UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay concluded a two-day visit to Mexico 0n 27 February, which focused on urgent action to safeguard indigenous languages and important new initiatives to support vulnerable groups through culture, education, sciences and freedom of expression.
While in Mexico, the Director-General met with President Andrés Manuel López Obrador and other high-level government officials. The President underlined the importance of promoting cultural diversity and addressing the needs of indigenous peoples as part of fighting poverty, oppression and discrimination, and thanked UNESCO for its commitment to these goals.
The importance of the visit was highlighted by the signing of multiple new agreements to further strengthen cooperation between UNESCO and the Government of Mexico. These included:
- A new framework agreement, signed with the President of Mexico, to transform the cultural and educational sectors in support of some of the most vulnerable communities in the country. Projects foreseen include “Community Culture”, which will seek to guarantee cultural rights in the 720 municipalities with the greatest social inequalities. Through the agreement, UNESCO will also advise the Ministry of Public Education on integrating Global Citizenship Education and Education for Sustainable Development into preschool, primary and secondary school textbooks, aiming to reach an estimated 25.5 million students and teachers.
- An agreement for the creation of the Mesoamerican Institute for Science, a regional center for advanced training and research in physics, mathematics, energy and the environment, under the auspices of UNESCO. The Institute, located at the Autonomous University of Chiapas in Tuxtla, Chiapas, will contribute to the development of basic and applied sciences across the region, including on urgent issues such as climate change.
- A new national programme of activities to support investigative journalism, by funding investigative projects, providing security and technical training to journalists, and encouraging investigations that will help tackle the stubbornly high impunity rate for crimes against journalists.
The occasion of the Director-General’s visit was to open the high-level event “Building a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages”. Held from 27-28 February, the event laid the foundations for a Global Action Plan for the organization of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous Languages (2023-2032).
The Decade was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December last year, to act as a decade of international action to address the precarious situation facing a huge number of indigenous languages worldwide.
During her time in Mexico, the Director-General also visited the iconic National Museum of Anthropology, toured the corridors of the “Indigenous Languages: Voices of the Earth” exhibit at the National Museum of Art, and the Historic Centre of Mexico City and Xochimilco, a World Heritage site inscribed in 1987 that is testament to the millennium of human history present in the city.