Monday, April 30, 2007

Tell me about the Slave Trade

Tell me about the Slave Trade
Text by Jean-Michel Deveau. Foreword by Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO
Discovering the World series
UNESCO Publishing, 2007.
This book is on sale for 8,00 €.

View table of contents

This book aims to help its young readers become more aware of the racism behind the tragedy of the slave trade. It also describes how the slave trade brought with it profound cultural interactions that changed the knowledge and belief systems informing the world’s civilizations. An appreciation of the abiding influence of African cultures on other civilizations will help readers to defeat the prejudices that fuel racism.

The Discovering the World series is a collection of compact guides aimed at making subjects accessible for a young readers (from 10 years old onwards). They are intended for students of school or college age who need to prepare a text or presentation.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Next Meeting of the National Commission?

I have heard that the next meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO is to take place on May 21 and 22, 2007. There is, as yet, no announcement of this on the National Commission website. National Commission meetings are open to the public.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

UNESCO 'must rethink science strategies'

Read the full article by Maryke Steffens in SciDev.Net, 27 April 2007.

The article begins:
An independent review has called for a rethink of UNESCO's approach to science and what its core activities should be.

The recommendations, released this month (5 April), were put together by a review committee made up of scientists from UNESCO (The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and experts from a number of countries, with the aim of informing the organisation's strategy and planning for scientific programmes from 2008.

UNESCO's general conference called for the review in 2006, following criticism from several member states of the agency's support for science.
In his comments on the report, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura supported the call to strengthen the agency's work in science policy and capacity building, as well as prioritising science education. But he did not concur that there is overlap of work nor an imbalance of funding with regard to water-related activities.

The evaluation panel recommended:
* Policy advice towards capacity building needs strengthening
* Programs must address new scientific paradigms and "cutting edge" research
* Interdisciplinary and intersectoral activities need major strengthening;
* Science education should be a high priority
* The Intergovernmental/International Scientific Programs need better coordination and synergy
* Outreach and partnerships need improvement
* Rigorous and transparent selection, assessment and evaluation of programs and projects are required
* UNESCO's leadership must be enhanced through new global initiatives
* A science advisory committee is required
Comment: Ms. Steffens might have given more emphasis to the evaluation committee's perception that UNESCO plays an important role in international science. Their effort and report are indications that they wish to make that role even stronger. JAD

Related materials:
Report by the Director-General on conclusions and recommendations of the expert team on the overall review of Major Programmes II and III

Unesco should plan members' strategies and set holistic goals for science

UNESCO Overall Review of its Science Programs

Friday, April 27, 2007

Freedom of Expression -- Press Freedom

Check out the Website of UNESCO's Program Promoting Freedom of Expression, Press Freedom, Independence and Pluralism of the Media, Democraty, Peace and Tolerance.

World Press Freedom Day 2007

May 2, 2007

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Climate change threatens UNESCO World Heritage sites

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, A World Heritage Site

Climate change, one of the major challenges of the 21st century, will endanger natural and cultural World Heritage sites around the globe, according to the new UNESCO publication, "Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage.” The report, supported by the United Nations Foundation and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport of the United Kingdom, features 26 case studies - including the Tower of London, Kilimanjaro National Park and the Great Barrier Reef - that represent the dangers faced by the 830 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List.

Check out the Friends of World Heritage webpage devoted to the impact of climate change on World Heritage sites!

U.S. Groups Petition to Protect Panama World Heritage Site

A mixed group of US and Panama organizations petitioned the World Heritage Committee to list La Amistad International Park as a site In Danger. The scheduled construction of four hydroelectric dams pose threat to the Park. The dams will have the capacity to alter 600 miles of stream and put tribal lands under flood.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Innovation for Development

Innovation for Development
2007 Annual Conference, 3-4 May 2007, Paris
Organised in collaboration with UNESCO

This year’s TII (Technology Innovation Information) annual conference, which is being organized in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will put the spotlight on how innovation, science and new technology is being harnessed through a whole range of international, national, corporate and private programs, schemes and initiatives for the benefit of the world’s developing countries and populations.

Innovation, the successful exploitation of new ideas, is widely recognized as a major driver of economic growth. The same goes for globalization. However, three-quarters of the world’s population is denied access to the benefits of these two phenomena.

M&E at the 176th meeting of the UNESCO Executive Board

UNESCO's Executive Board is elected by UNESCO's General Conference and is one of the three constitutional organs of UNESCO. Its meetings provide a means for the representatives of the member states to monitor the work of the organization. While all of the reports provided by the secretariat for each meeting serve that end, or deal with proposed initiatives for UNESCO, some of the reports deal specifically with the results of recent evaluation studies or with the performance of UNESCO's monitoring and evaluation systems. Those reports for the current meeting of the Executive Board are linked below.

