Saturday, May 27, 2006

Editorial: UNESCO's Values 60 Years Later


"SINCE WARS BEGIN IN THE MINDS OF MEN..., it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed." From the preamble of UNESCO's Constitution

UNESCO is celebrating its six decades of work this year. The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, in its meeting next week, is devoting a session to the commemoration. It seems appropriate to to editorialize about the UNESCO adventure at this moment.

UNESCO was created by the Allies, working in a bombed out London, at the end of World War II. It is not surprising that UNESCO’s mandate was “to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture.”

As the membership of UNESCO expanded to more than 190 nations, UNESCO’s leadership came to recognize that -- as important as the maintenance of peace is -- there is a still greater objective for UNESCO. We have come to understand that development too begins in the minds of men, and it is in the minds of men that progress in all fields must be constructed. I suggest that UNESCO’s broader mandate is to promote social, political and economic development through education, science and culture!

I believe that UNESCO promotes a set of values, and that the global penetration of these values is indeed transforming the world, leading to peace and progress. These values include:
§ Concern for the poor
§ Love of peace
§ Emphasis on ethical behavior informed by philosophy
§ Respect for learning
§ Love of the written word
§ Respect for cultural diversity, and joy in cultural riches
§ Enthusiasm for the global dissemination of new media
§ Freedom of information
§ Respect for and love of scientific knowledge
§ Respect for knowledge based policies
§ Respect for the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of mankind
§ Respect for and love of the natural heritage of mankind
§ Respect for nature and concern for the environment

Certainly UNESCO can not transform the world alone, but it has played an important role in the global dissemination of these values. Its thousands of workers and myriad programs spread these values, and indeed the prestige of UNESCO itself helps to promote these values. UNESCO helps catalyze the efforts of governments, academia, the scientific community and civil society all over the world.

Indeed, were there not an international forum such as UNESCO for the discussion and debate of these fundamental values, I think we would have to create one complementary to but separate from the General Assembly and Councils of the United Nations.

I am proud that Americans were leaders in the creation of UNESCO, and pleased that we are again leaders in the governing councils of the organization. I hope and believe that the promotion of these values is fundamental to American national policy.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the 100th Anniversary of Mesa Verde

"I'm delighted to be here on this very, very special celebration for Mesa Verde, the 100th Anniversary of Mesa Verde as a national park. Amid these centuries-old dwellings, we're reminded of Mesa Verde's special place in our national park system. Many of our parks offer awe-inspiring landscapes or iconic structures, but visitors to Mesa Verde have a unique opportunity to enjoy both. Mesa Verde is actually the first national park that was established to protect America's man-made treasures, and thanks to a century of custodianship by Mesa Verde rangers, God's creation and man's will be enjoyed here for centuries to come. Congratulations to all of you.

"I'm happy today to have the opportunity to explore a few of Mesa Verde's more than 4,000 archeological sites, including some of the famous cliff dwellings. These sites reflect the culture of this region's ancient inhabitants, tracing their progression from basket weavers, to pottery makers, to farmers, to urban planners, who developed some of America's earliest communities.

"These dwellings also show us the connection between the ancestral pueblo people and their descendents who live in the Southwest today. In fact, 24 Native American tribes in this region have an ancestral affiliation with Mesa Verde."

Mesa Verde is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


The 2006 list covers a spectrum of issues and geographical regions, some of which draw on troubling humanitarian emergencies and conflict situations (such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nepal) while others focus on such vital areas as human rights (asylum law and child prisoners) and development (Liberia and water as a shared resource). In this year's list, some stories focus on conflicts that may have been in the media spotlight - but highlight a perspective that does not usually get much play.

The United Nations each year publishes "Ten Stories the World Should Hear More About." The initiative was first launched in 2004. The short list of stories is not meant to be representative of the UN agenda. The ranking of the stories is not a reflection of their relative significance.

