Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Rebuilding the Mosques in Iraq

Askariya Before the Bombing

The bombing on February 22 of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, Iraq was a purposefully outrageous act, in the original sense that it deliberately provoked outrage.

CNN tells us this of the 1,200-year-old Askariya shrine:
# The Golden Mosque is one of the four major Shiite shrines in Iraq. The other major sites are in Najaf, Kerbala and the Baghdad district of Kadhimiya.

# Two of the 12 revered Shiite Imams are buried in the shrine. Imam Ali al-Hadi, who died in 868 AD and his son, the 11th Imam Hasan al-Askari, who died in 874 A.D.
The Golden Mosque was a beautiful building because a community of believers saw it as a symbol of their faith. It commemorated two men who were not only directly descended from the Prophet, but who were great leaders of their faith.

Retaliation lead to retaliation, and the process included more purposefully outrageous acts, including the desecration of many other mosques. More and more people have been outraged.

According to Relief Web,
The Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General in Iraq Mr. Ashraf Qazi, confirmed on Monday, UN/UNESCO support to the Iraqi initiative to rebuild the Shrine of Imam Ali Al-Hadi and other damaged religious sites.
He indicated that the UN, through its Iraq trust fund and UNESCO with its technical expertise, are ready to assist in rebuilding the damaged complex.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad and General George Casey, the commander of the coalition troops in Iraq, said,
Given the historic, cultural, and religious importance of this shrine, this attack is a crime against humanity. The Shrine should be rebuilt and the United States will contribute to its reconstruction.
Michael Southwick, a member of the Americans for UNESCO Board of Directors, stated:
I think it would be great if some American would spearhead a widely publicized effort to collect contributions here from Muslim and non-Muslim American alike.
I agree that it would be great if the American public were to raise money to rebuild the mosques that have been destroyed, Sunni and Shiite alike. Indeed, given the separation of church and state in this country, I think it would be better done through private philanthropy than through public funds. And I think Americans of all faiths would be willing to donate to show their support for the people of Iraq.
Askariya After the Bombing

Friday, February 24, 2006

From the Digital Divide to Digital Opportunities.

Go to the report's UNESCO website.

Summary: "This work is the first result of the merger of two well-known initiatives, ITU’s Digital Access Index (DAI) and Orbicom’s Monitoring the Digital Divide/Infostate conceptual framework and model, and from now known as the “ICT Opportunity Index”. This is a response to calls from the international community and follows the explicit recommendation of the WSIS Plan of Action, paragraph 28, to '…develop and launch a composite ICT Development (Digital Opportunity) Index' to combine statistical indicators with analytical work on policies and their implementation. This measurement tool reflects the importance the ITU attaches to the collection, dissemination and exchange of information on telecommunications/Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). It further highlights the role of ITU as the main source of global telecommunication/ICT statistics."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Financing a UNESCO Chair or Participation in an UNITWIN Network

Since 1992, UNESCO has worked to strengthen higher education in the developing world through the UNITWIN and UNESCO Chairs programs. These programs encourage higher education systems in the industrial world to build relationships and share research and expertise with institutions in developing countries as well as regions in transition.

UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs projects deal with training and research activities and cover all major fields of knowledge within UNESCO’s competence such as Education, Human Rights, Cultural Development, Environment, Basic and Engineering Sciences, Communication, etc. Thus far, 618 UNESCO Chairs and Networks have been established in 123 countries. A directory of existing projects is available online.

Each year, UNESCO designates approximately thirty new UNITWIN networks and UNESCO Chairs in total throughout the world; a majority is awarded to universities.


UNESCO Chairs are awarded each year to individual colleges, universities and research institutions to initiate programs that further research and training in one of UNESCO's fields of competence. A Chair may be established by reinforcing an existing teaching or research program and giving it an international dimension, or one may be established as a new teaching and research unit. More information on current Chairs can be found on the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs section of UNESCO's website.