Report by the Director-General on conclusions and recommendations of the expert team on the overall review of Major Programmes II and III

Report by the Director-General on the evaluation of the first phase of the International Basic Sciences Programme (IBSP) and proposals regarding Draft Document 34 C/4 and Draft Document 34 C/5

Report by the Director-General on the UNESCO Evaluation Policy and elaborated elements of the UNESCO Evaluation Strategy

Comments by the Director-General on the evaluations undertaken during the 2006-2007 biennium and the cost-effectiveness of the programmes evaluated during the period of the Medium-Term Strategy for 2002-2007 (31 C/4)

Monitoring of the implementation of UNESCO's standard-setting instruments

Comments by the Director-General on the implementation of the Internal Oversight Service (IOS) Strategy in 2006-2007: Annual report 2006

Report by the External Auditor on the procedures used to hire consultants for the restructuring of the Education Sector and Comments by the Director-General (176 EX/INF.12)

Progress report by the Director-General on the implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS)

Reports by the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) of interest to UNESCO and the status of implementation of approved/accepted recommendations of Joint Inspection Unit reports

What our friends to the north are doing

The Canadian Commission for UNESCO held its 47th Annual General Meeting in Ottawa on St. Patrick's Day, March 17, 2007. More than 200 persons from across Canada, representing the fields of education, the sciences, culture and communication and information, attended the meeting. The theme of the meeting was Linking Networks, Sharing Ideas. Thus, the meeting focused on the growth of both formal and informal networks in advancing and sharing knowledge around the world. The keynote speaker, Ahmed Djoghlaf, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, discussed links between biodiversity and cultural diversity.

United States Emphasizes Importance of Protecting Press Freedom

Secretary Rice addresses the Edward R. Murrow Journalism Participants at the State Department April 10.

Read the full State Department issue briefing on press freedom.

In recognition of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the United States is emphasizing the importance of protecting press freedom.

The briefing recognizes the role of UNESCO in protecting press freedom. Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO's Director General has reported that 2006 was the “bloodiest year on record” for journalists worldwide, with more than 150 media member killings. He added that hundreds more media workers were arrested, threatened or attacked because of their work.

UNESCO is sponsoring a May 3-4 conference in Medellin, Colombia, entitled “Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity.”

World Press Freedom Day 2007

3 May 2007

Ambassador Louise Oliver's Statement to the 176th UNESCO Executive Board Meeting

Ambassador Louise Oliver

Click here to read the full statement.

She began her remarks with thanks for the expressions of sympathy to the people of the United States after the shootings at Virginia Tech, and continued:
The numerous documents that have been given to us during the past month have made it clear that the Director General and his colleagues in the Secretariat have worked very hard to try to respond to the needs and desires of UNESCO’s member states, as well as to the variety of internal and external pressures currently faced by the Organization.

We would particularly like to commend the Director General for the efforts he has made to transform UNESCO into a more effective results-based organization, and to give it a stronger voice within the United Nations (UN) system as the UN searches for better ways to address the challenges of our world today.

As we all know, the process of reform is not an easy one, particularly in an intergovernmental organization. Because it tends to be disruptive and unsettling, the purpose of reform should be clearly articulated. At UNESCO the goal of reform must be to help the Secretariat do high quality work that achieves the objectives set by its Member States more effectively and efficiently.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Energy in the Changing World

In follow-up to the recommendations of the last G8 Summit, UNESCO and the Ministry of Energy and Industry of the Russian Federation will convene a Ministerial Conference on “Energy in the Changing World” at Headquarters (31 May to 1 June2007). The Conference is to address the energy challenges facing the international community in the 21st century, the role of Science in sustainable energy development, and the reduction of energy poverty.

Millinium Ecosystem Assessment Follow-up Group

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Follow-up Group formed.

"One of the recommendations from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Partners Meeting in Kuala Lumpur in September 2004 was that ICSU and UNESCO should take the lead in addressing how the experiences from the MA could help identify needs for additional research that could fill some of the knowledge gaps identified by the Assessment. The need for such an analysis has also been stressed in the follow-up discussions in relation to the development of a proposal for a GEF Medium Size Grant. UNU has later agreed to join ICSU and UNESCO in this follow-up activity and it has been decided to move forward despite the uncertain fate of the GEF proposal.......

ICSU, UNESCO and UNU will convene a Scoping Group of experts with relevant natural and social science disciplinary competence representing experiences from the MA as well as the relevant sub-global assessments to produce a report on the priority research gaps that need to be filled in order to improve any future global or-sub-global Millennium Ecosystem Assessment."

The report of the working group "will be transmitted to ICSU, UNESCO and UNU. If the report recommends further development of international and/or regional coordinated approaches, ICSU, UNESCO and UNU will engage the wider science community and other potential MA partners (e.g., IUCN, WRI, etc.) to consider appropriate mechanisms to develop a science and implementation plan, related time schedules, resource needs and possible partnerships, to address the identified research gaps."

The working group is chaired by Harold Mooney, and includes two other people from the United States --Doris Capistrano and Ruth DeFries.

Harold Mooney

Read the full discussion of the working group on the International Science Council website.

