UNESCO in brief
UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It is a specialized agency of the United Nations, which was founded in London on 16 November 1945. UNESCO seeks to build peace through international cooperation in its fields of competence.
The Constitution of UNESCO, drafted in the aftermath of World War II, opens with the following words: «Since wars begin in the minds of men and women, it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace must be constructed».
Seventy-five years after the creation of UNESCO, this vision of peace remains unchanged and is a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development. UNESCO's programmes in the field of education, natural and social sciences, culture, and communication and information contribute to the achievement of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, defined in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
UNESCO acts as a laboratory of ideas, sets international standards, implements cooperation programmes, builds capacity in its Member States and promotes the free exchange of ideas and knowledge.
Uzbekistan became one of the 193 Member States of the Organization in 1993.
The opening of the UNESCO Tashkent Office in 1996 created an ample opportunity for the Organization to realize its mission in Uzbekistan, to establish international cooperation as well as cultural and other ties with the country.
Uzbekistan has been actively involved in the activities of UNESCO and was twice elected to the Executive Board of the Organization: in 1997 – 2001 and 2009 – 2013.
Cooperation between UNESCO and Uzbekistan is governed by the Joint Action Plan between Uzbekistan and UNESCO for 2018-2021 which was signed during the historic visit of His Excellency President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to UNESCO Headquarters in October 2018.
Another milestone in relations between UNESCO and Uzbekistan was the official visit of the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay, to Samarkand and Bukhara, which took place from 26 to 28 August 2019. Ms Audrey Azoulay participated in the opening ceremony of the International Conference on the Safeguarding of the Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage in Samarkand, opened the International Music Festival "Sharq Taronalari" and visited UNESCO World Heritage sites in Samarkand and Bukhara.
UNESCO’s activities in Uzbekistan are undertaken by the UNESCO Tashkent Office in close collaboration with the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, regional Offices in Bangkok and Jakarta, Cluster Office in Almaty and the National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO.
Our main partners in Uzbekistan are ministries and other governmental entities, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan for UNESCO, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Public Education, the Ministry of Innovative Development of Uzbekistan and others; the United Nations and its specialized agencies, other intergovernmental organizations such as the World Bank; Embassies of UNESCO Member States, accredited to Uzbekistan; national and international NGOs and institutions; city and regional authorities; media representatives and associations, etc.
The UNESCO Tashkent Office works closely within the UN system in Uzbekistan with the United Nations and its 14 specialized agencies, and actively participates in the UN Country Team, and UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) 2017-2020.
What we do: some concrete examples
The UNESCO Tashkent Office’s activities consist essentially in providing technical assistance in its fields of competence and organizing awareness-raising and capacity-building activities.
UNESCO leads SDG4 (Quality Education) in the global arena and respectively in Uzbekistan.
The illustration of this is the recent launch of the European Union-UNESCO programme "Skills Development in Rural Areas of Uzbekistan", funded generously by the European Union in a total amount of €9.6 million. The aim of this four-year project (2020-2024) is to enhance living standards in rural areas through better employability and to prepare women and men with relevant skills for the needs of sustainable, diversified and modernized agriculture.
In past few years, the Education Sector of the UNESCO Tashkent Office has developed a number of resources, guides, and tools on various subjects, such as teachers “Information and communications technology competency development and assessment”, “Teacher guide for Preventing violence and bullying in schools”, guide on gendered review of textbooks, guide on teacher's capacity development on gender-sensitive classroom teaching.
The science identified by the letter "S" in the acronym UNESCO is an integral part of the Organization since its founding in 1945.
UNESCO works to assist its Member States to invest in science, technology and innovation (STI), to develop national science policies and to reform their science systems.
Promoting Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) has become a key policy objective in developed and developing countries. STI is a driving force for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and particular, SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure), which aims at building resilient infrastructure and promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
In Uzbekistan, this work was initiated at the end of 2019 with the financial support of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). As a result of the implementation of the UNESCO- IsBD project, GO-SPIN (Global Observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Instruments) Country Profile of Uzbekistan in Science, Technology and Innovation has prepared.
UNESCO is the only UN specialized agency with a specific mandate in the field of culture. The Organization is convinced that no sustainable development can be built without a strong culture component.
As for culture, the UNESCO Tashkent Office has been implementing a number of programmes and projects aimed at preserving and safeguarding cultural sites, and, in particular, those listed on the World Heritage List.
Since 2018, UNESCO in cooperation with European Union has been implementing a joint project «Silk Roads Heritage Corridors in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Iran - International Dimension of the European Year of Cultural Heritage».
The project aims to strengthen capacities for safeguarding tangible and intangible cultural heritage, raise awareness and promote the common cultural heritage on the Silk Roads, and use the heritage as a foundation for sustainable development.
The project includes the conservation and restoration of the Bogbonli Mosque in Khiva, as well as the elaboration of a tourism development plan for Khiva by 2021.
One of the most recent cultural highlights is the ratification of the 2005 Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions by Uzbekistan in November 2019. It is a great achievement of the country as well as institutions and organizations involved in the process of the ratification, such as the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Ministry of Culture as well as our Office that worked for many years towards the promotion of the ratification of the 2005 Convention.
Moreover, the UNESCO Tashkent Office promote further the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage through capacity-building activities, awareness-raising campaigns and greater involvement of communities and NGOs in the safeguarding of the intangible heritage of Uzbekistan.
In 2019, the Khorazm dance «Lazgi» was included on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity of UNESCO. Thus, at the moment the List includes seven elements from Uzbekistan: «Shashmaqom» (2008), «Cultural Space of Boysun» (2008), «Katta Ashula» (2009), «Askiya» (2014), «Culture and Traditions associated with Palow» (2016), «Navruz» (2016), and Khorazm dance «Lazgi» (2019).
Moreover, our Office raises awareness about rich movable heritage of Uzbekistan at national and international levels as well as strengthens national capacities in exhibition design and management, storage, inventorying, data collection and analysis, preservation and restoration of museum collections and promotes the role of the museum in formal and informal education and lifelong learning.
In addition, UNESCO supports the Government of Uzbekistan to implement the 2015 Recommendation concerning the Protection and Promotion of Museums and Collections, their Diversity and their Role in Society.
Communication and information
One of the latest achievements in the communication and information field is the development of a new training platform – Mass Open Online Courses (MOOCs).
Our Office in cooperation with the Tashkent University of Information Technologies has developed MOOCs on Media and Information Literacy, Safety of Journalists, Hate Speech in Media, Gender in Journalism, as well as courses on Data journalism and Fake news.
Since the beginning of October 2019 to February 2020, we held training courses in such a new area of journalism – data journalism.
Over 200 journalists from eight regions of Uzbekistan (Bukhara, Fergana, Jizzak, Karakalpak, Kashkadarya, Khorezm, Samarkand and Surkhandarya) were trained and started using data journalism skills in their journalism practice.
Who is who
The current Head of the UNESCO Tashkent Office is Mr Jan Hladík (Czech Republic). He assumed his duties as the Head of the UNESCO Tashkent Office and the UNESCO Representative to Uzbekistan in November 2019.
Mr Hladík worked for more than 27 years in UNESCO, essentially in the field of cultural heritage protection standard-setting instruments such as the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and its two (1954 and 1999) Protocols, the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and the 2001 Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. He used to be the Secretary of three intergovernmental committees.
The UNESCO Tashkent Office itself has over twenty staff, in addition to consultants and occasional UN volunteers and interns. Together we contribute every day to the implementation of UNESCO’s mandate in Uzbekistan, sustainable development goals and further development of Uzbekistan.