Media Centre

Media Centre


2024 National Elections Vote Out-of Country on 18 May 2024


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UNESCO is known as the "intellectual" agency of the United Nations. At a time when the world is looking for new ways to build peace and sustainable development, people must rely on the power of intelligence to innovate, expand their horizons and sustain the hope of a new humanism. UNESCO exists to bring this creative intelligence to life; for it is in the minds of men and women that the defences of peace and the conditions for sustainable development must be built.

UNESCO strives to build networks among nations that enable this kind of solidarity, by:

•              Mobilizing for education: so that every child, boy or girl, has access to quality education as a fundamental human right and as a prerequisite for human development.

•              Building intercultural understanding: through protection of heritage and support for cultural diversity. UNESCO created the idea of World Heritage to protect sites of outstanding universal value.

•              Pursuing scientific cooperation: such as early warning systems for tsunamis or trans-boundary water management agreements, to strengthen ties between nations and societies.

•              Protecting freedom of expression: an essential condition for democracy, development and human dignity.

UNESCO has three governing structures namely the General Conference of its 192 Member States, which meets every two years, the 58-member Executive Board, which ensures the the overall management of UNESCO, and the Secretariat, which is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Organisation.

In November 2015 South Africa was elected to serve in Executive Board of UNESCO for the period 2015 to 2019. South Africa, in the person of HE Ambassador Rapu Molekane, also serves as the Vice-Chair for the Africa Group on the Executive Board. The Executive Board meet between General Conferences.

South Africa’s election to the Executive Board comes at a time when the Organization celebrates its 70th Anniversary. Our election offers an opportunity for us to contribute to international peace and security by promoting the interests of the African continent as outlined in Africa Agenda 2063 and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  

The South African National Commission, which is made up of representatives from various government departments responsible for the areas of competence of UNESCO as well as representatives from civil society, acts in an advisory capacity to the South aAfrican delegation to the General Conference and the Executive Board meetings. The South African National Commission Secretariat is located within the Department of Basic Education in Pretoria, from where it coordinates the activities of all departments through a network of national focal points, including DIRCO, the lead-department in international relations. The South African Embassy in Paris headed by Ambassador Molekane and as an arm of DIRCO, serves as the de facto Permanent Delegation to UNESCO.

South Africa previously served in the Executive Board from 1997 to 2001 and 2005 to 2009. It currently also serves in the following subsidiary bodies of UNESCO: Council of the International Bureau of Education (IBE), International Coordinating Council of the Programme on Man and the Biosphere (ICC of MAB), Intergovernmental Council of the "Management of Social Transformations" Programme (IGC of MOST) and the Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport Member (IGC of CIGEPS). We are quite delighted to be back in the Executive Board!