Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Editorial: A Suggestion for the Memory of the World Register

"Memory of the World" is UNESCO's program aiming at preservation and dissemination of valuable archive holdings and library collections worldwide. It maintains a register that 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 regarding world significance and outstanding universal value.

Currently, three entries are included in the register from the United States:
There are of course many archives and library collections in the United States. It is not clear to me by what process these three were chosen by our government as the most significant among them of the most outstanding universal value.

The United States (sometimes in cooperation with other nations) has currently suggested two archives for consideration for addition to the register:
Both of these appear strong candidates amply fulfilling the criteria for inclusion.

I have previously suggested that the U.S. Government recommend the archives of Eleanor Roosevelt's Papers at George Washington University for inclusion in the register. The papers are especially important because of Mrs. Roosevelt's critically important involvement in the creation of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They are especially relevant to UNESCO because of her support for that organization and the ideas that it represents.

This posting is to suggest that the U.S. Government recommend that the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress for inclusion in the Memory of the World Registry. Each year, the Library of Congress receives recommendations from the public as to which 25 movies ought to be included in the registry, which, with the 2010 crop, will include 550 films. This year those 25 films were selected from over 2,000 nominations. Films must be more than a decade old to be considered, and the current registry includes films a century or more old. The criteria for inclusion in the Library of Congress Registry are comparable to those of the UNESCO registry, the selection procedure is comparably strong, and the Library of Congress can be depended upon to preserve the films in the archive as well as any institution in the world. The U.S. film industry is globally important both because of its pioneering of the medium, and because of the huge impact American films have had globally over the past century.

Alternatively, the recommendation might be expanded to include the film archives of the Library of Congress Motion Picture Conservation Center, which currently holds and conserves more than 100 million feet of nitrate film donated by the major producers of the U.S. film industry and dating from the 1890s through 1950. These films were collected by the MPCC in collaboration with the American Film Institute, which maintains the Louis B. Mayer Library which has an important archive of books, scripts, research and other film materials, and which might be included in a recommendation to UNESCO providing an exceptional archive of films and film related materials.

John Daly
The opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Americans for UNESCO or any other organization.
The Library of Congress

Thursday, December 23, 2010

International Symposium on Freedom of Expression

UNESCO is holding an ‘International Symposium on Freedom of Expression‘ on 26 January 2011, with the support of the Swedish National Commission for UNESCO. The meeting will gather some 300 participants including government officials, policymakers and World Press Freedom Prize winners, representatives of major non-governmental organizations, and media professionals.

This event provides an excellent opportunity for UNESCO to reiterate its values and mandate, particularly its mission to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image. Indeed, the Organization has always promoted the value of information and communication for “advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples”, and has emphasized the links between the free flow of ideas and the broader objective of preventing wars and constructing the defenses of peace.

One panel session will focus on freedom of expression on the Internet. It is expected that the UNESCO publication from the Oxford Internet Institute, entitled ‘Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression‘, will be launched. A penultimate draft of the manuscript is online at SSRN, but a print version will be available by the date of the symposium.

Endangered Language Fund Announces Call for Applications

Deadline for Applications: April 20, 2011
The Endangered Language Fund provides grants for language maintenance and linguistic field work.
The fund is most likely to support work that serves both the native community and the field of linguistics. Work that has immediate applicability to one group and more distant application to the other will also be considered. Publishing projects are a low priority, although they will be considered for grants. Proposals can originate in any country. The language involved must be in danger of disappearing within a generation or two.
Grants in this round are expected to be less than $4,000 and to average about $2,000. Eligible expenses include consultant fees, tapes, films, travel, etc. Overhead is not allowed.
Grants are normally for a one-year period, though extensions may be requested
Researchers and language activists from any country are eligible to apply. Awards can be made to institutions, but no administrative (overhead, indirect) costs are covered.
Visit the Endangered Language Fund Web site for complete program guidelines and application procedures.

2011: The International Year of Chemisty

IYC, organized by UNESCO and the International Union for Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC), will celebrate chemistry's vital contributions. To launch the Year, eminent chemists including several Nobel laureates will attend a conference at UNESCO on 27 and 28 January.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

4 Directors General in one photo

UNESCO-International Council for Science

In July, a small International Council for Science (ICSU) delegation headed by the Executive Director Deliang Chen met with Gretchen Kalonji, the new UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences, and her colleagues at UNESCO. Discussions centered on potential areas of cooperation between the two organizations, including the initiative emerging from the ICSU visioning process, Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR), the new Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), and science education. It was agreed that there is potential to hold joint regional workshops throughout 2011 in preparation for the UN Earth Summit in 2012 (Rio+20), and that ICSU and UNESCO need to show leadership regarding the contribution of PECS and DIVERSITAS to the new Intergovernmental Science-Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Thursday, December 16, 2010


The House of UNESCO is a place. But it is also an idea that lies at the heart of our quest for a better world. 
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
On the sixty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in Paris, 14 December 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Transboundary Aquifers: Challenges and New Directions

This ISARM (Internationally Shared Aquifer Resources Management) conference marks the end of the first, ten-year, phase of the ISARM Programme and the start of the second. It aims to consider the challenges and new directions required for the sustainable development and management of transboundary aquifers.

