Friday, November 30, 2007

New Issue of the UNESCO Courier

© UNESCO/Michel Ravassard
UNESCO campaign «Send my friend to school» (2005). Work by Tara Badcock (Australia)



1990 : The Education for All (EFA) campaign is launched in Jomtien (Thailand). The international community pledges to provide quality basic education to all children, youths and adults.


2000 :In Dakar, Senegal, more than 160 governments set six goals to be reached no later than 2015. The goals concern early childhood education, primary school, life skills, adult literacy, gender parity and quality education.


2007:“We are halfway there and we have good reason to be optimistic,” says, in this issue of the UNESCO Courier, Nicholas Burnett, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education and director of the just-launched 2008 EFA Global Monitoring Report. Troublesome areas remain nonetheless, notably early childhood education, gender parity and adult literacy.

Workshop on ethics in sports reporting


Ethical standards in sports journalism, especially with regard to doping, were the theme of a five-day workshop that took place from 5 to 9 November 2007 in Beijing, China.

Organized by UNESCO in close cooperation with the Communication University of China (CUC), the workshop was designed for Chinese sports journalists who will be reporting on the 29th Olympic Games in 2008.

Communicating on HIV and AIDS


Good communication on HIV and AIDS, supported by non-formal education and access to information, can allow people to revise the stigmas and to develop new projects in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

UNESCO has undertaken a number of activities with the aim to increase awareness of HIV and AIDS prevention among young people based on the new possibilities offered by ICT, such as online information, media campaigns and youth information centers. It continues to promote access to comprehensive and reliable youth-friendly information with the special emphasis on disadvantaged groups.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

UNESCO supports free and independent media in Iraq

Iraqi journalists
© Voices of Iraq


There have been 205 media killings in Iraq since March 2003, according to Reporters Without Borders. In order to support free and independent media in this country, UNESCO Iraq Office has recently organized a series of workshops, in the framework of the Communication and Information Programme for Iraq.

UNESCO provides safety training to Palestinian media professionals

Safety training
© UNESCO


UNESCO Office in Ramallah and Maan News Network organized a seven-day intensive safety training course for 33 Palestinian journalists, cameramen and photographers in the West Bank. The trainees acquired skills in personal conflict management and safety, risk assessment, surviving in a hostile environment, as well as medical skills.

UNESCO photo contest on The Changing Face of the Earth

The Changing Face of the Earth

UNESCO’s International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) is running a photo contest on the theme of The Changing Face of the Earth, to raise awareness among youth of the state of the planet. There are several cameras and 40 book prizes to be won. Entries close on 30 June 2008.

Contestants may enter in either of the categories:
  • 15-20 year olds and
  • contestants aged 21 years and over.
Each winning contestant will receive a copy of two UNESCO books: Explaining the Earth and The Changing Face of the Earth. In addition, the best entries in each category will win a camera. The names of the winning contestants will be announced in the October 2008 issue of A World of Science and on UNESCO’s science portal.

Photos can be entered in any of ten categories:
  1. Soil – Earth's living skin, Planet Earth in our hands
  2. Groundwater – towards sustainable use
  3. Hazards – minimizing risk, maximizing awards
  4. Earth and health – building a safer environment
  5. Climate change – the ‘stone tape’
  6. Resource issues – towards sustainable use
  7. Megacities – going deeper, building safer
  8. Deep Earth – from crust to core
  9. Ocean – abyss of time
  10. Earth and life – the origins of diversity

UNESCO reasserts its determination to promote women, especially in the fields of science and development

© Micheline Pelletier/Gamma
Pr. V. Narry Kim
L’OREAL-UNESCO Award Nominee

During the recent General Conference, UNESCO and Member States reasserted their determination to mainstream gender issues into all of the Organisation’s activities, while defining UNESCO’s priorities and strategy for the next biennium.

In the coming years, special emphasis will be placed on building capacities among women and young people through training programmes and programmes designed to increase awareness of and access to opportunities in science and technology, as well as improved training for university-level science educators.