Follow-up on African ST Summit


(Item 176 EX/56 on the agenda of the Executive Board)

The Heads of State and Government of the African Union, at the meeting at the 8th ordinary session of the AU Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 29 to 30 January 2007, reaffirmed their determination to banish poverty, combat diseases, improve public health, increase agricultural production and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The Africa Group Bureau and the African Executive Board Members met on 20 February 2007 at UNESCO. They requested that UNESCO's Director-General prepare a plan of action on how UNESCO will participate in the implementation of the African Union Heads of State and Government Summit decision and declaration to be submitted to the Executive Board at its 177th session and subsequently to the General Conference at its 34th session.

UNESCO: What is it? What does it do?

UNESCO: What is it? What does it do? is a very helpful booklet published by UNESCO.

Click on the above image and you will see a word cloud from Many Eyes (A great set of tools for visualizing data). The size of each word is proportional to the number of times that word is used in UNESCO's booklet. The word cloud seems accurately reflects the nature of UNESCO's work. Play with it, and you may learn something about the organization!

Medium-term Strategy, 2008-2013

UNESCO's Executive Board is now meeting in Paris. One of the items under consideration is the strategy for the organization for the next six years. Based on the recommendations of the Executive Board, the General Conference will approve a strategy when it meets in October.

Read the Draft Medium Term Strategy for 2008-2013!

Please add your comments on the medium term strategy.
A discussion now could inform the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO
when it meets this summer.

Science ministers stressed importance of basic sciences and science education

The General Conference of UNESCO, held every other year, is to meet in October. It may be a useful time to review the report of the round table on “The Basic Sciences: The Science Lever for Development”, held during the 33rd session of UNESCO’s General Conference, which gathered some 50 ministers responsible for science policy from around the world.

The ministers "agreed, for example, to stress the need for education 'that inspires students at all levels – pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary – as well as in the informal and non-formal environments'. Innovative means must be developed in order to stimulate the creativity of young people and to allow them to appreciate the value of science, they said."

Participants also "emphasised the need in Member States for capacity building in the basic sciences 'as the platform for knowledge-based development'."

The ministers called for "increased South-South as well as North-South cooperation", and "called on UNESCO to increase its efforts to promote the basic sciences and science education, to strengthen the UNESCO Chairs and the centers of excellence and to support the implementation of science and technical policies in developing countries."

Thursday, April 19, 2007



The Government of Malaysia has proposed the creation of an international centre for South-South cooperation in science, technology and innovation in Kuala Lumpur to be established under the auspices of UNESCO. Emphasis of the centre would be on facilitating the integration of a developmental approach into national science and technology and innovation policies, organizing capacity-building, providing policy advice and exchange of experience and best practices, and conducting research and problem-solving in science, technology and innovation (STI) policy in developing countries.

The Malaysian authorities proposed that the international center be based initially in the Academy of Science Malaysia (ASM). This is a public institution, established in 1993. After the development period of a maximum of five years, the center is to be relocated to a separate facility located in Kuala Lumpur (core facility) and become an independent public sector entity from the hosting institution (ASM). Ultimately, at the end of the five-year development period, the center would have its own full complement of regular experts, technical and support staff.

The Malaysian Government ensures that the international center will be a public institution established under Malaysian national law. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) is responsible for the center. The center will create and implement its own programs
and activities.

The proposed center will act as an international platform for South-South cooperation in science, technology and innovation, It is to make use of the network of the G77 plus China and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Consultations have identified the overall goal of the proposed centre to be an increase in the capacity for management of science, technology and innovation throughout developing countries.

The cooperation expected from UNESCO once the proposed center is established is as
(a) UNESCO would provide technical and administrative assistance for the establishment and operation of the proposed center, including assistance in the formulation of the short-term, medium-term and long-term programs of the proposed center;
(b) UNESCO will encourage international governmental and non-governmental financial entities, as well as Member States of the Organization to provide financial and technical assistance and to propose appropriate projects to the proposed center. UNESCO will facilitate contacts with other international organizations relevant to the functions of the proposed center;
(c) UNESCO will provide the proposed center with publications and other pertinent
materials and will disseminate information on the activities of the proposed center via the website and other mechanisms at its disposal; and
(d) UNESCO will participate, when appropriate and subject to availability of funds, in the scientific, technical and training meetings held by the proposed center.
This feasibility study reported positively on the proposal, stating that there are sound justifications for the establishment of such an international center in Malaysia. The proposal is described as having a clear set of objectives with welldefined modalities for achieving those objectives. Indeed, the experts reported that it "has become clear that such an initiative is necessary."

The results appear to be in keeping with a recommendation of the Foreign Ministers of the Group of 77 and China made last September.

SHS Views: March-May 2007

Philosophy makes headline news in SHS Views 16

Far from being an exhaustive account, the dossier of this issue gives an insight into an organization which, by providing an institutional response to a philosophical question, is itself a philosophical institution in many ways.