ISARM is a UNESCO- and International Association of Hydrogeologists-led multi-agency effort aimed at improving the understanding of scientific and socio-economic issues related to the management of transboundary aquifers.

UNESCO's Priorities for the XXI Century

Friday, December 10, 2010

Asma Jahangir, 2010 UNESCO/Bilbao Laureate

December 10 = Human Rights Day

The theme for Human Rights Day 2010 – 10 December – is "Human Rights' Defenders who act to end Discrimination". Human rights' defenders acting against discrimination, often at great personal risk to both themselves and their families, are being recognized and acclaimed. At this occasion, the UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for the Promotion of a Culture of Human Rights will be awarded to Asma Jahangir (Pakistan) in recognition of her exceptional and courageous contribution to building a universal culture of human rights. The Award Ceremony will take place in Bilbao (Spain). More on the UNESCO celebration.......

When Eleanor Roosevelt presented the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the UN General Assembly, she proclaimed: "We stand today at the threshold of a great event, both in the life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind." On December 10, 1948, the world moved to recognize and protect the equal and inalienable rights of all people, inspiring individuals around the globe to claim the rights that are our common heritage.
Hillary Rodham Clinton

Monday, December 06, 2010

Congratulations to Professor Jillian BANFIELD

Professor Banfield was one of five laureates of the 2011 L’OrĂ©al-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards. Each year, five outstanding women scientists – one per continent – are honoured for the contributions of their research, the strength of their commitments and their impact on society. The awards ceremony will take place on March 3, 2011 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Each Laureate will receive US $100,000 in recognition of her contribution to science.

Dr. Banfield is Professor of Earth and Planetary Science, of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, and of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She was honored "for her work on bacterial and material behaviour under extreme conditions relevant to the environment and the Earth."

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Ethics and Bioethics -- Our common future, Our planet, Our oasis

Gretchen Kalonji on the UNESCO Natural Science Program

Gretchen Kalonji was appointed Assistant Director General of UNESCO and placed in charge of its Natural Science Program earlier this year. She is the highest ranking American on the UNESCO staff.

She recently spoke at the SciTech Europe conference. I quote from the coverage of her remarks:
"We exist to serve our member states," Kalonji said at Public Service Events' SciTech Europe conference. "One of the strengths of UNESCO is that we house large-scale intergovernmental science programmes, most of which focus on areas of science that really can't be done by one nation alone."

Some 200 UNESCO chairs sit at universities across the world, creating a collaborative "network of networks", providing "a good neutral space for convening scientific discussions for issues that are often very difficult to address".

The organisation has, Kalonji explained, placed Africa at the forefront of its recent policies, and seeks to utilise indigenous knowledge wherever possible, an area that she is keen to pursue, along with disaster relief – an area she described as "important and ripe for innovation" – and improving gender equality.

But she expressed her concerns and frustrations that the organisation had struggled to widen its scope beyond working with governments.

She said: "UNESCO hasn't done a very good job, to date, in partnerships with other sectors of society.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Dow becomes first global partner of the International Year of Chemistry

The Dow Chemical Company Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris has announced that the Company has partnered with the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) as the first global partner for the International Year of Chemistry (IYC) in 2011.

Designated by the United Nations, IYC is an initiative led by IUPAC and UNESCO. IYC events in 2011 will celebrate achievements in science and the potential of chemistry to address world challenges through education, innovation and international collaboration.

Dow has committed to leverage its science and technology expertise, sustainability focus and global network to support a range of events and activities that promote the role of chemistry in the advancement of human progress, environmental protection and economic development. As the first chemical company to establish a global partnership in this effort, Dow will support IYC at local, regional and national levels.

Eyes in the sky view climate change impact on natural and cultural heritage sites

© Cnes 2002 - Distribution 
Astrium Services/Spot Image

The impact of climate change on World Heritage sites, captured by satellite, is the focus on an exhibition set up in the streets of Cancun. The exhibition is one of several events organised by UNESCO for the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in the Mexican city from 29 November to 10 December 2010.

The Changing Landscape of Science: Challenges and Opportunities

The 2011 World Science Forum has now begun to take shape. This fifth meeting of the Forum is being organised by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in co-operation with UNESCO, the International Council for Science (ICSU), and publisher of Science magazine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The World Science Forum Steering Committee, a board of scientific experts, is headed by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’ President, and the chief officers of UNESCO and ICSU, the Director General of AAAS, three Nobel Laureates, the President of the Brazil Academy of Sciences, the President of the Science Council of Japan, and the President of the European Academies Science Advisory Council.

UNESCO and Knight Center provided pilot training program for African journalism professors

The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas has completed an online course as part of an agreement with UNESCO to help journalism professors in Africa with training on digital media. More than 20 professors from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe followed the course. All of them are from schools included in UNESCO's list of Potential Centres of Excellence and Reference in Journalism Education in Africa.

The course “Teaching Online Journalism” was taught, entirely on the Internet, by Prof. Mindy McAdams, the Knight Chair in Journalism Technologies and the Democratic Process at the University of Florida and an internationally recognized leading expert in digital journalism.