Thursday, June 28, 2007

Indigenous People and ICT: UNESCO-CI

San people, South Africa

Indigenous People and ICT: UNESCO-CI:

"UNESCO places a high value on mutual understanding, tolerance and a respect for the rights of individuals to a cultural identity and self-determination. 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."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

World Refugee Day

UNESCO, in collaboration with the UNRWA & UNFPA marked World Refugee Day on June 20th. This year the ceremonies were focused on refugee women, who together with their children make up 80 per cent of the world's 22 million refugees, excluding Palestinian refugees. The main ceremony was held at the UNESCO office in Amman, Jordan.

UNHCR representative in Jordan Mr. Sten Bronee said that holding this ceremony in Jordan gives recognition to the fact that Jordan has hosted the largest number of refugees for the longest period of time. Mr. Bronee added that although the refugees in Jordan and in the neighbouring countries have much in common with refugees elsewhere in the world, they enjoy the protection and support of the host government and the UN organizations. He said that women were the most vulnerable group of refugees, who are exposed to persecution, discrimination and abuse. However, women are the strongest in terms of perseverance, patience and nurturing that hold together the fabric of their families.

A Middle East Refugee Camp
Source: Annie's Letters (blog)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


This is a full copy of a brief note from Random Samples, Science, 15 June 2007 (Volume 316, Number 5831, Issue of 15 June 2007).

"If you plan to see the Coliseum, Notre Dame, and other European landmarks, the new Vulnerability Atlas might help you decide which ones to visit first--before climate change ruins them. Aimed at policymakers and preservationists, the atlas roughly maps how climate change caused by global warming could harm the continent's historical monuments, statues, and buildings over the next century. Produced by Noah's Ark, a 3-year, €1.2 million project sponsored by the European Commission, the atlas marries climate modeling with research on how wood, stone, glass, and other materials are damaged by climate-influenced factors. For example, it shows where in Europe attacks by wood-destroying fungi may increase because of warmer, wetter weather.

"Cristina Sabbioni, a physicist at the Institute for Sciences of the Atmosphere and Climate in Bologna, Italy, who coordinated the project, says it's a "shame" that more attention has been paid to the impact of climate change on the skiing industry than on Europe's historical treasures. But attitudes may be changing. Later this month, UNESCO will call for research on how climate change endangers cultural heritage globally, notes May Cassar of University College London's Centre for Sustainable Heritage. "Noah's Ark just scratched the surface," she says."

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Safeguarding the oceans and tackling climate change

Safeguarding the oceans and tackling natural disasters and climate change will top the agenda of the Assembly of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), when it meets at UNESCO Headquarters from 19 to 28 June.

The Assembly is the IOC’s supreme decision-making body and meets once every two years. During the forthcoming session, representatives from its 136 Member States will work on guidelines for the management of coastal and ocean environments as well as future action to limit the impact of natural hazards, adapt to climate change and preserve the oceans.

“Water for a Changing World: Enhancing Local Knowledge and Capacity”

The Delft-based UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education organized a three-day Symposium from 13 – 15 June entitled: “Water for a Changing World: Enhancing Local Knowledge and Capacity.” The meeting was held on the occasion of UNESCO-IHE's 50th anniversary. More than 300 representatives from ministries, international development banks, international organizations including the UN, as well as water corporations participated. Among the participants were some of the 14,000 alumni of the institute, including several ministers and CEOs.

Click here to go to the conference website, where you can download speeches and background materials.

International Memory of the World Conference

Mabo case manuscripts
© National Library of Australia

"Communities and memories: a global perspective" is the theme of the Conference to take place in Australia next year.

In association with the Australian Memory of the World Committee and under the auspices of the Australian National Commission for UNESCO, the National Library of Australia will organize the Third International Memory of the World Conference from 19 to 22 February 2008 in Canberra, Australia.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Call for Moderators

UNESCO is the lead agency in the United Nations system for a number of aspects of the follow-up of the World Conference on the Information Society. A multi-stakeholders meeting on the follow-up efforts was held on 24 May 2007 in Geneva at the ITU Headquarters.