Read the full dossier online.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Report on the Evaluation of the Science Programs


5 April 2007

This is a report made on the occasion of the 176th meeting of UNESCO's Executive Board, in April 1007 (176 EX/7). It reflects a year of work by an expert committee that reviewed the natural science and the social and human science programs of UNESCO. The committee received extensive briefings from UNESCO staff and held a series of public hearings with representatives of the six UNESCO Intergovernmental/international scientific programs (ISPs) within the two Science Sectors:
* The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC),
* The International Basic Sciences Program (IBSP),
* The International Hydrological Program (IHP),
* The International Geosciences Program (IGCP),
* The Man and the Biosphere Program (MAB), and
T The Management of Social Transformations Programme (MOST).
Presentations were also made on the International Bioethics Committee (IBC) and the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP).

Click on the title above and you can read the whole report.

Here are some excerpts:
Although the global context has greatly evolved over the past six decades, UNESCO’s mandate in science and in all its sectors is at least as relevant today as since its founding. Today, the world faces new challenges as a result of unequal economic development, environmental degradation, demographic evolution, political transformations and globalization. Major threats to natural and human security such as global climate change, emergence and spread of infectious diseases and loss of biological diversity are testing our intellectual capabilities, while humanitarian imperatives and development needs remain as critical as ever. Sustainable solutions, whether at the global, regional or country level, require more advances in scientific knowledge, discoveries and understanding, stronger integration of research and education and identification of practical measures for action......

UNESCO has one real comparative advantage within the United Nations system: it is the only agency which, through its mission, can integrate science, education and culture. However, given its limited budget, UNESCO cannot be a funding agency for research or development. It can act as a catalyst for actions performed in collaboration with others, thus providing significant financial leveraging and maximizing the Organization’s impact. In this way, it facilitates participation in research, including the development of networks, and in the articulation and application of research results in global, regional and national endeavours. UNESCO’s international credibility, special mandate for science within the United Nations system, intellectual reputation, convening power and global presence provide a solid foundation for its crucial roles as facilitator and capacity-builder.

In particular, the Organization acts as a facilitator of global, regional and country-level science policy development by improving the base of relevant scientific research knowledge and communicating that knowledge by promoting policy work and participating in formulating policy advice, as well as building country capacity in policy-making, scientific monitoring and benchmarking. This collective activity fits UNESCO’s multilateral standing as a United Nations agency, its cross-disciplinary capability, and its respected global reach to both governments and civil society.
Recognizing many problems in UNESCO's current science programs, their management, their reputation, and their impact, their impact, the committee made important recommendations:
The Committee’s vision for UNESCO is an organization recognized for its leadership role within the United Nations system, based on a strategic reorientation of its science portfolio towards contributing to poverty reduction and peace, and consisting of a set of well managed timely programmes, reflecting cutting edge interdisciplinary science, taking maximum advantage of all of its assets, demonstrating its comparative advantages, leading in new ideas, ensuring quality and excellence, attracting the best scientists, and demonstrating to governments that investment in science and technology is vital to human, social and economic progress.

A key feature of this vision is the innovative and synergistic way that UNESCO’s science portfolio will bring together the natural, social and human sciences in programmes and activities designed to tackle the multidimensional aspects of poverty and conflicts.
In response to its main findings, the Committee proposed nine sets of recommendations for UNESCO’s science portfolio:
• Policy advice towards capacity-building needs strengthening.
• Programmes must address new scientific paradigms and “cutting edge” research.
• Interdisciplinary and intersectoral activities need major strengthening.
• Science education should be a high priority.
• The ISPs need better coordination and synergy.
• Outreach and partnerships need improvement.
• Rigorous and transparent selection, assessment and evaluation of programmes and
projects are required.
• UNESCO’s leadership must be enhanced through new global initiatives.
• A Science Advisory Committee is required.
Editor's comment: I suspect that the well intentioned recommendations will not be fully endorsed by the governing bodies of UNESCO. The member States of UNESCO have been relatively unwilling to fund the science programs from the regular budget, preferring apparently to provide extrabudgetary resources for the science programs which they individually prefer. The ISPs, under the control of their governing bodies, carry out programs of great international importance with separate funding and are little hindered by the winds of change within the larger UNESCO. The Centers (which enjoy a large part of UNESCO's science funding) seem to enjoy considerable support from the scientific communities which they serve and the countries in which they are located. If the funding does not line up behind the committee's recommendations, those recommendations will have little impact. More the pity since there is a major need for an intergovernmental body to pull together many disparate lines of support for science, to bring science more fully to bear on the problems of peace and sustainable development, and to catalyze a major global effort to build scientific capacity in the developing world. UNESCO could and should do more! JAD

Message from UNESCO DG on World Press Freedom Day

Message from Mr Koïchiro Matsuura

Director-General of UNESCO

on the occasion of World Press Freedom Day

3 May 2007

"World Press Freedom Day is an occasion to remind the world of the importance of protecting the fundamental human right of freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. With violence against media professionals constituting today one of the greatest threats to freedom of expression, I have decided to dedicate World Press Freedom Day 2007 to the theme of journalist safety."

