UNESCO activating in Asia

06 August 2002, Japan

UNESCO has recently held an international symposium on the preservation of Afghan cultural heritage in Japan, as well as the Childrens' Performing Arts Festival of East Asia. Along with several Japanese partner organisations, UNESCO hosted the ‘Culture of Afghanistan – International Cultural Exchange and Buddhist Culture’ symposium, held in Tokyo on July 29. The organisation’s Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura, attended the event, which presented a series of papers by experts on Afghan cultural heritage ‘As Afghans start rebuilding their country with the help of the international community, it is more urgent than ever to make the public in donor countries aware of what is needed. Reconstructing Afghanistan's seriously threatened heritage is not a luxury. It can help restore the identity of a people torn apart by 23 years of war,’ stated UNESCO prior to the symposium. A couple of days later, Matsuura attended the opening ceremony of the second UNESCO Children’s Performing Arts Festival of East Asia, held in Fukuoka (Japan), August 1-3. According to a UNESCO statement, the festival follows a successful inaugural event in Beijing, in August 2001, and sits within the framework of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), promoting healthy interaction among young people from different nations. Participants included groups of young performers from China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia and the Republic of Korea, who also had the opportunity during the event to learn about each other’s cultural traditions. Matsuura commented: ‘No doubt the children… will be concentrating on their own performances, but I am certain they will also enjoy the performances of others. It is my sincere hope that through this experience, they will develop bonds of friendship... despite their differences of language and nationality. This experience will also serve as a source of inspiration to them for the future in the construction of a peaceful and prosperous society, which can only be realised through dialogue and mutual understanding.’ Further information regarding UNESCO and its activities is available online at: www.unesco.org