La Poste: la soirée de « l’Élection du timbre 2021 »

Je suis honorée de recevoir au nom de l’UNESCO la troisième place pour le prix du Timbre de 2021. Cette illustration représente les valeurs de l’UNESCO et le combat que nous menons contre le racisme et les discriminations.

Parce que l’UNESCO met un point d’honneur à lutter contre toute forme d’intolérance et pour l’inclusion de toutes les personnes, nous avons établi en 2021 une Feuille de route qui guidera nos missions. Parmi elles, la série de Master class contre le racisme et les discriminations où des milliers d’élèves du monde entier ont pu acquérir les outils pour détecter et les combattre. Mais surtout, pour changer les mentalités de leurs pairs et de nos sociétés.

Nous organisons chaque année le Forum mondial contre le racisme et la discrimination au cours duquel toutes les parties prenantes se rassemblent – gouvernements, experts, scientifiques, société civile, artistes et médias –

pour unir leurs forces afin de lutter contre ces maux sociaux. Avec sa popularité et son histoire, La Poste permet de passer ce message au travers de ce timbre hautement symbolique « Unis contre le racisme et les discriminations ».

J’espère que cette collaboration se poursuivra dans le temps, pour continuer de sensibiliser à ces causes et enfin changer les mentalités pour des sociétés plus inclusives.

« Le racisme expliqué aux enfants »

Excellences, Mesdames, Messieurs les Ambassadeurs délégués permanents,

Distingués invités,

Mesdames, Messieurs,

« Les enfants sont mieux placés que quiconque pour comprendre qu’on ne naît pas raciste mais qu’on le devient » écrit Tahar Ben Jelloun dans son essai Le racisme expliqué à ma fille dont ce spectacle est une adaptation. 

Nous sommes, en 2022, plus de 20 ans après la parution du texte de Tahar Ben Jelloun publié en 1998. J’aurais aimé vous dire, que nous avons progressé dans notre combat contre le racisme, les discriminations, l’exclusion et en faveur du dialogue.

Au contraire, le racisme est toujours présent. Il n’a pas reculé, il ne laisse aucun répit. Nous assistons chaque jour à ses manifestations, souvent violentes. Le racisme s’est banalisé. La peur de l’autre, celui ou celle qui est différent.e gagne nos sociétés. Avec la pandémie de Covid-19, certains groupes – notamment les personnes d’ascendance africaine et les personnes asiatiques – se sont retrouvés montrés du doigts, stigmatisés du fait de leurs origines visibles ou supposées.

L’accueil du spectacle Le racisme expliqué aux enfants s’inscrit dans l’action de l’UNESCO qui, depuis plus de 75 ans, lutte contre le racisme, la discrimination, la xénophobie et l’intolérance. Votre présence à elle seule est une invitation à poursuivre ce combat. J’y vois un encouragement à la jeunesse, toute la jeunesse, quelles que soient les origines, la culture et la croyance à s’engager en faveur d’une société plus juste,
plus ouverte et plus inclusive qui rejette et combat le fléau du racisme et de la discrimination. 

Parce que l’UNESCO met un point d’honneur à lutter contre toute forme d’intolérance et pour l’inclusion de toutes les personnes, nous avons établi cette année une Feuille de route pour guider nos missions. Parmi elles, la série de Master class contre le racisme et les discriminations, lancée en 2019, est un véritable appel à l’action.

Déjà plus de 6500 élèves ont pu acquérir les outils pour détecter et combattre les discriminations, mais surtout et avant tout changer les mentalités de leurs pairs et de nos sociétés. Grâce aux témoignages de personnalités engagées telles que l’acteur Forest Whitaker, l’activiste Martin Luther King III, l’écrivaine Tania de Montaigne et le styliste Olivier Rousteing, cet appel devient plus fort !

Nous organisons chaque année le Forum mondial contre le racisme et la discrimination comme un espace d’échange, de mobilisation et d’action contre ces maux sociaux. 

Enfin, je souhaite saluer le formidable travail de nos jeunes interprètes, élèves du conservatoire du Grand Nancy et leur investissement. Sachez que votre ville est un partenaire de longue date de nos efforts pour un espace urbain plus inclusif et durable.