Deadline approaching for research grant applications and biosphere reserve nominations

UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Program awards grants to 10 young researchers each year in support of their research on ecosystems, natural resources and biodiversity. Applications endorsed by the applicant's MAB National Committee must be submitted to the MAB Secretariat by 30 April. The deadline for submitting biosphere reserve nominations is also 30 April. Both these nominations and proposals for extensions to existing biosphere reserves will be examined by the Advisory Committee for Biosphere reserves.

The new edition of the UNESCO Courier is out!

© The British Museum
Egyptian Sculpture Gallery

2007 - number 3

A guided tour of museums

Increasingly seen as not only as big business, but also formidable machines for promoting mass culture major Western museums are starting to go global.

Out of calamity, conservation

M.S. Swaminathan, UNESCO chair in ecotechnology, suggests that the rich world and the poor world need different strategies to preserve biodiversity

Dr. Swaminatan writes in The World in 2007 (a publication of The Economist):
In September I chaired a meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome to identify ways to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger by 2015. The group was asked how the pace could be accelerated, since a 2005 review showed that progress was poor in most developing countries. Almost all members felt that the greatest threats to food security in the future come, first, from climate change (potential adverse changes in temperature, rainfall and sea level) and, second, from biodiversity loss. I was impressed with the consensus on this question among a diverse group, including a farmer from Senegal, leaders of Oxfam and other non-governmental organisations, agricultural scientists and food-security specialists. The suggested ways forward ranged from faithful implementation of the Kyoto protocol to acting on the provisions of biodiversity, climate and desertification conventions.

Let me describe what I consider to be a way out of the enigma of awareness leading not to action, but to indifference. Speaking on “Agriculture in Our Spaceship Earth” in 1973, I proposed a twin strategy to deal with the growing damage to our life-support systems. These were “do ecology” for developing countries, and “don’t ecology” for industrialised countries. The first revolves around activities which will generate an economic stake in conservation and will help to reduce poverty. The “don’t ecology”, by contrast, largely relates to regulations and restrictions in areas such as carbon emissions and the unsustainable consumption of natural resources. Two recent examples of “do ecology” show its great potential.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Read the full article from

"After a fact-finding mission to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, a team from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today confirmed serious threats to the World Heritage site caused by encroachment by invasive species, uncontrolled tourism and other challenges, as it also welcomed measures to deal with these threats put forward by the country’s President.

"The visit, from 8 to 13 April, was led by Tumu te Heuheu, Chairman of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee, Kishore Rao, Deputy Director of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre, and Berndt von Droste of the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The trip took place at the invitation of Ecuador’s Government."

Monday, April 16, 2007

1st Expert Meeting of the UNESCO Working Group on Water Education and Capacity Building for Sustainable Development

11-13 April 2007, Paris, France

The UNESCO Working Group on Water Education and Capacity Building for Sustainable Development is an intersectoral body established by the Science and Education Sectors of UNESCO. During the meeting, the Working Group advised UNESCO, the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and their partners on key issues, initiatives and strategies for raising awareness and advancing water education for the community, via the mass media and other communication channels, and for the school and vocational education and training (VET) sectors.

5th World Conference of Science Journalists

Kangaroos and koalas have been enlisted to entice journalists to Melbourne - AAAS Meeting, San Francisco, February 2007
Photos: Richard Friebe

The conference to be held

16 to 20 April 2007

is to feature lively discussion on the challenges facing science journalism - the impact of the web, of blogs and podcasting, the role of journalism, the politicisation of science and the biasing of scientific information.

A UNESCO workshop on science journalism education and training is being held on 16 April from 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. It will:
  • discuss the training, mentoring and support needs of science journalists in developing countries;
  • review and discuss the initial results of a UNESCO project to develop a generic science journalism course for developing countries;
  • discuss current mentoring programmes for developing country science journalists and future opportunities for collaboration - organisers of several of these programs will speak about their experiences; and
  • share the experiences and learnings of teachers of science journalism around the world.


Read the article on MaximsNews Network.

"The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today condemned the killing of Amado Ramirez, the Acapulco correspondent of Mexico’s Televisa broadcasting network who was shot in the back earlier this month.

“'I condemn the cowardly murder of Amado Ramirez,' Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura said, voicing his expectation that Mexico’s authorities 'will do all they can to protect journalists who are in the frontline of the war for human rights and rule and law.'”

Sunday, April 15, 2007

34 New U.S. Sites for World Heritage Consideration

Thirty-four new sites are being proposed for consideration for addition to the existing 20 U.N. World Heritage sites in the United States. Each nation provides a tentative list of possible sites, and later is allowed to submit formal nominations with detailed studies for sites to be considered by the World Heritage Committee. The preliminary list is required by the 1972 World Heritage Treaty, which was proposed and ratified by the United States. A careful decision process is carried out, with external advice from international agencies, before sites are added to the the World Heritage list (which currently has 830 entries).

