The Director-General, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura and 18 UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors met on July 27th 2000 at Organization Headquarters in Paris to discuss the Ambassadors? potential contribution and the Organization?s future priorities.

The Ambassadors attending the meeting were: Jose Antonio Abreu, Patrick Baudry, Pierre Cardin, Claudia Cardinale, Marin Constantin, Cheick Modibo Diarra, Miguel Angel Estrella, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, Princess Firyal, Jean-Michel Jarre, Omer Zulfu Livaneli, Kitin Munoz, Kim Phuc, Susana Rinaldi, Sheikh Ghassan I. Shaker, Zurab Tsereteli, Marianna V. Vardinoyannis and Julio Werthein.

Mr Matsuura declared to the Ambassadors: “You have accepted to use your talent and celebrity to disseminate the ideals of UNESCO. Your role in this respect in invaluable (….) By virtue of the interest that you publicly demonstrate in the noble causes championed by UNESCO, thanks to the prominence that you enjoy in the media, through your careers and your fame, you are helping to rally the general public to become part of the collective effort to bring about a more just world. (….) The noble ideals of UNESCO are little known, and often little appreciated by the general public”. He explained that this was not because these ideals were not relevant or topical, but rather because of their focus on prevention: “How are we to give visibility to a conflict which might have broken out, but which was averted thanks to education for all, an independent press, or the free flow of scientific knowledge?”

The Director-General added: “You must help UNESCO to become better known. To that end, I myself must help you to get to know UNESCO better”. The main challenges facing UNESCO in seeking to give a human face to globalization were raised during the meeting, notably the threat presently posed to values, to resources and to diversity, both biological and cultural. Special stress was placed on UNESCO?s role in the protection of universal rights and values, spanning a wide range: access to fresh water, the preservation of cultural heritage, including intangible heritage and diversity. Each Ambassador was also invited to focus specifically on one aspect or area of UNESCO?s activity.

During discussions several speakers, including the Director-General, stressed the importance of relations between UNESCO and its corps of Goodwill Ambassadors, and among the Ambassadors themselves. The complementary contributions that could be made by the Ambassadors, drawing on their cultural diversity and the wide range of their professional experiences, were also highlighted. Several projects underway were discussed by Ambassadors, notably the creation of early childhood centers in Bethlehem and Kosovo, proposed by Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis, and the bringing together of a world orchestra of youth and children, suggested by Mr. Miguel Angel Estrella. Also during the meeting, UNESCO announced it will soon launch a Website for the Goodwill Ambassadors which will feature information about their activities.