26 April 1995
UN 50TH ANNIVERSARY: UN SECRETARY-GENERAL, UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF UNESCO MEET WITH FOREIGN MINISTER, SENATOR GARETH EVANS
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Gareth Evans, today met with the United Nations Secretary-General, Dr Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Jose Ayala Lasso and the Director-General of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Dr Federico Mayor. The three visitors are attending the Global Cultural Diversity Conference in Sydney, which is one of the major activities to be undertaken as part of the United Nations International Year for Tolerance.
"It is particularly significant that the Secretary-General's first visit to Australia should be during the year when the world is commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the United Nations. In fact, the San Francisco Conference, at which the UN Charter was drafted and agreed, began on 25 April 1945. The Secretary-General's visit provides a unique opportunity to promote awareness and increase understanding of the UN in Australia, and Australia's role in the UN," said Senator Evans.
In his meeting with Senator Evans, Dr Boutros-Ghali discussed what could be achieved to strengthen the UN during 1995. In addressing some of the key elements of UN reform, they exchanged views on the nature of, and timeframe for, enlarging the Security Council and on ways to enhance the UN's approach to peace building and preventive diplomacy.
The meeting provided an opportunity to exchange assessments of developments in a number of countries in which the UN is playing a role to help protect human rights or restore peace and stability, in particular Burundi. The situation in East Timor was also discussed.
The Secretary-General will also be visiting Melbourne and Canberra. On 27 April he will open the Melbourne University Conference, "Great Expectations: The UN at 50", and on 28 April he will have talks with the Prime Minister and meet the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra. Senator Evans will address the Global Cultural Diversity Conference on 28 April and will give the inaugural Sir Kenneth Bailey Memorial Lecture on Current Issues for International Institutions on the topic of "Future Directions for the United Nations."
Senator Evans also met the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who is making his first visit to Australia. Senator Evans said that Australia had played a significant role in the creation of the post of High Commissioner.
"At the UN General Assembly in 1993, at our delegation's initiative a cross-regional grouping of core supporters of the proposal was formed which became the platform for the negotiations that led to the agreement on the establishment of a High Commissioner in 1994.", he said. "Australia continues to support the High Commissioner's work, including through our decision to provide funds for the human rights monitors in Rwanda, who are there at the High Commissioner's initiative."
In his meeting with the Director-General of UNESCO, Senator Evans discussed the prospects of the USA and the UK rejoining UNESCO and efforts to strengthen the agency's programs and management. He emphasised the need for greater co-ordination between the UN and specialised agencies like UNESCO if the UN system was to be more effective. While in Australia Dr Mayor will open a Pacific regional workshop on social science, participate in a range of activities to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of UNESCO, open an international workshop on World Heritage at the Sydney Opera House, and present a UNESCO gold medal to Uluru Kata Tjuta Board of Management and the Australian Nature Conservation Agency. He will also visit one of Australia's twelve UNESCO biosphere reserves, "Bookmark", near Renmark in South Australia.