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14 December - Lauding the vision and achievements of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) over the past 65 years, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today that the mandate of the agency remains as relevant as ever.

“The Organization's ability to broker new ideas… to bring the right people together… to mobilize political will… to explore thorny questions… to set standards… and to build capacity – these are vital today and for the century ahead,” he said in a video message to mark the anniversary of the Paris-based agency.

Mr. Ban noted that for 65 years, UNESCO has worked to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men and women. It has also promoted education for all, safeguarded cultural expression and supported cultural diversity.

In addition, the agency has worked to harness science for the greater good, and to advance freedom of information and access to knowledge, he said.

“UNESCO also builds the defenses of peace in the hearts of men and women by reminding us of the dignity and human rights that we all share,” the Secretary-General added. “Hearts and minds – this is the passion that has always driven the Organization.”

Mr. Ban thanked the agency for its achievements, and its staff for their dedication and hard work, as well as all Member States for their continuing commitment to the “ambitions that animate this great Organization.”

The agency, which is led by Director-General Irina Bokova, has 193 member States and seven associate member States.