Saturday, May 27, 2006

Editorial: UNESCO's Values 60 Years Later


"SINCE WARS BEGIN IN THE MINDS OF MEN..., it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed." From the preamble of UNESCO's Constitution

UNESCO is celebrating its six decades of work this year. The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, in its meeting next week, is devoting a session to the commemoration. It seems appropriate to editorialize about the UNESCO adventure at this moment.

UNESCO was created by the Allies, working in a bombed out London, at the end of World War II. It is not surprising that UNESCO’s mandate was “to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture.”

As the membership of UNESCO expanded to more than 190 nations, UNESCO’s leadership came to recognize that -- as important as the maintenance of peace is -- there is a still greater objective for UNESCO. We have come to understand that development too begins in the minds of men, and it is in the minds of men that progress in all fields must be constructed. I suggest that UNESCO’s broader mandate is to promote social, political and economic development through education, science and culture!

I believe that UNESCO promotes a set of values, and that the global penetration of these values is indeed transforming the world, leading to peace and progress. These values include:
§ Concern for the poor
§ Love of peace
§ Emphasis on ethical behavior informed by philosophy
§ Respect for learning
§ Love of the written word
§ Respect for cultural diversity, and joy in cultural riches
§ Enthusiasm for the global dissemination of new media
§ Freedom of information
§ Respect for and love of scientific knowledge
§ Respect for knowledge based policies
§ Respect for the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of mankind
§ Respect for and love of the natural heritage of mankind
§ Respect for nature and concern for the environment

Certainly UNESCO can not transform the world alone, but it has played an important role in the global dissemination of these values. Its thousands of workers and myriad programs spread these values, and indeed the prestige of UNESCO itself helps to promote these values. UNESCO helps catalyze the efforts of governments, academia, the scientific community and civil society all over the world.

Indeed, were there not an international forum such as UNESCO for the discussion and debate of these fundamental values, I think we would have to create one complementary to but separate from the General Assembly and Councils of the United Nations.

I am proud that Americans were leaders in the creation of UNESCO, and pleased that we are again leaders in the governing councils of the organization. I hope and believe that the promotion of these values is fundamental to American national policy.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the 100th Anniversary of Mesa Verde

"I'm delighted to be here on this very, very special celebration for Mesa Verde, the 100th Anniversary of Mesa Verde as a national park. Amid these centuries-old dwellings, we're reminded of Mesa Verde's special place in our national park system. Many of our parks offer awe-inspiring landscapes or iconic structures, but visitors to Mesa Verde have a unique opportunity to enjoy both. Mesa Verde is actually the first national park that was established to protect America's man-made treasures, and thanks to a century of custodianship by Mesa Verde rangers, God's creation and man's will be enjoyed here for centuries to come. Congratulations to all of you.

"I'm happy today to have the opportunity to explore a few of Mesa Verde's more than 4,000 archeological sites, including some of the famous cliff dwellings. These sites reflect the culture of this region's ancient inhabitants, tracing their progression from basket weavers, to pottery makers, to farmers, to urban planners, who developed some of America's earliest communities.

"These dwellings also show us the connection between the ancestral pueblo people and their descendents who live in the Southwest today. In fact, 24 Native American tribes in this region have an ancestral affiliation with Mesa Verde."

Mesa Verde is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The European Center for Higher Education

UNESCO-CEPES was established in 1972 to promote co-operation in higher education among UNESCO's Member States of the Europe Region (the countries of Europe, North America, and Israel). The activities of the Centre are focused foremost on higher education in Central and Eastern Europe and the Director of UNESCO-CEPES also serves as the Representative of UNESCO in Romania.

The origins of the Centre lie in the context of UNESCO actions in favour of international cooperation in higher education going back, in the case of Europe, at least to the First Conference of Ministers of Education of the European Member States of the organization (MINEDEUROPE I) that was held in Vienna, from 20 to 25 November, 1967. This conference gave rise to a set of recommendations that have been viewed as the inspiration for the setting up of the European Center for Higher Education.

In order to fulfill its mission, UNESCO-CEPES undertakes programs and projects relevant to the development and reform of higher education. It also promotes research on higher education and serves as a forum for the discussion of important topics in higher education. It also serves as the co-secretariat of the ENIC/NARIC Networks set up to implement the Council of Europe/UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications Concerning Higher Education in the European Region.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

UNESCO's Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet)

Founded in 1953, UNESCO’s Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet), commonly referred to as UNESCO Associated Schools, is a global network of some 7,900 educational institutions in 176 countries (ranging from pre-schools and primary to secondary schools and teacher training institutions), who work in support of quality education in practice.