Je reconnais en Danielle Gabou, la metteuse en scène, une alliée indéfectible de l’UNESCO, toujours à nos côtés pour promouvoir nos histoires communes dont le projet Les Routes des personnes mises en esclavage se nourrit. C’est sous son label que ce spectacle vous est proposé.

Le projet Les Routes des personnes mises en esclavage, qui compte parmi les grands chantiers intellectuels de l’UNESCO a été lancé en 1994, à Ouidah au Bénin. Il a grandement contribué à briser le silence sur la tragédie de la traite des africains et de l’esclavage et à les faire reconnaitre comme crimes contre l’humanité.

Ce projet a aussi pour but de contribuer à l’éradication de toute forme de racisme en utilisant la recherche scientifique et les arts pour mener des actions concrètes dans ce sens. En effet, nous ne pouvons pas comprendre les défis que représentent le racisme et les discriminations sans étudier leurs racines, à savoir l’esclavage et les traites qui ont façonné nos sociétés contemporaines.

Je suis persuadée que ce spectacle théâtral et musical qui nous réunit aujourd’hui, nous permettra d’approfondir notre réflexion éthique sur les multiples conséquences que cette tragédie continue d’avoir dans nos sociétés contemporaines.

Sans plus tarder, je vais laisser la place à Madame Gabou et à nos jeunes artistes. Je sais que le public a hâte de les voir se produire sur scène.

Je vous remercie et vous souhaite un excellent spectacle.

UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture

Dear Ambassadors of Iraq, Sweden, Brazil and Palestine,

Dear Laureates of the 18th and 17th editions,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

Although I could not join today’s festivities in person,
I was very keen to convey my congratulations to the laureates, and express my appreciation for the ways in which they shape Arab culture around the world.  Your commitment and dedication to promoting intercultural dialogue, social cohesion and artistic empowerment are of great value.

The past two years have presented countless challenges to our daily lives. The pandemic has proven especially disruptive, not only by limiting dialogue and social interactions but also by causing an upsurge of racism and discrimination against minorities, and violence against women and girls that increased by up to 75% in some countries.

Today’s ceremony is a testimony to the continued resistance and hope in the face of such challenges, and to the need to promote and defend inclusion and diversity as necessary drivers in a world of uncertainty. This is not only central to the objectives of the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize, but also to the commitment of the Social and Human Sciences Sector to cultivate just, inclusive and resilient societies that benefit all interest groups.

To achieve this, I look to the laureates of the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize, who remind me of the important role of artists and artistic endeavours in shaping our world.

From Sweden to Palestine, and from Iraq to Brazil, the Prize has created an invisible thread of dialogue and connection around the world, welcoming a new generation of artists, actors and writers who advocate for a more inclusive world.

Bearing in mind that one of UNESCO’s two global priorities is gender equality, I am very proud to point out that the majority of laureates we honour here today are women, namely Silvia Antibas, Dunay Mikhail and Helen Al-Janabi, the first occurrence of such a dynamic in the Prize’s history. Indeed, the voices of women – including those who are marginalized, excluded and underrepresented – must continue to be amplified.

This special milestone reflects our wider efforts throughout the Social and Human Sciences Sector to promote positive transformation and greater social dignity around the world. The annual Global Forum against Racism and Discriminations in Mexico in November this year, in which we will launch a Network of Fiction Writers; the Route of Enslaved Peoples that focuses on Afro-descendants and the need to understand and combat racism inherited from the slave trade; the Art-Lab for Dialogue and Human Rights, which is working on social healing in refugee camps in conflict zones; the MEN’talities initiative, that challenges harmful gender norms and stereotypes that hold women back; UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, which ensures AI technology will respect human rights; and our fight against inequalities – all these global initiatives inspire impactful action that is shaping our work of today as well as the next generation.

Allow me finally to thank you all for participating in this fantastic ceremony. Your support for the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize and the work undertaken by its laureates are essential for our continued impact and for promoting a better understanding of Arab culture around the world.

Thank you.

Atelier de lancement du pilotage d’Art-Lab au Tchad, N’Djamena

Madame la Ministre,

Monsieur le Ministre,

Chers Partenaires, Amis et Collègues,

Je suis très heureuse et fière d’inaugurer avec vous ce qui est déjà le second atelier de lancement d’un pilote du programme « Art-Lab pour les droits de l’homme et le dialogue » ici au Tchad, à N’Djamena, suite au franc succès au Cameroun l’an dernier.

