Friday 31 October - On the occasion of the launch of UNESCO’s 70th anniversary celebrations, the President of Haiti, Michel Martelly met with Director-General Irina Bokova to share the ambitions he has for his country and priorities for cooperation with UNESCO.
Thanking the President for his presence at the tribute to Nelson Mandela that kicked off the year-long anniversary celebrations, the Director-General underlined the « convergence of values that we share » and reaffirmed “UNESCO’s commitment to accompany you in your fight against poverty, for human dignity, social justice and the promotion of Haitian identity,” recalling also the breadth of cooperation with UNESCO in the fields of educational reform, higher education and the safeguarding of cultural heritage.
“You stand by our side and we share common values,” said the President, highlighting the priorities of his mandate: “to break with dependency on aid, to fight so that democracy takes hold, for the right to education, to health and clean water – in short for life.” He informed the Director-General about efforts to attract foreign investment and develop tourism, drawing attention to a new airport at Cap Haïtien and the arrival of new international hotel chains, together with measures to encourage entrepreneurship. “It takes time for results to show but we are creating a new model to give people the tools to create wealth. Haiti is changing course and people feel there is hope.” The President underlined the importance of UNESCO’s support and ideas to open the doors of education, from school to university, to train teachers and promote cultural heritage.”
Congratulating the President, the Director-General assured him of UNESCO’s continued support and evoked enlarged cooperation in areas such as climate change and biodiversity, underlining also that “it is those countries that placed their bet on education and health that enjoyed the benefits in the longer term.”
Speaking at the tribute to Nelson Mandela, President Martelly “reaffirmed the commitment and attachment of Haiti to the founding ideals of UNESCO,” noting “that the scale of the challenge that I face in Haiti is considerable. The surest road to take is that of education because it is through education that you make giants and that the emergence of another Haiti is possible. I am convinced that there is not better path than education to foster equality between citizens of the world, and Nelson Mandela had understood this."