Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Knowledge Societies

The world is moving towards knowledge societies. Today, a nation’s wealth depends more on the production, exchange and transformation of knowledge than on natural wealth or industry.

* Towards Knowledge Societies (The First UNESCO World Report)

* "Communication: from information society to knowledge societies" (The UNESCO Courier, Oct. 2003)

* Knowledge Societies and Culture

* Infosheet (PDF Format)

Providing Access to Preventive Commodities at UNESCO Headquarters

While attending the 28th Meeting of the Committee of Cosponsoring Organisations (CCO) of UNAIDS in New York, UNESCO’s Director-General Mr. Koïchiro Matsuura announced his decision to accept a recommendation of UNESCO’s Workplace Committee on HIV and AIDS to install preventive commodity dispensers in the premises of UNESCO Headquarters.

The announcement comes as part of UNESCO’s commitment to strengthen knowledge on HIV and AIDS among all of its employees, ensure staff is familiar with the United Nation’s HIV and AIDS workplace policies, and implement a policy of zero tolerance for stigma and discrimination in the workplace.

The Director-General also reported at the CCO meeting on progress made to date on training staff in order to give them knowledge and skills for responding to HIV and AIDS in their professional and private lives. Since the launch of the campaign to sensitise UNESCO personnel on HIV and AIDS, eleven percent of HQ staff have attended the orientation sessions.

UNESCO has an explicit program against HIV/AIDS.

Comment: Like the search for peace, the battle against this epidemic must begin in the minds of men and women. It is important that members of UNESCO's focus sectors -- education, science, culture and communications -- be sensitized to the magnitude of the problem and their role in its solution. Thus it is important that UNESCO itself begin by sensitizing its own staff. JAD

The World Congress on Communication for Development

The World Congress on Communication for Development was held October 25-27, 2006 in Rome, Italy. It was co-sponsored by the World Bank, the Food and Agricultural Organization and the Communications Initiative. UNESCO helped organize the conference through its service on the Congress steering committee.

Report by the Director-General on the Implementation of the Program and Budget (32 C/5) and on Results Achieved in the Biennium 2004-2005

"This Report on the implementation of the program and budget during the 2004-2005 biennium represents an important milestone in the ongoing reform of the Organization. Firstly, it is the first biennial report after my re-election as Director-General, and I see it as setting a baseline for reporting during my second term. Secondly, the report provides answers to several issues concerning reporting raised by the Executive Board in the last few years."

Results Achieved for the Individual Main Lines of Action (MLA) of the Communication and Information Sector

Results Achieved for the Individual Main Lines of Action (MLA) of the Social and Human Sciences Sector

Results Achieved for the Individual Main Lines of Action (MLA) of the Natural Sciences Sector

People, Biodiversity and Ecology

This website provides information on seven years worth of UNESCO publications on the preservation of biodiversity. Many can be downloaded free of charge from the website, and the others can be purchased in paper editions. For anyone interested in the conservation of biodiversity, this is a wonderful resource! Here are a couple of the publications:
Download Water from the Amazon.

Download The Importance of Sacred Natural Sites for Biodiversity Conservation.
* Part 1
* Part 2

People and Plants Handbook - Issue 9

Suresh Ghimire and amchis at Dolpa sorting medicinal plants (photo: Susanne Schmitt)

People and Plants is a program of capacity-building in ethnobotany applied to conservation and the sustainable use of plant resources. It was created as a partnership between the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and UNESCO. The People and Plants Handbook was begun in January 1996 to provide a handy source of information on ethnobotany, conservation and development, and to enable ethnobotanists and others in developing.

Read issue number nine of the handbook.

Go to the archives for previous editions of the handbook.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Science Popularization

Go to the UNESCO website on the Popularization of Science.

The Popularization of Science is one among the oldest UNESCO programs. The program seeks to increase public understanding of science. During the last 60 years three tools have been used to popularize science:
1. UNESCO Prizes in science (Currently UNESCO awards eight different prizes in science.)

2. Science Centers and Museums (UNESCO supports Member States efforts to develop science centers and museums, including - in 2003-2004 - technical assistance on science centre development in East Jerusalem, Morocco and Yemen.)

3. Science exhibition (Several international science exhibitions related to building public awareness of science and technology were organized in 2004 and 2005.)


Sunday, October 29, 2006


WORLD SCIENCE DAY FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT is celebrated on 10 November each year. The Day is an occasion to remind the UNESCO's mandate and commitment on science.

The City of Genoa, Italy, will host this year's celebration of the Day in the context of the Science Festival 2006. Several events will also take place at UNESCO Headquarters and in UNESCO's member States. If you're organizing an event you're welcome to report on your activities to Diana Malpede at unesco.org.

Check out the World Academy of Young Scientists website devoted to World Science Day.

Remembering Jack Fobes

John Edwin Fobes died at his home at the age of 86 on Jan. 20, 2005. A distinguished diplomat, he served as Deputy Director-General of UNESCO from 1971 to 1977 -- the organization's chief operating officer. He served as Chair of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO on his return from Paris. When the United States withdrew from UNESCO, Jack Fobes immediately founded Americans for the Universality of UNESCO (which subsequently became Americans for UNESCO). From 1985-2002, he headed AUU; through the organization's network and its Newsletter, he virtually single-handedly kept the idea of UNESCO alive in the American mind. In 2002, he assumed the Chair of the Advisory Council of Americans for UNESCO.