One of this years stories describes a UNESCO project, From Potential Conflict to Co-operation Potential (PCCP), that aims to foster cooperation between stakeholders in the management of shared water resources, while helping to ensure that potential conflicts do not turn into real ones.
From water wars to bridges of cooperation: Exploring the peace-building potential of a shared resource

“Guidelines for Terminology Policies. Formulating and implementing terminology policy in language communities”

UNESCO just published this report that was prepared by the International Information Center for Terminology (Infoterm). Terminology planning occurs at different levels: national, regional, language community, local community, institutional or organizational. There are also terminology planning activities in various professional fields such as chemistry, biology, physics and medicine. In addition, there is a terminology component to virtually all standardization and harmonization activities, whether in industry or elsewhere. A terminology policy or strategy, especially when conceived and implemented at the national level, needs to take into account highly complex demographic, cultural, ethno-linguistic and geo-linguistic and socio-psychological factors. Infoterm, was founded in 1971 by UNESCO with the objective to support and co-ordinate international co-operation in the field of terminology. Members are national, international and regional terminology institutions, organizations and networks, as well as specialized public or semi-public or other kind of non-profit institutions engaged in terminological activities.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

UNESCO and Rising Above A Gathering Storm

Norman R. Augustine

The Keynote address on Friday, June 2nd at the annual meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO is titled:

UNESCO and Rising Above A Gathering Storm
It is to be delivered by Norman R. Augustine, who is listed in the program as “Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Lockheed Martin Corporation”.

There is some background suggesting that this will be an especially interesting talk.

Rising Above A Gathering Storm is the title of an important and influential book published last year by the National Academies of Science. It was written by the Academies’ Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century.
The group consisted of several corporate CEOs, university presidents, three Nobel Prize winners, several past presidential appointees, and distinguished teachers.
The chairman of the committee was Norman Augustine.

Not only that, but Augustine has a knack for turning a memorable phrase! (Click here for some examples.)

This report has been credited as significantly influencing the American Competitiveness Initiative announced by President Bush in the last State of the Union message. The Initiative, recognizing that America's economic strength and global leadership depend on continued technological advances, promises:
· a major increase in federal funding of fundamental research and development,
· incentives for private sector investments in research and development,
· a major effort to improve math, science, and technological education in our K-12 schools, and
· a new program of Career Advancement Accounts that workers and people looking for work can use to obtain training and other employment services.

Thus, the talk should be an exceptional opportunity to hear about the current and future state of U.S. competitiveness, and the role that UNESCO can play in helping assure that science and technology remain a vibrant force for American economic progress.

AmUNESCO Board and U.S. NatCom meetings

The Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO met yesterday (Tuesday, May 23, 2006). The main topic of discussion was the upcoming meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO (NatCom).

The NatCom meeting is to take place on June 1st and 2nd, at the Doubletree Hotel in Washington, DC (1515 Rhode Island Avenue, NW). It is open to the public, but those planning to attend should contact the National Commission staff (they need to plan for the number of attendees). (Click here to see the full agenda.)

UNESCO is celebrating its six decades of existence. AmUNESCO Board member Raymond E. Wanner has been invited to participate in a panel on Thursday (June 1) titled: “UNESCO at Sixty Years: How It Began and Where It Is Going”. In my experience, no one knows more about this topic than Ray.

The keynote speaker on Friday (June 2) is to be Norman R. Augustine, who will speak on “UNESCO and Rising Above A Gathering Storm”.

UNESCO is currently conduction a major review of its natural and social science programs. An international panel has been convened for the purpose. Dr. Kathie Olsen, Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation, is a member of the panel, and is to speak on the exercise on Thursday afternoon.

Monday, May 22, 2006

“What UNESCO for the Future”

"A reflexion on current and future trends, on potential gaps that must be filled and on future scenarios, with a foreword by Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, and an introduction by Mr Pierre Sané, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Social and Human Sciences."

‘What UNESCO for the future?’ proceeds from a reflexion on current and future trends and potential gaps that must be filled, on future scenarios and on ‘What UNESCO?’ in terms of its role today as a participant that could influence the processes of global transformation.

