On 21 May 2012, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, visited SESAME. This was her first visit since she took on her present position in 2009. She was welcomed by the President of the SESAME Council, Chris Llewellyn Smith, and the Director of SESAME, Khaled Toukan.
The visit was organized to mark the formal statements signed in March 2012 by Iran, Israel, Jordan and Turkey committing themselves to make voluntary contributions of US$5 million each towards the construction of SESAME over the 4 years 2012-2015, a milestone in the project that puts SESAME well on track to commissioning the machine with four "day-one" beamlines in 2015.
During her visit, the Director-General met with the scientists working on the site and saw at first hand the considerable progress achieved by the Centre since its establishment in 2004.
"SESAME is the embodiment of UNESCO's commitment," said the Director-General. "It is about weaving a fabric of intellectual and moral solidarity across the world". "UNESCO's commitment to SESAME will remain unwavering as it paves the way for excellence in sciences".
At the close of her visit, the Director-General of UNESCO and the President of the SESAME Council signed a joint Communiqué to governments, international and national scientific organizations, scientific institutions and centres of excellence, all stakeholders in science, and the public at large highlighting the role of science in fostering solidarity and a culture of peace and in building a secure and prosperous future for the region.
The Directors-General of UNESCO have always played a central role in each of the milestones of SESAME.
The meeting in June 1999 that resulted in the launching of the SESAME project and the setting-up of an International Interim Council to take the necessary measures to prepare the establishment and operation of an international centre was called by Federico Mayor, then Director-General of UNESCO, and was held at UNESCO Headquarters.
It was subsequent to his successor, Koïchiro Matsuura, having informed the Federal Minister of Education and Research of Germany in January 2000 that he was ready to take the necessary steps for the setting up of SESAME as a centre under the auspices of UNESCO, and his assurance that financing of the dismantling of the BESSY I machine in Berlin would be covered from international sources that the German Authorities gave their formal agreement to donating the BESSY I machine to SESAME. (The technical team at SESAME has since greatly up-dated the BESSY I microtron and booster donated by Germany and SESAME is constructing a totally new storage ring with an energy of 2.5 GeV, thus making it a "third generation" synchrotron light source.)
The ground-breaking ceremony of SESAME (January 2003) was held under the auspices of H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan and in the presence of Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO. Construction of the SESAME building then started in August 2003 – it was fully financed by the Jordanian Authorities.
The "soft" inauguration of SESAME (November 2008) was held under the auspices of H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan and with the participation of H.R.H. Prince Ghazi bin Mohammad and Koïchiro Matsuura. It was organized to mark the Jordanian Authorities' official handing over to SESAME of the SESAME building which now serves as the Centre's premises, as well as the installation of the microtron.
At UNESCO, responsibility for the Organization's cooperation with SESAME lies within the International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP) in the Division of Science Policy and Capacity-Building at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (France).