UNITWIN Networks

Through the University Twinning and Network Scheme (UNITWIN), UNESCO matches colleges, universities and research institutions in industrialized countries with counterparts in the developing world to share information and knowledge in areas of need. Scholars who participate are often linked through web sites and portals, in addition to loaned faculty positions, trainings and conferences.

The Competitive Process

Selection of participants in this program is competitive, bases on project proposals, that are reviewed by UNESCO.

When the project proposal concerns the establishment of an inter-university network, it can be submitted either by the heads of all institutions involved, or by a single institution which takes the lead, acts as the focal point and ensures the development of the network.

UNESCO seeks the advice and endorsement of national commissions on these proposals, as part of its review process.

In the case of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, it will first screen applications, passing the successful ones to UNESCO itself. Its deadline for receipt of applications this year is March 27. Click here to go to the National Commission website for the program.

Scholars and institutions seeking to apply for a UNESCO Chair or to participate in the UNITWIN program should prepare application materials based on UNESCO's "Guidelines for the Submission of Project Proposals." More information can also be obtained in the UNESCO document "Procedures for the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme: A Practical Guide."

The deadline for receipt of the applications at UNESCO (after their review in the National Commission) is April 30.

Sources of Funding

UNESCO has limited resources. It sees the universities in countries like the United States as financing their own participation using domestic resources. (UNESCO can make some seed money available to universities in developing nations.)

For a U.S. university, this raises the question of where to obtain the resources needed to create a chair or participate in a network. Several U.S. government sources of funding seem possible:

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds the "Higher Education for Development (HED) Program" which promotes higher education's engagement in social and economic development through institutional and human capacity building in developing countries. Between 1998 and 2005, ALO awarded funding to more than 250 partnerships in more than 60 countries.

The National Science Foundation (NSF), and its Office of International Science and Engineering, have a number of programs that might provide the funds needed for a UNESCO chair. The Partnerships for International Research and Education was run as a one-time, pilot competition in 2005. If the NSF chooses to hold additional competitions, the PIRE program would be an exceptional source of support.

The Fogerty International Center of the National Institutes of Health is primarily a source of funding for biomedical research. (Note that there is a Special Focus program on HIV/AIDS, which includes a center at Johns Hopkins University.) Fogarty research areas include the Health, Environment, and Economic Development (HEED) Program, the International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG) and International Studies on Health and Economic Development.

There are, in addition, thousands of foundations and other charitable organizations that might finance the efforts of a UNESCO Chair or network. The Foundation Center offers a searchable database of foundation programs, and your institution might well have subscribed to its online database. (Monthly subscriptions are not expensive, and you can search free of charge at the Center's offices in New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Cleveland, or San Francisco. There are also cooperating collections in many states.

Check the Research Office of your university. They have information on sources of financing, and offer assistance in preparing proposals.

It is a good time for Yanks to seek UNESCO jobs.

UNESCO management, like that of other multilateral agencies, is concerned that the organization maintains a fair balance of staff from its member nations. It uses a formula to calculate the number of staff members it should have from each nation. In the case of the United States, it has estimated that there should be between 46 and 76 citizens on its staff. There are currently 32. Thus UNESCO might reasonably add another 30 Yanks to its staff!

Both UNESCO and the State Department are seeking qualified U.S. citizens for UNESCO jobs.

The Global Ethics Observatory

Go to UNESCO's Global Ethics Observatory.

The observatory is a system of databases with worldwide coverage in bioethics and other areas of applied ethics in science and technology such as environmental ethics, science ethics, and technology ethics. Its official launch occurred on December 15, 2005 at the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) Meeting in Tokyo, Japan.

This UNESCO initiative is freely accessible online. The Observatory is designed to serve as a reference, collaborative, consultative, and comparative resource hub of ethics activities around the world. The observatory is also intended to become a platform for supporting and advancing ethics activities by assisting Member States and other interested parties to identify experts, establish ethics committees, construct informed policies in the area of ethics, and design ethics teaching curricula.

