Statement of the representative of UNESCO, Mr. M. Abtahi
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I . On behalf of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, I wish to thank the Secretariat of UNISPACE III for the opportunity given to UNESCO to address this Third United Nations Conference in Vienna on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.
2. UNESCO certainly shares the views expressed by many speakers, both at the plenary sessions and at the two committees, that this gathering of policy and decision-makers, eminent scientists,, representatives of academia, the private sector, and the civil society will prove to be a landmark event on the eve of a new century.
3. UNESCO with its mandate "to contribute to lasting peace and security in the
world by promoting co-operation among nations
through education, science, culture and communication and to assist in narrowing the gap in these fields between the developed and developing countries" is grateful to participate in this conference, for we have two long-standing commitments: firstly, to work as closely as possible with other institutions and secondly, to make judicial use of scientific and technological advances in the implementation of our programmes.
4. The first commitment stems from the fact that UNESCO attaches utmost importance to co-operation with sister agencies, UN entities and other relevant international organizations, since we believe that inter-agency co-operation and concerted action with our partners gives UNESCO"s actions a vigorous multiplier impact at global, regional and country levels. The second commitment is in response to the challenge of effective and efficient programme execution for the benefit of our Member States. In this respect, the use and application of outer space related technologies play an instrumental role in all of UNESCO's fields of competence.
5. To give a few examples, UNESCO provides assistance to Member States in the form of expert advice on the use of space communication for education and socio-economicdevelopment. Thus, we carry out training programmes on educational technologies and media including satellites for programme production and distance-learning, the latter in the framework of the "Learning Without Frontiers" programme. Pilot projects using interactive television for education are also implemented.
6. In the field of sciences and their application to development, UNESCO's action related to outer space, concentrates its attention on the study of the natural environment and its resources. Advanced technologies such as remote sensing, together with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), are applied to environmental monitoring, mitigation of natural hazards. ocean and sea monitoring, sustainable management of non-renewable resources and management of biosphere reserves. Pilot projects and research activities are implemented as part of UNESCO's programmes on Earth, Ecological and Water Sciences; the use of outer space related technologies is also an integral part of the activities of our Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC).
7. With regard to culture, UNESCO is keenly interested in remote sensing techniques for the protection, preservation and management of important historical and cultural monuments and selected world heritage sites.
8. In the field of communication, information and informatics, UNESCO promotes the free flow of ideas by word and image. Thus,, here, we focus on the applications of communication and information technologies for human development, democratization processes and peace-building. In this respect, the organization carries out projects, feasibility studies and training courses on space technology and deals with all aspects of international information exchange, as well as broadcasting of television and radio programmes via communication satellites. The International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), in particular, examines and supports projects on the utilization of communication satellites within and between countries. Another aspect of these activities focuses on the formulation of effective national policies and the design of applications and services for the exploitation of telematics, including the applicability and feasibility of employing satellite channels.
9. Finally, it should also be mentioned that within the framework of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST), UNESCO has set up a Working Group on the Ethics of Outer Space to report on ethical issues related to the development of space science and technology, space and protection of the environment and protection of individual liberty and cultural identity.
10. As a manifestation of its deep interest in the activities of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, UNESCO, on a systematic and regular basis, takes an active part not only in the inter-agency meetings but also in the deliberations of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, both in its scientific and technical subcommittee and in its legal subcommittee. We have also fully participated in the preparatory process of UNISPACE III at all stages.
11. Moreover, by providing three high level key note speakers, UNESCO is actively taking part in the technical forum of the conference, particularly in the International Forum on Integrated Global Observing Strategy, in the Workshop on Remote Sensing for the Detection, Monitoring and Mitigation of Natural Disasters and in the Round Table on "Integration of Earth Observation into Secondary Education".
12. In this connection, I should also mention that UNESCO has had the privilege of studying in detail the draft Vienna Declaration on space and human development at the recent 42nd session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space which took place in Vienna last week. We endorse the objectives of the Vienna Declaration.
13. In concluding, allow me to say that UNESCO will spare no efforts in ensuring effective implementation of all appropriate follow-up actions to UNISPACE III as they relate to our fields of competence. This undertaking on the part of UNESCO is also in response to the Declaration on Science and the Use of Scientific Knowledge and the Science Agenda and the related Framework for Action that were unanimously approved by the World Conference on Science organized by UNESCO and the International Council for Science in Budapest/Hungary last month.
14. Last but not least, UNESCO wishes to pay tribute to the tireless efforts of the staff of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs for the excellent preparation of this important conference.
Thank you for your attention.