From 15 to 16 March 2006, UNESCO Headquarters in Paris was the venue for an impressive gathering of the Organization’’s Goodwill Ambassadors. The 2006 Annual Meeting convened by the Director-General, brought together a large number of outstanding personalities.

The two-day meeting aimed at reviewing activities undertaken by the Goodwill Ambassadors since the previous year’s meeting and enlisting their support to the Organization’’s priorities. Jean Michel Jarre and HRH Princess Firyal of Jordan, were the moderators of the Annual Meeting.

The agenda highlighted three main areas: first, UNESCO’’s initiatives in the field of Education for All, in particular the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE), the Teacher Training Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA) and EDUCAIDS, the UNESCO-led Global Initiative on Education and HIV and AIDS; second, UNESCO’s initiatives for the promotion of Books and Libraries; and, third, UNESCO’s work regarding post-crisis and post-disaster situations.

During the opening session, the Director-General, Mr Koichiro Matsuura, thanked the Goodwill Ambassadors for their continuing support and highlighted the Organization’’s priorities for the coming biennium: ““I am convinced that the principal priorities we have chosen are the right ones for the Organization at this time”.” He called upon the Goodwill Ambassadors “to continue helping to fulfil the Organization’’s important missions, especially in regard to the five principal programme priorities.” He also asked them to help increase UNESCO’’s visibility worldwide: “”Your participation in UNESCO’’s programmes certainly helps to achieve this visibility. A kind of virtuous circle comes into play when this happens – the more support you give to our work, the more visible it becomes; and, as it becomes more visible, our work becomes stronger and attracts further support”.”

Evoking the 60th anniversary of the Organization, the Director-General encouraged the Goodwill Ambassadors to take an active role in the anniversary celebrations by raising awareness of UNESCO’’s history and actions and by attending or organizing major events.

Following the Director-General’’s opening speech, the Goodwill Ambassadors presented their respective activities and expressed their enthusiasm and readiness to continue to actively assist the Organization. Mrs. Vardinoyannis presented her activities during the previous year and her plans for the next year.

A dinner hosted by the Director-General and HE Sheikh Ghassan I. Shaker in honour of the Goodwill Ambassadors, was the occasion to celebrate the Organization’’s 60th Anniversary together with many other distinguished guests.

A multicultural event with 40 artists from 8 South Asian countries, sponsored by Goodwill Ambassador Mr. Madanjet Singh, concluded the meeting. The show presented traditional music and dance performances from the oral and intangible heritage of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and included ancient music instruments.

The following UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors attended the Annual Meeting: Mr. Ara Abramian, Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva, Mr. Patrick Baudry, Mr. Pierre Berge, Mrs. Claudia Cardinale, Mr. Cheick Modibo Diarra, Mr. Miguel Angel Estrella, H.R.H. Princess Firyal, Mr. Ivry Gitlis, H.R.H. Princess Caroline of Hanover, Mrs. Bahia Hariri, Mr. Ikuo Hirayama, Mr. Jean Michel Jarre, Mr. Zulfu Livaneli, H.R.H. Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, H.R.H. Princess Lalla Meryem of Morocco, Mr. Kitin Munoz, Lady Crhstine Owen-Jones, Mrs. Kim Phuc Phan Thi, Mrs. Susana Rinaldi, H.E. Sheikh Ghassan I. Shaker, Mr. Madanjeet Singh, Mr. Zurab Tsereteli, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis and Mrs. Milu Villela.

On this occasion, Mrs. Vardinoyannis had a private meeting with the Director-General, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, and she suggested the inclusion of the archaeological site of Knossos (Crete, Greece) into the World Cultural Heritage list of UNESCO offering him symbolically a copy of the famous Faistos Disk.