Comme vous le savez, la paix commence par la dignité humaine et la justice sociale. Et c’est exactement ce que le programme Art-Lab des Sciences humaines et sociales de l’UNESCO s’attache à faire.

Alors, comment recouvrer sa dignité et le respect lorsque l’exclusion nous frappe ? Par l’exercice des droits humains. Et c’est ici que le pouvoir transformateur de l’art fait sens.

L’art a la capacité curative de valoriser tant les identités personnelles que collectives et renforce l’espoir et la confiance en l’avenir. Or, le Tchad bénéficie d’une scène inspirante où de nombreux opérateurs sociaux nationaux et associatifs sont engagés auprès des jeunes repentis de Boko Haram, des femmes victimes de violence, des enfants de la rue, des réfugiés ou des personnes en situations de handicap.

Convaincus du pouvoir cathartique de l’art et plus particulièrement de la danse et du théâtre dans les processus de réparation, nous allons, ensemble, cocréer un programme réellement inclusif en s’appuyant sur la méthodologie d’Art-Lab. Ce travail s’inscrit dans notre stratégie de soutien aux politiques nationales en faveur du dialogue interculturel et de la lutte contre les discriminations. Notre prochain forum global contre le racisme aura lieu d’ailleurs au Mexique en novembre prochain.

Je tiens à remercier ici non seulement les autorités nationales de leur coopération, mais aussi les opérateurs sociaux et culturels tchadiens, ainsi que l’implication active de trois artistes convaincus d’Art-Lab : Taigué Ahmed, Fabrice Don de Dieu et Boniface Watanga. Ces « artivistes » d’Afrique centrale nous font l’honneur de partager avec vous l’impact de leurs pratiques dans des contextes de vulnérabilité particulièrement extrêmes.

Merci aussi à tous les représentants officiels étrangers, à nos collègues des Nations Unies et aux experts accompagnateurs du Canada et du Royaume Uni qui sont venus prêter main forte à cette initiative pionnière.

Je vous souhaite tous mes vœux de succès dans cet atelier.

CIGEPS 2022 Extraordinary Session: Elections

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning!

It is a great pleasure to welcome you today to this extraordinary session, convened to carry out the elections of the CIGEPS Bureau.

As you know, the postponement of MINEPS VII led to that of the CIGEPS Ordinary Session, which should have taken place on 28 and 29 March last, and focused on MINEPS VII preparations. On that occasion we should have also elected the CIGEPS Bureau, which plays a critical role in terms of coordination and mobilization of Member States in the different regions.

CIGEPS is a fantastic platform for knowledge exchange and promotion of good practices, and in view of MINEPS VII and its preparatory work, the engagement of the Bureau of CIGEPS is more important than ever. We could, therefore, not wait until October for this election.

Since the launch of our sport-based initiative Fit for Life, we feel the need to provide Member States with a more comprehensive understanding of this ambitious programme, which will be the legacy of MINEPS VII. You need more practical guidance on how to engage in Fit for Life. We are, therefore, planning regional consultations with all Member States to be held at the end of June, to provide you with a more detailed presentation of Fit for Life. In this context, we count on the soon-to-be-elected members of the CIGEPS Bureau to help mobilize your peers.

I will now give the floor to Philipp Müller-Wirth, Secretary of CIGEPS, who will moderate this session, but I first wish to thank you all for being with us today and for your continuous support.

I wish  you a fruitful outcome of the elections. The real work starts now, and the Secretariat is always besides you to support the Bureau in its important endeavour.

29th National Ethics Committees Forum, organized by the European Commission and the National Consultative Ethics Council of France (CCNE)

Excellences,

Mesdames et messieurs,

Chers amis,

I would like to thank the European Commission, as well as the French National Consultative Ethics Council (CCNE), for your collaboration in organizing this meeting at UNESCO.

Promoting the ethical advancement of science and technology is one of the core functions of UNESCO. In recent years, we have applied this mandate to such frontier fields of science as genetic engineering, neuro technologies and artificial intelligence. Nowadays, these emerging and converging technologies are at the centre of discussions world-wide, as their impact will depend on the way humanity frames it and masters it. It is, therefore, essential to do it right from the outset.

In this effort, we know the central role that the national ethics and bioethics committees play in safeguarding human rights and shaping the technologies to contribute to human goals.

The Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights, adopted by UNESCO in 2005, remains a seminal normative instrument in bioethics at the global level, calling governments to establish, promote and support independent, multidisciplinary and pluralist ethics committees. It also gives us the mandate to build national capacities in this domain.

Thus, we have been supporting Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific, and the Arab region, to establish and re-enforce their national bioethics infrastructures in line with the Assisting Bioethics Committees project.

I am delighted to see that today, you are playing a critical role around the world, assessing the relevant ethical, legal, scientific and social issues, providing advice to policymakers, monitoring scientific and technological developments, and formulating recommendations and guidelines on issues within the scope of UNESCO’s Declaration. Critically, the committees continue to foster debate, education and public awareness of, and engagement in bioethics.

And today, promoting public awareness is more important than ever. Therefore, bioethics committees are indispensable for our efforts to tackle distrust in science, manifested in such areas as climate change and vaccines. While the reasons behind this phenomenon are complex, we know that deliberate disinformation, misinformation, and fearmongering for political and financial profit has certainly played a major part.

On the positive side, we have seen how the national bioethics committees have taken the initiative to counter this, using the traditional media outlets to voice their evidence-based opinions, and also using social media.

As we are witnessing the emergence of new and converging digital technologies, the National Bioethics Committees are called upon to provide guidance in this domain as well.

I am sure that you are aware of the adoption by acclamation of the UNESCO General Conference last November of the Recommendation on the Ethics of AI – a key global instrument to ensure that AI is trustworthy, human rights-based and sustainable, and conducive to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Recommendation is a ground-breaking instrument. It offers much needed guidance through an equitable blueprint on how to achieve this fragile balance that helps leverage the full transformative potential of AI technologies, without incurring irreversible dilution of the transparency, accountability, privacy and human dignity principles.

The recommendation recognizes that AI is having a fundamental and complex impact on health and social well-being.

In fact, an entire chapter is dedicated to this topic, where Member States are called on to pay particular attention in regulating prediction, detection and treatment solutions for health care in AI applications by ensuring, where necessary, the review of AI systems by an ethical research committee prior to clinical use.

As we work with the Member States to facilitate the implementation of the Recommendation, we will be paying special attention to the health domain, and providing capacity-building for the national ethics institutions.

I am delighted to know that under the roof of UNESCO, for the next two days, you will engage in the debate on digital ethics, ethics and innovation, mental health and the future of ethics in light of emerging technologies.

I wish you productive deliberations.

THINK 7 Summit

We are witnessing the impacts of shifting global power dynamics, as the world becomes more multipolar, but also more polarized.  In the longer term, persistent non-inclusive growth patterns can produce policy paralysis or swings from one relatively extreme policy agenda to another.

And worrying to me is that greater political polarization has also resulted in an increasingly confrontational approach in international relations. This can also hamper the world’s ability to address longer-term challenges such as inequality and climate change. And most of all we are seeing a growing disconnect between people, governments and institutions, as the social contract frays and inequalities deepen.

At a time when unprecedented global changes are combined with a once-in-a-century pandemic, the world is at the crossroads of unity or division, cooperation or confrontation, upholding justice or hegemony.

We realize that multilateralism is under a lot of pressure but building trust in multilateralism is showing that it can deliver tangible improvements in people’s lives and well-being which our economic model has failed to deliver. Robust social development and progress encompass a lot more than economic growth. Different intangibles such as levels of trust, health, quality of life, safety, interest in voting are some indicators of overall well-being and social cohesion that set the conditions for further development in democratic societies.

This also requires stakeholders to be in the room – which is my second point: we cannot build trust in multilateralism if we exclude the very people who are supposed to benefit from global solutions. We need to prioritize the bottom of the income distribution in our policy choices. Indeed, we cannot design global solutions without their input (i.e., our Unesco Youth as Researchers initiative). But we must do more to ensure consistent, ongoing and meaningful engagement.

The issue of failed delivering for people brought by inequality are underrepresented in the discussions over growth. To be sure, countries need growth and employment, to generate prosperity, but any effort to address these issues must be coupled with measures that mitigate inequality and eventually reverse the job and income polarization that has been fuelling popular discontent and political instability. These measures are only feasible if there is an ex-ante discussion about equity. So far, however, governments have been failing abysmally on this front – and paid a high price (i.e.: the gilet Jaune movement à indifference to the plight of the middle class outside largest urban centres). The pandemic has, so far, reinforced this message.

