Thursday, March 31, 2005

UNESCO appeals to Indian Ocean nations and donors to maintain momentum in building tsunami early warning system

UNESCO news release

"The earthquake that struck Sumatra, Indonesia, on March 28, has reinforced the need for a comprehensive, durable tsunami early warning system that will provide the accurate real-time information required by national authorities to properly warn and protect their populations, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said today. 'We cannot afford to cut corners,”'Mr Matsuura said. 'A reliable system requires far more than seismic instruments that tell us when and where an earthquake has struck. It also requires the instruments, such as tide gauges, and know-how that can evaluate the risk of a tsunami and where it is likely to hit as well as well-established communication networks for passing that information to national and local authorities in those zones at risk.'”

UNESCO - Scientists for Peace

UNESCO Scientists for Peace website:

"UNESCO Scientists for Peace are famous scientists serving UNESCO's goals. They contribute to the promotion of peace, social progress and the freedom from the scourge of war and conflict. These scientists help to ensure that UNESCO's message is heard far and wide. More information will be available with the first nominations of Scientists for Peace."

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment website

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) is an international program that was designed to meet the needs of decision makers and the public for scientific information concerning the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being and options for responding to those changes. It was launched by U.N. Secretary-General in June 2001 and completed in 2005. It is intended to help meet assessment needs of the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Convention to Combat Desertification, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and the Convention on Migratory Species, as well as needs of other users in the private sector and civil society. A number of environmental reports are available online. UNESCO is one of the agencies participating in the MA.

Study Shows Decline in Earth's Ecosystems

Voice of America News story:

"A new U.N. report shows a dramatic decline in the many benefits that mankind reaps from the Earth's forests and oceans. The study by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is unusual because it examines the benefits of nature as if they were services. The study also outlines what politicians and people can do to reverse the decline in these so-called services."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

William Easerly's review of Sach's Book

"A Modest Proposal" - The review:

"Jeffrey D. Sachs's guided tour to the poorest regions of the Earth is enthralling and maddening at the same time -- enthralling, because his eloquence and compassion make you care about some very desperate people; maddening, because he offers solutions that range all the way from practical to absurd. It's a shame that Sachs's prescriptions are unconvincing because he is resoundingly right about the tragedy of world poverty. As he puts it, newspapers should (but don't) report every morning, 'More than 20,000 people perished yesterday of extreme poverty.' "

Deal signed for early warning system

The Scotsman's Story

"The massive earthquake off the Sumatran coast yesterday came only a matter of days after Indonesia and Germany signed an agreement to install a tsunami early warning system in the Indian Ocean.

"UNESCO, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation, has also proposed a £16 million network of deep-sea buoys in the Indian Ocean and regional communications centres that would be operational by mid-2006."

UN to set up science advisory mechanism

SciDev.Net article

"Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of the United Nations, has announced plans to create a high-level advisory panel to help integrate science and technology into the development efforts of all the member organisations of the UN system.

"The panel's two dozen members, made up of 'leading scientists, policymaking officials and political leaders', will advise both Annan and the United Nations Development Group on the best ways to support the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

"In particular, the panel — to be known as the Council of Development Advisers partly to emphasise its breadth of approach — 'will issue periodic reports and commentaries, and will liaise with scientific, civil society and other bodies with relevant expertise', according to Annan.

"Annan has also announced that he is to appoint a scientific advisor to provide 'strategic forward-looking' scientific advice on policy matters, with responsibility for 'mobilising scientific and technological expertise within the United Nations system and from the broader scientific and academic community'."

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The UNESCO Medium-Term Strategy for 2002-2007

Click here to download the complete 65 page PDF document.

The Director General's introduction states:

"Overall, the Medium-Term Strategy is formulated around a single unifying theme – UNESCO contributing to peace and human development in an era of globalization through education, the sciences, culture and communication. Thus, it seeks to create a link between UNESCO’s mandate and role on the one hand and globalization with a human face on the other hand. The Strategy unifies the four main programme areas with a common purpose and defines – for the first time – a limited number of strategic objectives, a total of 12 for the entire Organization and three for each programme. Around these strategic objectives are built two cross-cutting themes, which are and must be intrinsic to all programmes and which will stay with us for the next six years: the eradication of poverty, especially extreme poverty; and the contribution of information and communication technologies to education, science, culture and information and the building of knowledge societies. These themes are also an entry point to foster much more than hitherto intersectoriality, at Headquarters and in the field. Another substantive innovation built into the present Strategy is the mainstreaming of areas, previously designated as priority areas, namely Africa, the least developed countries, women and youth. This implies that all sectors and programmes must address their needs and requirements. Equally, there will be special focus on the excluded and most vulnerable segments of society throughout all UNESCO’s efforts.

