St. Maarten becomes associate member of UNESCO

POSTED: 10/26/11 11:45 AM

PARIS/GREAT BAYSt. Maarten and Curacao became the newest associate members of the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) on Tuesday at the body’s 36th General Conference in Paris. Minister of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell, described the occasion as a “joyous moment” for the people and government of St Maarten. She also pledged that the island would uphold the goals and ideals of UNESCO as it looked forward to participating fully in the organization at all levels.

Temporary President of the 36th session of the General Conference Ambassador Davidson L. Hepburn said neither St. Maarten nor Curacao were new to the affairs of UNESCO, having been associate members via the now defunct Netherlands Antilles. He made this statement ahead of reading the required letters of support from the Dutch Foreign Minister and submitting the membership of Curacao and St. Maarten to a vote. Since there were no objections, the two islands were admitted by acclamation.

Curacao and St. Maarten are the 200th and 201st members of UNESCO. Hepburn, who is Permanent Delegate of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, expressed particular pride that the two new associate members were from the Caribbean region and said he visited both islands and felt at home during his visit.

In her welcome address, delivered in English and French, the two official working languages of UNESCO, Director General Irina Bokova said it was a pleasure to welcome St. Maarten to the UNESCO family, calling the associate membership of the island “a step in the right direction.” She also pledged UNESCO’s support in several areas and stressed a belief that “all states will also benefit from the participation of St. Maarten.”

Dr. Arrindell and her Curacao counterpart Lionel Jansen congratulated each other in their acceptance speeches. The representatives of the Netherlands at UNESCO also offered their congratulations, and concurred that the Kingdom of The Netherlands now had full representation at UNESCO, with Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten as Associate Members.

The admission of both St. Maarten and Curacao was the highlight of Tuesday’s morning session. The two islands are expected to deliver their National Statements later during the week. St. Maarten will deliver its statement on Saturday morning.


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