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Volume 227: debated on Monday 28 June 1993

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12.47 am

I have the honour to present a petition from the United Nations Association and friends of UNESCO that has been signed by some 25,000 petitioners who believe that Britain should return to full membership of UNESCO. The principle reason is best summed up in the preamble to the UNESCO constitution, which was adopted on 16 November 1945 at the United Nations conference in London and entered into force in November 1946.

Crucially, the text, as amended in 1976, reads:
"The Governments of the States, parties to this constitution on behalf of their people, declare that, since wars begin in the minds of men it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed."
The petition reads:
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled The humble petition of the people of the United Kingdom sheweth
—that it is an increasing shame that the United Kingdom still has not joined UNESCO
—that UNESCO was established in the aftermath of the Second World War for the countries of the United Nations to fight together against the evils of war and construct the defences of peace
—that current world events show that UNESCO is needed as much as ever; 172 countries believe that UNESCO is a vital part of the UN family and actively participate in the organisation's work
—that as a founder member in 1946 and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the UK has a responsibility to join once more with UNESCO's member states and work with them towards universal literacy, scientific development, the promotion of a free press and the preservation of our cultural heritage for future generations.
Wherefore your petitioners pray that your honourable House proceed with rejoining membership of UNESCO expeditiously
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

To lie upon the Table.