"The Strategy outlines:
– three main strategic thrusts around which UNESCO’s action will develop over the next six years, namely:
- developing and promoting universal principles and norms based on shared values,
- promoting pluralism through recognition and safeguarding of diversity, together with the observance of human rights, and
- promoting empowerment and participation in the emerging knowledge society through equitable access, capacity-building and knowledge-sharing;
– the major strategic objectives and sub-objectives for the Organization’s efforts emphasizing its comparative advantage in relation to other institutions of the system and its specific role as an intergovernmental organization, an entity for international intellectual cooperation and a provider of services to Member States;
– for each strategic objective the outcomes expected to be attained by the end of 2007, facilitating the introduction and application of results-based programming, management and monitoring – a new feature for UNESCO."

The strategic Ojectives for the Sciences are:
- Promoting principles and ethical norms to guide scientific and technological development and social transformation,
- Improving human security by better management of the environment and social change, and
- Enhancing scientific, technical and human capacities to participate in the emerging knowledge societies

The Strategic Objectives for Communication and information are:
- Promoting the free flow of ideas and universal access to information,
- Promoting the expression of pluralism and cultural diversity in the media and world information networks, and
- Access for all to information and communication technologies, especially in the public domain.

"The First Resort Of Kings: American Cultural Diplomacy In The Twentieth Century" listing for the book:

"The First Resort of Kings examines the first eight decades of formal U.S. cultural diplomacy, from its tentative beginnings in World War I through the 1990s. Arndt also compares America’s efforts with those of other nations and enriches his narrative by detailing the professional experiences of the men and women who have represented American democracy, education, intellect, art, and literature to the rest of the world. His work shows that this dialogue of American culture and education with the rest of the world is neither a frill nor a domestic political concern but is the deepest cornerstone of a positive, forward-looking U.S. foreign policy. Arndt argues that, particularly in the wake of the Iraq War, America must revive its cultural diplomacy programs as a long-term investment in international goodwill and understanding."

The author, RICHARD T. ARNDT, "worked for USIA for twenty-four years after earning a doctorate and teaching at Columbia University. Since retiring from the USIA, he has served as the president of the U.S. Fulbright Association, coedited The Fulbright Difference, 1948-1992, chaired the National Peace Foundation, and is currently the president of Americans for UNESCO. He lives in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

UNESCO and the World Summit on the Information Society


"The World Summit on the Information Society is held in two phases. The first phase of WSIS took place in Geneva hosted by the Government of Switzerland from 10 to 12 December 2003. It addressed the broad range of themes concerning the Information Society and adopted a Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action. The second phase will take place in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005.

"UNESCO with its unique mandate to promote the free exchange of ideas and knowledge plays a key role in the WSIS preparation. UNESCO�s contribution incorporates the ethical, legal and sociocultural dimensions of the Information Society and helps to grasp the opportunities offered by the ICTs by placing the individual at its centre.

"UNESCO encourages the broadest possible participation by decision-makers, professional communities, representatives of civil society, bilateral and multilateral partners and the private sector in a debate on the conditions for the development of an information society for all."

Asian Science Ministers Adopt Declaration to support fair trade

Bangkok Post story:

"Asia-Pacific science and technology ministers yesterday adopted the Bangkok Declaration in an attempt to enhance the role of science and technology to support fair trade rather than just free trade........

"Science ministers and representatives from 11 Asia-Pacific countries, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, met at the fourth ministerial meeting on ethics in science and technology organised by the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (Comest).

"Mr Korn said the Bangkok Declaration would be submitted to the Unesco director-general as the official outcome of the meeting."

