On 26 August, the Director-General welcomed to UNESCO Mr Bernardino León, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNMIL).
Irina Bokova and Bernardino León discussed UNESCO’s efforts to safeguard Libya’s cultural heritage, support its media sector and address urgent the country’s educational needs.
Mr León also briefed the Director-General on the current situation in Libya and progress in the political dialogue. The country is facing a myriad of political, security and humanitarian challenges, but the UN is confident that a new agreement for national unity would bring stability and hope to the Libyan people and the wider region.
“Education, culture, and media play a key role for the future of the country, and this is why UNESCO’s focus on these areas is so important”, stated Bernardino León.
The Director-General thanked the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for his continuing support of UNESCO’s activities in Libya, the scope of which has increased significantly to meet the changing reality on the ground. UNESCO is particularly focusing on cultural heritage protection, implementing emergency interventions to secure museums and protect the most exposed and threatened cultural sites and monuments.
“We stand at your side to help assist the Libyan people to protect and preserve their cultural heritage and to sensitize youth to the crucial importance of cultural heritage for identity and as a source of social and economic development” , declared Irina Bokova.
Empowering youth is another area of focus for UNESCO in Libya, along with the need to meet the country’s urgent educational needs. “UNESCO is uniquely placed to make a real difference in the lives of the Libyan people,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General added.
Mr León also commended UNESCO’s work with the Libyan media, where good progress is being made in promoting freedom of expression, lessening polarization and incitement to violence, and improving professionalism in reporting.
“The recent meeting of Libyan media managers in Madrid, convened by UNESCO in partnership with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, is an important step in tackling challenges which the Libyan media sector is facing,” Mr León affirmed.
In concluding, the Director-General reiterated her strong support to the United Nations’ efforts to ensure an inclusive political dialogue and put an end to the current violence and instability.