Saturday, June 13, 2009

Editorial: The United States Should Support Associate Expert Posts at UNESCO

UNESCO's Associate Experts’ Scheme provides young professionals every year with the opportunity to contribute to international technical cooperation. The program is open only to the nationals designated by the nations which are supporting the program (with voluntary contributions). Currently they are: Belgium, Finland, Italy, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. The United States is not a supporter of the program.

Associate Experts, usually under the age of 32 at acceptance, participate in the program for one year, with an option of a second year. During that time they receive preparatory instruction and in service training. The program is open to young professionals with university degrees in education, culture, science, social and human sciences or communication, or in a field of direct relevance to the management and administration of an international organization.

Of course, Americans are included in the Secretariat of UNESCO as regular, international civil service employees, but the U.S. is underrepresented in that workforce, largely due to the long absence from membership in UNESCO. Some Americans have been detailed to UNESCO by their U.S. government agencies, and the Fulbright Fellowship program has allowed some fellows to participate in UNESCO as part of their fellowship experience. Still, there are comparatively few opportunities for young American professionals to work in UNESCO, especially as compared with the interest expressed from our large population.

Were the United States to contribute to this program the effort could:
  • help to rectify the lack of professionals in this country who understand UNESCO,
  • help to add qualified Americans to the UNESCO staff,
  • build linkages between the American educational, scientific and cultural communities and their counterparts abroad,
  • provide much needed support to UNESCO's valuable programs in ways fully under the control of the United States, thus directing support to the programs we value most.
If properly negotiated, participation in the Associate Experts program could be for the United States, as it already is for eleven European nations, an inexpensive means of providing effective international assistance as well as an effective means of building U.S. capacity to deal with intergovernmental organizations.

Your comments are most welcome on this posting, and I would encourage you also to contact the Department of State's UNESCO watchers if you feel that the United States should participate in the Associate Experts program.

John Daly
The opinions expressed above are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Americans for UNESCO.

An Example of an Associate Expert

Patrick Montjourides is an Associate Expert who participated on the EFA Global Monitoring Report Team financed by the French government.
He holds a “Maitrise” in international economics from the University of Paris Dauphine and a Master’s degree in education economics from the University of Burgundy. He is now pursuing a PhD in association with IREDU, the Institute of Research in Education: Sociology and Economics of Education, based in Dijon.

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