Monday, November 21, 2005

The New Courier: Special UNESCO 60th anniversary issue

Read the issue online.

This issue examines UNESCO at 60 years of age. It contains focus sections discussing many of UNESCO's most important programs, including those dealing with:
* Education For All
* Oceans
* Heritage
* Copyright
* Bioethics
* Environment
* Cultural diversity
* Water
* Digital Divide
* Crises and emergencies

Some interesting tidbits from UNESCO's history (found in the issue):
* Céline Dion, the popular Canadian singer, was the first UNESCO Artist for Peace, appointed in 1999. The latest is French sculptor and poet Gérard Voisin in 2005.

* UNESCO issued its first commemorative medals, a set of three, in 1961 to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The newest medal was issued in October and commemorates UNESCO’s 60th anniversary.

* The diplomat and businessman Sheikh Ghassan I. Shaker was first UNESCO Good Will Ambassador to be appointed in 1990. Nelson Mandela, the former South African president, is the latest to join the ranks in 2005.

* In 1945, 37 countries signed the UNESCO Constitution, which came into force a year later after ratification by 20 signatories. They became the first founders of the Organization. With the entry of Brunei Darussalam in March 2005, the Organization now comprises 191 Member States and 6 Associate Members.

* The nomination of the Galápagos Islands in Ecuador was the first World Heritage site nomination to reach UNESCO in 1978, followed by 11 others in seven countries. Twentyfour new sites were inscribed in 2005, the latest being the Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos in Cuba. Today, the list comprises 812 sites from 137 States Parties to the World Heritage Convention.

* Alva Myrdal (1902-1986) directed UNESCO’s Department of Social Sciences from 1951 to 1955.

* People representing their countries at UNESCO governance meetings included Maria Montessori, Taha Hussain, Pablo Neruda, and Indira Ghandi.

* in 1953 UNESCO established the World Braille Uniformity Programme, which standardized literary codes, enabling blind people around the world to read the same Braille books, learn foreign languages, exchange ideas and experiences. This expanded later to include science, mathematics and music notations. UNESCO also launched the World Braille Council, thus providing an international venue for Braille matters to be discussed. Again in 1953, UNESCO published World Braille Usage, as well as the Braille Courier in English, French, Spanish and Korean.

* If not for UNESCO’s international campaign, the Aswan High Dam would have flooded the Nile valley, site of the most important Nubian temples. This was but one of 26 campaigns. In addition, operational projects have been launched protecting monuments and sites such as those in Angkor, Mostar and Ethiopia.

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