We are going backwards in many areas. The pandemic has exacerbated a rising trend of inequalities growing inside and between countries with lower income countries and vulnerable populations falling further behind[1].

The result of the prolonged health and social crisis stemming from the pandemic has forced over 160 million more people into poverty. The intergenerational transmission of poverty reflects and reinforces the intergenerational transmission of exclusive institutions. The pandemic is leaving us a legacy of rising poverty and widening inequality.

So, the main question is how do we go for a different growth model?

My proposition is very straightforward: inequalities are the major challenge we need to address. This means to pursue a goal of human well-being in flourishing economies – that must be accompanied by necessary actions for a healthy, sustainable world, for current and future generations. But delivering this effectively requires a systemic transformation:

  • Through a new understanding and measurement of prosperity: Our standard GDP measures do not provide us with the guidance we need to address the inequality crisis. For example, in 2008, the standard metrics have not reflected the adverse impacts of the austerity measures, nor the magnitude of people’s suffering nor the impacts on long-term standards of living. We need to develop better metrics to understand better how inequalities of income transform into inequalities of opportunities, and even in political issues. This goes by introducing equity, redistribution and sustainability as central dimensions in our metrics for success.
  • By having an equity discussion in the ex-ante of policy making: Equity, sustainability and efficiency are inextricably linked. Failures of inclusion derail reforms and investments that sustain longer-term growth. Therefore, social and economic progress should be pursued effectively – meaning not with a simple list of policies and reforms, but with an agenda that involves a careful ex ante discussion on equity within reforms and devotes more than passing attention to the distributional consequences.
  • By focusing more on the common ground, on what unites us over what divides us, through goals and values shared by all countries. G7 controls the major portion of resources, economy and trade. It possesses the potential to transform the whole world into a better place to live in for everyone and needs to utilize its current potential positively to push for change.  

At the same time global demographic developments are expected to occur almost exclusively in Africa and Asia, combined with the strong technological gains made by emerging countries that could result in dwindling political influence of G7 countries[2]. Therefore, if countries want to advance the global agenda, they can only succeed by fostering unity among G20.

The core message is that inequality entails major costs in efficiency, which means that it must be overcome if we want to deliver effectively. This is not only about ethical justifications; it is about delivering efficiently for people. In fact, not only do pro-equity policies have a positive impact on social well-being, they also help create an economic system that is more propitious for learning, innovation and higher productivity.

Most of all they can enable a major shift away from the culture of the political economy that keep new actors, sectors and ideas from transforming the economy and challenging behaviours founded on static comparative advantages or political privileges.

The different current challenges we are facing make equity even more important today than in the past; for example, regarding the impact of the technological revolution, which makes building capacities and closing gaps a more urgent task. That urgency is also heightened by the unsustainable nature of the current pattern of growth.

All countries across the world are in the same boat, with a shared destiny. We must work together to sail through the stormy seas to a bright future.


[1] Ex: IMF forecasts of GDP show advanced countries bouncing back from the pandemic but emerging and developing economies are projected to have substantially lower GDP in the next several years relative to pre-pandemic forecasts.

[2] The predicted increase in the world’s population from around 7.8 billion people in 2020 to 9.7 billion by 2050 is expected to occur almost exclusively in Africa and Asia. These changes are leading to a massive shift in the percentage of global GDP generated by industrialized and emerging countries.

Global Sports Week Paris (GSW)

Sport is an enabler of sustainable development. And this impact cuts across so many domains, from education to health.

There has never been a better time to invest in Sport for Development. Systemic challenges in and around the world of sport call out for a collective response.

The ongoing pandemic has seen a 41% decline in physical activity and a 200% increase in youth mental health conditions. 70% of PE teachers polled by UNESCO report worsening mental and physical health of students during the pandemic.

These statistics are calls to action.

Combined with the data we have around the benefits of participating in sport – including improved concentration and increases of 40% in test scores, as well as the economic returns on investment (calculated at around USD3,000 per person per year) we can clearly see why sport needs to be a core component of every country’s recovery package.

