Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a General Meeting of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO, Moscow, December 22, 2021

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s remarks at a General Meeting of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO, Moscow, December 22, 2021

Esteemed colleagues, friends,

I am delighted to welcome you all at a General Meeting of the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO.

We meet once a year. Although it appears that we do not meet very often, tremendous work is conducted in between our plenary meetings. I would like to sincerely thank all those who will be mentioned in today’s remarks and those who will not be mentioned. It is impossible to name everyone.

Russia retains leading positions in UNESCO and actively defends its intransient values that remain completely relevant 75 years after this Organisation was established. We are witnessing certain trends on the international scene, and they are linked with the attempts of our Western colleagues to ensure their domination in every way. Unfortunately, this can also be seen in UNESCO’s activities.

We are witnessing attempts to set up non-universal organisations that are conceived as venues where the West will dictate its own approaches and interests in all areas that must be included in the UN’s culture, science and education agenda. They are trying to deprive UNESCO of the right to discuss the subject of journalists, freedom of speech and access to information and to discuss these matters elsewhere.

I am confident that the UN Secretary-General clearly perceives the danger to the World Ogranisation UN, posed by such actions. We will strengthen the UN and the entire Secretariat in every possible way, so that they aim to retain their tasks, set by member states, in the most responsible manner.

The Russian party works constructively and creatively at UNESCO and in strict compliance with its statutory designation. We rely on the principle of universality, the equality of member countries, all-round dialogue free from any ideological components, especially attempted ideological dictate. One can mention many successful Russian initiatives. I would like to note the institution of the Russia-UNESCO Mendeleev International Prize in the Basic Sciences. This is the most prestigious UNESCO award. The first awards ceremony was held this past November on the sidelines of the UNESCO General Conference that involved UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, the head of the Russian delegation, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov and President of the Russian Academy of Sciences Alexander Sergeyev. Academy Member Yury Oganesyan from the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna and University of Bologna (Italy) Professor Vincenzo Balzani received the prestigious award.

The implementation of the Russia-UNESCO joint research grant, Green Chemistry for Life, patronised by PhosAgro Co., helps strengthen Russia’s traditional leading positions at UNESCO. The holding of the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development in 2022 opens wide prospects for Russian organisations and scientists.

I also want to mention the activity of the International Competence Centre for Mining-Engineering Education under the auspices of UNESCO. It has become a popular platform for holding major forums in the context of the development of Russia’s relations with the United Kingdom and Germany. I would like to express my special thanks for that to Vladimir Litvinenko, rector of the St Petersburg Mining University.

One of UNESCO’s oldest programmes, Man and the Biosphere, marks its 50th anniversary this year. Over the past few years, three Russian natural areas in the Astrakhan, Kemerovo and Kostroma regions were included in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves. The nature reserve in the Republic of Tyva received the status of a transboundary nature reserve with Mongolia. Overall, the Russian network of biosphere reserves currently counts 48 sites, ranking first in the world.

Joint work has begun as part of Global Geoparks programme: the UNESCO Executive Board approved the creation of Russia’s first geopark, Yangan Tau, in the Republic of Bashkortostan.

Russia makes a weighty contribution to the ethical understanding of scientific and technological achievements. At the initiative of academician Alexander Chuchalin, the Russian Committee for Bioethics launched a unique project to create a special collection of “golden pages” from the heritage of great thinkers and doctors in the field of bioethics.

The Russian Committee for Artificial Intelligence Ethics, the world’s first such consultative agency under the Russian Commission for UNESCO, is conducting major work under the leadership of academician Alexander Kuleshov. Our experts took part in the development of the Recommendations on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence adopted by the organisation’s General Conference. A relevant national AI Code of Ethics was developed as well. We see good prospects for Sberbank’s initiative to establish the UNESCO prize in science and AI ethics.

International sports cooperation has also brought good results. I would like to thank Russian Minister of Sport Oleg Matytsin for his personal contribution to improving dialogue with UNESCO. I also want to congratulate him on his re-election as Vice Chair of the Presidium of the Conference of Parties to the International Convention against Doping in Sport.

