UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, meets every two years in Paris during a General Conference, which aims to define the UNESCO’s program and adopt its budget for the next two years. The 41st session of the General Conference was held from November 9th to 24th this year, marking the 75th anniversary of the Organization. During the meeting, AIC, which has a Consultative Status at UNESCO, shared its field experience in supporting people living in poverty. The AIC representative Isabelle Chaperon took the floor during the plenary meeting of the General Policy Debate.
Her address to Member States focused on two AIC priorities. A first priority is fighting against different forms of violence, through actions to prevent and raise awareness, but also to support victims. A second priority is supporting the elderly, to whom we must give a central role in intergenerational processes, one of dialogue, mutual care and transmission of traditions. Ms Chaperon highlighted AIC’s will to contribute to reinforcing cooperation between Member States and with the sectors of UNESCO. Insisting on the importance of such cooperation, she noted:
“The contribution of civil society and its field expertise are more important than ever in order to adjust big ideas to what people are experiencing, especially those who are most in need and vulnerable. The dignity of every human being is at stake.”
A video of AIC’s speech is available in French (below, an English translation of the speech):
Mister President of the General Conference, Madam Director, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,
AIC, the International Association of Charities, has been dealing with all forms of poverty for over 400 years. Today, over 100 000 volunteers in 55 countries are supporting thousands of people living in precarious situations of all kinds, especially women and children.
Several priorities emerge from the situations experienced by local teams – I will only mention two for lack of time – challenges which AIC wants to address in a realistic way:
- The challenge of fighting against violence, the rise of which should alarm us. This violence takes all kinds of forms, and its victims are often women and children. It may be sexual violence, intra-family violence, violence linked to conflicts, to migrations, to trafficking of humans or drugs… AIC develops projects dealing with prevention of violence, actions to raise awareness among children and families, actions to educate towards peace, non-violence… Furthermore, when the damage is already done, several teams support the victims of violence, welcoming them in dedicated spaces where they are listened to and can receive psychological support, offering them shelter and support to help them rebuild their lives.
- Another priority concerns the care of elderly people, who are often isolated, left behind in the current crisis situation, and who fall more easily into extreme poverty. They must be given the opportunity to benefit from an adapted form of education, and deserve to be considered as active participants in intergenerational processes, dialogue, mutual care and transmission of traditions.
Looking at the consequences of the catastrophe linked to the global pandemic and to the difficult situation of populations on the ground, especially those who are most vulnerable, AIC, as an international NGO and an official partner of UNESCO, finds it essential to actively participate in reinforcing dialogue with Member States and aspires towards reinforced cooperation with the sectors of UNESCO. These are UNESCO priorities, as requested in 41 C/5, points 09305 and 09306. Indeed, the contribution of civil society and its field expertise are more important than ever in order to adjust big ideas to what people are experiencing, especially those who are most in need and vulnerable. The dignity of every human being is at stake.
Thank you for your attention.