Friday, March 25, 2005

Women, Poverty and ICT: Mediating Social Change

Download the films from this website.:

"Two documentary films on women and ICT are now available online. They were produced in the framework of UNESCO's pilot project 'Putting ICT in the Hands of the Poor', which examines the information needs of poverty stricken communities in South Asia, with a special focus on gender issues. "

Man And the Biosphere Publications

UNESCO MAB Publication Website

This website makes a series of publications from the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program available online. Examples of recent publications from the program are:

- Global Change in Mountain Biosphere Reserves Proceedings
- Global Environmental and Social Monitoring
- The World Atlas of Mangroves (Flyer)
- Asia-Pacific Co-operation for the Sustainable Use of Renewable Natural Resources in Biosphere Reserves and Similar Managed Areas, and
- Water from the Amazon.

UNESCO's Thematic Meetings for the World Summit on the Information Society

UNESCO's Thematic Meetings website:

"In the preparation phase of the second meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (Tunis, Tunisia, 16-18 November 2005), UNESCO focuses its activities on operationalizing its concept of 'Knowledge Societies'. In addition to its projects aimed at contributing to the implementation of the WSIS Plan of Action, UNESCO organizes a series of events that should identify concrete actions to grasp the opportunities for development offered by ICT in education, sciences, culture and communication."

ICT for Capacity-Building: Critical Success Factors

Meeting website:

"UNESCO and the Club of Rome are co-organizing a three-day 'World Conference on Harnessing the Potential of ICT for Capacity Building' from 11 to 13 May at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. The event is one of UNESCO's thematic meetings in preparation for the second meeting of the World Summit on the Information Society (Tunis, Tunisia, 16-18 November 2005)."

Social Transformation in the Information Society

Download the book. :

This publication is part of a series the UNESCO is producing in support of the World Summit on the Information Society. Chapters are: "Introduction: opening and closing access pathways to your future;" "The information society and social transformation;" "ICTs and society: the evolution of different perspectives;" "Social change tied to technological choices;" "Inventing our futures: the social factors shaping outcomes of digital Innovation;" "Reconfiguring access in major economic, social, and political arenas;" and "Summary: policy for a connected world." By William Dutton, UNESCO, 2004. (PDF, 1.35 MB, 144 pages.) - MathExpo.EnHomePage

MathExpo HomePage:

"This exhibition is intended to show that mathematics is:
- astonishing, interesting and useful,
- accessible to everyone,
- plays a large part in daily life, and
- has an important role in our culture, development and progress."

The exhibition is now in Athens, and will soon go to Beijing. It was shown in Paris, Orleans and Copenhagen in 2004. UNESCO is one of the collaborators in the creation of the exhibition.

Public Television in the United States of America: Evolution, Institutions, Issues and Relevance to India

Read the essay by Abhilaksh Likhi :

Abhilaksh Likhi, a H. Humphrey Fellow at the College of Communication of Boston University, has published this essay on the UNESCO website.

International Forum on the Social Science - Policy Nexus

UNESCO webpage devoted to the Forum:

"Effective use of rigorous social science is essential if the first truly global society in human history is to meet the challenges of contemporary transformations. For this to be possible, the gap must be bridged between academic social science and policy communities. In conjunction with the Government of Argentina, and with the support of a wide range of academic, policy, and NGO partners, UNESCO proposes an innovative format to build precisely that bridge."

The Forum will be held 5-9 September 2005 in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.

Iran to Host the International Congress of Bioethics in March

UNESCO's description of the Congress:

"The International Congress of Bioethics 2005 will be held in Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran, from 26 to 28 March 2005. This Congress will be co-organized by UNESCO, the National Research Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (NRCGEB) of Iran and the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology of Iran (MSRT)."

Fourth Ordinary Session of COMEST, March 2005

Click here to read about the meeting.:

The World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) is holding its fourth session in Bangkok, Thailand, from March 23 to 25.

Debate on Information Literacy at UNESCO

UNESCO meeting announcement

"A debate on 'Information literacy", a basic skill empowering people to benefit fully from the Information Society, will be held on 5 April at UNESCO?s Headquarters in Paris. The one-day debate that is open to Permanent Delegations of UNESCO Members States, is part of the 8th meeting of the Bureau of the Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Programme."

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Princess urges more focus on science impact

Bangkok Post article:

"Scientists were urged to focus more on the consequences of their actions and discoveries in terms of the effect on natural and cultural resources, said distinguished speakers including HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.

"Scientific development and application should be carried out without prejudice and selfishness and with respect for natural and cultural resources, Princess Sirindhorn said in her speech as she inaugurated the 4th session of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (Comest) yesterday..........