In fact, data around this subject is becoming so strong that new financial instruments are evolving around data in Sport for development to create new opportunities for low-risk investment. Through our partnerships, and UNESCO’s Fit for Life global alliance, we are systematizing this data, making it equitable and open-source, and providing the tools needed to capitalize on it in every local context.  

The heart of our work is always about delivering outcomes in health, education and equality to real people. A dollar put into sport, is a dollar toward the achievement of these outcomes.

Global Sports Week is a fantastic place to bring together the world’s biggest voices around the value of sport. We need to build connections between different stakeholder groups around the world and build new partnerships to amplify sport projects, support athletes collectively, and scale up sport funding to broaden access to the sports that we know and love.

Global Sports Week is not just an opportunity to make these connections, but an opportunity to take a step back, feel the pulse of the sports community, and set the narrative for the year to come on the value and state of sport.

Of course, this year is especially important for promoting sport across all these channels because of its power for building back better from the COVID pandemic. Very little of global recovery funding has gone towards sports and forums like this could change this trend.

The French Government is increasingly a champion in the field of sport for development. France has engaged with UNESCO’s ongoing work in sport – and is leading the way with its vision for sport funding.

In November last year, Roxana Maracineanu, the French Minister Delegate in charge of Sports, attended the launch event for Fit for Life, UNESCO’s new global sport alliance.

More recently, UNESCO hosted the conference on “Sports and Sustainable Development Goals in Childhood: Societal issues regarding appropriate physical activities” organized by the French Ministry of Sports in the framework of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union. It showed France’s continued leadership in this field, and was an important forum for considering the intersection between evidence-based sport policy and child development.

Beyond this, UNESCO and the public development bank Agence française de développement (AFD) have been closely collaborating for the development of the Coalition for Sustainable Development through Sport. UNESCO chairs working group 2 of this coalition (Leveraging the power of sport to achieve the SDGs), and through AFD, France’s participation continues to promote new partnerships and cutting-edge financial tools for maximizing the potential of sport.

I am confident that this leadership will continue as France embarks on the road to France 2023 Rugby World Cup and the Olympic and Paralympic Games of Paris 2024. These international events promise to be a new opportunity for our work to bring together priorities like sport heritage, the environment and education – all right in our own backyard.

Together, we can showcase the power of smart sport investment to the world.

Award ceremony of the UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture

Dear Ambassadors of Iraq, Sweden, Brazil and Palestine,

Dear Laureates of the 18th and 17th editions,

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon.

Although I could not join today’s festivities in person, I was very keen to convey my congratulations to the laureates, and express my appreciation for the ways in which they shape Arab culture around the world.  Your commitment and dedication to promote intercultural dialogue, social cohesion and artistic empowerment are of great value.

The past two years have presented countless challenges to our daily lives. The pandemic has proven especially disruptive, not only by limiting dialogue and social interactions but also by causing an upsurge of racism and discrimination against minorities, and violence against women and girls that increased by up to 75% in some countries.

Today’s ceremony is a testimony to the continued resistance and hope in the face of such challenges, and to the need to promote and defend inclusion and diversity as necessary drivers in a world of uncertainty. This is not only central to the objectives of the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize, but also to the commitment of the Social and Human Sciences Sector to cultivate just, inclusive and resilient societies that benefit all interest groups.

To achieve this, I look to the laureates of the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize, who remind me of the important role of artists and artistic endeavours in shaping our world.

From Sweden to Palestine, and from Iraq to Brazil, the Prize has created an invisible thread of dialogue and connection around the world, welcoming a new generation of artists, actors and writers who advocate for a more inclusive world.

Bearing in mind that one of UNESCO’s two global priorities is gender equality, I am very proud to point out that the majority of laureates we honour here today are women, namely Silvia Antibas, Dunay Mikhail and Helen Al-Janabi, the first occurrence of such a dynamic in the Prize’s history. Indeed, the voices of women – including those who are marginalized, excluded and underrepresented – must continue to be amplified.

This special milestone reflects our wider efforts throughout the Social and Human Sciences Sector to promote positive transformation and greater social dignity around the world. The annual Global Forum against Racism and Discriminations in Mexico in November this year in which we will launch a Network of Fiction Writers; the Route of Enslaved Peoples that focuses on Afro-descendants and the need to understand and combat racism inherited from the slave trade; the Art-Lab for Dialogue and Human Rights, which is working on social healing in refugee camps in conflict zones; the MEN’talities initiative, that challenges harmful gender norms and stereotypes that hold women back; UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence, which ensures AI technology will respect human rights; and our fight against inequalities – all these global initiatives inspire impactful action that is shaping our work of today as well as the next generation.

