Monday, February 26, 2007

Two Early Books on UNESCO

UNESCO: its purpose and its philosophy by Julian Huxley
Huxley, the first Director General of UNESCO wrote this as UNESCO was being conceived. It was published by the UNESCO preparatory commission in 1946.
UNESCO: Peace In The Minds Of Men by Theodore Besterman
This is the first book published on UNESCO (in 1951). Besterman was an early employee of the organization.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

"The case for press freedom on the internet" - an interview

© Leslie Harris

A UNESCO interview with Leslie Harris, Executive Director of the Center for Democracy and Technology (Washington D.C.).

Leslie Harris was asked whether the internet has been delivering on its early promise of providing universal freedom of expression to all people everywhere?

The interview took place as press freedom advocates and media organizations were meeting to discuss challenges to press freedom and the new media at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

UNESCO's History

The opening of UNESCO's first General Conference
at the Sorbonne, Paris (20 November to 10 December 1946).
© UNESCO/Eclair Mondial

There are a number of resources on the web that might be useful to those interested in the history of UNESCO.

"The Organization's History" on the UNESCO website. This site has a brief statement of early history, plus some interesting archival photos.

The history of UNESCO's headquarters.

UNESCO's Directors General

On the occasion of its 60th anniversary, UNESCO hosted, in its Paris headquarters, an international symposium on the Organization’s history. Click here for a copy of the program for the meeting.

UNESCO at 60: 60 weeks 60 themes

60 Women Contributing to the 60 years of UNESCO.

Sixty Years of Science at UNESCO 1945-2005

The Association of Former Employees of UNESCO has produced a number of publications on UNESCO history, and in fact has a history club.

"UNESCO Celebrates 60 Years of History" by Caroline Haddad of the UNESCO Bangkok office.

A timeline of UNESCO's communications history.

Read The MacBride Report, "Many Voices, One World" of 1980.

You might also find "A New World Order in Communication" by William F. Fore interesting about one of the controversies that resulted in the departure of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Singapore from UNESCO.

Related is "The United States and the Founding of the United Nations, August 1941 - October 1945" published by the U.S. State Department.

The United Nations History Project.
Links to related projects on history of UN agencies.

Evaluation: Phase I of the International Basic Sciences Program

This report presents an assessment of the first phase of the International Basic Sciences Program (IBSP), based on consideration of the take-off of the IBSP, initial returns of the projects launched in 2005, the development of partnerships, and lessons learned so far. The report states:
that all the measures needed to launch the IBSP and make it fully operational were taken in a timely fashion(Italics added.)
As the first phase of the IBSP will be finished in 2007, the report also introduces principal elements of a new strategy proposed for the forthcoming phase of the program. The major elements of the new strategy highlight the promotion of regional and international cooperation in capacity-building in the basic sciences and science education, and seek considerable reinforcement of the concentration of the IBSP by focusing IBSP activities on a limited number of major priority actions (MPAs) and the development of a continuous interface with Member States.

IBSP’s is governed by an Scientific Board with 18 members, who were appointed by the Director-General in 2004, after consultation with the International Council for Science (ICSU), the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS) and National Commissions. The program received 252 project proposals for the first implementation phase (2005-2007). These projects fall into three categories:
* Physical sciences encompassing physics, mathematics and chemistry;

* Biological sciences embracing molecular and cell biology, neurobiology, biomedical sciences, biochemistry and various areas of biotechnology;

* Science Education
In 2005, 17 of the 39 IBSP projects recommended for funding by the Scientific Board were launched and received support.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 MISSIONS by Jacques Tocatlian, apparently published by the author, but available online, 2000.