‘What UNESCO for the future?’ reflects on UNESCO’s possible responses to the rising global challenges it faces today. In other words, what role could our Organization have within the United Nations system, and what contribution could it make towards resolving the main challenges and threats of the twenty-first century?

If, as some think, we have effectively arrived at a crossroads – that we are reaching a point of no return in a number of fields (water, energy, climate change, pollution, terrorism, nuclear power) – what UNESCO will allow us to face this future? What relationship to foster between the Organization’s fields of competence and its functions? What methods to use to reach the world’s most vulnerable populations if we are to build intellectual co-operation worthy of the name?

This publication presents the addresses given in the course of this forum by sixteen personalities:

* Jacques Attali
* Robert Badinter
* Boutros Boutros-Ghali
* Souleymane Bachir Diagne
* Fatma Haddad-Chamakh
* Ping Huang
* Albert Jacquard
* Randolph Kent
* Yersu Kim
* Achille Mbembé
* Edgar Morin
* Hisashi Owada
* Miguel Rojas-Mix
* Carolina Rossetti Gallardo
* Ghassan Salamé
* Tu Weiming

Andre Varchaver comments:
- Most interesting and valuable as a well written historical account of how UNESCO came to be and, - importantly - the role of the United States in its creation is to be found in the reprint of "Planning the Organization of UNESCO, 1942-1946; a Personal Record" by Frank Richard Cowell, former Secretary-General of the British National Commission for UNESCO, written on the occasion of UNESCO's 20th anniversary. I am tempted to say that it should be required reading for all of us as well as the members and staff of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Report from the AAAS Meeting

A session titled "Whither UNESCO? Science, Poverty, and Peace" was held at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in St. Louis on February 17, 2006. The session was organized by Irving Lerch, representing Americans for UNESCO. (An audio tape of the session is soon to be available.)

The purpose of the meeting was described in the following Synopsis:
This is a critical time for UNESCO. The basic science and engineering program is being reorganized, increasingly complex issues in biomedicine are being scrutinized, and the member states are ordering their priorities placing greater emphasis on the devolution of programs away from the center and onto offices in geographically dispersed regions. U.S. State Department officials are trying to find ways to coordinate the participation of civil society with the work of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. The organization is being asked to place greater weight on science and engineering in the service of UNESCO's cross-cutting goals: poverty, conflict reduction, and social justice. The framework for these great works is being redeveloped to achieve greater efficiencies with a view to obtaining lasting and substantial results. UNESCO institutes, such as the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics, have become important resources for the global science and engineering enterprise to recruit and develop scholars from developing countries and integrate them into the intellectual life of the global science and engineering community. The purpose of this symposium is to track these changes and to determine how best to organize U.S. participation to achieve global and national objectives.

The Discussion

John Daly opened the meeting, representing Dr. Lerch, who was unable to attend. He very briefly described Americans for UNESCO and the purpose of the session.

Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven served as moderator for the session, and began it with remarks as to interests of the AAAS and its Commitee for Sientific Freedom and Responsibility in unfettered collaboration across nations. She stressed the need for American scientists to participate in international scientific activities. Especially important is the role of American scientists in international advisory meetings held to interpret scientific knowledge for policy makers. She stressed the importance of scientific and academic freedom in such efforts.

Without the United States' scientific community, there is no UNESCO science program.
Andras Szolosi-Nagy

The View from UNESCO, Andras Szollosi-Nagy

This was a comprehensive and well-delivered talk on UNESCO's initiatives around the world dealing with accessing clean drinking water. Dr. Szollosi-Nagy recognized that most of the world will not achieve the Millennium Development Goals unless access to water is improved. Yet the world faces a looming crisis of lack of fresh water. Thus, UNESCO's scientific leadership in areas such as fresh water studies and analysis of the hydrological effects of climate change is critically important. Perhaps more so are UNESCO's efforts to help build capacity in developing nations to deal with these issues.