We have posted the following the following on the Internet in his honor:
* Remembering Jack Fobes

* Tributes to John Fobes by Koïchiro Matsuura and Paul Schafer

* Jack Fobes: Lien-Link Memorial Articles

Friday, October 27, 2006

UNESCO Program in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy

The main role of UNESCO in S,T,I Policy is that of:
* an initiator of new thinking on policy development,
* a instigator of reforms and innovations, and
* a promoter of international co-operation.
UNESCO therefore seeks:
* to stimulate innovative co-operative regional and international programs,
* to develop analytical work in co-operation with other institutions namely OECD and the UNU, and
* to support regional S&T Policy networks.
UNESCO also seeks to serve as a clearing-house, thus facilitating exchange of experiences.

Action focuses on assisting Member States in the implementation of the actions and recommendations contained in:
, and

of the World Conference on Science that deal with science policy.

Science Policy Formulation
UNESCO helps Member States to formulate their own S&T policies, strategies and plans. It also helps them in the reform of their S&T systems. It publishes guidelines and methodologies, and provides technical advice and guidance on formulation, implementation, and monitoring.

The UNESCO University-Industry-Science Partnership (UNISPAR) program was launched in 1993. It is aimed at raising the quality of technical universities in developing countries and encouraging them to be more involved in the process of industrialization of their countries. Since 2002, the UNISPAR Programme focuses on capacity building and technical assistance in governance of science and technology parks.

Science Legislation
In January 2003, UNESCO organized an international roundtable on "Science Technology and Innovation Policy: The Parliamentary Perspective", in tandem with the Parliament of Finland and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO). The Forum adopted a declaration. Among other things it recommended the establishment of regional science policy fora to facilitate an exchange of experiences. A number of regional science fora have been held. UNESCO has also established the World Science Forum, which meets every two years in Budapest on the occasion of World Science Day for Peace and Development on 10 November.

UNESCO Science Policy Studies and Documents
This webpage lists many science policy studies published by UNESCO since 1965, and many of the more recent ones can be downloaded via the Internet.

Challenging Multiculturalism and the Prospects of Environmental Education and Technology Integration

CARDET - UNESCO Chair, Intercollege
January 13, 2007
Nicosia – Cyprus

The aim of this conference is to provide a venue for discussing issues relating to sustainable development, environmental education, technology integration, and peace education. Internationally speakers and local experts will present their ideas and engage in discussion with the audience. The conference will be held in English.

The conference is organized by the Center for the Advancement of Research and Development in Educational Technology (CARDET) and the UNESCO Chair on Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue for a Culture of Peace at Intercollege.

Keynote Speakers
* Dr. Zvi Bekerman, Truman Institute and Melton Center, Hebrew University
Some things on integration and its pedagogies: Research findings in the Palestinian Jewish bilingual integrated schools in Israel

* Dr. Gabriel Salomon, Center for Research on Peace Education, University of Haifa
The challenge facing environmental and peace education: Sustaining the change
Comment: This event, organized by a UNESCO chair, illustrates how UNESCO can catalyze action to promote peace with very little expense drawn from its own budget.

Cyprus is a good location for discussing peace in the Middle East, since Israelis and Arabs can meet there in a neutral environment.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

UNESCO: Peace in the Minds of Men

The Governments of the States Parties to this Constitution on behalf of their peoples declare:

That since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed;

That ignorance of each other's ways and lives has been a common cause, throughout the history of mankind, of that suspicion and mistrust between the peoples of the world through which their differences have all too often broken into war;

UNESCO Constitution

UNESCO mainstreams the Culture of Peace as a theme that runs through everything it does.

Check out UNESCO activities in the field of the culture of peace.

The International Congress on Peace in the Minds of Men was held on the initiative of UNESCO in Yamoussoukro in the heart of Africa. Its final declaration included this statement:
* Peace is reverence for life.

* Peace is the most precious possession of humanity.

* Peace is more than the end of armed conflict.

* Peace is a mode of behaviour.

* Peace is a deep-rooted commitment to the principles of liberty, justice, equality and solidarity among all human beings.

* Peace is also a harmonious partnership of humankind with the environment.

* Today, on the eve of the twenty-first century, peace is within our reach.
The first book ever published on the organization, UNESCO: Peace in the Minds of Men by Theodore Besterman, is now available on line. It provides a great look at the early history of the organization, and emphasizes the importance of the search for peace in the minds of men.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A World of Science (October - December 2006)

Everyday life in Mali. Image by Inez Forbes, © UNESCO

The new edition of UNESCO's science magazine, A World of Science, is online.

Walter Erelen, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, introduces this issue highlighting "Greening the deserts", writing:
(B)elief that we can control our climate has given way to concerns about the human impact on the environment, in particular global warming. Current climate scenarios predict that the driest regions of the world will become even drier.

