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Ambassador Marten Kokk: Activities of UNESCO World Heritage Committee Must Be Apolitical


No. 60-E

On Friday, 18 February, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Estonia to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Marten Kokk presented his credentials to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova.

In the discussion held after the presentation of credentials, Ambassador Marten Kokk noted that Estonia’s activities in UNESCO have increased significantly in recent years. “Estonia’s active participation is also indicated by the opening of a permanent representation to UNESCO at the beginning f this year,” he stated.

The ambassador said that the topics important to Estonia in UNESCO are related to the assessment and preservation of the world’s physical and intangible heritage. “From 2007 to 2010 we worked successfully in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Committee. In 2009 we became a member of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee,” said Kokk. In talking about the World Heritage Committee, the ambassador emphasised that it is essential for it to base its work first and foremost on the idea behind the convention and to rely on appraisals on experts while making an effort to avoid politicising matters.

The ambassador added that we would like to be even more active with regard to aspects of world cultural heritage that are important to Estonia and to utilise Estonia’s knowledge and experiences in preserving cultural and natural heritage on the global level. “Estonia’s goal in UNESCO is also to expand its area of activity, and therefore we would like to be a candidate for the council of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Programme in the fall of this year,” he stated.

Ambassador Kokk said that Estonia also welcomes the activities of the UNESCO director general regarding the strengthening of co-operation between the European Union and UNESCO. “We also value the reforms initiated by the director general to make the organisations’s work more contemporary and effective,” Kokk added.
Ambassador Kokk was born in Tallinn in 1973. He graduated from the law department of Tartu University. From 1994-1999 Kokk worked in various positions in the Foreign Ministry’s legal department. In 1999 he went to work at the State Chancellery and from 2001-2006 he was the director general of the State Chancellery. In 2006 Kokk returned to the foreign service as the undersecretary for administrative affairs, and from the beginning of 2009 to the end of 2010 he was the secretary general of the Foreign Ministry. Marten Kokk is also Estonia’s Permanent Representative to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Ambassador Kokk speaks English, Russian and German.



The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was created to promote co-operation and information exchange among nations in the area of education, research and culture. The UNESCO Constitution was signed by 37 countries on 16 November 1945 in London and came into force on 4 November 1946. The organisation currently has 193 member states. UNESCO’s headquarters are located in Paris.

Estonia became a member of UNESCO on 14 October 1991. Estonia has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1997 for Tallinn’s Old Town and since 2005 for the Struve geodetic arc, which was proposed by ten countries in co-operation. In July of 2009 the events of the Baltic Way were added to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Programme. Set polyphonic singing has been added to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

More information on UNESCO:

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