21st Century Dialogues: “Making Peace with the Earth”

“Making Peace with the Earth” was the theme of the a session of 21st Century Dialogues, which brought five eminent personalities - Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, Hubert Reeves, Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Luisa Molina and Mathis Wackernagel - to UNESCO on the 26th of November.

The session was organized around the launch of the book “Making Peace with the Earth”, third anthology of the 21st Century Dialogues, just published in French, English, Spanish and Catalan by UNESCO. In the book, seventeen experts, politicians, scientists and thinkers formulate their answers to the questions:
  • What is the future of the planet?
  • What is in store for humanity?

World AIDS Day


World AIDS Day

1 December 2007

We must continue to intensify our efforts, adapt our actions to the epidemiological and social situations on the ground, and mobilize sufficient financial resources for the AIDS response in the time to come. I pledge UNESCO’s firm commitment to fulfilling its role [of leadership] in the global response to HIV and AIDS."

Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

UNESCO International Conference and Exhibition on Knowledge Parks

Life Knowledge Park

UNESCO International Conference and Exhibition on Knowledge Parks

Doha, Qatar, March 29-31, 2008

The UNESCO International Conference and Exhibition on Knowledge Parks is to provide a platform for key players around the world to help translate the concept of knowledge societies into concrete solutions for development.

It is to sensitize policy makers to the value of specialized knowledge parks and knowledge hubs to support and drive economic development and capacity building. It creates opportunities for establishing regional cooperation towards building knowledge parks in developing countries, with a special focus on Africa, Arab States and Asia.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

How volunteering at Unesco changes lives


In UNESCO and other international organizations, interns are often welcome to work alongside staff on development programs and special projects. And, fortunately for the agencies, many young people are willing to do just that, offering their time in exchange for experience. So, what drives this motivation, and what challenges and lessons are learned along the way?

Read the full explanation by Melinda Sung, an Australian Youth Ambassador for Development, who was a volunteer in the Culture Unit, Unesco Bangkok. It is published in The Nation (Bangkok).

Interns have been of great service to Americans for UNESCO, and we are always looking for new volunteers to help with these blogs.

Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities for Science and Technology

Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities for Science and Technology

Summary: "This conference brought together decision-makers, academics, members of government, and leaders from various facets of civil society to discuss ways in which to better, and more directly, harness scientific and technological progress for the promotion of peace and sustainable development. The large number of participants, hailing from many regions, reflected the importance science and technology has taken on in the international agenda. The Conference explored salient issues such as access to knowledge and benefit sharing, the scope of intellectual property protection, and the ethical boundaries of scientific enquiry. At the centre of the discussions was the creation of knowledge societies in which science and technology are neither the sole realm of academics nor the preserve of an elite segment of society enjoying a privileged access to the benefits and products of scientific achievement. Rather, these knowledge societies should utilize the processes of globalization to foster knowledge creation, sharing and diffusion for the benefit of all." UNESCO, 2006. (PDF, 25 MB)

The U.S.A. at UNESCO’s 34th General Conference

UNESCO held its 34th General Conference at its Paris Headquarters from October 16 to November 2, 2007. The General Conference is held every other year, and is the governing body of the organization, The United States fielded a large delegation for the conference, and participated fully in the event.

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings led the U.S. delegation supported by White House Science Advisor, Dr. John H. Marburger, III and National Science Foundation Director Arden Bement..

The Conference notably adopted, by consensus, a resolution on “Holocaust Remembrance” introduced by the United States, Russia, Australia, Canada, and Israel and co-sponsored by 65 other UNESCO member states. The resolution “requests the Director-General to consult with the United Nations Secretary-General regarding outreach programs that could play in promoting awareness of Holocaust remembrance through education and in combating all forms of Holocaust denial.”

Also adopted was a Resolution introduced by the U.S. and co-sponsored by many African states that urged UNESCO to expedite implementation of the Teacher Training Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA).