"Science must be held accountable for its actions and for the consequences, and this required ethical engagement by society, said Unesco director-general Koichiro Matsuura.

"Scientific ethics must be relevant to bread-and-butter issues such as poverty, public health, agricultural productivity and environmental degradation, said Mr Matsuura, a conference co-organiser."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Dar takes ICTs to rural areas in style

IPP Media article:

"Dreams by Tanzania to provide information and communication technologies (ICTs) to remote rural areas are likely to be achieved, as authorities start to address practical tasks towards the objective. At the center of the initiative is the Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) which has embarked on a program to install in different parts of the country, Telecommunication Centers simply called Telecenters."

COSTECH, UNESCO and UNHCR co-sponsor the project.

"On World Water Day, one billion people still lack a clean supply"

The Independent's article:

"The world has been put on notice to expect a higher incidence of catastrophic flooding and droughts as global warming affects rainfall patterns, while, at the same time, more than a billion people in developing countries are facing dramatic shortages of clean water for drinking and bathing.

"The warnings came as the United Nations marked this year's Water Day by launching a 10-year campaign to combat shortages of clean water around the globe, dubbed the 'Water for Life Decade'. The organisation said that 1.1 billion people still lack sufficient clean water..........

"President Jacques Chirac of France warned a Unesco conference in Paris that unequal sharing of water resources among African countries risked exacerbating conflicts on the continent. "Water is abundant in Africa, but unequally shared," the President said, urging a fresh mobilisation by governments to address the issue."

PAKISTAN: Action needed to avert water scarcity

Reuters AlertNet article:

"If natural low water supply, high population growth and inappropriate management are not rapidly addressed, Pakistan could become a water-deficient country in the next five years, water experts said at a gathering in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on Tuesday.............

"The two-day meeting, to mark World Water Day, was organised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the German development agency GTZ and the French Embassy in Pakistan."

Comments by the Director-General on the External Evaluation Reports

Link to the comments

This report summarizes evaluations of four UNESCO programs and the organization's response to the recommendations made: Evaluation of UNESCO’s programme for the inclusion of children from various groups within formal education programmes; Evaluation of the UNESCO Communication and Information Sector’s WebWorld Initiative; Evaluation of the World Heritage Fund’s Emergency Assistance activities; Culture Heritage Management and Tourism: Evaluation and mainstreaming. It was prepared for the 171st Executive Board meeting, and is part of a continuing effort to utilize formal evaluations more effectively in the governance of UNESCO.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Literature and Poetry: World Poetry Day - 21 March

Literature and Poetry: World Poetry Day - 21 March: UNESCO "World Poetry Day webpage"

I am Raftery the poet.
Full of hope and love.
My eyes without sight,
My mind without torment.

Going west on my journey
By the light of my heart,
Tired and weary
To the end of the road.

Behold me now
With my back to the wall.
Playing music
To empty pockets.

-- Anthony Raftery

Click here for the poem in the original Irish.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

World Water Day

UNESCO World Water Day webpage:

"World Water Day 2005, celebrated on 22 March and coordinated this year by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) will both introduce and be guided by the theme of the International Decade for Action, 'Water for Life'.

"According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2002 some 1.1 billion people lacked access to improved water sources, 2.6 to basic sanitation, and approximately 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhoeal disease, 90 percent of them children under the age of five.

"The theme of World Water Day 2005 and the Decade emphasizes the central role water plays in sustaining human life. Water is critical for human well-being, environmental health, biodiversity, energy generation, industrial development, food production, and it plays an essential role in many cultures and religions. "

Pakistan's Minister to attend S&T moot in Bangkok

Pakistan Link News article:

Pakistani "Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Chaudhry Nouraiz Shakoor Khan would attend a conference on 'Ethics of Science and Technology: 4th Session of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST)', on March 25 at Bangkok. The conference is being hosted by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Thailand in co-operation with UNESCO, says a press release issued here Saturday by the Ministry. "

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Worldwide support to UNESCO�s campaign "Women Make the News"

UNESCO News Release:

"UNESCO�s online campaign aiming at women's empowerment and gender equality in the media 'Women Make the News' has gained wide support throughout the world. To mark International Women�s Day that was celebrated last week, UNESCO appealed all media to give women editorial responsibility to cast the news on that day."