The speaker also made an appeal to the audience for U.S. scientists to engage directly with UNESCO programs. He stated that our most important challenge now is getting the U.S. intellectual community back and involved in UNESCO.

He described UNESCO's successful effort to create "The Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems". This is an integrated compendium of sixteen encyclopedias, equivalent to 200 volumns, It attempts to forge pathways between disciplines in order to show their interdependence and helps foster the transdisciplinary aspects of the relationship between nature and human society. It deals in detail with interdisciplinary subjects, but it is also disciplinary as each major core subject is covered in great depth, by world experts. It is also online, free for use by the world's scientific community.

The View from the U.S. Government, Kelly Seikman

Reviewed the role of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and highlighted the various ways that Americans can get involved with international exchange. She pointed out the newness of the situation--as well as the lack of history and continuity during the 19 year period in which the United States was not a member of UNESCO. Ms. Seikman also underlined the importance of the U.S. Mission to UNESCO, located in Paris.

The talk focused briefly on the promotion by the United States of cross-cutting programs at UNESCO, and the importance of the current reviews of UNESCO's programs in the natural and social sciences.

UNESCO staff of international civil servents is intended to include representatives of all its member nations. The nominal number of U.S. staffers should be between 46 and 76. However, in March there were only 32 full time U.S. staff members. The State Department is seeking to encourage other U.S. citizens on the staff.

The Role and Viewpoint of the National Academies, Bruce Alberts

Dr. Alberts described the international programs of the U.S. National Research Council, and notably those of the InterAcademy Council formed as an international coalition of national academies. He ended his talk with what he felt should be the priorities for UNESCO from his perspective as someone concerned with science education and Inter Academy collaboration to address global challenges. (Since the presentation is available on the web, it will not be further mentioned here.)

The Role and Expectation of the Learned and Professional Societies, Rita Colwell

Dr. Colwell "spoke from the heart," touching on her own personal experiences of having worked for more than 25 years internationally, putting a developing world perspective on stretching minimal funds to maximal effect. She emphasized the need for scientist to scientist cooperation. She described the importance of the UNESCO sponsored MIRCEN program, an international network in microbial biology, in catalyzing such cooperation.

Approximately 35 to 40 people attended the session. It concluded with questions from the floor and responses from the panelists.


Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven (Moderator), Henry R. Luce Professor of Health and Human Rights, Trinity College, and current Chair of the AAAS Committee on Scientific Freedom and Responsibility.

Andras Szollosi-Nagy (Speaker), Deputy Assistant Director for Natural Sciences, UNESCO.

Kelly Seikman, (Speaker) Ms. Seikman spoke in place of Marguerite Sullivan, Department of State and Director of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. (Ms. Sullivan was unable to attend the session due to illness.)

Bruce Alberts (Speaker), University of California, San Francisco (Former President of the National Academy of Sciences)

Rita Colwell (Speaker), University of Maryland and Canon U.S. Life Sciences Inc. (Former President of the National Science Foundation)

John Daly, Board of Directors, Americans for UNESCO

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Annual Meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will host its annual conference on Thursday, June 1 and Friday, June 2, 2006 at the Doubletree Hotel in Washington, DC (1515 Rhode Island Avenue, NW).

The Commission will have a series of informational plenary sessions and subject-specific committee breakout sessions on Thursday, June 1 and the morning of Friday, June 2.

The Commission will meet in plenary session to discuss its recommendations on Friday, June 2, 2006, from 1345 until 1600.

The theme of the conference is the 60th Anniversary of the creation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The meetings will be open to the public.

Anyone wishing to attend should contact the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO no later than Wednesday, May 24th for further information about admission, as seating is limited.

Call: (202) 663-0026;
or Email:

Saturday, May 13, 2006

A Science, Technology and Innovation Policy for Lebanon

The Science, Technology and Innovation Policy for Lebanon was launched in Beirut on April 27, 2006 by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, and the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Fouad Sanioura, in the presence of all government ministers, UN agency representatives and the Lebanese scientific and academic communities. It was UNESCO which set in motion the formulation of a science, technology and innovation policy for Lebanon three years ago. The policy report is the fruit of the work of four task forces led by UNESCO consultant Peter Tindemans and involving prominent Lebanese scientists and international experts. The Policy is published by the National Council for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Lebanon.

