Friday, August 11, 2006

The United States of America and UNESCO: Building Knowledge, Bridging Cultures

"It is America's honor and gift to be a nation of nations, whose people and aspirations touch every nation on the face of the earth. From universal dreams of freedom, equality and prosperity, we became a country that melded many different cultures, ideas, perspectives, and talents — giving us a rich diversity that continues to make us strong today. With this strength comes great responsibility and a desire to engage with the international community. And words are not enough. Americans are committed to turning these visions into action." Colin L. Powell

When the United States reentered UNESCO, the State Department published this discussion of the reasons we belong in the organization. It makes good reading. It concludes:
The United States will again be the biggest financial contributor to UNESCO, paying 22 percent of the annual assessed budget, in addition to voluntary contributions. America will work to ensure that funds are spent efficiently and transparently.

With regard to science, the statement includes these sentiments:
The 21st century promises great scientific advances. Multilateral coordination through UNESCO will help maximize the effectiveness of scientific goals and projects. The United States looks forward to the opportunity to play a dynamic role with UNESCO partners to help ensure that science is used ethically to help solve the world's problems, and not to create new ones.......

UNESCO serves as an interdisciplinary and multicultural forum to examine the ethics of scientific issues. The United States looks forward to active participation in these discussions as well as meetings of UNESCO's World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge (COMEST).

In its discussion of communications and information, the statement notes:
The free flow of information is fundamental to democracy. Information can contribute to the development of a world where 80 percent of the people still lack access to basic telecommunications. Access to information is also one of the best guarantees of respect for human rights. The Internet, free of government control, is one way to keep information flowing. UNESCO has a unique mandate to promote the right to seek, receive and impart information and to foster media independence......

UNESCO has successfully demonstrated that it has recovered the vision of a free press and freedom of expression that its founders held dear.....

The United States, with its extensive experience and expertise in these areas, intends to work with UNESCO to advance the free flow of information as a major prerequisite for tolerance and political participation.

Download the entire document setting forth the rationale. (August, 2003; PDF, 1.26MB)

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