I should mention the efficient work of the Russian Committee for UNESCO Education Programmes and its chair, Rector of the Peoples’ Friendship University Vladimir Filippov. Together with the Russian Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Education, the committee prepared detailed reports to UNESCO, developed national indices of reaching the UN Sustainable Development Goal in education.

The Coordination Committee for Russian UNESCO Chairs led by Vladimir Yegorov is working actively.

I would like to use this opportunity and to thank the Head of the Republic of Altai Oleg Khorokhordin on opening the first UNESCO chair at Gorno-Altaysk State University.

The National Council of the UNESCO Associated Schools and its National Coordinator Nella Pruss gave a splendid account of themselves during the pandemic. They helped facilitate uninterrupted exchanges of practical methods for adapting to distance learning courses. I am confident that this experience will remain in high demand, even after the pandemic ends, and after COVID-19 disappears.

We can see that the more active involvement of the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in UNESCO activities has good potential. We are interested in the systemic involvement of Russian representatives in meetings on education matters. We hope that both ministries will pay particular attention to the rather sensitive matter of revising the Recommendation Concerning Education for International Understanding, Co-operation and Peace and Education Relating to Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (1974). This subject touches upon important matters concerning the progress of humankind in general and every person in particular. We will assist the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science and Higher Education in developing a rational, comprehensive and effective policy in this area reflecting our world outlook.

UNESCO’s activities in the area of communications and information are becoming more important in the political, cultural and humanitarian contexts. Russia has decided to donate money for these purposes in 2022-2025, and the sum will be used to support the Organisation’s work in such areas as ensuring the safety of journalists in armed conflict zones, raising the level of journalism education and professional ethics, coping with misinformation and limiting the arbitrary blocking of online resources. All these aspects are topical. We hope that the professional community in Russia and other countries will vigorously support these efforts.

We are grateful to the Republic of Sakha Yakutia and the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area-Yugra for helping organise events of the International Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019. However, this remains a highly topical item of our agenda. We hope that the Russian Federation’s constituent regions will also contribute to holding the International Decade of Indigenous Languages from 2022.

We prioritise matters of preserving cultural and natural heritage and increasing Russia’s share in the UNESCO World Heritage List. For this purpose, a special expert council has been established at our Commission. It consists of representatives of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS).

At the initiative of the leadership of Tatarstan, in June 2022, hospitable Kazan will host the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee, UNESCO’s most prestigious international event. In the year of the 50th anniversary of the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, it will take place under the chairmanship of the Russian Federation. It comes with many responsibilities, but at the same time reflects the respect that the global community shows towards our achievements in this area.

I am sure that Kazan, with its vast experience, will organise the session at the highest possible level. The formation of the organising committee is concluding; the draft agreement with UNESCO and the event agenda are being developed. I am confident that all our relevant agencies and interested regions will actively join this work.

Despite the pandemic, UNESCO’s “club” movement has been developing in Russia. In 2020-2021, events were held in Russia and abroad to mark the birth anniversaries of prominent Russian writers Ivan Bunin and Nikolay Nekrasov. We are thankful to the Gorky Institute of World Literature and Manezh Museum and Exhibition Association for organising the events to mark the 200th anniversary of birth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky at UNESCO headquarters. The Russian party has sent an application to include the writer’s manuscript archives in the UNESCO international register of documentary heritage, Memory of the World. Plans call for holding events to mark the birth anniversaries of Alexander Ostrovsky, Sergey Rachmaninoff and Feodor Chaliapin.

Cooperation between the Moscow Government and UNESCO is also developing successfully. The Russian capital – given its huge cultural potential – is at the forefront of promoting national education, science and culture all over the world. We note the successful holding of the 6th World Folkloriada in Ufa. We will certainly continue to provide assistance to holding the International Delphic Games.


Our cooperation with UNESCO (I named only a small part of this cooperation) is, of course, much broader. I am sure that through joint efforts, we will be able to give added impetus to the cultural, educational and scientific exchanges that are so needed today. The Russian Foreign Ministry will provide all possible assistance.

I would like to thank all those present here and those who could not be here today for their active work during the entire year. It has always been like that. I am sure that this work is truly captivating and gives an important boost to the well-rounded development of your agencies and each of our citizens.