The Observatory includes four major databases:
* Who’s Who in Ethics,
* Ethics Institutions,
* Ethics Teaching Programs, and
* Ethics Related Legislation and Guidelines.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Integrity in Scientific Research

The Knowledge Economy community page of the Development Gateway is featuring UNESCO's program on Ethics of Science and Technology at this time. The community of more than 8,400 members focuses on four main areas: Innovation Systems (including scientific systems), Education and Training, Information Infrastructure, and Economic and Institutional Incentive Regime.

UNESCO at 60: 60 weeks 60 themes

This website provides a wonderful introduction to UNESCO. In celebration of the 60 years since its creation, UNESCO has chosen to highlight a major area of its activity on its website each week for 60 weeks. The website provides links to all of the highlights presented to date in chronological order.

The New Courier: UNESCO at 60

This 60th anniversary issue marks a new format for the New Courier. Bridging the tranformation of the paper edition into a full fledged e-magazine, this special edition presents articles on ten key subjects, providing web links for each article to guide the user towards more information from the UNESCO portal.

The themes explored are as follows:

# Education For All
# Oceans
# Heritage
# Copyright
# Bioethics
# Environment
# Cultural diversity
# Water
# Digital Divide
# Crises and emergencies

UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB)

Go to the MAB website.

The Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), proposes an interdisciplinary research agenda and capacity building aiming to improve the relationship of people with their environment globally. Launched in the early 1970s, it notably targets the ecological, social and economic dimensions of biodiversity loss and the reduction of this loss. It uses its World Network of Biosphere Reserves as vehicles for knowledge-sharing, research and monitoring, education and training, and participatory decision-making.

MAB is pursuing three main lines of action:
1: Minimizing biodiversity loss through research and capacity-building for ecosystem management
2: Biosphere reserves - promoting environmental sustainability
3: Enhancing linkages between cultural and biological diversity

During the period that the United States was out of UNESCO, the government continued to fund Americans to participate in Man and the Biosphere projects.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Information for All Program (IFAP)

Go to the IFAP website.

The Information for All Program is the only intergovernmental program exclusively dedicated to promoting universal access to information and knowledge for development. This is a key plank in building Knowledge Societies, and an important element in realizing the hopes created by the World Summit on the Information Society.

The objectives of the Information for All Program are to:
* promote international reflection and debate on the ethical, legal and societal challenges of the information society;
* promote and widen access to information in the public domain through the organization, digitization and preservation of information;
* support training, continuing education and lifelong learning in the fields of communication, information and informatics;
* support the production of local content and foster the availability of indigenous knowledge through basic literacy and ICT literacy training;
* promote the use of international standards and best practices in communication, information and informatics in UNESCO's fields of competence; and
* promote information and knowledge networking at local, national, regional and international levels.

The Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Program is composed of 26 member states of UNESCO. It has been invested with the authority to speak on strategic priorities and to lobby and create awareness about issues pertaining to the use of information and ICT for development at the international level.

The Council is, or course, responsible for guiding the planning and implementation of the Information for All Program. In particular, the Council is to consider proposals on the development and adaptation of the Program, recommend the broad lines of action that the Program could take, review and assess achievements and define the basic areas requiring increased international cooperation, promote participation of Member States in the Program and support all fund-raising efforts for its implementation.

The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Programme will be held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, from 20 to 22 March 2006.

3rd session of the IFAP Council (May 2004)

The documents of the session are available here.

A provisional list of participants is available here.

The Bureau for the Intergovernmental Council, composed of representatives of eight of the members of the Council, is effectively its executive committee. The Bureau will be meeting on the 23rd of March.

A New Zealander, Elizabeth Longworth, is the Director of the Secretariat of the Council, and Secretary of the IFAP Council.