Round Table on Journalism in Post-conflict Countries Held in Russian Federation

UNESCO News Release:

"Journalists and media experts from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Poland and the Russian Federation, including the Chechen Republic, Dagestan and North Ossetia, met on 13 and 15 March 2005 in Rostov-on-Don, Russian Federation, to discuss the condition of the media in countries in post-conflict situations in the former Soviet Union, in particular the Caucasus region and the Chechen Republic. "

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Brunei Becomes Unesco’s New Member

BrunaiDirect.Com article

Brunei on Thursday became the 191st member state of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation by signing UNESCO's constitution

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Young Scientists from United States Nominated for Worldwide 'Mondialogo Engineering Award'

Read the news story:

"An international jury has nominated the finalists for the 'Mondialogo Engineering Award', the first worldwide intercultural contest seeking ideas for sustainable technical improvements in developing countries. 40 project ideas from international universities, selected from 111 submitted proposals (39 of which included U.S. participation), have now been short-listed for one of up to 20 awards, which together carry 300,000 euros in prize money. The winners will be announced during an international ceremony at the end of May in Berlin, Germany."

U.S. National Commission for UNESCO publishes March Newsletter

Read it here

International Journal on Multicultural Societies: UNESCO SHS

Journal website:

The International Journal on Multicultural Societies (IJMS) is an online, scholarly and professional journal, published by UNESCO. It provides a platform for international, interdisciplinary and policy-related social science research in the fields of migration, multiculturalism, and minority rights.

The most recent edition, December 2004, is on the theme, "Managing Migration and Diversity in the Asia Pacific Region and Europe."

SPIE takes part in Winter College

SPIE Web Announcement:

"The Winter College on Interferometry and Applications in Modern Physics took place 2-13 February, in Trieste, Italy, and was partially supported by The International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE). The event was hosted by ICTP, the UNESCO-funded Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics. More than 80 participants from all over the world took part in lectures by international experts, group discussions, laboratory demonstrations, and special seminars and events."

Management of social transformations

MOST website:

"MOST is a UNESCO programme that promotes international, comparative and policy-relevant research on contemporary social transformations and issues of global importance. Created in 1994, it aims to:
- further understanding of social transformations;
- establish sustainable links between social science researchers and decision-makers;
- strengthen scientific, professional and institutional capacities, particularly in developing countries;
- encourage the design of research-anchored policy.

Digital Solidarity Fund

Digital Solidarity Fund website

The Digital Solidarity Fund went into operation yesterday. It was created a result of the discussions that have taken place around the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), which is lead by UNESCO and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). The initial funding for the Fund is from the City of Geneva and a number of national governments. It is hoped that suppliers of IT and telecoms equipment will contribute one percent of their contract revenue in exchange for the right to advertise their support of the fund.

Monday, March 14, 2005

APAC leaders acknowledge ICT role in education (philippines) story:

"ASIA Pacific leaders agree on the need for a workforce literate in information and communications technology (ICT), a recent study of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has revealed."

Higher Institutions in Africa Must Focus On Technological Entrepreneurship article:

"The challenge posed by globalisation requires the African continent to mobilise and harness the technical expertise of its people to facilitate its own development.

"Minister of Cooperation and Intergration in Africa, Senator Lawan G. Guba made this observation at the opening of the first African Regional Workshop on 'Building Capacities in Technological Entrepreneurships in Higher Educational and Research Institutions' holding at the Pan-African University, Lagos..........

"The workshop is one in a series being packaged by UNESCO at the instance of President Olusegun Obasanjo, towards re-inforcing Nigeria's Science and Technology infrastructure and enhancing its utilisation for the attainment of macro-economic and social development objectives as elaborated in the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (NEEDS)."

Fund for community computer projects launched in Geneva - UN

UN News Release:

"A 'Digital Solidarity Fund', a voluntary financing mechanism designed to provide community computers, was launched today in Geneva, with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcoming the initiative as contributing to the fight against poverty and bridging the information divide."

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Impact Hazard Summary for UN

NEO News (03/10/05) story:

A workshop was held last year considering the consequences to human life and society from comet/asteroid impacts. The primary aim of the workshop was to establish the necessary contacts for a long-term research effort across all academic subject borders, and to produce a first, albeit preliminary version of the assessment of risks from such events. Funding had been allocated to the project within the 2004 ICSU/UNESCO Grant Programme. The workshop brought together a number of world experts covering most aspects of the problem. The workshop was held on November 29 -- December 1, 2004, in the town of La Laguna, Tenerife, and the local organizer was Mark Kidger of the Astrophysical Institute of the Canaries.