As Action Line C8 facilitator (
Cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content), UNESCO is looking for Moderators for the following C8 sub-themes:
  • Memory and heritage
  • Local content and contemporary cultural expressions
  • Linguistic diversity
  • Traditional knowledge
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Gender
  • Disabled persons
If interested, contact:

U.S. citizens interested in serving as a moderator should also contact the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO or the U.S. Permanent Delegation to UNESCO.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Memory of the World

The vision of the Memory of the World Programme is that the world's documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance.

The 8th Meeting of the Memory of the World International Advisory Committee (IAC) has been held in Pretoria, South Africa from 11-15 June 2007. It has been reviewing review 50 new requests for inclusion in the Memory of the World Register, submitted by 38 countries.

The United States has only one entry in the register now:

Universalis cosmographia secundum Ptholomaei traditionem et Americi Vespucii aliorumque Lustrationes (2005)* (The 1507 printed world map, prepared by the Gymnasium Vosagense, St. Dié, France under the direction of Martin Waldseemüller, is the first map on which the name America appears. The Library of Congress possesses the only known surviving copy of this map.)

The last date for submission of new nomination proposals for inscription on the Memory of the World Register will be March 31, 2007. New proposals submitted by that date will be examined during the 2008/2009 session. Click here for more information on nominations.

Editorial Comment: I believe that the United States should pledge to the world to keep safe those documents created here that are part of the world heritage. I think some suitable candidates might be:

Political documents:
  • The Declaration of Independence, which has served as a model for so many other nations since it was signed.
  • The U.S. Constitution, which is the oldest written national constitution of a major nation (only San Marino may be considered to have an earlier written constitution).

  • Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian: Photographic Images at the Library of Congress;
Technology: A great gift of the United States to the world has been American technology, and it could be commemorated through the papers of our most distinguished inventors:
  • Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers at the Library of Congress
  • Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers University
  • Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress, 1793-1919
  • Eli Whitney Papers at Yale University
  • The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress
Incidentally, the Gayanashagowa or the Great Law of Peace of the Iroquois (or Haudenosaunee) Six Nations, the oral constitution that created the Iroquois Confederacy, might be considered as a nomination for the Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Gayanashagowa is said to have provided significant inspiration to Benjamin Franklin and James Madison in the writing of the United States Constitution, and thus to have inspired political thought in many nations.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Editorial: UNESCO should put reports in the public domain and on the web

UNESCO should be encouraged by the United States government and others to publish all of its reports on the Internet and to place them in the public domain.

It has established important precedents making open source software and other products available free. Some reports are available on the web. However, currently, UNESCO places many reports under copyright protection. I recently sought to use one of its reports on the history of UNESCO on electronic reserve for a class I was teaching, and was told that even in that case I had to submit a formal request. The publication in question, I am told, will be made available on the Internet in January, more than a year after its publication in paper form.

There are different theories as to why publications should be protected by copyright. Some hold that the monopoly on the sale of copies of a publication encourages authors. Others hold that copyright protection recognizes the natural rights of authors. Presumably, UNESCO does not need incentives to publish, since it is funded by its member states to do so, and since authors of UNESCO reports typically do not expect royalties for their efforts. Equally, it is hard to see why a bureaucratic organization would have natural rights to benefit from the creative efforts of others.

UNESCO has an important mandate to help the poor and to help poor countries. Not only does it charge for its reports, but it charges a lot for them. The majority of the world's people can not and do not have access to UNESCO reports as a result of its publications policies.

The U.S. National Academy Press has set some precedents that UNESCO might consider. It makes its reports available to all online in a format that allows them to be read page by page. They are available to be downloaded without charge from the Internet in PDF format for readers in developing nations. The Press does sell paper copies of its reports, charging enough to cover the printing and mailing costs. It has discovered that it has actually increased sales of paper copies by making the content available without charge on the World Wide Web.

The member states that provide the vast majority of UNESCO's budget are all donors of foreign assistance. They should encourage UNESCO to run the risk of forgoing whatever small income it may generate from the sale of copyrighted publications in order to make the products of UNESCO's work more available and accessible in developing nations, as well as to their own populations.

John Daly

(This editorial represents the opinion only of its author.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Women's participation in research

Gender Indicators in Science, Engineering and Technology: An Information Toolkit
By Sophia Huyer and Gunnar Westholm
UNESCO Publishing, 2007. 20.00 €
Click here if you want to purchase a copy.

