Sunday, July 30, 2006

UNESCO Resources for Those Who Wish to Study Abroad

The book, "Study Abroad", is UNESCO's international guide to higher-education study opportunities and scholarships offered by higher education institutions and international organizations in over 145 countries. It includes some 3,000 entries on courses and scholarships in different higher-education academic and professional disciplines. There is information on: addresses (including Internet sites), admission requirements, application deadlines, financial aid, fees, living expenses and other topics. Entries are presented in English, French or Spanish according to the language of the country concerned.

UNESCO's online "Study Abroad Database" contains some 3,000 opportunities for post-secondary studies in all academic and professional fields in 147 countries and territories for the years 2005 and 2006.

UNESCO International Conventions on the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education

There are six regional conventions on the recognition of qualifications (Africa, Arab States, Asia and Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, and two European conventions) and one interregional convention (Mediterranean Convention).

UNESCO conventions are aimed at promoting the recognition of academic qualifications for academic purposes (e.g. to continue studies in a different institution). Nevertheless, the conventions sometimes hold a ‘de facto’ and ‘de jure’ role in recognizing diplomas for professional purposes (e.g. to get a job). It is important to check with the different conventions.

Alert: Misuse of UNESCO Name by Bogus Institutions

Click here to read the full alert from UNESCO.

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of requests from individuals, recognition bodies and accrediting agencies concerning dubious providers of higher education that use UNESCO’s name or logo to give the impression that they are recognized providers of higher education.

UNESCO is an intergovernmental body. It does not have the mandate to accredit nor to recognise higher education institutions, programmes, diplomas or accrediting agencies.

Any provider of higher education or accrediting agency which claims or gives the impression of being accredited and/or recognised by UNESCO should be looked upon with caution. Such institutions or accrediting agencies may use different fraudulent modes.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Ethics and Politics of Nanotechnology

Click here to go to the UNESCO website for the report.

The Nanotechnology and Development News has summarized this report as follows:
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has released a report that advocates international action in the area of science and technology ethics in order to avoid disparate ethical standards between developed and developing countries on how nanotechnology is developed and used. The report says, 'Science and technology are often well developed and promoted in developed countries using resources from less developed countries, but the results and products generally do not return to these less developed countries.' The report says that collaboration between scientists has made nanotechnology an 'international science project' which, in combination with a lack of communication between experts and the poor in a given nation, increases the risk that inequalities of access to research will be greater within nations than between them. The report also says that developing countries without infrastructure could lack access to reliable scientific information needed to minimize potential nanotechnology hazard and exposure risks. The report says that these and other ethical issues should be identified, analyzed, and presented to the general public, specialized groups, and decision makers in order to raise their awareness. It also recommends that national governments require open-access to publicly funded research results.

The report was published as a brocure by UNESCO in 2006. (PDF, 26 pages.)

Read a critique of this report by David Berube in his NanoHype blog.

Reforms at UNESCO

According to Wikipedia:
The organization's reforms included the following measures: the number of divisions in UNESCO was cut in half, allowing a corresponding halving of the number of Directors -- from 200 to under 100, out of a total staff of approximately 2,000 worldwide. At the same time, the number of field units was cut from a high of 79 in 1999 to 52 today. Parallel management structures, including 35 Cabinet-level special advisor positions, were abolished. 209 negotiated staff departures and buy-outs took place from 1999–2003, causing the inherited $10 million staff cost deficit to disappear. The staff pyramid, which was the most top-heavy in the UN system, was cut back as the number of high-level posts was halved and the “inflation” of posts was reversed through the down-grading many positions. Open competitive recruitment, results-based appraisal of staff, training of all managers and field rotation were instituted, as well as SISTER and SAP systems for transparency in results-based programming and budgeting. In addition, the Internal Oversight Service (IOS) was established in 2001 to improve organizational performance by including the lessons learned from program evaluations into the overall reform process.

Go to Director General Koïchiro Matsuura's 2005 discussion of the reform and restructuring efforts.

Indo-UNESCO MoU on biotech centre

Read the full article on the Chennai Online News Service.

The article notes:
India and UNESCO Friday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish in Delhi a Regional Centre for Education and Training in Biotechnology.

The MoU was signed by UNESCO Director General Maciej Nalecz (sic) and Secretary, Department of Biotechnology M K Bhan in the presence of Union Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal.