Allow me finally to thank you all for participating in this fantastic ceremony. Your support for the UNESCO-Sharjah Prize and the work undertaken by its laureates are essential for our continued impact and for promoting a better understanding of Arab culture around the world.

Thank you.

Let’s Create AI with Integrity

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

I am Gabriela Ramos, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO. It is my pleasure to open today’s webinar on creating AI with integrity. This topic is very dear to me. Contributing to the achievement of better public policies and deeper international cooperation has been a life-long drive of mine. All of my professional life, I have been working with my country – Mexico – as well as at the OECD and UNESCO, to improve the lives of people through the development of evidence-based policies. The topic of AI is one that has the possibility to not only affect but to shape developments in all of these fields and beyond.

Artificial intelligence technologies offer unprecedented potential to aid in tackling complex challenges, from global poverty alleviation, improvement of healthcare outcomes, and promoting sustainable development. However, AI developed and applied without ethical guard-rails and accountability also has the potential to deepen existing inequalities and infringe upon human rights. Because of this, regulation – founded on deep ethical reflection and principles – is needed in order to balance the advantages and disadvantages of AI technologies and to ensure that humans and their needs remain the focus of AI development and use.

UNESCO’s Recommendation on the Ethics of AI, adopted by acclaim last November by the Organization’s 193 Member States, directly responds to this need for such a multidisciplinary, cross-sectoral approach to AI ethics, as well as to the need for the enumeration of clear, commonly-shared values. The result of a process of dialogue and compromise, the Recommendation aims to find harmony between the varied regulatory regimes of all of its Member States, and therefore has a global, trans-cultural quality.

The need for artificial intelligence systems which are trustworthy, explainable and transparent is a growing concern among governments, business enterprises, as well as international and non-governmental organisations. The recent IBM global study that led to this webinar provides quantitative evidence for that. It revealed a dramatic shift in where calls for AI ethics are emanating from. According to this survey, which interviewed 1,200 executives in 22 countries across 22 industries, there exists a significant gap between leaders’ intentions and actions: though 79% of CEOs are prepared to implement ethics in AI, less than a quarter of organisations have thus far acted on this goal. Additionally, the study demonstrated that it is business executives, rather than technical executives, who are the primary champions of AI ethics.

Calls for AI ethics are also being made by consumers, of whom more than 85% believe that it’s important for business enterprises and organisations to address ethical issues related to AI. However, despite a generally accepted need for AI ethics, publicly endorsed common principles vary by region. For example, 72% of respondents in Latin America publicly endorse transparency, as compared to only 46% of those in Europe and 40% in North America. Likewise, while 67% of respondents in the Middle East and Africa endorse technical robustness and safety, only 38%, 47%, and 58% do so in North America, Latina America and Europe respectively.

Given both the urgency of the problem and the relatively slow pace of progress, a cross-sectoral, multidisciplinary, collaborative approach is necessary to realize the goal of AI with integrity.

The UNESCO Recommendation calls on Member States to engage all stakeholders, including businesses, to ensure that they play their respective roles in the implementation of the policy actions it elaborates. Indeed, the document features dedicated policy sections on ethical impact assessment, ethical governance and stewardship, as well as the economy and labour – all areas in which collaboration between UNESCO, its Member States, and the private sector is urgently needed.

As we are in the process of implementing the proposals outlined in the Recommendation, and developing the two flagship tools, my hope is that occasions like today’s webinar will provide the opportunity for representatives of different stakeholder to collectively chart a path together towards AI with integrity.

I’d like to thank you all for your active and insightful contributions to today’s event. Not only have our speakers provided us with encouraging updates about IBM’s latest efforts relating to AI ethics, but in doing so they have helped design a blueprint for other actors in the private sector to model their policies, frameworks and strategies around.

Given the need for cross-sectoral and inter-disciplinary collaboration, today’s event represents a promising trend of increased cooperation between public and private actors. My hope is that moving forward, such partnerships become the norm – if the challenges posed by artificial intelligence extend across national or sectoral boundaries, so too must our responses to those challenges.