Only last May, a study published in Science indicated that the tropical climate zone was expanding towards both poles. According to the study, which is based on satellite data from 1979 to 2005, the northern and southern hemispheres’ jet streams – fast-flowing winds about 10 km above the Earth’s surface which mark the limits of the tropics – have each moved about 1° of latitude (about 113 km) nearer the poles. ‘If the jet streams move another 2–3° degrees poleward this century, very dry areas like the Sahara Desert could nudge farther towards the poles, perhaps by a few hundred miles,’ predicts co-author John Wallace of the University of Washington (USA).......

As we shall see in this issue, the past 50 years have shown us that the ecological and socio-economic situation in drylands is not a simple equation governed by factors such as climate, soil, water and vegetation. Market speculation and enormous price fluctuations on commodities like cotton can affect the income of a rural farmer in a remote village in Mali, in the same way that droughts or floods will affect his or her harvest.......

One thing we have learnt over the past 50 years is that, if drylands do not cover the globe, they are nevertheless a global problem. To cite the authors of The Future of Drylands Revisited, ‘dust from central Asia causes health concerns not only in China and Japan but also in North America [and] dust from Africa may be contributing to the decline of coral reefs in the Caribbean.’

"Work on UNESCO’s ICT Competency Standards for Teachers enters final phase"

Read the full UNESCO news story.

"A groundbreaking international standard for integrating ICTs in teaching, will soon be available as the extensive work on the “ICT Competency Standards for Teachers” that UNESCO is preparing together with several partners from academia and the private sector including Microsoft, Intel and Cisco, enters its final phase.

"'The new standard is designed to contribute to the professional development of teachers, mainly on primary and secondary levels, and we expect that it will considerably improve teachers’ practice' says UNESCO’s project manager Tarek G. Shawki. 'The standard combines methods for improving ICT skills with emergent views in pedagogy, curriculum and school organization', he says."

UNESCO's science mandate

UNESCO's overall review of its science programs and David Dickson's editorials on the subject have triggered a couple of long postings on this blog:
* UNESCO Overall Review of its Science Programs

* Does UNESCO needs a more strategic approach to science?
This is a crucial time in the rethinking of UNESCO's approach to the natural sciences and to the social and human sciences. We are therefore posting this thoughtful piece on the topic, with the permission of Sid Passman, a member of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO. Sid was Director of the Division of Scientific Research and Higher Education of UNESCO from 1973 to 1081.
Dickson seems alone in commenting on UNESCO's science mandate.

I would hope that we can encourage more discussion--e.g. there should be some who would like to point to the success of disciplinary programs and institutes in the fields of physics, mathematics, chemistry, informatics, life sciences, etc. Science teaching, ethics, public understanding of science and capacity building and training programs are all worth preserving.

Strategies and policies are all well and good (if they reflect relative experiences and are consistent with national constraints--but support of training and institutional capacity building are not to be dismissed.

In any case more resources for a decentralized UNESCO are vital.

Sid Passman
In response to Sid's call for comment, let me suggest that it is very important that UNESCO continue to focus its efforts in science on development and poverty reduction. Fortunately, with each member country having a vote in UNESCO's policy setting General Conference, there is little likelihood that that priority would be challenged. Still, I would emphasize that UNESCO with its tiny budget could contribute little to the scientific collaboration among rich countries, and there are many other multinational mechanisms promoting such collaboration. On the other hand, UNESCO can play a vital role in developing nations, and can help keep their eyes on the target of poverty reduction.

I would also note that UNESCO's science program appears fragmented in part because UNESCO shares governance of major portions of that program because it hosts serveral international programs and includes several international centers. The division of the program into these parts has some very positive aspects. Thus, countries have in the past and may in the future resign their membership in UNESCO; the United States, however, maintained active presence in some of the international programs when it did so for 18 years. The International Commissions running specific programs are well established, and can draw on specific expertise in the fields of concern. They may also be able to draw more voluntary contributions than might UNESCO as a whole.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

International Forum on the Social Science – Policy Nexus

Click here to go to the IFSP website.

UNESCO's International Forum on the Social Science – Policy Nexus has broken new ground in connecting social science research to policy. The Forum was organized in conjunction with the Governments of Argentina and Uruguay, the municipalities and universities of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Montevideo and Rosario, and with the support of a wide range of academic, policy, and NGO partners. The Forum was held on 20-24 February 2006.

The Forum included:
* 25 workshops on “Global Issues and Dynamics” in Buenos Aires

* 35 workshops on “Social Policies” in Buenos Aires

* 15 workshops on “Population and Migration” in Cordoba (Argentina)

* 7 workshops on “Regional Integration” in Montevideo

* 14 workshops on “Urban Policies and Decentralization” in Rosario (Argentina)
Comment: The importance of evidence based policy making can not be overstated. Countries have unprecedented oportunities for growth and development, but face increasingly complex challenges and increasingly rapid economic and social change. There has been a gratifying growth in social science research since the creation of UNESCO, but there is a huge gap between the scientists and policy makers. This initiative by UNESCO's Social and Human Sciences program is a much needed step toward bridging that gap. JAD

Read the final report of the Forum.