The National Park Service is responsible for compiling the tentative list from the United States, and does so with inputs from other U.S. government agencies and owners of property who wish that it be nominated. The tentative list of 72 sites from the United States was last revised in 1990.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of people in the United States - including elected officials - have no idea how, or by whom, the list was formulated, why it is being proposed, or what the significance of listing may be. The National Park Service does not seem to have opened the process to public comment, nor has the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO been invited to take part in the selection process.

Editorial comment: The list, as one might expect from the National Park Service, is quite strong on natural heritage sites, including some strong nominations from the Fish and Wildlife Service. To this observer, it seems weaker in terms of cultural heritage. The Nation Mall and Memorial Parks might for example have been listed to celebrate the United States contribution to the world heritage of freedom, equality and democratic governance. JAD

Climate change threatens UNESCO World Heritage sites

The threats posed by climate change to natural and cultural sites on UNESCO's World Heritage List are outlined in a new UNESCO publication, "Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage". The report features 26 examples - including the Tower of London, Kilimanjaro National Park and the Great Barrier Reef - case studies that are representative of the dangers faced by the 830 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List.

A World of Science (April - June 2007)

Read the new edition of UNESCO's A World of Science.

From the "In Focus" editorial:
Far from the nanohype

More than four billion dollars has been spent in recent years on a technology that remains largely hypothetical. ‘We stand on the threshold of a new era, that of nanofabrication, where systems and devices will be built in the laboratory atom by atom’, remarked Belita Koiller on accepting her L’ORÉAL–UNESCO for Women in Science award in 2005. As we do not yet know how to assemble atoms in practice, much of research and development (r&D) on nanotechnology remains theoretical, via computer modelling and the study of quantum theories. For all their exciting possibilities, nanomachines, nanorobots and the like still remain a promise of things to come for the most part.

Nanotechnology may still be work in progress but it is already raising some important ethical questions. it is also fueling an emotive debate between nanophiliacs and nanophobics. which of the public’s fears are justified and which are unfounded?

Next october, 192 countries will examine Nanotechnologies and Ethics: Policies
and Actions at UNesCo’s General Conference. Prepared by the world Commission
on the ethics of science and Technology (CoMesT) and UNesCo’s ethics of
science and Technology Programme after a wide consultation, the report will
outline strategies for regulating the development of nanotechnology around the
world to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks of this new technology,
far from the ‘nanohype’ which has taken hold of the debate.
From: "The glass ceiling
"A decade ago, UNESCO launched a program for Women, Science and Technology. Some might be tempted to consider such a program of secondary importance, in light of such momentous problems as extreme poverty, pandemics, climate change and so on. At a time when the planet is fighting for its survival, does UNESCO have nothing better to do than set up prizes and fellowships for women and promote science education for girls?

Let’s examine the situation for a moment. The latest data published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, reproduced in this issue, reveal that science and technology are still dominated by men. Women represent just one-quarter of the world’s researchers, roughly 10% of university professors and fewer than 5% of members of Academies of Sciences. As for Nobel Prize laureates in science, fewer than 3% have been women.

It is true that the life sciences often attract more women than men but, even here, women soon strike a `glass ceiling´ when they try climbing the career ladder. ‘Our male colleagues do not readily accept women’, regrets Professor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, one of this year’s five L’ORÉAL–UNESCO laureates. ‘For a woman to make it, her portfolio has to be ten times heavier than that of her male counterpart.’

World Book and Copyright Day - April 23

By celebrating this Day throughout the world, UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.

23 April: a symbolic date for world literature for on this date and in the same year of 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died.

Read more.

UNESCO-IUCN Mission to Galapágos Islands

Sea-lions, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

A UNESCO/ World Conservation Union (IUCN) mission is currently in Ecuador (April 8-12, 2007) at the request of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee and at the invitation of the government of Ecuador, to assess the state of conservation of the Galapágos National Park and Marine Reserve.

The mission will include high-level meetings with senior government officials from the Ministries of Tourism, of Foreign Affairs and of the Environment. Read more

UNESCO and the United States of America

This pamphlet published by UNESCO in 2000 briefly describes UNESCO and its importance to the United States. Especially interesting is the partial list of organizations which had passed resolutions calling for the return of the United States to UNESCO during its 18 year absence. The list is shown below:
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Council on Education
American Chemical Society
American Physical Society
American Bar Association
American Association of Museums
American Educational Research Association
American Library Association
American Psychological Association
American Association of University Professors
Americans for the Universality of UNESCO (Now Americas for UNESCO.)
Comparative/International Education Society
Council of Scientific Society Presidents
International Council on Monuments and Sites
International Reading Association
National Education Association
National Science Teachers Association
National Association of Professional Engineers
PEN American Center
United Nations Association of the USA
US National Commission on Libraries and Information Science
Freedom House

Friday, April 13, 2007

Memory of the World

UNESCO's Memory of the World program aims at preservation and dissemination of valuable archive holdings and library collections worldwide.

