The Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO
) has concluded
its latest session during which it debated a Palestinian membership request and approved a programme to strengthen its presence in Africa and other proposed reforms.
The Board, which is made up of 58 Member States each serving a four-year term, on Wednesday voted on the request for Palestinian membership. Forty 40 members voted in favour of admission, four against, and there were 14 abstentions.
The Board`s recommendation for admission will now be submitted to UNESCO`s General Conference, which will run from 26 October to 10 November, where it requires a two-thirds majority vote to take effect.
The 58 members, whose 187th session ended yesterday, also approved proposals to reform and reinforce UNESCO`s action in Africa through a strengthened network of field offices, which the Director-General, Irina Bokova, has stressed on several occasions as a priority.
I am determined to focus on the Priority Africa programme so that it becomes an effective instrument for developing education, for giving young people the tools with which to find jobs, and for giving recognition to African culture, " said Ms. Bokova.
The Board also discussed the future of the UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences. Members decided unanimously to establish a working group to undertake further consultations and conclude the issue by the spring of next year.
UNESCO last year suspended the prize named after the President of Equatorial Guinea, pending the outcome of ongoing consultations among all parties concerned.
The prize was created in 2008 with the intention of rewarding the projects and activities of individuals, institutions or other entities for research that improves the quality of human life. It was meant to be an annual accolade, with up to three laureates chosen each year and granted $300,000 between them.
Representatives of some countries, however, accused the Government of Mr. Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who has been in power since 1979, of widespread human rights abuses and said UNESCO should not agree to award such a prize.
The Board examined proposals for UNESCO`s 2012-2013 budget, and recommended a ceiling of $650 million. If adopted by the General Conference, it would represent zero nominal growth from the current biennium.
It also adopted a proclamation on establishing a World Radio Day and an International Jazz Day to be celebrated on 13 February and 30 April respectively.