From the publisher's summary:
"Around the World in 80 Missions", by Jacques Tocatlian, is not an autobiography. It is rather the product of an interaction between imagination, experience, fiction, reminiscence and fantasy. A cocktail mixed in the environment of international diplomacy and tempered by a sprinkling of light humor.
This book provides both light reading and an unusual insiders view of UNESCO. Its fictitious main character, Jacques Dupont, joins UNESCO in 1965, at the age of thirty and retires in 1995 when he reaches the age of sixty.
The author's ambition in writing this book was to make a modest contribution to international understanding. The frictions and wounds caused by cultural differences and interethnic misinterpretations will only be healed by tolerance. Tolerance based on a better understanding of others.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Science and Technology in the Era of Globalization

UNESCO and the United Nations University cosponsored a conference in August, 2006 on the topic of:

Science and Technology in the Era of Globalization

Papers and presentations are available on the conference website. A video portal provides streaming video of key presentations.

Monday, February 19, 2007

UNESCO and Hewlett-Packard launch project to counter brain drain in Africa

Read the full UNESCO Press Release.

UNESCO and Hewlett-Packard have launched a joint project to help reduce brain drain in Africa by providing grid computing technology to universities in Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe.

The “Piloting Solutions for Reversing Brain Drain into Brain Gain for Africa” project aims to establish links between researchers who have stayed in their countries and those that have left, connecting scientists to international colleagues, research networks and potential funding organizations. Faculties and students at beneficiary universities will also be able to work on major collaborative research projects with other institutions around the world.

How to Better Finance Two UNESCO Programs

UNESCO's Information for All Program is the only intergovernmental program exclusively dedicated to promoting universal access to information and knowledge for development. It is a small program, which has been supported by nine donor nations. IPAP was created in 2000, but it has never received a donation from the U.S. government. The Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Program has been invested with the authority to speak on strategic priorities and to lobby and create awareness about issues pertaining to the use of information and ICT for development at the international level. More than 50 IFAP National Committees have been created. The program has approved and funded a number of small projects.

The International Program for the Development of Communication is a major forum in the UN system designed to develop free and pluralistic media with a global approach to democratic development. Created at the initiative of the United States, it currently receives support from 25 governments, including that of the United States. It also accepts donations from individuals (but requires them to be made by bank transfer.) The program is managed by an Intergovernmental Council and its Bureau. Over the last quarter century, IPDC has mobilized some US$ 90 million for over 1000 projects in 139 developing countries and countries in transition.

Suggestion: An website should be created to allow individual contributions to individual projects sponsored under these programs.

With the development of the Internet and the World Wide Web, a number of websites have been developed which illustrate how this might be done:
* GlobalGiving was created in 2000 by two former World Bank officials. It allows the managers of small development projects to post descriptions of those project on its website, and allows donors to make small donations online to those projects. More than $US3million has been raised through this organization, and almost all goes to the development projects themselves.

* The U.S. Peace Corps website provides facilities for individuals to donate to small projects that are posted by the PCVs themselves, thus allowing the donor to directly support a project without overhead to a charitable organization.

* Heifer International provides an online Gift Catelog allowing donors to make small gifts of livestock to projects in developing countries. An email to the organization will allow the gift to be made to a specific project -- for example, to a project introducing rabbit raising in Uganda or duck raising in Haiti.
UNESCO might create such a website for its small grants programs, or alternatively civil society (with the assistance of a corporate donor) might create one in support of UNESCO.

Click here to read an interview with the founder of GlobalGiving, describing the operation of its website for online giving.

Wolfowitz on Science for Development

Read "Invest in science, says World Bank president" by David Dickson, SciDev.Net, 16 February 2007.

The following is the opening of David Dickson's article, based on a keynote speech made at the Science, Technology and Innovation Global Forum last week. UNESCO with other donors was a co-sponsor of the meeting organized primarily by World Bank staff.
The president of the World Bank has urged developing countries to recognise the importance of science and technology in reducing poverty.

Speaking at a meeting in Washington on Thursday (15 February), Paul Wolfowitz recognised that developing countries faced major resource constraints in their public spending and that, to some, science might appear a lower priority than meeting basic educational or health needs.

But he said, "The amount of resources that poor countries devote to science can't be zero. That would condemn poor countries to backwardness".

The meeting of more than 300 ministers, science officials, private sector representatives and nongovernmental organisations addressed the role of science, technology and innovation in reducing poverty and achieving sustainable growth.