Map of documentary heritages as of 2005

The Memory of the World Register lists documentary heritage which has been recommended by the International Advisory Committee and endorsed by the Director-General of UNESCO as corresponding to the selection criteria for world significance. Nominations for the Register may be submitted by any person or organization, including governments and NGOs. However, priority will be given to nominations made by or through the relevant regional or national Memory of the World committee, where one exists, or failing that, through the relevant UNESCO National Commission. (Editors note: to the best of my knowledge, there is no U.S. Memory of the World Committee. JAD)

The only registered item in the United States is the:
Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque Lustrationes
Made in 1507, this map is recognized as the first to show correctly the existence of a separate Western Hemisphere and of the Pacific Ocean. It is also the first printed wall map of the world. Furthermore, it is the first map to give the name of “America” to the New World, in honor of Amerigo Vespucci. Produced by Martin Waldseemüller in Saint Dié or Strasbourg, France, it contains information derived from the Spanish and Portuguese expeditions of the late 15th and early 16th centuries.
The most recent nominations from the United States were:
* The Wizard of Oz (2005 nomination) (the movie)

* The AIDS Education Global Information System (AEGiS) Millennium Collection (2002 nomination)
Other registered things include:
Austria - Final document of the Congress of Vienna

Cuba - Writings of José Martí Pérez

France - Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789-1791)

Venezuela - General Archive of the Nation - Writings of The Liberator Simón Bolívar
In view of the contributions of other nations, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution in the National Archives would appear a better nomination than the Wizard of Oz!

The Jikji Memory of the World Prize further promotes the objectives of the Memory of the World Program and to commemorate the inscription of the Jikji, the oldest known book of movable metal print in the world. The Prize, consisting of an award of US$ 30,000, is to be given every two years to individuals or institutions that have made significant contributions to the preservation and accessibility of documentary heritage. Last month, three out of 23 nominations received from Member States were preliminarily selected by the Bureau of the Memory of the World Program during its meeting at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris from 19 to 20 March 2007. The list includes the following institutions:
* Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the oldest sound archive of the world, which made substantial contribution to the advancement of audio and video preservation;

* French Institut National de l'Audiovisuel (INA), which safeguards and digitizes programmes in danger of disappearing and participates in international projects on preservation of, and access to, audiovisual heritage; and

* National Library of Malaysia, which preserved and made accessible valuable treasures.
I note that the Library of Congress is also the largest library in the world, with more than 130 million items on approximately 530 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 29 million books and other printed materials, 2.7 million recordings, 12 million photographs, 4.8 million maps, and 58 million manuscripts. Why is it not on the list? JAD

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Map of Subjective Well-Being

Source: "A Global Projection of Subjective Well-being:
A Challenge to Positive Psychology?
by Adrian G. White

The map includes information from UNESCO as well as other sources. A more interactive version of the map can be found here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Report by the Secretary of State to the Congress: October 2005

The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was established in 1945 with the primary objective of contributing to peace and security worldwide by promoting global collaboration through education, science, and culture. Since rejoining UNESCO on October 1, 2003, the United States continues to promote U.S. priorities at UNESCO in each of the Organization’s five sectors: Education, Culture, Communication and Information, Natural Sciences, and Social and Human Sciences. By promoting collaboration among nations, UNESCO strives to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. Priority programs foster and defend the free flow of ideas and open access to education for all; build understanding of democratic principles and practice; promote scientific knowledge; and protect the cultural and natural heritage of humankind. UNESCO, which is headquartered in Paris, has 191 member states and has been led since 1999 by Director-General Koichiro Matsuura (Japan). He was reappointed for a four-year term in October 2005.

The Executive Board, one of UNESCO’s three constitutional bodies, consists of 58 member states with four-year terms of office. It examines the program of work and corresponding budget proposals, and ensures the effective and rational execution of the program by the Director-General. As a member of the Board, with a term that expires in 2008, the United States participated in the semiannual Board Sessions in Paris in April and September 2005. The Board continued negotiations on two instruments, the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and the Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The United States engaged actively in negotiating both of these instruments. In September, the Executive Board recommended that the General Conference, which met in October, Cultural Expressions and the Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The Executive Board examined the Director-General’s preliminary proposals concerning UNESCO’s Program and Budget for 2008–2009. The Board also recommended that the Director-General temporarily stop creating normative instruments, put more effort into implementing education for all, and implement a review of the Natural and Social and Human Science programs.

U.S. priorities at the Executive Board were to maintain budget discipline within UNESCO and focus UNESCO program efforts and budget resources on the areas of literacy, capacity building in science and engineering, and the preservation of cultural objects. In particular, the United States was pleased with UNESCO efforts in the area of education.

In 2005, UNESCO saw several successes in the area of education, a main priority for the United States. The United States worked with other member states to promote results-based education programs at the country level, where they will do the most good toward achieving the goals of education for all. The United States also worked closely with UNESCO in launching the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment, a literacy strategic framework with the goal of achieving concrete, measurable results in 34 countries with the highest rates of illiteracy. U.S. literacy experts were included in the preparation of this strategy, as a way to help ensure that U.S. research and experience in this critical area could be shared with others, including the promotion of an inter-generational, mother/child approach to literacy programming.