Unfortunately, the United States has not contributed to this program, and it of course has therefore not been elected to the Intergovernmental Council.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The World Science Forum

World Science Forum Proceedings Online

The proceedings of the November 2005 World Science Forum in Budapest are now available online. More than 300 people attended, coming from nearly 70 countries. The conclusions and recommendations are available for most of the sessions, which were
* Science and Public Policy,
* Capacity Building and Implementation,
* The Role of Business,
* The Perspective from Developing Countries,
* The Future of the Environment,
* Educating Future Generations,
* Science in a Democratic World: The Role of Parliaments,
* Science for Peace and Knowledge, and
* Ethics and Responsibility in Science Journalism.

The overall recommendations from the meeting addressed:
* new relationships between and funding models involving academia, government, the business sector and other actors;
* international exchange of experiences and good practices;
* bridging the culture gap between science and business;
* recognizing intrinsic ecological values and
* interesting children in science at an early age.

The first World Science Forum in Budapest was held in 2003 as a follow-up to UNESCO's 1999 World Conference on Science, held in the same city.

"Partnership to boost Latin American water research"

Read the full article in SciDev.Net.

"Chile and UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) have signed an agreement to support scientific research on water resources in dry parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

"Under the agreement, signed on 2 February, UNESCO will work with the Centre for Arid and Semi-arid Zones of Latin America and the Caribbean (CAZALAC), based in La Serena, Chile.....

"CAZALAC now plans to join the Global Network on Water and Development Information in Arid Zones, which promotes international cooperation in dry areas.

"Its members include eight centres supported by UNESCO in China, Egypt, Iran, Malaysia, Panama, Serbia-Montenegro and the United Kingdom. "

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The new issue of a World of Science is out

Go to the January-March 2006 issue of A World of Science.

In the wake of the UN Conference on Climate Change in Montréal last month, A World of Science looks at UNESCO's contribution to research on climate change via observation of the oceans and of mountain regions. In an issue which marks the end of the International Year of Physics, we discover why physicists study the ocean to understand climate, against the backdrop of a record number of extreme climate events in 2005.

Other highlights include an interview with Sabrina Krief on why the Great Apes living in the wild still have so much to teach us, be it about 'cultural diversity', our own origins or where to look for new molecules for medicines.

Last but not least, we travel to Bangladesh where a low-cost filter which removes arsenic from domestic water is currently being tested. Developed by the UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, this 'family filter' could save millions of lives in Bangladesh and around the world.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Getting a Job With UNESCO

International work is interesting and fulfilling. Work in the U.N. system offers decent salaries and benefits and significant career opportunities. UNESCO provides virtually a unique opportunity for those interested in education, science, culture and communications to do useful and important work in an international setting.

Now is an especially good time for U.S. citizens to get jobs in UNESCO. During the long period that the United States was not a member of UNESCO, the number of U.S. citizens working in UNESCO decreased substantially. Now that the United States is back, that number should increase.

UNESCO was created in large part to increase the understanding among peoples in order to promote and maintain peace. The understanding between the people of the United States and those of other nations seems more important than ever. U.S. citizens on the staff of UNESCO can play a key role in promoting involvement of their fellow citizens in UNESCO activities, and thus to facilitating constructive dialog between the United States and other nations.

Moreover, the United States is especially strong in many of the skills needed by UNESCO, and people from the United States are likely to be more effective than others in helping UNESCO tap the resources of the United States for its programs and activities. Not incidentally, U.S. citizens can also help make the benefits of UNESCO available to us at home.


UNESCO's working languages in its headquarters are French and English, and its staff in the field is often required to speak other languages. Thus language skills are important for anyone thinking of a job in UNESCO. International experience is also a definite plus.

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and employs people for its programs in education, the natural sciences, the social sciences, culture, and communications as well as the variety of professions needed to run a big, international organization (e.g. accounting, personnel, management, information technology management). The sectoral jobs tend to go to experienced professionals, both due to their content and to the competition for good positions in international organizations.

UNESCO jobs tend to require administrative and/or policy experience. Thus, while a teaching background is a definite plus for someone seeking a job in UNESCO's education sector, it is not the only qualification; experience in educational administration and educational policy are probably more relevant to most of UNESCO's work in the education sector.