In addition to education and training, the Centre will have strong research programme with an aim to develop human resources.

The key areas to be covered by the Centre include nano-biotechnology, stem cell research, biosensors, agriculture and environment biotechnology.

Editor's note: Maciej Nalecz is in fact the Director of the Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences of UNESCO.

Encyclopedia Entries for UNESCO

Online encyclopedias represent a great resource on the World Wide Web. Here are a couple of online encyclopedia entries on UNESCO that are chock full of information and useful links:
* Wikipendia
* Questia

The John Bolton Confirmation

The Washington Post today has an editorial opposing the confirmation of John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. It states (in part):
Mr. Bolton began his tenure with an argument over the preparations for a gathering of heads of state. He demanded that the summit document omit, among other things, references to the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals, on the ground that these had been interpreted by U.N. officials to include a commitment to more foreign aid. Mr. Bolton's action alienated other U.N. ambassadors with no obvious gain; such commitments, even if accepted, are non-binding.

Mr. Bolton's handling of the new U.N. Human Rights Council was equally clumsy. He failed to show up at nearly all of the 30 or so negotiating sessions leading up to the council's creation, then waded in at the eleventh hour with a bizarre proposal that the State Department quickly repudiated. Mr. Bolton's spokesman says that the ambassador engaged in good faith throughout the process. But U.S. allies felt that Mr. Bolton did not do so.

Mr. Bolton has embarrassed himself most recently by his mishandling of U.N. management reform, a cause supported by U.N. officials and the richer member states. Mr. Bolton came up with the idea of threatening to cut U.N. funding unless the management reforms were adopted, and his spokesman insists that this brinkmanship was helpful. But South Africa's U.N. envoy called it "poison"; Germany's ambassador called it "wrong"; his British counterpart said it was a mistake to hold the budget hostage. After six months the budget threat was dropped.

WP also published a story in today's news section ("The Bolton Nomination, Act II" by Colum Lynch) detailing some of the controvery around Bolton's role in the United Nations. Notably, it quotes the distinguished international civil servant, U.N. Deputy Secretary General Mark Malloch Brown who said in a public speech on June 6:
There is currently a perception among many otherwise quite moderate countries that anything the U.S. supports must have a secret agenda aimed at either subordinating multilateral processes to Washington's ends or weakening the institutions, and therefore, put crudely, should be opposed without any real discussion of whether they make sense or not.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What Went Wrong With the Tsunami Warning System?

Photo by DIMAS ARDIAN / GETTY IMAGES via Time Asia Magazine

Read the full article in the Asia Edition of TIME (July 26, 2006).

Almost 700 people were killed, nearly 1,000 injured and some 20,000 families left homeless by the tsunami that hit Java on July 17. But last month, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared that an interim alert system was up and running. Why was the destruction so great?

TIME reports:
Patricio Bernal, executive secretary of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Committee, says the response to the Java tsunami actually represented a success for the interim warning system and in a sense, he's right. Just 17 minutes after the earthquake struck off the coast of Java, scientists at the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) in Hawaii crunched the seismological data and sent a bulletin to colleagues in Jakarta, warning of the possibility of a local tsunami for land within 100 km of the temblor's epicenter......."The initial system did work," says Bernal. "From then on, it is the responsibility of the Indonesian system."

About 20 minutes after the quake, the Indonesian Meteorology and Geophysics Agency's technical department for tsunamis received the e-mail bulletin from PTWC in Honolulu that included a warning about the risk of a local tsunami. Apparently, the
agency subsequently relayed text messages warning of the quake to about 400 Indonesian officials in disaster management, but there was little they could do: there were no alarm bells to ring on the beach, no emergency broadcasts to transmit over the radio or TV, no way to warn the people on the coast.

Clearly more needs to be done. I suggest that UNESCO does not have the resources to assist the poor Asia-Pacific nations to develop domestic tsunami warning systems, and that other donors must step up to fill the gap.

"Bolton Hopes for Vote on U.N. Nomination"

Read the full Associated Press article in The Washington Post. (Sunday, July 23, 2006.)

Last year Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opposed Bolton's confirmation as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, leading to President Bush making a recess appointment. According to the WP:
the senator has had a change of heart, saying last week that he would not block Bolton's nomination this year because of an urgent need to ease tensions in the Middle East.
The GOP-controlled Senate Committee has scheduled a hearing for Thursday on Bolton's nomination. If confirmed by the Senate, Bolton would be expected to serve as UN Ambassador through the rest of the Bush Administration. It seems likely that the nomination will go forward to the full Senate, and that Democrats will oppose it in the Committee and on the floor of the Senate.