The United States Library of Congress chose the General Conference as a platform to launch the World Digital Library project. The project was launched with an exhibit that illustrated how the World Digital Library will operate. Librarian of Congress Dr. James H. Billington hosted a reception for a large number of people at the Conference and the Library of Congress and UNESCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate future collaboration on the project.

Finally, NASA and NOAA provided a special exhibit, a digital video globe displaying various data, called the “Magic Planet,” which was the focal point for a presentation entitled "Observing and Understanding our Globalized World through History, Sciences, Culture, and Communications." This exhibit helped make the overall theme of the General Conference, “Planet Earth: from Space to Place,” a great success.

The U.S.A. at UNESCO’s 34th General Conference

UNESCO held its 34th General Conference at its Paris Headquarters from October 16 to November 2, 2007. The General Conference is held every other year, and is the governing body of the organization, The United States fielded a large delegation for the conference, and participated fully in the event.

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings led the U.S. delegation supported by White House Science Advisor, Dr. John H. Marburger, III and National Science Foundation Director Arden Bement..

The Conference notably adopted, by consensus, a resolution on “Holocaust Remembrance” introduced by the United States, Russia, Australia, Canada, and Israel and co-sponsored by 65 other UNESCO member states. The resolution “requests the Director-General to consult with the United Nations Secretary-General regarding outreach programs that could play in promoting awareness of Holocaust remembrance through education and in combating all forms of Holocaust denial.”

Also adopted was a Resolution introduced by the U.S. and co-sponsored by many African states that urged UNESCO to expedite implementation of the Teacher Training Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA).

The United States Library of Congress chose the General Conference as a platform to launch the World Digital Library project. The project was launched with an exhibit that illustrated how the World Digital Library will operate. Librarian of Congress Dr. James H. Billington hosted a reception for a large number of people at the Conference and the Library of Congress and UNESCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate future collaboration on the project.

Finally, NASA and NOAA provided a special exhibit, a digital video globe displaying various data, called the “Magic Planet,” which was the focal point for a presentation entitled "Observing and Understanding our Globalized World through History, Sciences, Culture, and Communications." This exhibit helped make the overall theme of the General Conference, “Planet Earth: from Space to Place,” a great success.

International Conference on Women's Leadership for Sustainable Development

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
addresses the Conference


Jerusalem and Haifa, Israel
18-22 November 2007


The conference, a biennial event held by the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center, was cosponsored by UNESCO and Mashav (the Foreign Ministry-operated official body for international cooperation).

UNESCO Deputy Director-General Prof. Marcio Barbosa expressed gratitude to the government of Israel for hosting such a major event and to the eminent women leaders who had participated with such great enthusiasm.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

ICSU Statement on Recommendations of the Review of UNESCO.s Science Programs


Thomas Rosswall, Executive Director of the International Council for Science, made a supportive statement about UNESCO's efforts to improve its science programs at last month's meeting of the General Conference. He said, among other things:
In particular, we believe that the following recommendations require special emphasis:
  • UNESCO should strengthen its science policy work, but not only in relation to capacity-building in science but also for the development on national knowledge and research systems.
  • We agree that UNESCO should further emphasize new scientific paradigms, such as socio-economic resilience, vulnerability and adaptive management of the environment. This should be done in the context of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, where UNESCO has joined ICSU in important follow-up activities. MAB Biosphere Reserves could play an important role.
  • In particular, we welcome the conclusion that all science programmers should have components of both natural sciences and social and human sciences. Collaboration with ICSU on a programme on hazards and disasters is an example of such a new initiative, where ICSU would welcome UNERSCO collaboration.
  • We agree that UNESCO should take a more comprehensive approach in its environmental programmes and there is scope for strengthened collaboration on biodiversity (through our joint programme DIVERSITAS), on climate change (where both organizations sponsor the World Climate Research Programme), on energy conservation issue (through the ICSU International Science Panel on Renewable Energies) and on natural resource management, through our joint work on Millennium Ecosystem Assessment follow-up.