Read an Executive Summary of the report (in Arabic, English and French). (A comprehensive report on the policy is soon to be available on this website.)

Go to the website for the launching ceremony.

Sixty Years On: UNESCO and the Challenges and Opportunities for Engineering

This is a very interestingPower Point presentation made by Tony Marjorem for a talk at the Institution of Civil Engineers on 28 November, 2005.

It should be obvious to all, as it was to our ancestors in the Industrial Revolution, that a strong infrastructure is essential for economic development. Canals, railroads, and roads are needed to move goods. The energy infrastructure, including electrical power generation and distribution, and the production and distribution of fossil fuels are critical to manufacturing, transportation, not to mention air-conditioning and heating. The ICT infrastructure of telecommunications and computers has produced the information revolution. Water and sanitation infrastructure not only is crucial for good health, but as those people who spend much of their lives drawing and carrying water know all to well, produces great savings of effort. All are dependendent on professional engineering. So to is modern manufacturing. Agriculture is made more productive via the efforts of engineers who build the irrigation infrastructure and are responsible for agricultural machinery.

The United Nations system includes agencies that support the health professions, the agricultural professions, the environmental professions, and the manufacturing professions. It is only UNESCO that has stepped up to begin to provide cross-cutting support for the engineering professions. This is a critically important function, since the engineering professions cross-fertilize each other, and since engineering education benefits considerably from interdisciplinary approaches.

UNESCO Milestones

Check out this website with a list of the milestones in UNESCO's 60 year history.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Harmonization of Animal Care and Use Guidance

Read the full (enhanced) discussion in Science magazine (5 May 2006: Vol. 312. no. 5774, pp. 700 - 701). I think a subscription is required.

This article (by Gilles Demers, Gilly Griffin, Guy De Vroey, Joseph R. Haywood, Joanne Zurlo and Marie Bédard) calls for continued and expanded efforts to harmonize laws and regulations relating to the ethical treatment of animals involved in scientific research. Their article cites a number of important references (with links in the expanded version). It draws heavily on the work of the International Council for Laboratory Animal Science (ICLAS). The authors make the point that such harmonization is important for many reasons, including not only improving ethical treatment but also simplifying the administration of international research collaboration and improving the comparability of research results from different nations. Indeed, I believe that the thought that has been given to regulations involving animals used in science in the United States has lead in many cases to saving money and to more valid research.

Most people, when they think of this topic at all, think of the use of laboratory animals in medical research -- a very important topic, and one of considerable interest to the World Health Organization. However, animals are involved in many other fields of science, and not only in the laboratory. Thus, for example, agricultural scientists do research on livestock, environmental scientists and zoologists do research on wild animals in their natural habitat, and ichthyologists do research involving fish in fresh and salt water ecosystems.

The relevant regulatory system is complex. In the United States, for example, there are different regulations for treatment of laboratory animals, livestock involved in research, and animals in the wild. There are also different regulations for primates versus other less intelligent laboratory animals versus laboratory mice and rats.

Harmonization of animal care and use regulations would seem to be an important topic for UNESCO, which is of course the lead agency in the United Nations System for the physical and social sciences, and which has a program in bioethics. UNESCO's work could complement that of the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health, coordinating among the different UN agencies, and broadening the scope to include all of science.

The United States government might well recommend that UNESCO consider a declaration designed to harmonize regulations on the ethical treatment of animals in science. Were UNESCO to embark on the effort to develop such a declaration, the United States has a strong community of experts involved in the relevant issues who might assist in UNESCO's work.

Monday, May 01, 2006

UNESCO: Strategy on Human Rights

Read the full PDF document.

"Further integrating the human rights approach into all of UNESCO’s programs, advancing human rights in an era of globalization, and strengthening partnerships."