the private sector to contribute to the financing of the UNESCO/PAPP projects, the scholarship fund and further proposals based on evolving requirements in the light of the implementation of the PAPP projects; Decides to include this item on the agenda of its twenty-ninth session.
to include this item on the agenda of its twenty-ninth session.