Arizona Science and Technology Center Wins UNESCO Prize

Center in Arizona praised for remarkable scientific work on water research in deserts and arid lands.

Students measure evaporation rates in Patagonia, Arizona. They are part of of NSF's Science and Technology Center for Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas.
Credit: Jonathan Petti, SAHRA, University of Arizona, Tucson

The Center for Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA) is one of two institutions to win the 2007 International Great Man-made River Prize awarded by UNESCO.

The UNESCO prize "rewards remarkable scientific research work on water usage in arid areas as well as areas subject to drought and also for the development of agriculture for the benefit of humanity and the environment."

Read:


U.S. Control of Internet Remains Issue


The second meeting of the Internet Governance Forum ended last week with little to show in closing the issue of U.S. control over how people around the world access e-mail and Web sites. The Forum was created to support the United Nations Secretary-General in carrying out the mandate from the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). As part of the ITU-UNESCO sponsored WSIS, a Working Group on Internet Governance sought to find a compromise among the nations on the topic, and the Forum is continuing that effort.

With no concrete recommendations for action, the only certainty going forward is that any resentment about the American influence will only grow as more users from the developing world come online, changing the face of the global network.

UNESCO's Climate Change Task Force

Climate change is affecting our environment, our societies, and our cultures. Finding solutions to mitigate the negative impacts and adapt to changing conditions requires and approach that unites sound, unbiased science with social and cultural considerations. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, with over 40 activities spanning all its program sectors, provides a unique forum for addressing climate change and its impacts on the environment and human society.

UNESCO has established an Inter-Sectoral Task Force on Global Climate Change which is to define a strategic and integrated approach for UNESCO on the issue of global climate change and to position the Organization so that it can make a tangible contribution in the years to come.

Read:

World Digital Library Promo Video

About This Video: The vision of an initiative being developed by multiple entities including the Library of Congress and UNESCO. Video edited by Joon Yi and soundtrack produced by Fred Simonton. Added to YouTube: October 18, 2007



Read the article in the Washington Post on the occasion of the demonstration of the prototype in Paris.

Check out the World Digital Library website.

Policy Research Tool

UNESCO is launching a new tool to support policy-making based on research results from international social and human sciences.

UNESCO launches a tool to put social science research at the service of public policy-making Designed and developed under the aegis of the Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Program, the service will provide customized access to policy-relevant material (case studies) according to specific locations (city, country, region) and/or themes related to social transformations (urbanization, migration phenomena, human rights, sustainable development, etc.)

International Sceince and Engineering Partnerships

The National Science Board has recently issued a report (in draft form) titled:



Excerpts:
International centers serve as another means to build international S&E collaborations. Examples of these centers include: the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy, the International Centre for Pure and Applied Mathematics (ICPAM), the Trace Elements Institute of UNESCO, and the International Centre for Chemical Studies (ICCE). ICTP is supported by UNESCO, IAEA, and Italy to provide education and stimulate research in a wide variety of scientific fields for scientists in developing countries. With modest additional funding from other developed countries, this center could serve as an important broker to establish productive international collaborations between scientists and engineers in developed and developing countries....

The new Library at Alexandria exemplifies a different kind of capacity building based on infrastructure development. This magnificent complex was established by Egypt in partnership with UNESCO, the EU, and a number of private sources near the site of the ancient Library; it includes a Planetarium, a Conference Center, and numerous research institutes and educational support facilities, in addition to, a modern library with extensive digital collections, data bases, archives and journals. The Library also provides extensive educational and research support services and stands as an important monument to the peoples of Egypt and other Arab speaking nations......