Read the final Declaration made by the participants in the Forum.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Indigenous People and ICT

Go to the Indigenous People and ICT website.


Through its project "ICT for Intercultural Dialogue: Developing communication capacities of indigenous peoples" (ICT4ID) UNESCO aims to foster the creation and dissemination of local content reflecting the values of indigenous peoples’ communities and cultures.

In 2004-2005, ICT4ID launched five pilot projects involving eleven indigenous communities: the Bakoyas, the San and the Himbas in Africa, and the Quechua, Lecos, Tsimanes, Esse Ejjas, Mosetenes, Tacanas, Baures and Aymaras in Latin America. The main goal of these projects is to encourage the production of indigenous cultural content for the audiovisual and new media by providing training to community members on the use of ICT.

Indigenous People and Information Society

UNESCO welcomes activities which create and reinforce the indigenous media. In particular, UNESCO supports the following initiatives by indigenous societies and NGOs:
* organisation of regional training programs and an annual international seminar;

* projects to develop media resources and to encourage dialogue, financed by the IPDC, the Participation Program or funds-in-trust;

* providing educational and learning resources via the Internet for the benefit of journalists and media practitioners (i.e. the creation of a web site dedicated to communication and journalism, in cooperation with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and indigenous organisations).

Click here to read the booklet: "UNESCO and Indigenous Peoples: Partnership to Promote Cultural Diversity".

Upcoming Activities of the UNESCO Forum on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge

The UNESCO Forum on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge provides an open platform for intellectual exchange. Its activities serve to highlight research and to bring out challenges facing institutions and countries. The Forum seeks to build on existing and ongoing research, and to facilitate networking. It is administered under the Higher Education programs of UNESCO.
* The Contribution of Higher Education to National Education Systems: Current Challenges for Africa
- The Regional Scientific Committee for Africa will hold its second Regional Research Seminar in Accra, Ghana, from 22 to 24 March 2007.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

2006 UNITWIN Directory Now Online

The 2006 UNIVERSITY TWINNING and networking scheme “UNITWIN” directory is now available online. It is an important networking tool for one of UNESCO’s major education networks.

Over the last fourteen years the UNITWIN Program has developed into a truly worldwide, inter-university co-operation scheme based on interdisciplinarity, intersectoriality and networking. It has since become one of the major intersectorial Programs and an integral part of activities developed by UNESCO various Sectors, services and Field Offices.

Today 584 UNESCO Chairs and 66 UNITWIN Networks have been in the Program involving over 700 institutions in 124 countries. It contains full information on each of reporting Chairs and Networks covering 70 disciplines and identifies the contact persons, partners, events and publications for each one.

UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Program, Ten Years of Action: Case studies (2005)

Procedures for the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Program

Guidelines for Submission of Project Proposals

New Executive Director of the NatCom

Susanna Connaughton has been appointer Executive Director of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. She started on Monday, October 16, 2006.

The State Department announcement state that Ms. Connaughton has an MBA from Northwestern (Kellogg) in public and non-profit management and marketing and an undergraduate degree in government. She most recently served at the National Association of Homebuilders and has had various private and public sector experiences, including serving as a Commissioner on the DC Commission on National and Community Service.

I believe she is married to James Connaughton, Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality.

Interesting "21st Century Talks"

21st Century Talks and Dialogues, a UNESCO Social and Human Sciences activity, creates forums for prospective reflection and future-oriented debate that gather together leading figures from different regions of the world, who work on key questions about the future.

Here are some of the topics (click on the link for more information):
* "Might everything disappear? Species, languages, cultures, values", May 9, 2006

* "Can the human species domesticate itself?", March 30, 2006

* "Towards Knowledge Societies", December 6, 2005

* "Tsunamis: Foresight and Prevention", May 10, 2005

* "Can we control AIDS?" April 28, 2004

* "Should Globalization be Made More Democratic?" March 22, 2004

* "Should Human Cloning be banned?" September 10, 2003

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Final Report of the Invitational Workshop on the Comparative Analysis of National Research Systems

Read the full final report (PDF, 24 pages.)

The Forum on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge examines how research and knowledge are generated, how they are organized and how they play a central role in national development.

The workshop reported in this document aimed toward some type of matrix which may help comparative analysis of different research systems and notably to help strengthen those in developing countries. The workshop was held in Paris on 6-7 April 2006.

"Evaluation of UNESCO Anticipation and Foresight Program"

By Philippe Larrue and Soheir Dani, UNESCO, July 2006. (IOS/EVS/PI/64) (PDF, 67 pages.)

Foresight activities are an integral part of UNESCO’s mission to be a “Laboratory of Ideas.” It is administered as part of UNESCO's program in the Social and Human Sciences.