Read Head counts and headaches measuring women in science,which summarizes a survey by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics of women's participation in research in 86 countries (A World of Science, April 2007, pages 21-23).

Read also the editorial on The Glass Ceiling by UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences (A World of Science, April 2007).

A meeting on the Empowerment of women in engineering and technology organized by WFEO in collaboration with UNESCO was held from 6 to 8 June. For details, contact the UNESCO focal point.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

First Issue of the UNESCO Venice Newsletter

The UNESCO Venice Newsletter is a quarterly newsletter published in English by the UNESCO Office Venice - UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (BRESCE).

In this first issue, the Newsletter features articles on actions and project activities in South East Europe and much more.

- Integration of Natural & Cultural Heritage Conservation
- Events in the region
- New Director for the Office in Venice


- EuroMAB 2007: a Strategic Positioning of MAB in Europe
- World Heritage & Cooperation with SOUTH EAST EUROPE Member States
- Training & Capacity Building in SOUTH EAST EUROPE
- New Tool for Promotion of Romanian Cultural Heritage

- Michael Millward, former Director of the Regional Bureau for Science and Culturein Europe (BRESCE)

Monday, June 11, 2007

UNESCO and UN Reform

The flag of the United Nations

Go to the UNESCO website devoted to the joint reform efforts.

The quest for UN reform is being pursued at the highest levels of government. The UN reform agenda, aimed at coherence, efficiency and enhanced high-quality delivery is bound to have a major impact on UNESCO’s action at the global, regional and country levels for the years to come. It will be a challenge, but also a real opportunity, for UNESCO.

2008 Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health

Centre International de Conférence de Bamako

The 2008 Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health will be held in Bamako, Mali, 17-20 November 2008.

The purpose of the conference is to strengthen research for health, development and equity, by generating increased commitment to research and innovation, and by developing coherence and connectivity between the many different stakeholders active in this field.

The 2008 Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health aims to bring together 1000 stakeholders including ministers of health, science & technology, and social development; researchers; civil society organizations; national research councils; donor agencies; philanthropic foundations; and representatives of the private sector.

UNESCO is one of the cosponsors of the meeting.

Click here to go to the UNESCO announcement of the signing of the MoU launching the effort.

Click here to go to the conference website.

New Issue of the UNESCO Courier

© UNESCO/Alida Boye
Timbuktu manuscripts

Read the special issue on the Memory of the World online (2007 - number 5).

Manuscripts, illuminations, archives, early films – the documentary heritage of humanity is fragile and threatened. For the last 15 years, UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme participates in its preservation. More documents of exceptional value are being inscribed in the Memory of the World Register from 11 to 15 June in Pretoria (South Africa).

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dialogue Among Civilizations

Dialogue among Civilizations
Proceedings of the International Symposium
on Dialogue among Cultures and Civilizations
Sana'a, Yemen
10 to 11 February 2004

In 2001, the United Nations General Assembly devoted a two day session to the theme of Dialog Among Civilizations. (Click here to to to the website for that meeting.)

UNESCO, even earlier adopted Dialog Among Civilizations as a major mainstreaming issue, cross cutting all of its programs. A number of meetings have be held all over the world to promote that dialog under UNESCO sponsorship. (Click here to go to a website from which you can download the reports of many of those meetings.)

The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) also established a Dialog Among Civilizations program. (Click here to go to the website for that program.)

The most recent conference in this series was titled "COMMUNICATION OF HERITAGE: A NEW VISION OF SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE". It was held in Opatija, Croatia from May 31 to June 2, 2006. (Click here for the newly published report from that meeting.)

Bioethics at UNESCO

The UNESCO Bioethics Program was created in 1993. It is managed as part of the Social and Human Sciences Program, and supports the International Bioethics Committee. In 1997 the General Conference adopted the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights, the only international instrument in the field of bioethics, which was endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1998.

The UNESCO Bioethics Program website

UNESCO Bioethics Guides:

The program has published three guides, directed at those managing bioethics committees.

Guide #1 Establishing Bioethics Committees

Guide #2,
Bioethics Committees at Work: Procedures and Policies

Guide #3, Educating Bioethics Committees

Also of interest from UNESCO:

A Cross-Cultural Introduction to Bioethics, Darryl R.J. Macer, Ph.D. (Editor), Eubios Ethics Institute, 2006

A list of UNESCO bioethics materials
(All of which can be downloaded free of charge from the list.)