The U.S. Government supports international S&E partnerships for multiple beneficial reasons. However, little is really understood about the benefits of such partnerships both by the public and in Congress. The benefits of international science and engineering partnerships are not only vital to the future of the U.S., but also stand at the forefront of solving the most pressing issues facing the entire world. Climate change, natural disasters, food shortages, sanitation and drinking water, energy resources, and the spread of disease are only a few of the issues that have global consequences and require a collaborative global effort from not only scientists and engineers, but from policy makers at all levels. The U.S. is uniquely positioned to help shape the direction of international cooperation and provide leadership in building S&E partnerships that can address these important global issues.

Americans Favor International Cooperation

UN Dispatch (November 13, 2007) provides the following information:

The United Nations Foundation released the results of a major survey of Americans' foreign policy attitudes today. Americans, the poll finds, are virtually unanimous (86% of all voters) in the belief that working with allies and through international organizations is a wiser strategy for achieving America's foreign policy priorities.

The poll also finds that 73% of all voters are more likely to vote for a candidate for President who understands that "solutions to world problems require international cooperation, whether they are economic problems, environmental problems, or problems of peace and war and that international cooperation is a better way of solving some of the world's key problems."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Videos on UNESCO's action in communication and information now online

UNESCO has launched an Audiovisual Resources Platform. It offers a unique access point to audiovisual material in the area of communication and information, which has been produced, sponsored or supported by UNESCO: documentaries, audio recordings, speeches, podcasts of meetings, etc. The platform already includes almost 100 audiovisual resources structured around the following themes:
  • Access to Information,
  • Media Development,
  • Capacity Building,
  • Memory of the World,
  • Content Development, and
  • Freedom of Expression.

Check out Planet Earth: From Place to Space, one of the available videos made in celebration of UNESCO's World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, 27 October 2007. It is a short trailer by the members of the Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA) featuring materials from their collections.

video

UNESCO workshops on Freedom of Expression and Multilingualism at the Internet Governance Forum

The second meeting on Internet governance was held earlier this month in Rio de Janeiro. It brought together participants from around the world to discuss issues ranging from freedom of expression and security to open standards and linguistic diversity.

Click here for:

UNESCO’s workshop on "Freedom of Expression as a Security Issue" explored security and security protection mechanisms as variables that influence freedom of expression on the Internet.

A second UNESCO organized workshop associated with the forum was entitled "Towards International Standards for a Truly Multilingual Global Internet." It aimed at fostering international cooperation in establishing standards for a multilingual global Internet.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"India releases new biotechnology strategy"

Green represents biotechnology
and life sciences clusters.
Source: BiospectrumIndia

Read the full article by T.V. Padma in SciDev.Net (November 14, 2007).

"India has launched a national biotechnology development strategy focusing on biotechnology's potential to provide long-term benefits for agriculture, health and the environment......

"In a major new initiative, the strategy will reserve up to 30 per cent of Department of Biotechnology's (DBT's) budget for public-private partnerships and the launch of a biotechnology industry partnership programme for advanced technologies.

"The strategy aims to improve biotechnology education throughout the country by identifying highly-reputed colleges in around 20 smaller universities and supporting them through teacher training programmes.

"Existing university science departments will be upgraded, and departments working on different disciplines will be streamlined to create globally competitive centres of education and research.

"A UNESCO regional centre for science, education and innovation in biotechnology will be set up at Faridabad, near Delhi in northern India. The centre will provide global standard, industry-oriented training for physicians, biologists and engineers."


Last year the State Department announced
that the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) would fund a $500,000 training program for Indian officials on biosafety risk assessment and policies and practices in regulating agricultural biotechnology products. The training program followed the release of the Indian government’s National Draft Strategy Framework for Biotechnology.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Atlantic Tsunami Early Warning System

The Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG) of the Tsunami Early Warning and Mitigation System in the North Eastern Atlantic, Mediterranean and Connected Seas (NEAMTWS) will meet in Lisbon (Portugal) from 21 to 23 November to take stock of progress on the system’s development. The meeting is organized by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the Government of Portugal.