Following fifty years of networking with a view to reinforcing the humanistic, ethical, cultural and international dimensions of education, ASPnet commissioned a Global Review evaluation in 2003. More recently, it has evaluated the ASPnet News Infos, the ASPnet newsletter.

The ASPnet National Coordinator for the United States of America is:
Ms. Amy Ostermeier
U.S. National Commission for UNESCO
Department of State
2121 Virginia Ave.
Suite 6200
Washington DC 20037
Tel: (1.202) 663 0026
Fax: (1.202) 663 0035


The 2006 list covers a spectrum of issues and geographical regions, some of which draw on troubling humanitarian emergencies and conflict situations (such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nepal) while others focus on such vital areas as human rights (asylum law and child prisoners) and development (Liberia and water as a shared resource). In this year's list, some stories focus on conflicts that may have been in the media spotlight - but highlight a perspective that does not usually get much play.

The United Nations each year publishes "Ten Stories the World Should Hear More About." The initiative was first launched in 2004. The short list of stories is not meant to be representative of the UN agenda. The ranking of the stories is not a reflection of their relative significance.

One of this years stories describes a UNESCO project, From Potential Conflict to Co-operation Potential (PCCP), that aims to foster cooperation between stakeholders in the management of shared water resources, while helping to ensure that potential conflicts do not turn into real ones.
From water wars to bridges of cooperation: Exploring the peace-building potential of a shared resource

“Guidelines for Terminology Policies. Formulating and implementing terminology policy in language communities”

UNESCO just published this report that was prepared by the International Information Center for Terminology (Infoterm). Terminology planning occurs at different levels: national, regional, language community, local community, institutional or organizational. There are also terminology planning activities in various professional fields such as chemistry, biology, physics and medicine. In addition, there is a terminology component to virtually all standardization and harmonization activities, whether in industry or elsewhere. A terminology policy or strategy, especially when conceived and implemented at the national level, needs to take into account highly complex demographic, cultural, ethno-linguistic and geo-linguistic and socio-psychological factors. Infoterm, was founded in 1971 by UNESCO with the objective to support and co-ordinate international co-operation in the field of terminology. Members are national, international and regional terminology institutions, organizations and networks, as well as specialized public or semi-public or other kind of non-profit institutions engaged in terminological activities.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

UNESCO and Rising Above A Gathering Storm

Norman R. Augustine

The Keynote address on Friday, June 2nd at the annual meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO is titled:

UNESCO and Rising Above A Gathering Storm
It is to be delivered by Norman R. Augustine, who is listed in the program as “Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Lockheed Martin Corporation”.

There is some background suggesting that this will be an especially interesting talk.

Rising Above A Gathering Storm is the title of an important and influential book published last year by the National Academies of Science. It was written by the Academies’ Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century.
The group consisted of several corporate CEOs, university presidents, three Nobel Prize winners, several past presidential appointees, and distinguished teachers.
The chairman of the committee was Norman Augustine.

Not only that, but Augustine has a knack for turning a memorable phrase! (Click here for some examples.)

This report has been credited as significantly influencing the American Competitiveness Initiative announced by President Bush in the last State of the Union message. The Initiative, recognizing that America's economic strength and global leadership depend on continued technological advances, promises:
· a major increase in federal funding of fundamental research and development,
· incentives for private sector investments in research and development,
· a major effort to improve math, science, and technological education in our K-12 schools, and
· a new program of Career Advancement Accounts that workers and people looking for work can use to obtain training and other employment services.

Thus, the talk should be an exceptional opportunity to hear about the current and future state of U.S. competitiveness, and the role that UNESCO can play in helping assure that science and technology remain a vibrant force for American economic progress.

AmUNESCO Board and U.S. NatCom meetings

The Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO met yesterday (Tuesday, May 23, 2006). The main topic of discussion was the upcoming meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO (NatCom).

The NatCom meeting is to take place on June 1st and 2nd, at the Doubletree Hotel in Washington, DC (1515 Rhode Island Avenue, NW). It is open to the public, but those planning to attend should contact the National Commission staff (they need to plan for the number of attendees). )Click here to see the full agenda.)

UNESCO is celebrating its six decades of existence. AmUNESCO Board member Raymond E. Wanner has been invited to participate in a panel on Thursday (June 1) titled: “UNESCO at Sixty Years: How It Began and Where It Is Going”. In my experience, no one knows more about this topic than Ray.

The keynote speaker on Friday (June 2) is to be Norman R. Augustine, who will speak on “UNESCO and Rising Above A Gathering Storm”.

UNESCO is currently conduction a major review of its natural and social science programs. An international panel has been convened for the purpose. Dr. Kathie Olsen, Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation, is a member of the panel, and is to speak on the exercise on Thursday afternoon.