Harnessing science for society: further partnerships

UNESCO (Venice) website with conference information:

"Some 50 leading scientists from around the World gathered in Venice to review the follow-up to the World Conference on Science, which took place over five years ago under the auspices of UNESCO, in cooperation with the International Council for Science (ICSU). "

Sunday, March 06, 2005


By Sidney Passman, who served as UNESCO’s Director of the Division of Scientific Research and Higher Education in 1973-81. (This article appeared in Americans for UNESCO’s publication: Prospects & Retrospects, Vol. 2 No. 2 (p. 28-29), Winter 2004-2005)

In the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), the International Telecommunications Union meeting in Geneva in December 2003, UNESCO played a central role. The meeting was part of the global interest in using information and communications technology (ICT) for the improvement of humankind. Such issues as the digital divide, access to scientific information, freedom of information, preservation of digital archives, government policies for information and information processing, information and development—these are among those now on the front burner of the UN and its specialized agencies as well as the World Bank.

These groups are not the first to recognize the importance of these issues. A modest historical review may remind readers that UNESCO was in fact present at the creation when it comes to the computerization of information and its applications.

In 1950 or thereabouts, informed people believed the world might need only a handful of the then-gigantic computers. A UN committee was set up to think about research institutes of the future. It was chaired by UNESCO’s first ADG for Science, Joseph Needham, who recommended an International Computation Center (ICC) for the UN. UNESCO helped found the ICC as an intergovernmental organization; it later mutated into the Intergovernmental Bureau for Informatics (IBI), headquartered in Rome.

It was deemed essential to nurture the NGO community in mastering this technical area. To this end, UNESCO sponsored the Paris World Conference on Information Processing in 1959; it led in turn to the formation of the International Federation for Information Processing , still the principal world society for data processing. It goes without saying that US professionals played a key role in this effort.

By the time I joined UNESCO in 1973, computers had found their niche. They were already being used for manifold applications in the industrialized world, but there was a growing need to consider coherent policies for their successful adaptation in development. During this process, the term “informatics” was coined, from the French informatique, so as to cover these manifold issues.

John E. Fobes, then UNESCO’s DDG, immediately saw the implications. As a master of the UN’s organizational system, he was a superb guide. With his help, I was able to work with the UN Development Program, the IBI and the UN Office of Science and Technology in organizing a UN-wide computer program for development. We were concerned that government policies support these efforts and thus we called for national and international informatics policies; with IBI we organized the First World Conference on Strategies and Policies for Informatics, acronym SPIN-1978 in Torremolinos, Spain. As Secretary General for SPIN-1978, I have come to see over time that this effort, including the now-standard regional preparatory meetings, played an important role in adapting computer developments in science, education, communications and commerce to the needs of dozens of countries. I confirmed this later, as a consultant for USIA in India and for AID in Tunisia on a project designed to assist in computerization and institutional development. India is now a leader in the field and Tunisia has made significant progress and will host the second round of the WSIS in 2005.

In addition to working with IFIP, UNESCO helped organize a group of related NGOs with the acronym FIACC (Five International Associations Coordinating Committee) to help coordinate meetings and programs in the greatly expanding professional community. As part of this effort, it was recognized that the private sector played an essential role in computerization. My contacts with IBM, the giant in the field, led to that corporation’s agreeing to assist UNESCO in training personnel, supplying computers to scientific and educational centers, and making their own worldwide application centers available to facilitate the way to development applications. The memo of understanding between the two organizations was, I believe, a pioneering step in such partnerships--today there are many more, including the latest with Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard. There are also extra-budgetary programs with national and UN sponsors which supplement the very limited funds available under UNESCO’s regular program. Over the years these have enabled UNESCO to be of assistance in generating capacity for world-wide efforts in informatics development.