The World Science Forum


The World Science Forum was held in Budapest Hungary from November 8 thru November 10, 2007. Director General Koïchiro Matsuura of UNESCO was one of the sponsors of the meeting. The meeting was held at a very high level, attracting presidents of several countries.

The sessions are to be available after tomorrow video-streamed via the Internet.

Some Resources for Website Design and Posting from UNESCO


As you might guess, I am very much involved in managing a website and posting on blogs. I hope it is not too evident that I had no training for these activities, and have picked up what skills I possess by practice. I find, however, that UNESCO field offices have produced two very helpful resources for webmasters and bloggers.

This book was published by UNESCO's India Office with comprehensive guidelines on how to create a website. 2005. (PDF, 244 pages)

This is a power point presentation with guidance on how to post on a website or blog. It is provided by UNESCO's Bangkok office. (PPT, 4.7MB)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

UNESCO Website: Science and Technology in Africa

UNESCO provides a website with details about its science and technology programs in Africa.

The African Union notes:
S&T funding in Africa is still lower than the 1%GDP as approved by the AU Summit in 2003 even in the richer countries. It seems the problem of funding is not so much a question of limited availability funds but the conviction in the value of such an investment. The return on the investment in S&T is not appreciated by the policy makers and even African industry. The challenge therefore is demonstrated by the means of few examples African S&T innovative projects that have socio-economic impact on the ground.
Still, Africa needs to greatly strengthen ints science and technology capacity. First, it has to improve the health of its peoples and produce more food and other products from its agriculture. It needs an infrastructure -- roads, railroads, power, communications -- that better serves its people. It needs a people who are more scientifically and technologically literate.


UNESCO is helping to build the scientific and technological capacity of Africa, and UNESCO supported projects and networks are helping to fill in the scientific information on Africa's resources and environment/ On 10 October, UNESCO’s Executive Board adopted the Plan of Action for Africa proposed by the Director General of UNESCO with emphasis on three flagship projects. These are:
  • the initiative for capacity-building in science policy;
  • science, technology and engineering education; and
  • the establishment of an African Virtual Campus.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Promotion of Freedom of Expression and Media Pluralism

UNESCO's New Communication Strategy gives high priority to encouraging the free flow of information, at international as well as national levels, to promoting its wider and better balanced dissemination, without any obstacle to the freedom of expression, and to strengthening communication capacities in the developing countries in order to increase their participation in the communication process.

Check out:

Latin American Culture of Peace Networks

The Latin American Newspaper Network for a Culture of Peace (REDIPAZ) and the Latin American Network of Radio Stations for a Culture of Peace (RADIPAZ)The Latin American Newspaper Network for a Culture of Peace (REDIPAZ)

and the Latin American Network of Radio Stations for a Culture of Peace (RADIPAZ)

REDIPAZ and RADIPAZ were both set up to provide effective resources to give impetus to the culture of peace in the region.

Both networks have very well integrated into the print and broadcast media and have revealed the significant demand for production, training and professional back-up within the MERCOSUR region.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The New Edition of The UNESCO Courier is Out

© UNESCO/Aleksandar Džoni-Šopov
A cosmic responsibility.

Philosophy : A cosmic responsibility


Eight philosophers contributed to this issue of the UNESCO Courier, focusing on the role of philosophy today. Different approaches, varied concerns, but one certainty: philosophy can’t stay in its ivory tower. It provides a weapon against dogma and manipulation. And, to cite one of Jostein Gaarder’s ideas, philosophers have a cosmic responsibility.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The World Science Forum

The World Science Forum

8-10 November

The theme of this year’s World Science Forum is Investing in Knowledge: Investing in the Future. A ‘Heads of State Panel’ will address the issue of Responsibility for Future Generations while separate sessions focus on such topics as Science and Innovation as a Global Enterprise and Investment in Knowledge on our Environment. (More).