Since UNESCO is part of the United Nations family of organizations, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations has significant influence on U.S. policy towards UNESCO.

Friday, July 21, 2006

UNESCO Job: Senior ProgramSpecialist for Science and Technology Education and Technical Capacity Building

Purpose of post:: Promoting Natural Sciences Sector actions in Science and Technology Education & Technical Capacity building.

Main responsibilities: Under the authority of the Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences and under the supervision of the Director of the Division of Basic and Engineering Sciences, the incumbent shall, in particular:
· Foster the quality of university science and technology education in developing countries and reinforce the linkage of university education with other levels of education in science and technology.

· Promote the Organization’s clearing house functions on science and technology education for sharing information on curricula development, innovative teaching methodologies, and best practices.

· Carry out and/or develop selected activities for capacity building in engineering and technology in developing countries. Oversee and foster collaboration between divisions of the Sector for Natural Sciences and regional offices in strengthening national capacities in engineering, science and technology and science-based monitoring of the environment.

· Provide back up to cross-sectoral activities on building capacities in developing countries and mainly, least developed countries and post-conflict countries to address the goals for sustainable development specified in the UN Millennium Declaration.

· Promote extra-budgetary activity in technical capacity building and in science and technology education.

· Advanced University Degree, preferably at Doctorate level, in one of the basic or engineering sciences.

· 10 to 15 years of progressively responsible relevant experience of which, at least 5 years’ experience in university teaching in science and/or engineering, and in the planning, management or administration of university education, and at least 5 years’ experience of regional or international activity in building up human and institutional capacity in science or engineering in developing countries. Part of this experience should be acquired at the international level.

· Demonstrated experience in science-based monitoring of the environment.

· Thorough knowledge and ability to use micro-computers (for retrieval and analysis of information and for information service to Member States and partner organizations) in particular mastering of Word; Excel, Internet, etc.

· Excellent oral and written communication skills.

· Excellent knowledge of English or French, and good knowledge of the other language.

Conditions of employment: UNESCO’s salaries are calculated in United States dollars but mainly paid in local currency. They consist of a basic salary and a post adjustment which reflects the cost of living in a particular duty station and exchange rates. For this post, the annual remuneration in local currency will start at around €95,900 (€89,100 if without dependants), exempt from income tax. In addition, UNESCO offers an attractive benefits package including 30 days’ annual leave, home leave, an education grant for dependent children, a pension plan and medical insurance. The initial appointment will be for two years, with a probationary period of 12 months, and renewal of the contract is subject to satisfactory service. Wordwide mobility is required as staff members have to serve in other duty stations according to UNESCO’s job rotation policy. UNESCO is a non-smoking organization.

How to apply: Candidates should use UNESCO’s online application system at Candidates without access to internet may send a paper application by completing the official UNESCO CV form (available at Headquarters, UNESCO Offices, National Commissions in Member States, or any office of a United Nations Resident Representative) in English or French to Chief, HRM/RCR, UNESCO, 7 place de Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07 SP, France, before the closing date, quoting the post number “SC-427”. There is no application, processing or other fee at this or at any stage of the process.

New Edition of the NatCom Newsletter

U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, Volume 2, Issue 2, April/May/June 2006

In This Issue:
* Comments from the Executive Director
* UNESCO National Commission Host Second Annual Meeting
* Mrs. Laura Bush Announces Global Literacy Conference
* U.S. Ambassador Hosts Reception for UNESCO Award Winning Journalist
* Newly Established U.S. National Committee for the International Hydrological Program Conducts Inaugural Meeting on Future Objectives
* UNESCO Overall Review of Major Programs II and III
* UNESCO Prizes Information
* UNESCO Job Vacancies

Marguerite H. Sullivan To Leave the State Department

To read a biography of Ms. Sullivan, click here.

Margerite Sullivan will be leaving the Department of State on August 4, 2006 to take up a new position in the field of international media. For the last two years she has served as the Executive Director of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Ethics of Science and Technology

Click here to to the UNESCO Ethics of Science and Technology website.