The State Department is especially interested in helping highly qualified U.S. citizens to find policy making jobs in UNESCO. Those interested who feel themselves qualified for a senior position in UNESCO would be well advised to contact the U.S. Mission to UNESCO in Paris, or the U.S. National Commission. Their advice would be invaluable, and their support in obtaining such a position in UNESCO essential.

There are, however, entry level jobs at UNESCO, including fellowships. There is even a Fulbright Fellowship for U.S. citizens to help people with recent graduate degrees to work in UNESCO.

Some useful links.

UNESCO has an Employment Services Website.

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO posts notices of fellowship and other employment opportunities on its website. It also provides timely information on UNESCO vacancies in its "updates" newsletter.

The U.S. Mission's website also provides employment information.

There is a very helpful document provided by the State Department for those interested in "Employment Opportunities With the United Nations and Other International Organizations". It is part of State's website on "Employment Information: U.N. and International Organizations".

Click here for more on jobs in multilateral development agencies.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Specialized Course on Local e-Governance in the Caribbean

Click here for more information on the course.
Produced by The University of the West Indies Distance Education Centre and sponsored by UNESCO
The Course in brief

"Local governments, non-governmental organisations and communities are increasingly realising the need to utilise new information communication technology (ICT) if they are to be sustainable in the information economy. Using ICT in local governance can improve local management and administration, and also lead to greater participation and transparency in local government.

"The Certificate in e-Governance course is aimed at interested and appropriate people in governmental and non-governmental agencies and organizations in the Caribbean. It is designed to improve the knowledge, skills and capabilities of such people in the use of ICT in governance and government."

Study Abroad 2006-2007

Study Abroad 2006-2007 contains some 2,900 entries concerning post-secondary education and training in all academic and professional fields in countries throughout the world. Key features include information on:

- Study opportunities and financial assistance available to students wishing to study in a foreign country
- National systems of higher education
- Open and distance learning (ODL) opportunities
- Validation of foreign qualifications
- How to search for quality institutions of higher education including warnings about bogus institutions

UNESCO Reference Works series
22,00 €
Book, 688 pages, trilingual edition: French/English/Spanish, 33rd edition
Format: 27 x 19 cm

UNESCO's Scientific Maps

As an integral part of its scientific activities, UNESCO's has a long-range map program. The compilation is carried out with prior agreement on a common system of nomenclature and legends, thus setting the bases for international co-operation among scientists and specialists. It also leads to further inter-calibration of research methods so as to provide comparable data and results, and to complement existing knowledge in particular areas.

The maps and atlases in the UNESCO series are produced with the participation of all the countries covered by them. Although these small-scale maps cannot replace large-scale maps produced on a national level, they nevertheless constitute a valuable source of information for broad planning and study of resources-development activities. They are also useful working tools for secondary and university courses.

* Climatic maps
* Geological maps
* Hydrogeological maps
* Quaternary maps
* Tectonic maps
* Mineral and metallogenic maps
* Metamorphic maps
* Oceanographic maps
* Population maps
* Soil maps
* Vegetation maps

Darwin Day

1840 portrait of Charles Darwin, age 31, by George Richmond.

Darwin's 200th Birthday will occur on February 12, 2009; it will also be the 150th Anniversary of the publication of his famous book On The Origin of Species. The day has been chosen for an International Celebration to show appreciation for Darwin and for his achievements.

Project “Darwin2,” commemorating Darwin’s famous voyage of the Beagle (1831-1836), is under way. The enterprise is one of the initiatives of Darwin Day promoted by the Natural History Museum and ADM in Milan. It is sponsored by WWF and ICOM (International Council of Museums -- UNESCO).

The Charles Darwin Foundation, founded in 1959, under the auspices of UNESCO and other international organizations, is dedicated to the conservation of the Galapagos ecosystems. The Foundation operates the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands to conduct scientific research and environmental education for conservation. The Station has a team of over one hundred scientists, educators, volunteers, research students and support staff from all over the world.