UNESCO and PC Refurbishment

UNESCO is supporting:
* A Portal on PC Refurbishment

* On-line (and CD-ROM) training on computer refurbishment, which is part of the ItrainOnline Multimedia Training Kit

* The French version of SchoolNet Africa’s Technical Service Centre Managers course

* Production of an open source “plug and play” software of the FAIR computer recycling suite

* The online Used computers section of the UNESCO Office in Bangkok

More than one billion PCs have been sold. In many cases, users upgrade their PCs, and are willing to donate usable devices or sell them at very low prices. PC refurbishing initiatives are active in many (most?) countries, covering the whole range of tasks from mobilizing donors of second-hand PCs to procurement, refurbishment, transportation, distribution, installation, maintenance and training on the use of refurbished PCs. Indeed, Americans for UNESCO is using very effectively a suite of donated information technology in its offices.

e-learning modules on information management

More than 45 000 Information Management Resource Kits (IMARKs) – e-learning modules on information management - have been distributed by UNESCO, FAO and Partners worldwide. The kit consists of a suite of distance learning resources, tools and communities on information management. It is used to train individuals and support institutions and networks world-wide in the effective management of information.

Free UNESCO Software

UNESCO has developed, maintains and disseminates, free-of-charge, a suite of interrelated software packages.
* CDS/ISIS is a generalised Information Storage and Retrieval system.

* IDAMS is a software package for processing and analysing numerical data.

* IDIS is a tool for direct data exchange between CDS/ISIS and IDAMS.
UNESCO also offers training in the use of CDS/ISIS and IDAMS. The production of a computerized tutorial is planned.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A good article on the United Nations system

Read "Is the UN Doomed?" by Tony Judt in The New York Review of Books (Volume 54, Number 2 · February 15, 2007). Subscription or online payment is required to read this.

Bob Maybury alerted me to this review of three recent books about the United Nations.

"There are actually many UNs of which the military and political branches (General Assembly, Security Council, Peacekeeping Operations) are only the best known." UNESCO is the first of several that Judt names.

"Much of the work done by these units is routine. And the "soft tasks" of the UN- addressing health and environmental problems, assisting women and children in crisis, educating farmers, training teachers, providing small loans, monitoring rights abuse -- are sometimes performed just as well by national or nongovernmental agencies, though in most cases only at UN prompting or in the wake of a UN sponsored initiative."

Judt may underestimate the worldwide importance of UNESCO and other UN agencies in protecting the free press, in pushing for scientific freedom, in promoting ethical conduct in the natural sciences, and promoting the application of social science research findings in public policy.

Friday, February 16, 2007

U.S. Rejoins UNCSTD

The United States has rejoined the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development.

The Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) is a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It was established in 1992 to provide the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council with advice on relevant issues. The United States was one of the original members of the Commission. However, the membership rotates among countries, and the United States was not represented on the Commission for several years.

The Commission has been mandated to assist the Economic and Social Council in the system-wide follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society.

One of the functions of the CSTD is to review and make recommendations on the coordination in scientific and technological areas of the various agencies of the United Nations system, which of course includes UNESCO as a lead agency in the natural, social and human sciences.

Science, Technology and Innovation Global Forum

Go to the STI Global Forum website.

While the meeting focused on the hosts -- the World Bank -- UNESCO was a co-sponsor, and UNESCO staff were prominent in attendance. Walter Erdelen, UNESCO's Asst Director General for Science, spoke at the opening meeting.

The Global Forum was, in my opinion a great success. Hundreds of people attended, including people from many countries. The program was interesting, and well received. (The website linked above is to provide streaming video and copies of presentations shortly.) Perhaps most important, there was an opportunity for extensive networking. I especially valued meeting with several members of the UNESCO staff, and chatting at coffee breaks about the science program. Americans for UNESCO was well represented.

Unfortunately, there was an ice storm in Washington D.C., and attendance seemed to be down on Wednesday the 14th. Your reporter was one of those affected, and I didn't get to the meeting until the afternoon.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Scripps Health Director Reappointed to U.S. NatCom for UNESCO

San Diego Source > News:
The State Department has reappointed Scripps Health President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Van Gorder to the United States National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization for a three-year term. Scripps is currently the only health care organization on the commission."