At the General Conference in October, the United States was able to join consensus on the Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights by heading off an intense effort to include a number of subjects that were inappropriate for the declaration. The United States, however, voted against the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions after it became clear that the Convention was going to be used to implement trade protections for “cultural expressions.” Negotiations on the Convention, which was heavily promoted by France and Canada, were set in motion by the adoption of a related Declaration before the U.S. reentry to UNESCO in 2003. In addition to concerns about the Convention’s potential effect on trade, the United States also expressed concerns about the impact of the Convention on the free flow of information. The vote on adoption of the Convention was 148 to two (U.S. and Israel), with four abstentions. Thirty countries must deposit their instruments of ratification with UNESCO for it to enter into force.

The UNESCO regular budget for 2005 was approximately $305 million; the U.S. assessment was $76.7 million. Since 1986, the United States has also regularly made voluntary contributions to UNESCO. The 2005 contribution totaled $837,000 and was used to support UNESCO-related international educational, scientific, cultural, and communications activities considered to be in the U.S. national interest. In 2005, of the 732 positions subject to geographic distribution, Americans held 30 posts, or 4.1 percent.

UNA-USA Salute to UNESCO Reentry

The United Nations Association of the United States of America provides this website on the U.S. reentry to UNESCO.

"We raise our flag to join the flags of 189 UNESCO Member States
in seeking the very best of our human hopes for liberty, dignity and peace”

Laura Bush's remarks
to the General Conference of UNESCO
the US Return to UNESCO with an Address

UNA-USA has done considerable work on UNESCO issues, including reports:

The Children of Darfur

According to the U.S. Holocaust Museum there exists
a genocide emergency for Darfur, Sudan. To date about 2,500,000 civilians, targeted because of their ethnic or racial identity, have been driven from their homes, more than 300,000 people killed, and more than 1,600 villages destroyed by Sudanese government soldiers and government-backed militias, known as the "Janjaweed." More than 200,000 Sudanese are refugees in neighboring Chad. The crisis continues as thousands more die each month from the effects of inadequate food, water, health care, and shelter in a harsh desert environment.
UNESCO produced the 2006 film, "The Children of Darfur". It is a youth documentary film that will tell the children's version of what is happening in Darfur. Some of the strongest testimonies are told by the children and etched in drawings made in the support centres that have opened throughout Darfur.

The film, directed by Denmark’s Camilla Nielsson, received the International TV3 Actual Award, a 10,000-euro first prize for outstanding examples of investigative journalism, as well as the 25th Grand Prix for Documentary of the International Radio and Television University. The film is one of seven films released last year by UNESCO as a part of its advocation of human rights.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Conference on Science and Technology Education: Systemic Approaches to Reform

In 2004, UNESCO and the American Association for the Advancement of Science sponsored this symposium in Paris.

Affiliate Your Technology Education club to UNESCO

UNESCO is establishing a network of Science and Technology Education Clubs in secondary schools. Schools are invited to submit their applications to UNESCO.

Should you be interested to be affiliated to UNESCO’s network of Science and Technology Education Clubs, you can contact Orlando Hall Rose in UNESCO's section for Science and Technology Education:

Saturday, April 07, 2007

2007 UNESCO / Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize awarded posthumously to Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya

Accepting the recommendation of an independent international jury of media professionals, the Director-General of UNESCO has designated Anna Politkovskaya, the late Russian journalist, as the laureate of the 2007 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

"Anna Politkovskaya showed incredible courage and stubbornness in chronicling events in Chechnya after the whole world had given up on that conflict. Her dedication and fearless pursuits of the truth set the highest benchmark of journalism, not only for Russia but for the rest of the world. Indeed, Anna's courage and commitment were so remarkable, that we decided, for the first time, to award the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize posthumously."

The prize is named after a distinguished Colombian journalist who was assassinated in 1986.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

SHS Views: March-May 2007

Read the UNESCO Social and Human Science Sector magazine's new issue.

Americans for UNESCO Board member Annette Hartenstein provided us the following:

The April issue of UNESCO Social and Human Sciences Sector magazine emphasizes that nothing be contemplated in the field of social development without input from the social sciences community. UNESCO’s intergovernmental programme on the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) has brought together Ministers of Social Development in Latin America, Southern Africa, West Africa and Asia. In Africa, the aim of the meeting was to highlight the essential contribution of civil society and NGOs to the research-government action nexus.

So far, one point has become evident: ingrained mistrust must be overcome. It is not easy to encourage convergent efforts if NGOs are suspected of being irresponsible, researchers of being partial, and governments of exploiting partners for their own ends. No one has a monopoly on knowledge in the social sciences; >

Now it is the turn of the Arab States to have a Forum of Ministers for Social Development that will be officially launched on 30 April and 1 May 2007 in Marrakesh, Morocco. It will aim to identify the region’s priority needs and set up a sustainable structure to respond to those needs. For more information, please contact: Souris Say-So,, tel.: + 212 67 37 03 72/74.