Some key UNESCO resources on the topic:
* UNESCO Global Ethics Observatory

* Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights

* Bioethics: the ethics of genetics (New Courier, May 2002)

* Infosheet

Sid Passman provides the following set of links to resources on ethics, science and technology, which may be of interest to the UNESCO supporting community.
* Scientist's Code of Ethics
The scientist cannot demand that his collaborators or subordinates act in contradiction with the principles of scientist ethics or legislation. ...

* Open Directory - Science: Science in Society: Research Ethics
The Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science - Provides "engineers, scientists and science and engineering students with resources useful for ...

* Ethics in Science
Material for an ethics course for science majors, by Dr. Linda M. Sweeting, ... The author asks "Do scientists really need a professional code of ethics?". ...

* The Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science
The Online Ethics Center for Engineering and Science mission is to provide engineers, scientists, and science and engineering students with resources for ...

* Online Ethics Center: Ethics in the Science Classroom
Assistance to teachers who wish to integrate ethics and values into their pre-college science classes.

* Ethics in Science Annotated Bibliography, Towson University
for a Course in Ethics in Science at Towson University ... A book for potential teachers of ethics in science, with bibliography and videography. ...

* Ethics and the scientist.
Ethical issues are receiving considerable attention in the scientific community just as in other are...

* ISSCR :: Scientists : Resources on the Ethics of Human Stem Cell ...
The International Society for Stem Cell Research is an independent, nonprofit organization established to promote and foster the exchange and dissemination ...

* Code of Ethics for scientists
This is a Code of Ethics For Scientists that was formulated in 1984 by a group of scientists. For a thorough background, we refer to Bengt Gustafsson, ...

* History of Science and Ethics Internet Resources
Links to museums, historical instruments galleries, electronic publications, papers, e-mail groups and books.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Women for Science

The low representation of women in science and engineering is a major hindrance to global capacity building in science and technology. This report presents recommendations and action items grouped around three themes:
* Academies advocating and promoting the education and careers of women;
* Academies acting, both individually and jointly, to engage women in global capacity building;
* Academies building inclusive institutional climates and advising governments and other principal players on specific actions toward similar ends. It is published by the InterAcademy Council, and was written by an Advisory Panel created by the Council for the purpose of this report. 2006.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Millennium Development Goals Report 2006

Read the full report online (PDF file).

The MDGs Report of the United Nations was released on 3 July 2006. The report presents the latest assessment on how far we have come, and how far we have to go in reaching the goals, in each of the world’s regions.

Reuters AlertNet notes with respect to the report:
"With less than a decade left to meet its development targets, the United Nations said on Monday there were "staggering" obstacles to succeeding and conditions in many poor countries were actually worsening.

"The eight Millennium Development Goals include targets on health, poverty and the environment -- such as halving the number of people living on less than $1 a day and stopping the spread of AIDS and tuberculosis.

"The U.N. progress report on the goals, set in 2000, found that while global incidence of extreme poverty has declined, some 140 million more people have entered that category in sub-Saharan Africa.

"More people are also going hungry in the region, which has seen only modest improvements in child mortality and maternity rates in the past six years, according to the study."

Monday, July 03, 2006

Aksu-Dzhabagly Nature Reserve

The Aksu-Dzhabagly Nature Reserve is the oldest nature reserve in Central Asia. It also the first in the world to get status of a UNESCO biosphere preserve. For more than 70 years fauna and flora of Aksu-Dzabagly have been safe from ax, hunting and industrial pollution. The symbol of the preserve is Graid's Tulip. The Aksu Canyon - is 15 km long and 500 m deep, with a width between the canyon walls of 600-800m.

There is also a paleonthological preserve a the altitude of 3000 m above the sea level. Petroglyphs here go back to the 5-7th cc BC.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The UNESCO Free Software Portal

The UNESCO Free Software Portal gives access to documents and websites which are references for the Free Software/Open Source Technology movement. It is also a gateway to resources related to Free Software.

The UNESCO Archives Portal

The UNESCO Archives Portal gives access to websites of archival institutions around the world. It is also a gateway to resources related to records and archives management and international co-operation in this area.

The UNESCO Libraries Portal

The UNESCO Libraries Portal gives access to websites of library institutions around the world. It serves as an international gateway to information for librarians and library users and international co-operation in this area.

UNESCO Observatory on the Information Society

The Observatory on the Information Society monitors the impact of globalization on knowledge societies through the collection of pertinent information and observing trends.