Award ceremony for UNESCO science prizes

10 November

On the occasion of World Science Day for Peace and Development, two UNESCO prizes will be awarded, the Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation and the Great-Man Made River International Water Prize for « Water Resources in Arid and Semi-Arid Areas ».
(More)

Friday, November 02, 2007

The United States Owes Millions to UNESCO

UNESCO has the responsibility of leading the United Nations system efforts in education, natural sciences, social and human sciences, culture and communication and information. Its mission of building the defenses of peace in the minds of men remains critically important, and requires ever more diligent and extensive efforts. The 193 member nations of the organization each year add more programs and responsibilities to the organization. Yet its resources are very limited.

UNESCO's budget is a complex affair. There are assessed dues for the member states, but there are also voluntary contributions. In addition, many of the centers, university chairs, and other entities attached to UNESCO receive contributions outside of UNESCO's budget. Then or course, UNESCO operates with many partners who bring their own resources to the joint efforts. Still, the U.S. representatives to UNESCO have been concerned that its resources do not stretch to enable UNESCO to do everything it is asked to do well.

The UNESCO Secretariat presented a report to the recent meeting of the General Conference titled "COLLECTION OF MEMBER STATES’ CONTRIBUTIONS". It notes that as at 30 June 2007 the United States which was assessed $66.1 million for 2007 (22 percent of the total assessed dues due to the size of our economy as compared to that of the rest of the world) was US$87.36 million in arrears.

At the end of May, according to the United Nations Association of the USA:
On May 25th, President Bush signed a $120 billion emergency supplemental spending bill for the current fiscal year that includes funding for war costs, veterans care, hurricane relief, and agricultural assistance, as well as $283 million for assessed contributions to UN peacekeeping. In addition, the bill (H.R. 2206; Public Law 110-28) provides $50 million for the budgetary account that funds US membership dues to international organizations, including the United Nations.
In other words, the government was not proposing to pay up its back dues to UNESCO in the near future. Until the Congress passes appropriations legislation for this fiscal year (which began October 10, the United States is limited to making payments on a month by month basis. As you can imagine, the shortfall is causing significant administrative problems for the Secretariat.

The problem of the arrears in assessments to UNESCO is of course a small part of a bigger problem of debt to the United Nations system as a whole. According to the Global Policy Forum:
The United Nations and all its agencies and funds spend about $20 billion each year, or about $3 for each of the world's inhabitants. This is a very small sum compared to most government budgets and it is just a tiny fraction of the world's military spending. Yet for nearly two decades, the UN has faced a financial difficulties and it has been forced to cut back on important programs in all areas. Many member states have not paid their full dues and have cut their donations to the UN's voluntary funds. As of March 31, 2007, members' arrears to the Regular Budget topped $1,355 million, of which the United States alone owed $785 million (58% of the regular budget arrears).
If you agree that the United States should pay its dues to UNESCO for education, science, culture and communications and the promotion of peace, and indeed that we should pay up our back dues to the United Nations system, tell your Congressmen and Senators!

John Daly

Towards Knowledge Societies -- UNESCO Progress to Date

The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) was an international landmark event setting targets, developing new approaches towards harnessing the potential of information and communication for development and mobilizing multistakeholder approaches and new networks “to build a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented Information Society” (WSIS Declaration of Principles). WSIS was held in two phases. The first phase culminated in the first Summit meeting in Geneva from 10 to 12 December 2003, and the second phase culminated in the second Summit meeting in Tunis hosted by the Government of Tunisia, from 16 to 18 November 2005.

The Summit adopted the following documents:UNESCO believed the notion of a single global information society does not capture the full potential of the information and communication revolution for human development. It promoted instead, the concept of “knowledge societies” stressing plurality and inclusiveness and puting emphasis on what technology can do to improve people’s lives rather than on technology itself.

