On 18th March 2015, COMSATS and UNESCO formalized their cooperative relations through signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France. The overall objective of the MoU is to provide a framework for cooperation between UNESCO and COMSATS to support the development of more effective and relevant policies and actions affecting science and technology for sustainable development in the South.
Dr. I. E. Qureshi, Executive Director COMSATS and H.E. Mrs. Irina Bokova, Director-General UNESCO signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organizations. Along with other distinguished guests, the ceremony was witnessed by H.E. Mr. Ghalib Iqbal, Pakistan’s Permanent Delegate to UNESCO and Ambassador to France; Dr. Maciej Nalecz, Director & Executive Secretary of the UNESCO International Basic Sciences Programme; and Dr. Yoslan Nur, Programme Specialist, Division of Science Policy and Capacity-Building, UNESCO.
The MoU was signed subsequent to the approval by COMSATS Coordinating Council (in its 17th meeting; May 2014) and UNESCO Executive Board (in its 195th session; October 2014). The process was initiated after a formal expression of interest made by the Executive Director COMSATS, in his letter to the Director-General UNESCO in January 2014, and during Mrs. Bokova’s visit to Islamabad, Pakistan, in February 2014.
On the historic occasion of signing the agreement, Dr. Qureshi highlighted the role of COMSATS as an organization dedicated to the promotion of scientific cooperation among developing countries. He recounted the achievements of COMSATS in areas of education and training, workshops and symposia, thematic research, as well as advocacy and policy advice, using mainly the model of South-South cooperation. Pointing out the unique strength of COMSATS in having an affiliated degree awarding institution, the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT), he recalled that an agreement was made by CIIT and UNESCO last year to establish UNESCO Chair at the Institute’s Wah Campus. Moreover, a Category-2 Centre on Water Research, to be established at CIIT Abbottabad Campus, has also been approved by the Intergovernmental Council of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP). Dr. Qureshi reiterated that CIIT and other members of COMSATS’ Network of International Centres of Excellence would work closely with UNESCO in its S&T related activities.
The Director-General UNESCO appreciated the international programmes of COMSATS, adding that she is impressed with what she has learnt about the organization. She thanked Dr. Qureshi for his dynamic leadership and for his resolve to work closely with UNESCO. Mrs. Bokova added that the past cooperation and trust between COMSATS and UNESCO has led to the unanimous decision of the UNESCO Executive Board to enter into cooperative ties with COMSATS.
Dr. Qureshi presented the Director-General with a souvenir and the ceremony ended on a note of optimism for further strengthening the existing cooperative ties between COMSATS and UNESCO.