Director-General and President of Iraq discuss reconciliation and peace

On 2 November, UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, met with the President of Iraq, HE Mr Fuad Masum, in Baghdad, Iraq.

The President thanked the Director-General for her visit and the longstanding support of UNESCO to the country.

He highlighted the unprecedented terrorist threat facing Iraq now, resulting in the systematic destruction of the country's religious and cultural heritage and the brutal repression of minorities. 

"We cannot fight by military means alone," he said. "We need education for human rights, respect for heritage and diversity and this is why UNESCO's help is so important."

The Director-General expressed UNESCO’s solidarity with the people of Iraq and reiterated deep commitment to support the Iraqi people in every way.

“The crisis puts at risk all the cultural assets of the country that reflect millennia of coexistence and diversity," said the Director-General.

The Director-General informed the President about UNESCO’s Emergency Response Action Plan for Iraq’s heritage, to enhance cooperation of all stakeholders.

Irina Bokova echoed the President's commitment to education for peace and pledged UNESCO's support. She highlighted the work also to address the education needs of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and mitigate the impact of the education crisis.

"We need to focus on education, because it is essential for peacebuilding and social cohesion, to fight against extremism.”

She noted the unity of the Executive Board of UNESCO, which recently decided to strengthen UNESCO's work with Iraq, notably in education and safeguarding cultural heritage.

"This is our response to extremism," she said. "UNESCO was created to build peace, and this is why we must work in education and culture, to support the people of Iraq."

The President spoke of his action now to promote national unity and reconciliation: "Iraq is more united than ever today, because of the terrorist actions, and we need to strengthen learning to live together and respect for others -- these are the pillars for the renewal of Iraq."