You can see a complete list of the members here.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Global Forum: Building Science, Technology, and Innovation Capacity for Sustainable Growth and Poverty Reduction

Reminder: This meeting is to be held at the World Bank offices in Washington, DC from Monday February 12 through Wednesday (noon) February 14.

It is open by invitation only.

Happy St. Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The New Issue of the UNESCO Courier Is Out

© UNESCO; Video training in Hebron, Palestinian Territories

Click here to read issue number 1 for 2007 of The UNESCO Courier.

"Whatever the particular challenges of life in different parts of the world, people everywhere need pluralistic and independent media. Since its creation, UNESCO has sought to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image in the interest of international solidarity, democracy, peace and development....

"The current edition of the UNESCO Courier looks at how UNESCO has been helping people around the world acquire the media that will meet their specific needs; learn about their problems and possible solutions; share experiences and opinions; and celebrate their culture."

The "issue examines some of these projects, like the training Palestinian television reporter Lana Shaheen received to help her contend with the challenges of working in a context of political instability, material hardship and gender stereotyping.

Other programmes help geographically scattered communities, like those of the Caribbean islands, pool know-how and resources. While some training workshops, for example, assist journalists - in this instance in Mongolia - gain awareness of important issues of democratic governance. Meanwhile, in Cape Verde UNESCO has helped the authorities design the legislative framework that is indispensable for free and independent public and private media.

UNESCO reiterates commitment to Africa’s Plan for science and technology

At the African Union Summit, Director-General Matsuura said that UNESCO would be at Africa’s side in translating Africa’s Science and Technology Consolidated Plan of Action into concrete results. He said UNESCO could help put in place governance systems to "enable African countries to harness and share their resources to lead scientific research". Most African nations will need to make major new investments if the target of devoting one percent of GDP to R&D is to be met.

Matsuura expressed strong support for the establishment of an African Fund to provide multi-year funding for implementation of the Plan. More detailed information about UNESCO’s contribution to the Plan could be found in the brochure Science in Africa.

Among UNESCO’s strategies for developing human and institutional capacity in Africa, Matsuura cited UNESCO’s work with UNEP and the NEPAD secretariat to develop a network of centers of excellence in water science in Africa and UNESCO’s Avicenna Virtual Campus.

Read the Address (half in English, half in French).

Science, Technology and Innovation top Africa's agenda

"African leaders are poised to support science in Africa as never before. The African Union Summit taking place in Addis Ababa from 22 to 30 January will take as its special theme Science, Technology and Innovation for Africa's Socio-economic Development. The Summit is likely to give a strong push to the implementation of Africa's Consolidated Plan of Action. As the convener of the UN Cluster on Science and Technology, UNESCO contributed both intellectually and financially to elaboration of the Plan and preparations for the Summit. UNESCO has also aligned its programs on African priorities, as illustrated in Science in Africa: UNESCO's Contribution to Africa's Plan for Science and Technology to 2010."

Documents & Links.

"Thematic Debates of the Bureau of the Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Programme: Issues and Outcomes"

Edited by Laurence Zwimpfer (New Zealand),
Rapporteur of the Intergovernmental Council
Information for All Program
Published by UNESCO (PDF, 28 pages.)

This is the report of three recent discussions from the Information for All Program of UNESCO:
"Measuring Progress Towards Achieving IFAP's Goals and in Bridging the Digital Divide" (19 October 2004, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France)

"Information Literacy" (5 April 2005, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France)

"Infoethics" (15 September 2005, UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France)

It is hard to imagine more important topics relating to the information society and how it can be planned..

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Federal Budget Request Short-Changes United Nations, Lantos Says

Read the full press release from Representative Lantos' office.

"Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the Administration is short-changing the United Nations in the budget proposal delivered to Congress today, which will ultimately harm national security.