For UNESCO, the Summit resulted in a considerable increase of the Organization’s visibility and importance as a significant actor in the area of communication and information for development. The increased importance on the Organization in the process is illustrated by the fact that it was assigned one of the leading roles in the implementation process including:
  • implementation of concrete activities contained in the Geneva Plan of Action within the framework of its own programs so as to operationalize its concept of knowledge societies;
  • facilitation of the coherent implementation of the six action lines in its areas of competence; and
  • cooperation, together with ITU and UNDP, in the overall multistakeholder coordination of the facilitators of all 11 action lines.

In May 2006, UNESCO was designated as the facilitator for the multistakeholder implementation of the following six WSIS action lines included in the Geneva Plan of Action:
  • access to information and knowledge (C3);
  • e-learning (C7);
  • e-science (C7);
  • media (C9);
  • cultural diversity and identity, linguistic diversity and local content (C8);
  • ethical dimensions of the Information Society (C10).
All sectors of UNESCO are concerned with the implementation of The WSIS decisions. The aims of WSIS require UNESCO to operationalize the concept of knowledge societies throughout its action in education, sciences, culture and communication. Intersectoral mechanisms need to be strengthened to provide adequate and coherent responses to this challenge.

Therefore, the Director-General has set up a “Task Force on Knowledge Societies” whose main mandate is to ensure coherence of UNESCO’s own action to operationalize the concept of building knowledge societies. This includes:
  • coordinating the activities of the various sectors involved in the facilitation of the implementation of the six action lines in its areas of competence;
  • providing the strategic and consistent focus of UNESCO’s efforts and its added value in relation to new mechanisms emerging with the development of the information society;
  • advising the Director-General on key issues of relevance to UNESCO emerging from the rapid development of ICTs and their societal, cultural and ethical implications and proposing adequate institutional response.

ASSESSMENT OF THE INTERNATIONAL BASIC SCIENCES PROGRAMS


The International Basic Sciences Program (IBSP) is an international multidisciplinary program established by UNESCO Member States in order to reinforce intergovernmental cooperation and co-operation between partner organizations in science to strengthen national capacities in the basic sciences and science education. The Program seeks to foster major region-specific actions that involve a network of national, regional and international centers of excellence or benchmark centers in the basic sciences. Promoting North-South and South-South co-operation is at the root of the strategy of the Program that is being carried in partnership with the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World (TWAS), scientific unions of the International Council for Science (ICSU), the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and other science centers, Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

As the first phase of the IBSP is being completed in 2007 and its strategy fulfilled, a report has been produced assessing progress to date and introducing the principal elements of a new strategy proposed for the next phase of the program (for 2008-2013). 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.

Jefferson Fellowships Available

On behalf of the U.S. Department of State, the National Academies announces a call for nominations and applications for the 2008 Jefferson Science Fellowship Program.

The 2008 Nomination/application deadline
is January 15, 2008.

The Secretary of State announced, on October 8, 2003, the Jefferson Science Fellows (JSF) program at the U.S. Department of State, establishing a new model for engaging the American academic STE communities in the formulation and implementation of U.S. foreign policy. The pilot JSF program is administered by the National Academies and supported through a partnership between American philanthropic foundations (the MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation), the U.S. STE academic community, professional scientific societies, and the U.S. Department of State.

Tenured academic scientists and engineers from U.S. institutions of higher learning are eligible for selection to be Jefferson Science Fellows. Each Fellow will spend one year at the U.S. Department of State for an on-site assignment in Washington, D.C. that may also involve extended stays at U.S. foreign embassies and/or missions.

American Director of UNESCO's Information Society Division

Miriam Nisbet currently serves as the Director of the Information Society Division at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where she works on issues of global access to information and digital libraries. She is also the Secretary of the Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Programme (IFAP).

Mrs Nisbet was Legislative Counsel at the American Library Association from 1999 to 2007. She worked at the National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, from 1993 to 1999 where she first occupied the post of Special Assistant to the Archivist of the US and then Special Counsel for Information Policy. She was Staff Attorney at the National Association of Attorneys General in 1977/1978, before joining the US Department of Justice from 1978 to 1994 where her past position was Deputy Director of the Office of Information and Privacy.