The goal of the program:
"In order to capture the complexity of the global developments, especially those related to the emergence of knowledge societies, UNESCO will undertake and draw on future-oriented studies and scenarios. This effort will seek to analyse and capture the main components and processes inherent in knowledge societies with a view to articulating a common and shared vision and to design strategies for developing open knowledge societies."
The program is composed of two main activities:
• Preparation and development of the UNESCO World Report every two years, and

• The 21st-Century Talks and Dialogues, that seek to gather together leading figures from different regions of the world.
Over the period 1999-2005, 27 “21st Century Talks and Dialogues” were organised involving 118 speeches by 95 different speakers. Three books – and a total of 21 translated versions - were published. The program contributed contributed to 28 radio and TV broadcasts or programmes, with many more “ad hoc” contributions (e.g. at conferences and the like).

Visit the website for UNESCO's Prospective Studies program.

UNESCO World Report: Towards Knowledge Societies (2005)

Director-General condemns ferocious and systematic attacks on the media in Iraq

Read the full press release from UNESCO. (October 13, 2006.)

"The Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, today condemned the ferocious and systematic attacks against the media in Iraq, calling for determined action to enable journalists to carry out their work in the country. His statement was issued following the deadliest attack on a media outlet to date and several other acts of violence against and journalists and support workers. On 12 October gunmen stormed the fledgling Shaabiya satellite television station in Baghdad killing 11 people including the channel’s General Director, Abdul-Rahim Nasrallah al-Shimari, who also heads the National Justice and Progress Party, which owns the station. The channel was due to start regular broadcasts in late October."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

UNESCO Job Vacancies

Current jobs listed on UNESCO’s website include:

DIRECTOR, INFORMATION SOCIETY DIVISION, Communication and Information Sector, CI 335 - (D1) (Paris, France) (Closing Date: 31 October 2006)

PROGRAM SPECIALIST, Communication and Information Sector, Division for Freedom of Expression, Democracy and Peace, CI 130 - (P4) (Paris, France) (Closing Date: 8 November 2006)

SENIOR CLASSIFICATION OFFICER, Central Services, Bureau of Human Resources Management, HRM 189 - (P4) (Paris, France) (Closing Date: 29 October 2006)

U.S. to host 2007 UNESCO Hydrology Meeting

Cajas National Park, Ecuador. (Image: Alison Clayson. © UNESCO)

The newly formed U.S. National Committee for UNESCO's International Hydrology Program (IHP) will host a regional meeting in the Spring of 2007.

The U.S. National Committee for the International Hydrological Program will:
* Provide programmatic advice to IHP

* Assist in supporting other UNESCO water resources activities

* Represent US domestic and international water activities to UNESCO

* Support IHP training, research, and capacity building efforts from a U.S. perspective

* Recommend and support the participation of other US water programs in the IHP

* Advise the U.S. Government on its participation in UNESCO and the IHP.

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

The Faces of Poverty: Ethiopian Refugees at Korem Camp, 1984
Image by B. Bisson, © UNESCO

Today, October 17, has been declared by the United Nations as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

UNESCO, like other UN agencies, commemorates the occasion. Check out:
* UNESCO's Antipoverty Portal

* Commemorative Activities at UNESCO

* Interview with Monique Ilboudo (Burkina Faso): "Poverty is disregard for human rights"

* Poverty in SHS Views 14 [ PDF ]

United Nations Day

October 24, 2006

The anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter -- 24 October 1945 -- has been celebrated as United Nations Day since 1948. It is marked throughout the world each year by meetings, discussions and exhibits on the achievements and goals of the Organization.

Check out the United Nations Association of the USA for a history of UN Day.

The National Capital Area Chapter of UNA-USA is organizing a week of activities to celebrate the occassion.

Monday, October 16, 2006

NatCom Newsletter -- The New Issue is Out

U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Newsletter, Volume 2, Issue 3, July/August/September 2006.

In This Issue:
* Comments from the Acting Executive Director

* Greece hosts UNESCO Director General’s Region I Consultations with National Commissions

* Mrs. Laura Bush hosts the first-ever White House Conference on Global Literacy

* UNESCO Education Sector begins instituting management reforms

* Update on Overall Review Committee for Programmes II (Natural Sciences) and III (Social and Human Sciences)

* U.S. National Committee for the International Hydrological Program Agrees to host 2007 Regional Biannual Meeting

* UNESCO Chair at Cornell University assists in hosting networking event at UN-HABITAT Forum

* World Heritage Committee meets in Lithuania; Action Taken on Everglades

* Young Professionals Program opened for 2007

* UNESCO Job Vacancies

UNESCO Highlights from its Communications Programs

In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of its founding, UNESCO has highlighted one aspect of its program every week for 60 weeks. (Click here to see the entire list of highlights.)

Here are links to highlights of the communications programs to date. (Click on the links to view the resources themselves.)

