United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization Current Affairs - 2019

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21 May: World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development observed

On 21 May, the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development was celebrated. The year 2019 has been declared ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages’ by UN General Assembly, so as to bring awareness to importance of linguistic diversity.

Key Highlights

Background: In 2001, The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted ‘Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity’ as a result of the destruction of the Buddha statues of Bamiyan in Afghanistan in 2001. Then in December 2002, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in its resolution 57/249, declared 21 May to be World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

Objective: To deepen our understanding of values of cultural diversity and to advance four goals of UNESCO ‘Convention on Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions’, adopted in 2005-

  • To support sustainable systems and development of cultural governance.
  • To achieve balanced flow of cultural goods and services (G&S) and increase mobility of cultural professionals and artists.
  • To integrate culture in sustainable development frameworks.
  • To promote human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Importance of Cultural Diversity

  • About Three-quarters (77%) of world’s major conflicts have cultural dimension. Thus bridging gap between cultures is necessary and urgent for peace, development and stability.
  • Cultural diversity is not only a driving force of development with respect to economic growth, but it also act as means of leading more fulfilling intellectual, emotional, and spiritual life.
  • Cultural diversity is thus an asset that is indispensable for poverty reduction and achievement of global sustainable development.

UAE and World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

  • UAE celebrated the day highlighting its efforts in promoting tolerance and cultural diversity.
  • The 2019 event coincided with the country’s declaration of 2019 as the ‘Year for Tolerance’.
  • The UAE has cultural relations with many countries and is also an active member of UNESCO.

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16 May:  International Day of Light observed

The International Day of Light (IDL) was observed on May 16 by UNESCO. The year 2019 marks the global celebration of Second International Day of Light after its inauguration in 2018.

About IDL

  • It is an annual, global initiative which provides a focal point for continued appreciation of light. It calls to harness potential of scientific cooperation and strengthen it so as to foster peace and sustainable development.
  • The day marks the anniversary of first successful operation of laser by engineer and physicist Theodore Maiman on 16 May 1960.
  • Background: Following a highly successful International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies in 2015, which saw more than 13,000 activities implemented in 147 countries, the Executive Board of UNESCO, at its 200th session (200 EX/Decision 27), established 16 May of every year to be observed as International Day of Light. Thus the first IDL was celebrated at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 16 May, 2018.
  • Objective: It aims to raise awareness about critical role played by all the light-based technologies in the lives of people all around the world in areas of education, art and culture sustainable development, science and technology and in fields as diverse as medicine, communications and energy.
  • Significance: IDL contributes to building new bridges between education and scientific disciplines.  By encouraging worldwide community-driven actions in science outreach and education it offers The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) an opportunity to fulfill its mission of promoting international cooperation in basic sciences and STEM Education (which includes four specific disciplines- science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

IDL 2019

  • On the occasion of IDL 2019 the ‘Illuminating Education Conference’ was held at the UNESCO Category 1 Institute: Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy.
  • The UNESCO-ICTP Illuminating Education Conference was the Flagship Celebration of the IDL 2019.

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