The director general of UNESCO pledged Friday to revamp the organization's communications programs so the United States and Britain will return to the world body they accused of being anti-Western.
Federico Mayor said UNESCO's role as a forum for attitudes such as restrictions on press freedom prompted the two countries to resign from the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.The United States left at the end of 1984, and Britain left in 1985. They accused Mayor's predecessor, Amadou Mahtar M'Bow of Senegal, of an anti-Western bias.
"Frankly, I consider that the problem . . . was not mismanagement and the other reasons given but was mainly related to programs, particularly the communications program," Mayor said.
The Spanish biochemist, who took over as head of UNESCO 11 months ago, told a news conference that a new communications program he was preparing would try to overcome controversies that have dogged the organization for more than a decade.
"This is a house of freedom, and we can never go against our constitution, which says we guarantee a free flow of information," Mayor said. He said he rejected the concept of a "new world information order" promoted by Third World and Soviet bloc nations.
Mayor also said he could not accept proposals made in the past at UNESCO that critics said could lead to licensing of journalists.
Asked whether he was retreating from UNESCO resolutions that call for a better balance in the flow of information between industrialized nations and the Third World, Mayor said providing equipment and training for people in communications, and not just journalists, was the best way to arrive at a more balanced situation.
He has proposed that UNESCO establish a satellite network for education, report on the state of the environment annually and educate youths on the dangers of using drugs to improve athletic performance.
Third World countries have long complained that the industralized nations dominate the flow of information. Under M'Bow they joined up with the Soviet bloc to seek ways to control the press by establishing the new information order.
Mayor said he was working hard to get the United States and Britain to rejoin because without them the organization was "mutilated." Singapore also has withdrawn from UNESCO.