Monday, May 22, 2006

“What UNESCO for the Future”

"A reflexion on current and future trends, on potential gaps that must be filled and on future scenarios, with a foreword by Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, and an introduction by Mr Pierre Sané, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO for Social and Human Sciences."

‘What UNESCO for the future?’ proceeds from a reflexion on current and future trends and potential gaps that must be filled, on future scenarios and on ‘What UNESCO?’ in terms of its role today as a participant that could influence the processes of global transformation.

‘What UNESCO for the future?’ reflects on UNESCO’s possible responses to the rising global challenges it faces today. In other words, what role could our Organization have within the United Nations system, and what contribution could it make towards resolving the main challenges and threats of the twenty-first century?

If, as some think, we have effectively arrived at a crossroads – that we are reaching a point of no return in a number of fields (water, energy, climate change, pollution, terrorism, nuclear power) – what UNESCO will allow us to face this future? What relationship to foster between the Organization’s fields of competence and its functions? What methods to use to reach the world’s most vulnerable populations if we are to build intellectual co-operation worthy of the name?

This publication presents the addresses given in the course of this forum by sixteen personalities:

* Jacques Attali
* Robert Badinter
* Boutros Boutros-Ghali
* Souleymane Bachir Diagne
* Fatma Haddad-Chamakh
* Ping Huang
* Albert Jacquard
* Randolph Kent
* Yersu Kim
* Achille Mbembé
* Edgar Morin
* Hisashi Owada
* Miguel Rojas-Mix
* Carolina Rossetti Gallardo
* Ghassan Salamé
* Tu Weiming

Andre Varchaver comments:
- Most interesting and valuable as a well written historical account of how UNESCO came to be and, - importantly - the role of the United States in its creation is to be found in the reprint of "Planning the Organization of UNESCO, 1942-1946; a Personal Record" by Frank Richard Cowell, former Secretary-General of the British National Commission for UNESCO, written on the occasion of UNESCO's 20th anniversary. I am tempted to say that it should be required reading for all of us as well as the members and staff of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The UNESCO Courier: Intangible Heritage

The May 2006 edition of The UNESCO Courier is devoted to the theme of intaginble heritage.

"The entry into force of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage represents a new phase for this living and intrinsically fragile heritage.

"Oral traditions and expressions (including language as a vehicle of intangible cultural heritage), traditional performing arts, social practices, rituals and festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe, traditional craftsmanship – all merit safeguarding for future generations, in the same way as the Galapagos Islands or the Egyptian Pyramids.

"Since 20 April, date of its entry into force, the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage stands watch to ensure the continuity of this living testimony to human creativity.

"To date, 47 States – from Algeria, first to approve it in February 2004, to Albania, which ratified it on 4 April 2006 – are parties to this Convention that completes UNESCO’s standard-setting measures for the safeguard of cultural heritage.

"The text is based on certain articles of the 1972 Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage that protects “tangible” forms of expression of heritage, both monuments and natural sites. It thus anticipates the creation of a General Assembly which will have its first meeting next June, an Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage and a Fund that will make it possible to finance safeguarding projects.

"The Convention also stipulates that two lists will be drawn up: the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development 2006

UNESCO has designated May 21 as World Day for
Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

Since the adoption of UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity in November 2001, May 21st has always been so designated. According to the UNESCO website, the day provides an opportunity to deepen understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to "live together" better.

UNESCO appeals to its Member States as well as to all civil society to celebrate this World Day by involving as many actors and partners as possible.

Annual Meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will host its annual conference on Thursday, June 1 and Friday, June 2, 2006 at the Doubletree Hotel in Washington, DC (1515 Rhode Island Avenue, NW).

The Commission will have a series of informational plenary sessions and subject-specific committee breakout sessions on Thursday, June 1 and the morning of Friday, June 2.

The Commission will meet in plenary session to discuss its recommendations on Friday, June 2, 2006, from 1345 until 1600.

The theme of the conference is the 60th Anniversary of the creation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The meetings will be open to the public.

Anyone wishing to attend should contact the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO no later than Wednesday, May 24th for further information about admission, as seating is limited.

Call: (202) 663-0026;
or Email:

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Educational Milestones of the 20th Century

UNESCO has produced this extensive list of educational milestones, emphasizing the educational advances of the 20th century. Click on the date, and you will find an explanation of the event commemorated.

Monday, May 01, 2006

UNESCO: Strategy on Human Rights

Read the full PDF document.

"Further integrating the human rights approach into all of UNESCO’s programs, advancing human rights in an era of globalization, and strengthening partnerships."