Media Pluralism
* 3 May - World Press Freedom Day
* World Press Freedom Prize
* Communication: SOS Media (UNESCO Courier, October 2002)
* Infosheet (PDF Format)

Libraries and archives
* UNESCO Libraries Portal
* UNESCO Archives Portal
* UNESCO Documents and Publications
* Memory of the World Program: Guarding against collective amnesia.
* Infosheet (PDF - 72K)

Freedom of Information and the Press
* Infosheet (PDF Format - 138K)
* Message from the Director-General

Media Development
* International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC)
* Community Multimedia Centers
* Radio Ada, the Voice of Those Without a Voice (The New Courier, November 2005)
* Infosheet (PDF Format - 75K)

Museums and Memory of the World
* Memory of the World Register
* Museums (Culture Portal Section)
* Museum International Quarterly (publication(
* Infosheet (PDF Format)

Information Technology
* Digital Divide (The New Courier, November 2005)
* Community Multimedia Centers (A flagship initiative to give access to new technologies.)
* Free & Open Source Software (Articles, documentation and software)
* Infosheet (PDF - 206K)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

UNESCO Highlights from its Science Programs

In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of its founding, UNESCO has highlighted one aspect of its program every week for 60 weeks. (Click here to see the entire list of highlights.)

Here are links to highlights of the science programs to date. (Click on the links to view the resources themselves.)

Science and technology policies
* A World of Science (UNESCO Newsletter; July-September 2006)
* L’Oreal/UNESCO Women in Science Awards
* Infosheet (PDF Format)

* Giving science a conscience (The UNESCO Courier, Nov. 2005)
* Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights (19 October 2005)
* Human cloning: ethical issues (PDF Format - 440 K)
* Infosheet (PDF Format - 148 K)

Towns and human habitats
* Cape Town: Garden Wonderland in the Midst of Urban Sprawl (The UNESCO Courier, Nov. 2005)
* Science: Urban Greens (The UNESCO Courier, May 2002)
* World Heritage Cities
* Infosheet (PDF Format)

Ethics of Science and Technology
* Infosheet (PDF - 142K)

The doping crisis in sport
* International Convention Against Doping in Sport (PDF - 1.26M)
* Doping in Sports (Interview with Mark Fainaru-Wada)
* Infosheet on Doping (PDF - 141K)

Desertification and drylands
* Turning back the sands of time? (UNESCO Courier – June 2006)
* The Future of Drylands Conference (Tunis, Tunisia 19 - 21 June 2006)
* Infosheet on desertification (PDF format - 100K)
* 2006 - UN International year of deserts and desertification

Anticipation and Foresight
* Towards Knowledge Societies (First UNESCO World Report)
* The Future of Values (Published by UNESCO/A.Michel)
* Infosheet (PDF Format - 57K)

Combating Racism
* Why racism? (The UNESCO Courier, Sept. 2001)
* Infosheet (PDF Format - 85K)
* Message from the Director-General on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Water Management
* The UNESCO Courier Water Issue - "To the last drop"
* Webcast from Forum in Mexico
* Infosheet (PDF Format - 76K)
* Message from the Director-General

Man and the Biosphere
* Latest additions to list of Biosphere Reserves (Press Release - July 2005)
* Taking the Pulse of the Planet (The New Courier - November 2005)
* Explaining Biosphere Reserves (Children's book)
* Infosheet (244K - PDF Format)

Science and Technology for Development
* Natural Sciences Portal Section
* Projecting the planet into the future (The new Courier, May 2005)
* Infosheet (PDF Format - 184K)
* Science and technology education

Management of Social Transformations
* International Forum on the Social Science - Policy Nexus
* Infosheet (PDF Format - 198K)

Human Rights
* Human Rights at the heart of UNESCO programming
* Infosheet (PDF Format)
* Teaching Human Rights in Iraq

Observing and Understanding Oceans
* Oceans (The New Courier, November 2005)
* Infosheet (PDF Format - 278K)

U.S. Positions on UNESCO's Mid Term Strategy

Red the full text of Ambassador Oliver's statement to the Executive Board of UNESCO on October 6, 2006.

I assume that we all agree that our work must be guided by the democratic principles upon which UNESCO was founded 60 years ago: universality, diversity, justice, dignity, tolerance, respect for human rights and the rule of law—all essential ingredients for world peace.

I hope that we also agree that our work should be guided by the World Summit Outcome Document so that we do not duplicate work being done by other UN organizations......

In regards to both the Natural and Social and Human Sciences Sectors, we feel that we must be careful not to pre-judge the work of the Science Review Panel, but should instead await the outcome of their review before making decisions on overarching and strategic objectives for those sectors.

However, the United States would like to see UNESCO continue its strong commitment to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC). Given its important role in disaster risk mitigation and in the expansion of the tsunami warning system, the IOC rightly belongs among the strategic program objectives, as does the Intergovernmental Hydrological Program (IHP). Even though 23 international organizations claim competence in fresh water issues, we must ensure that the IHP remains the pre-eminent international organization devoted to potable water and associated ecosystems......

Given the close relationship between knowledge and development, we would like to see the Communication and Information Sector continue its commitment to the free flow and exchange of information through media freedom, and media development programs that strengthen good governance, civic participation, transparency, and accountability. All of these are recognized in the World Summit Outcome Document as key components of sustainable development......

I find it curious that the last of the overarching objectives in the draft Medium Term Strategy is “fostering mutual understanding, reconciliation and peace.” This is truly an intersectoral objective that lies at the heart of UNESCO’s work. This is a pre-eminent reason why UNESCO was established. This is why we still look to UNESCO to propose ideas to address the hatred, misunderstandings, and conflicts that still plague us sixty years after the Organization’s founding. This is an area where UNESCO’s role as a kind of UN “think tank” needs to be brought fully to bear.....