Fourteenth Session of the International Bioethics Committee (IBC)
Nairobi, Kenya, 17-19 May 2007

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Editorial on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

The Americans for UNESCO website is currently featuring a highlight on the United States National Commission for UNESCO. The National Commission is unusual in that it has specific authorizing legislation, and that legislation specifically identifies the National Commission as created in fulfillment of Article VII of the Constitution of UNESCO. That article states:
Article VII

National Co-operating Bodies

1. Each Member State shall make such arrangements as suit its particular conditions for the purpose of associating its principal bodies interested in educational, scientific and cultural matters with the work of the Organization, preferably by the formation of a National Commission broadly representative of the Government and such bodies.

2. National Commissions or National Co-operating Bodies, where they exist, shall act in an advisory capacity to their respective delegations to the General Conference and to their Governments in matters relating to the Organization and shall function as agencies of liaison in all matters of interest to it.

3. The Organization may, on the request of a Member State, delegate, either temporarily or permanently, a member of its Secretariat to serve on the National Commission of that State, in order to assist in the development of its work.
Thus the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO is specifically authorized by statute to associate U.S. educational, scientific and cultural organizations with the work of UNESCO, as well as to advise the government (and the delegations to the general conference).

As an advisory body to the government, the National Commission also is controlled by the Federal Advisory Committee Act. Thus it must have a balanced membership with suitable expertise to offer sound advice and it must hold open meetings and act in a transparent manner. FACA also requires agencies to report regularly on their advisory committees, and to revise the charters of those committees regularly. (The next revision of the charter of the National Commission for UNESCO is scheduled for 2008.) The law allows for advisory committees to be authorized by Presidential directive, even in the absence of specific legislative charter, to be utilized for other functions in addition to their advisory purposes.

The Congress has become concerned with the administration of advisory committees under the Bush Administration, and requested that the General Accounting Office study the situation. A report from the GAO in 2004 stated:
Additional governmentwide guidance could help agencies better ensure the independence of federal advisory committee members and the balance of federal advisory committees. For example, OGE guidance to federal agencies has shortcomings and does not adequately ensure that agencies appoint individuals selected to provide advice on behalf of the government as special government employees subject to conflict-of-interest regulations. In addition, GSA guidance to federal agencies and agency specific policies and procedures could be improved to better ensure that agencies collect and evaluate information that could be helpful in determining the viewpoints of potential committee members regarding the subject matters being considered and in ensuring that committees are, and are perceived as being, balanced.
Members of the House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology have become specifically concerned about the quality of scientific advisory committees under the Bush administration as has Rep. Henry Waxman, Ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Government Reform. Thus the balance and objectivity of the U.S. National Commission on UNESCO is subject also to oversight by the legislature.

UNESCO, of course, convenes many international committees to advise on matters of science, including oceanography, geology, hydrology, biosciences, scientific ethics, and aspects of the social sciences. While UNESCO itself is responsible to appoint the members of those committees, and to assure the objectivity and balance of the membership, the UNESCO secretariat often seeks help in identifying candidates from the United States for such committees from the U.S. permanent delegation to UNESCO and indirectly from the National Commission. Thus we must be concerned not only with the balance and objectivity in international advisory committees not only as achieved by UNESCO, but in the recommendations made by our representatives to the UNESCO secretariat for U.S. members on those committees.

With the reentry of the United States into UNESCO, 60 Non-Governmental organizations were selected by the Department of State, each to "designate one representative for appointment to the National Commission." The law chartering the National Commission states that:
the National Commission shall periodically review and, if deemed advisable, revise the list of such organizations designating representatives in order to achieve a desirable rotation among organizations represented.
There have been three meetings of the Commission and the law states that Commissioners are to serve three year terms, so it may be an appropriate time for the National Commission to consider rotation among the NGO's designating representatives to it.

John A. Daly

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Global Science and National Policies: the Role of Academies

A two-day conference of the Academies of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, devoted to a set of major issues requiring international science co-operation and relating to the role – actual or potential – of these Academies in relation to national policy making and development was held in the Republic of Moldova from 4 to 5 May 2007. The conference was organized by the UNESCO Office in Venice (BRESCE), the UNESCO Office in Moscow and the International Council for Science (ICSU).