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41st Session of UNESCO’s General Conference held in Paris, France from 9-24 November 2021

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41st session of UNESCO’s General Conference held from nov 9-2

The 41st session of The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) General Conference was held in Paris, France from 9th to 24th November 2021.

  • Ambassador Santiago Irazabal Mourão, Permanent Delegate of Brazil to UNESCO, has taken over as the President of the 41st session of the General Conference.

Bureau of the General Conference:

The Bureau of the  General  Conference is composed of the President, the Vice Presidents  (not more than 36) and the chairpersons of the committees and commissions of the General Conference.

Role: To assist the President in directing the general work of the session.

Highlights of the 41st session of UNESCO’s General Conference:

Adopted Frameworks:

Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence(AI):

The member states of UNESCO adopted the Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence(AI), the first-ever global standard on the ethics of AI, presented by Audrey Azoulay, director-general of UNESCO.

  • This set out the common values and principles to assist the creation of a legal infrastructure that is required to ensure the healthy development of AI.
  • The 3 main parts of the recommendation are, values, principles and strategic areas.
  • The main content of the recommendation includes protecting data, banning social scoring and mass surveillance, helping to monitor and evaluate, and protecting the environment.

Recommendation on Open Science:

The member states have also adopted the Recommendation on Open Science, which would facilitate international cooperation on allowing universal access to scientific knowledge.

Additional info:

i.The International Forum on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Education will be held as a hybrid event in Qingdao, China from 7th December to 8th December 2021.

ii.The participants of the forum will consider how AI governance and innovation networks can be enhanced to direct AI towards the common good in education, and for humanity.

Audrey Azoulay re-elected as the Director-General of UNESCO:

Audrey Azoulay was reelected for a 2nd mandate as Director-General of UNESCO. She won the 2nd mandate at the 41st session of the General Conference with 155 votes out of a total of 169 ballots cast.

About Audrey Azoulay:

i.Audrey Azoulay (France) was appointed as the Director-General of UNESCO in 2017 succeeding Irina Bokova (Bulgaria).

ii.Previously she has served as an advisor on culture to the President of France and Minister of Culture and Communication from 2016-2017.

Report on the Futures of Education

The Report on the Futures of Education titled “Reimagining Our Futures Together: A New  Social  Contract For Education”, prepared by the independent commission of experts headed by Sahle-Work Zewde, President of the Republic of Ethiopia was launched during the General Conference.

  • The UNESCO’s Futures of Education is a global initiative to reimagine how knowledge and learning can shape the future of humanity and the planet.

50th anniversary of Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme:

17th November 2021 marked the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Man and the biosphere (MAB) Programme.

i.The Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB) was launched in 1971 to promote innovative approaches to economic development that are socially and culturally appropriate and environmentally sustainable.

ii.The MAB programme has also celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the UNESCO Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Conservation.

Secretary (MAB programme)- Miguel Clusener Godt.

i.The General Conference meets every two years in ordinary sessions. If required, it may also hold extraordinary sessions.
ii.The 40th session of the UNESCO’s General Conference was held in 2019.

About United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO):

Director-General– Audrey Azoulay
Headquarters– Paris, France