As far as the budget is concerned, the comparative budget document distributed by the Secretariat shows that, thanks to the return of the United States, UNESCO’s budget rose from $544.4 million for the 2002-2003 biennium to $610 million for the 2004-2005 biennium. This large increase should be kept in mind as we discuss issues relating to the budget.

Ambassador Oliver at the Executive Board

Read the full text of Ambassador Olivers address to UNESCO's Executive Board of October 3, 2006.

Excerpts from her address to the Board:
Mr. Director General, we do want to work with you, because we know how difficult it is to transform an intergovernmental organization like UNESCO into a revitalized, results-oriented institution. In order to be successful in this monumental task, we must all work together, with courage and persistence, as there are many pitfalls along the way that can derail the process of reform. This challenge is not for the faint-hearted, but fortunately we know that you, Mr. Director General, understand that despite all obstacles, UNESCO must continue to go down the path of reform if it is to become a more effective, influential, and respected member of the UN family.

In fact, since our return to UNESCO three years ago, the United States has observed that real progress has been made in a number of areas.........

Given the inherent interrelationship between good management and good results, the United States is pleased that a comprehensive management audit will be conducted of the World Heritage Center. This information will be of great help in developing an effective results-based management plan for the World Heritage program.

The Science Review Panel is another good initiative that will help us identify the appropriate niche for UNESCO in the area of science. Every year countries invest hundreds of billions of dollars in scientific research and development, including approximately $285 billion by the United States, the largest amount in the world. Obviously UNESCO cannot and should not try to compete in this area.

There are a number of areas, however, in which it is particularly well positioned to make a difference, such as fostering partnerships between developed countries and the developing world, and facilitating human and institutional capacity building. It can also support multilateral scientific initiatives, such as the SESAME program, the expansion of the IOC’s tsunami warning system, and various IHP water-related initiatives.

The United States is convinced that the Review Panel can help us strengthen the role of science at UNESCO, and we intend to take their recommendations seriously.

In both the public and private sectors, successful organizations constantly search for better and more cost-effective ways to conduct their business. In our view, the biggest challenge facing UNESCO is not the lack of resources, but the continued need for significant management and administrative reform. More funds for ineffective programs will simply produce more ineffective programs, and that will not help those countries and individuals that really need and deserve our assistance.

As we have said numerous times, UNESCO must focus on its priorities, and take full advantage of its multi-disciplinary organizational structure. Current programs should be evaluated to see if they are relevant and effective, and new initiatives supported only when it is clear that they are essential for the work of the organization. Furthermore, any new program should include a sunset clause that will automatically lead to the termination of that program unless there is a persuasive reason to have it renewed.

Craig Kennedy at UNESCO

On September 14, Craig Kennedy, President of the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States, participated in a UNESCO Dialogue. He emphasized the need for UNESCO to develop more effective ways to build private-sector partnerships. Click here to see a video of his presentation.

He also spoke that evening to UNESCO Ambassadors and staff, where he elaborated further on the various criteria UNESCO could consider when developing global partnerships. Mr. Kennedy described the value, risks, and applications of public private partnerships in detail during these remarks, which you can listen to by clicking here.

Internet Access to Educational Resources

Read the full statement made by Richard C. Levin at the 175th session of UNESCO's Executive Board.

Levin, the President of Yale University, gave his talk on Wednesday, October 4, during the thematic debate titled:“In the age of globalization, UNESCO as a specialized agency of the reforming UN system : challenges, roles and functions at global, regional and country levels”.

It seems clear that UNESCO should do whatever it can to encourage these growing tendencies toward making instructional materials and scholarly publications freely available on-line. These trends could have a major positive impact on the quality of tertiary education in developing countries. In some cases achieving wider access may require the modification of existing copyright law, but in many cases the need to change the law may be avoided by encouraging scholars and publishers to use more creative forms of licensing, which allow royalty-free re-use and distribution for non-commercial and educational purposes. UNESCO could be very helpful in disseminating information to its member nations about the availability of free on-line resources, and it could help to educate scholars and publishers about the new forms of licensing that are emerging to facilitate access.

Friday, October 13, 2006

International Migration and Development

Children in a Congo Refugee Camp
Image by F. Loock, © UNESCO

Read Annette Hartenstein's complete Highlight for the Americans for UNESCO website.

Traditionally considered too hot for a global institution to handle, the issue of international migration has recently been moving up the UN agenda. Pierre Sané, Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences (SHS), discusses this issue in the September edition of the SHS Views from the perspective of a complex cross-cutting issue that Social and Human Sciences can address.

