Friday, September 23, 2005

Support to Science, Technology and Knowledge for Development: A Snapshot of the Global Landscape

Support to Science, Technology and Knowledge for Development: A Snapshot of the Global Landscape:

"This study seeks to provoke thought and discussion around the degree to which donors — foundations, bilaterals, and multilaterals — emphasize science, technology, and knowledge for development in the provision of development assistance. Beginning with an exploration of the particularities of the current state of science and technology and the international context in which the products and processes of science and technology are funded, created, used, adapted, and disseminated, the paper provides a brief description of the origins of the approach to this study followed by a synopsis of the key trends in donor support to science, technology, and knowledge for development that emerged from the interviews encapsulated in the stand-alone chapters."

Sara E. Farley, IDRC, 2005

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Nothing to declare: UNESCO on ethics, human rights

Full SciDev.Net Opinion article:

"UNESCO's declaration on bioethics and human rights is too weak to be of value, and could harm the world's poor if developing countries accept it, says Richard Ashcroft."

UNESCO guidance on ethics and human rights slammed

Full SciDev.Net article:

"A recent UNESCO declaration on ethical and human rights aspects of medical research has been heavily criticised by an international group of specialists in the field, who say it has little value.

"The bioethicists were writing in this month's special issue of Developing World Bioethics, which is devoted to analysing the declaration. Most of the authors agree that while making the declaration was a laudable effort, the document is riddled with conceptual problems."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Update from the U.S. National Committee for UNESCO

The August/September 2005 newsletter (Volume 1, Issue 6) is now available. Its contents are:
- Comments from the Executive Director
- U.S. Architect of World Heritage Committee Stumps for U.S. Candidacy
- NGO Briefings on Draft UNESCO Cultural Diversity Convention
- Four U.S. Institutes and Universities Awarded UNESCO Chairs
- Launch of Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System Program
- Expedia and UN Foundation: Agreement on Joint World Heritage Program
- Ambassador’s Fund Supports Work at World Heritage Sites
- Job Vacancies

BIOETHICS: Pellegrino to Succeed Kass on U.S. Panel

The full story in Science (Science, Vol 309, Issue 5742, 1800 , 16 September 2005) Subscription required.

President George W. Bush's has replaced 66-year-old Leon Kass with Edmund Pellegrino, an 85-year-old physician and bioethicist at Georgetown University, as chair of the President's Bioethics Council.

The Council has been very controversial under Kass' leadership, especially in its recommendations with respect to cloning of human embryos for research. Science quotes Daniel Perry, head of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research in Washington, D.C.: "I wouldn't be surprised if the council recedes into the background from now on; Pellegrino is not the lightning rod that Leon was."

Science further notes:
"The Jesuit-trained Pellegrino is universally applauded for his scholarship. 'There isn't an award that he hasn't been awarded,' says Baruch Brody of Baylor University in Waco, Texas, including from groups that differ with him on matters such as abortion and when to withdraw treatment for the terminally ill. He's also held many administrative posts, including a 4-year stint as president of Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

"Although Pellegrino declined comment, his writings appear to place him in the same camp as Kass in opposing research cloning--what scientists prefer to call somatic cell nuclear transfer--and other technologies promising to 'enhance' humans."

Readers of this blog may be interested to know that Dr. Pelegrino has been involved in the UNESCO's effort to develop a Declaration on Universal Norms on Bioethics. He was a final member of the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) "Drafting Group" for the Declaration, apparently joining the group between the first and second of its six meetings.

Two "Intergovernmental Meetings of Experts" finalized the draft Declaration, completing that work in June, 2005. The U.S. Delegation for the meetings was lead by Ambassador Louise Oliver, and consisted primarily of State Department officials. The other members of the U.S. Delegation were: Carter Snead, General Counsel of the President'’s Council on Bioethics; James Kelly of The Federalist Society; and Nigel Cameron, Associate Dean at the Chicago Kent College of Law. Cameron, according to the Heritage Foundation, has also served as president of the Institute on Biotechnology and the Human Future. He also is Dean of the Wilberforce Forum, a Christian worldview think tank in Washington, DC, founded by Charles W. Colson.

The Declaration is to be submitted to the General Conference of UNESCO in October for approval.

Monday, September 12, 2005

UNESCO's Public Service Broadcasting Partners

UNESCO's Public Service Broadcasting Partners

"In the past ten years, UNESCO has developed a close partnership with major stakeholders in the field of public service broadcasting."

Links to the key partner organizations are provided on this webpage.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

'Help needed' to save great apes

BBC NEWS article in full:

"Ministers from 23 countries in Africa and south-east Asia have appealed for international help to save the world's great apes from extinction. Urgent action was needed to protect the great apes and provide sustainable ways of living for local communities, the UN-backed meeting in Kinshasa agreed.

"Poaching and damage to forest habitats have led gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo and orangutan numbers to fall sharply. Experts warn wild populations of great apes could disappear in a generation.

"The five-day meeting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was the first involving ministers from the countries where the threatened species remain.

"Officials for the United Nations Great Ape Survival project, which set up the conference, said the nations' joint commitment was an important step forward. "

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Impact of Ratifying the 1990 UN Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Family: Case Studies of the Philippines and Sri L

UNESCO release on the report

The full report.

"On 1 July 2003, the 1990 United Nations International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (hereafter: ICMR) officially entered into force as an instrument of international law that will ensure protection and respect for the human rights of all migrants.

"In the Asia Pacific region only three sending countries (the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Tajikistan) have so far ratified the ICMR, despite the region constituting an important source of labour migrants and intra-regional labour migration taking place on a large scale..........

"When a country ratifies an international treaty, it assumes a legal obligation to implement the rights in that treaty. But this is only the first step because recognition of rights on paper is not sufficient to guarantee that they will be enjoyed in practice..........

"This report attempts to investigate the legislative side (implementation of Convention’s content ) and the promotional aspects (i.e. ‘external use’) vis-à-vis the destination countries and beyond in the context of two State Parties that are located in Asia — Sri Lanka and the Philippines. We focus on the obligations of both countries in their role as migrant sending countries but will also give consideration to the situation of in-coming foreign workers."

"The Last Great Apes?" -- Science Editorial Occassioned by the Sequencing of the Chimp Genome

The full editorial from Science (Subscription required.)

"Roughly 100,000 gorillas, 100,000 chimpanzees, 10,000 bonobos, and 30,000 orangutans survive today in the wild. Some forms are critically endangered: About 200 Cross River gorillas remain in Nigeria and Cameroun; about 6000 Sumatran orangutans survive, swinging their full-body orange dreadlocks. All the great apes of the world together number less than the human population of Brighton, England; the most numerous species, less than the people of Abilene, Texas........

"The Great Ape Survival Project (GRASP) links the 23 ape range-state governments with all the different organizations working for great apes, as well as with the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Is this just another layer of bureaucracy? No. GRASP is a heroic effort to aid global treasures on a global scale. Each separate forest and its denizens can only be saved locally, and each needs the backing of its own country’s people and government. In turn, each government needs to appreciate the importance of what it holds. Politicians are not impressed by wildlife that doesn’t lobby and doesn’t vote. GRASP is the coordinating lobby in favor of humankind’s nearest relatives.

"The sequencing of the chimpanzee genome is a huge step toward discovering how building blocks of information are assembled to construct either ape or human. Even so, geneticists are all too aware that a genome is only part of the story of an individual, let alone a species. The nature of genetic variability between individuals, populations, and species can and will find objective measures, but the future of individuals, populations, and species will never be solved by genetics.

"It will only be solved by action—practical political action based on respect for other individuals—even if those individuals are only almost human."