“'We face a $130 million shortfall in the account used to pay U.S. dues to the United Nations,' Lantos noted. 'For the first time since the historic Helms-Biden agreement to pay off old U.S. debt the United Nations, we will once again be in arrears. This is absurd. The Administration is budgeting for massive new arrears to the United Nations at a time when we need the organization to help us in Iraq, Darfur, Lebanon, Haiti and a host of other global hot spots.'"

Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Program

The MOST Program's primary purpose is to transfer relevant Social Sciences research policy and decision-makers who need and can use those results. MOST focuses on building efficient bridges between research, policy and practice. The program seeks to promote a culture of evidence-based policy-making – nationally, regionally and internationally. As the only UNESCO program that fosters and promotes social science research, it is placed in a pivotal position in the overall promotion of UNESCO's goals. It is managed as part of the Social and Human Sciences Sector (SHS) of UNESCO.

Developing nations, with their complex cultures, institutions and economies, and little tradition in evidence based policy-making have a great need for models and assistance in the utilization of research results. However, the MOST program objectives should resonate in any nation, including the United States.

The MOST Program encourages Member States to establish National Liaison Committees (NLCs) to spur co-operation between researchers, decision-makers and the Program Secretariat.
Member States are free to establish the structure and composition of a MOST National Liaison Committee according to their own priorities. Liaison Committees are generally constituted with the support of UNESCO National Commissions......

The composition of NLCs may include social science researchers based in universities or other research institutions and representatives of bodies co-ordinating research funding and of research-user groups such as governments, the private sector, trade unions, professional associations, NGOs or community based 0rganisations.
By 2000, 61 countries had set up NLCs. However, to the best of my knowledge, although the United States leads the world in social science, a National Liaison Committee has not yet been created here. Were such a committee to be created, it might well provide invaluable leadership to the UNESCO MOST program, while bringing back the best thinking in other countries to help us domestically to utilize research from economics, sociology, organizational sciences, and political science to improve our own society.

Read an evaluation of the National Liaison Committees.

Conference on New Media and the Press Freedom Dimension

The World Press Freedom Committee, the World Association of Newspapers/World Editors Forum and UNESCO are inviting the public to attend a conference on:

New Media: The Press Freedom Dimension

Challenges and Opportunities of New Media for Press Freedom
15 & 16 February, 2007
UNESCO Headquarters, Paris

The conference will look at how new media is expanding press freedom -- and what repressive regimes are doing to restrict the free flow of information.

Neil Budde, the General Manager of Yahoo!, Oh Yeon-Ho, the founder of the Ohmynews online newspaper, and a wide range of new media and press freedom advocates have joined the program.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Where Does UNESCO Fit in the Multinational Family of Organizations?

Source: The United Nations

The United Nations system includes a large number of organizations and programs. United Nations programs, such as the Peace Keeping Programs and the United Nations Development Program, which fall directly under the United Nations itself may be considered to form one aspect of the system. The World Bank Group of agencies, including the International Monetary Fund, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Development Association (together with other international development banks) may be considered to form another aspect of the system -- one with independent governance. The third aspect would then be the decentralized agencies, such as UNESCO, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization, etc. These too have their own independent governance structures. All cooperate, and all share certain features such as a those of the international civil service.

The Global Policy Forum maintains a website with good information on UN Finance. The United Nations and all its agencies and funds spend about $20 billion each year. (The International Development Banks, which loan as well as grant fund projects, are not included in this total.) The regular budget of UNESCO is some US$300 million per year, of which the United States government contributes 22 percent, under US$70 million per year. This might be compared to the operating budget of the public schools of the county in which I live of US$1.85 billion. In 2000, according to the National Science Foundation, "global R&D expenditures totaled at least $729 billion, half of which was accounted for by the two largest countries in terms of R&D performance, the United States and Japan." Note that the United States is severely in arrears in its payments to the United Nations:
31 October 2006
Regular Budget: $526 million (80%)
Peacekeeping: $799 million (31%)
Total: $1,384 million (42%)
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (and their answers) about the United Nations, provided by The Federation of International Civil Servants' Associations.

While you are at it, check out Lien/Links, the online magazine of the Association of Former UNESCO staff members.