UNESCO's program on Migration has five main lines of action:
• Increasing the protection of migrants through participation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as well as several NGOs, in an international campaign to encourage States to adhere to the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;

• Improving national policies of the sending, transit and receiving countries, through promoting research and providing training for policy makers so that there is better management of the impact that migration has on societies;

• Promoting the value of and respect for cultural diversity in multicultural societies and improving the balance between policies that favor diversity and those that favor social integration, by developing initiatives that advocate consideration of the Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992), and the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity;

• Supporting capacity-building, permanence and effectiveness of migrants’ networks as a means of promoting intellectual contribution – as against the current brain drain – through the use of new information and communication technologies; and

• Contributing to the global fight against human trafficking and the exploitation of migrants.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

60 WOMEN CONTRIBUTING TO THE 60 YEARS OF UNESCO: Constructing the Foundations of Peace

Editors: Ingeborg Breines and Hans d’Orville, UNESCO, 2006.

This book presents the voices of 60 eminent women who have made, and in many cases are still making, significant contributions to UNESCO’s action. Their voices represent the views and aspirations of many other women – in national governments, the UNESCO Secretariat, National Commissions for UNESCO, universities, schools, libraries, museums, research and educational institutions, the media and communities – who struggle on a daily basis to keep the ideals of UNESCO alive.
The full participation of women in social, cultural and economic development, and in democratic processes at all levels, is a moral imperative, a matter of human rights and justice, and a political exigency of the highest order.

Koïchiro Matsuura
Director-General of UNESCO
The book includes excerpts from a speech made by Alva Myrdal, first director of the UNESCO Social and Human Sciences Sector and later Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, on the occasion of UNESCO’s 25th anniversary. It also reflects and commemorates many other distinguished women, who have been associated with UNESCO, in different capacities, including:
• Indira Gandhi, Member of the Executive Board, and Prime Minister of India (1966-77);

• Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo, Member of the Executive Board, and Prime Minister of Portugal (1979-80);

• Sophie N’Kanza, fi rst women Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences in UNESCO and Minister of Social Affairs from the Democratic Republic of the Congo;

• Gabriela Mistral, Nobel Literature Prize Laureate (1945), Chile; involved with the International Committee of Intellectual Cooperation, predecessor of UNESCO in the League of Nations;

• Jeanne Hersch, first director of UNESCO’s Philosophy Section and renowned Swiss philosopher;

• Maria Montessori, Member of the Board of the UNESCO Institute for Education in Hamburg and renowned Italian educationalist.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, President of Liberia (the first democratically elected African woman president) spoke at UNESCO on the occasion of the International Women’s Day (8 March 2006). She considered the progress made by women, but noted:
These gains notwithstanding, women, in many parts of the world, have remained virtually excluded from the mainstream of decision making, while at the same time their tireless efforts to gain access to resources and opportunities continue to be undermined by the reluctance of their societies to show a demonstrated commitment
towards the goal of equality. … Women leaders will be expected to demonstrate at all times a willingness to break with the past, a commitment to serve and a determination to never relent in pursuing truth, justice, good governance and the rule of law.
Emily Vargas-Baron just wrote me, about this book:
This is a remarkable book! I just read the chapters written by women from Colombia, the US, and the Kyrgyz Republic (I recommend the latter especially for a window on UNESCO and the Soviet transition strains in Central Asia). Incredible stories and I have just begun... I would like to get a hard copy of this book. It is unblushingly supportive of UNESCO and its programs but as it does so, it reveals the roles of UNESCO, both current and potential, as well as the terrible strains in our world and the importance of women's eyes and action.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

UNESCO's Work in the Field of Human Rights

From the 2004 Textile exhibit that was part of UNESCO's
International Day for the Rememberance of the
Slave Trade and its Abolition
Image by Michael Ravassard. © UNESCO

UNESCO's work in the field of human rights has three major aims:
* to strengthen awareness of human rights;

* to act as a catalyst for regional, national and international action in human rights;

* to foster cooperation with all actors and networks.
This work extends the Organization’s contribution in ethics and international standard-setting. Organizationally, it is administered as part of UNESCO's program in the Human and Social Sciences.

Read about UNESCO programs for the:
* Advancement of Human Rights

* Promotion of Gender Equality and Development

* Promotion of Democracy

* Fight against Racism, Discrimination and Xenophobia

* Promotion of human rights of youth with HIV/AIDS

Some of UNESCO's Disaster Reduction and Relief Activities

This year's International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction on 11 October. More than 200 million people are affected every year by natural catastrophes.

UNESCO's Natural Sciences Program is very much involved in the development of understanding of the natural phenomena that underlie disasters. In some cases, that understanding may help societies avoid construction in dangerous areas. In others, it may help develop advanced warnings that may limit the impact of disasters.

Tsunami induced flooding.
Source: UNESCO

Read about UNESCO's global strategy for establishing tsunami early warning systems in
* the Caribbean,

* the Pacific and Indian oceans, and

* the Northeast Atlantic and Mediterranean.
Read about the International Flood Initiative (PDF document).

Read about the global action plan launched on 20 January to reduce landslide losses.

Children are among the most vulnerable. The United Nations' International Strategy for Disaster Reduction's (UN/ISDR) global campaign on disaster risk education and school safety is titled Disaster risk reduction begins at school'. The two-year campaign was launched at UNESCO on 15 June. Its twin objectives are to make risk reduction part of the school curriculum and to improve school safety by encouraging the application of building norms to make sure schools can withstand any type of natural hazard.