UNESCO General Conference: landmark global agreements expected on Artificial Intelligence and Open Science as the agency celebrates its 75th anniversary

Paris – The UNESCO General Conference, which takes place in Paris from the 9th to the 24th of November, will mark the organisation’s 75th anniversary. Several important decisions are expected from UNESCO’s 193 Member States, in particular on cultural heritage, on global education policy, on the ethics surrounding technology and the vital need for greater openness around scientific research. 

A special ceremony will be organised and broadcast live from UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris on the 12th of November (starting at 3.30 pm), to celebrate the organisation’s 75th birthday. Heads of state will attend as well as internationally renowned artists. Further details about this event will soon be published on a dedicated website

Journalists wishing to attend the General Conference are requested to apply for accreditation here.

 

The General Conference will elect the president of the General Conference as well as the Director-General of the Organization on the 9th of November (in the afternoon), who will be installed at a special plenary meeting on the afternoon of the 22nd of November. The Organization’s Executive Board proposed the renewal of Ms Audrey Azoulay’s mandate at a meeting in October 2021. On the Occasion of the General Conference, she will present her vision for the future of UNESCO.

 

The General Conference is also expected to adopt several global frameworks for setting standards on key issues:

  • The Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence. This agreement would create the ever first global guidelines on the ethics of the development and deployment of artificial intelligence. 
  • The Recommendation on Open Science. This policy would facilitate greater international cooperation on allowing universal access to scientific knowledge.  

UNESCO’s recommendations are legal instruments aimed at providing Member States with guidelines for the implementation of their legislation. The recommendations adopted this year will follow UNESCO’s tradition of standard-setting texts, such as the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome (1997), Bioethics (2005) or the Cultural Conventions.  

UNESCO will launch the much-anticipated Report on the Futures of Education (10th of November, from 1 to 3 pm), prepared by an independent commission of experts headed by Sahle-Work Zewde, President of the Republic of Ethiopia. On 10th of November (10am-6pm), UNESCO will host the World Education Meeting, organised in conjunction with the French government. 

In the field of culture, Member States are expected to approve the holding of the UNESCO Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development (MONDIACULT 2022), scheduled to take place in Mexico City from the 28th to the 30th of September 2022. Forty years after the first Culture and Development Conference was held in Mexico City, Mondiacult 2022 is aimed at strengthening the world’s creative and cultural economy sector which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The General Conference will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme through a high-level dialogue with the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado and the British primatologist Jane Goodall (17th of November).  

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During the General Conference, UNESCO will also award a series of prizes and distinctions to honour great achievements in the fields of education, science and culture: 

Accreditation to the General Conference also gives access to the “Transformations” exhibition devoted to the history of UNESCO and its most emblematic programmes.  

More information: https://en.unesco.org/generalconference/41

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