UNESCO later established the Intergovernmental Informatics Program (IIP) to support developments as a supplement to its regular program; IBI, having run out of momentum, was dissolved in the late `80s

It should be noted that during this time, parallel developments were being carried out at UNESCO in the fields of scientific information and library information, in close cooperation with the professional community, notably the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) [now known as the International Council for Science] and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), culminating in the world conference , UNISIST, leading to the establishment of the Intergovernmental Program on Information. It eventually became clear that these subjects were also heavily involved with computerization and ultimately both Intergovernmental programs were merged into the present IFAP—theIntergovernmental Program for Information for All.
This program provides a focus for international policy discussions and guidelines for action on:
* Preservation of information and universal access to it;
* Participation of all in the emerging global information society;
* Ethical, legal and societal consequences of ICT developments.

For the WSIS, UNESCO organized various important symposia, including one for the scientific community, convened with the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), the Geneva-based high-energy physics center which also was the initiator of the World Wide Web (CERN was materially aided in its birth by UNESCO--a story in itself). For WSIS, UNESCO's documentation, seminars, consultants and DG Matsuura’s personal dedication succeeded in bringing that conference into the mainstream of support for the knowledge society and the free flow of information.

In all, admirers of UNESCO’s work may take pride in its half century of accomplishment in informatics, an area in which US participation, from the outset, played a crucial role.

Address by Mr Koichiro Matsuura at the opening session of the conference: The United States, UNESCO and Education for All

The Director General's Speech

This speech was made February 28, 2005 at Georgetown University. The PDF file is six pages long.

APAC leaders acknowledge ICT role in education (Philippines) story

"ASIA Pacific leaders agree on the need for a workforce literate in information and communications technology (ICT), a recent study of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has revealed.......

"The study is based on the results a three-year meta-survey on the use of technologies in education in the Asia Pacific in 2004. It was done by UNESCO through its Bangkok regional office."

Friday, March 04, 2005


L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Award website with details

The 2005 award winners (physicists in celebration of the International Year of Physics) are:

- for Africa: Zohra BEN LAKHDAR (Tunisia)
- for Latin America: Belita KOILLER (Brazil)
- for North America: Myriam P. SARACHIK (United States)
- for Asia: Fumiko YONEZAWA (Japan)
- for Europe: Dominique LANGEVIN (France)

"As a natural extension of the L’OREAL-UNESCO Awards, given to exceptional women scientists, a L’ORÉAL-UNESCO Fellowship programme was founded to encourage young women researchers in the Life Sciences. The 2005 list of 15 Fellows includes a strong showing from emerging countries such as Burkina Faso, the DPR of Korea, Jordan, and Cuba."

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Think Again: U.S. Foreign Aid

Foreign Policy analysis: (Registration required.)

"Shortly after a tsunami swept through the Indian Ocean last December, a U.N. official complained that the West was 'stingy' with its relief donations. Stung by this criticism, the Bush administration increased its financial pledge tenfold overnight -- while loudly asserting that the United States actually led the global pack in foreign aid. Is the world's wealthiest country a scrooge or a savior?"

UNESCO Condemns Murder Of Iraqi Television Journalist Raeda Mohammed Wageh Wazzan

UNESCO News Release:

"Ko�chiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, today condemned the murder in Iraq of Raeda Mohammed Wageh Wazzan, a journalist at the regional public television station Iraqiya, voicing outrage at a crime against an innocent person and an unacceptable attack on the basic human right of freedom of expression..........

"UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to 'further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.' To realize this purpose the Organization is required to 'collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and imag'”

Myriam Sarachik Selected to Receive Prestigious International Women in Science Award

PR Newswire Story:

"Dr. Myriam Sarachik, a distinguished condensed matter physicist, honored professor, and member of the academic staff of City College of the City University of New York, has been announced as this year's L'OREAL-UNESCO for Women in Science North American Laureate and will be honored in a special ceremony that takes place in Paris, France today, Thursday, March 3rd, 2005. The award carries with it a cash-prize of $100,000."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

With UNESCO’s aid, journalists work against corruption

International Journalists Network Article:

"A handful of Mongolian journalists are participating in a project aimed at rousing public awareness of corruption in their country.
Editors and journalists from more than 15 national and regional news media are working on several print and broadcast stories focusing on corruption. Their reports, to be completed in April, follow a series of eight training sessions organized by UNESCO in November and December. "

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

NASA Research Aids UNESCO Global Conservation Efforts

Read the press release:

"NASA signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) today with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO). The purpose of the MOA is to foster improved global conservation through increased use of NASA Earth science research and remote sensing data."