Friday, December 29, 2006

UNESCO Young Professionals Program

UNESCO's Young Professionals Program (YPP) is extremely competitive. However, However, the United States is an "underrepresented state" in that we have fewer than our proportionate number of employees on the UNESCO staff (due largely to the fact that the United States had withdrawn from the organization for so many years). Each under-represented member state is allowed to submit twelve candidates for further consideration by UNESCO. U.S. candidate applications are reviewed by the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. This year there were some outstanding candidates from the United States, and their applications have been forwarded to UNESCO with the endorsement of the National Commission and the Department of State. Alex Zemak, the Deputy Executive Director of the U.S. National Commission informs our editor that "Americans for UNESCO's representative Andre Varchaver contributed greatly to our Young Professional Review panel this year".

Young professionals (who will be under the age of 30 on May 1, 2008) should keep this program in mind, and consider applying next Fall when we expect the process will open again.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Send a UNESCO e-Card Holiday Greeting

UNESCO’s Japanese Garden
Happy New Year

Reorganization of the Cultural Sector of UNESCO

UNESCO Director General M. Koïchiro Matsuura, in a speech on December 19th, in a meeting organized by the European Union to mark the ratification of the Convention for the Protection and Promotion of Diversity in Cultural Expressions, said:
Je procéderai dans les prochains jours à une restructuration du Secteur de la culture afin d’organiser ses quatre Divisions pour une mise en oeuvre efficace de l’ensemble des Conventions, qui devront désormais être gérées de manière cohérente et complémentaire. C’est l’un des grands défis que devra relever ma nouvelle Sous-Directrice générale pour la culture, Françoise Rivière, présente à mes côtés, ainsi que les quatre Directeurs qui l’accompagneront dans cette tâche.

I will proceed within the next days to a restructuring of the Culture Sector in order to put its four Divisions in a position to effectively implement the group of (UNESCO Cultural) Conventions, which ought to be managed in a coherent and complementary manner. This is one of the grand challenges which should relieve my new Sub-Director General for Culture, Françoise Rivière, here beside me, and the four Diectors who accompany him in that task.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

The following is the text dealing with U.S. relations with UNESCO from the 2005 Report by the Secretary of State to the Congress on United States Participation in the United Nations.

The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was established in 1945 with the primary objective of contributing to peace and security worldwide by promoting global collaboration through education, science, and culture. Since rejoining UNESCO on October 1, 2003, the United States continues to promote U.S. priorities at UNESCO in each of the Organization’s five sectors: Education, Culture, Communication and Information, Natural Sciences, and Social and Human Sciences. By promoting collaboration among nations, UNESCO strives to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, human rights, and fundamental freedoms. Priority programs foster and defend the free flow of ideas and open access to education for all; build understanding of democratic principles and practice; promote scientific knowledge; and protect the cultural and natural heritage of humankind. UNESCO, which is headquartered in Paris, has 191 member states and has been led since 1999 by Director-General Koichiro Matsuura (Japan). He was reappointed for a four-year term in October 2005.

The Executive Board, one of UNESCO’s three constitutional bodies, consists of 58 member states with four-year terms of office. It examines the program of work and corresponding budget proposals, and ensures the effective and rational execution of the program by the Director-General. As a member of the Board, with a term that expires in 2008, the United States participated in the semiannual Board Sessions in Paris in April and September 2005. The Board continued negotiations on two instruments, the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and the Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights. The United States engaged actively in negotiating both of these instruments. In September, the Executive Board recommended that the General Conference, which met in October, consider the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and the Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights.

The Executive Board examined the Director-General’s preliminary proposals concerning UNESCO’s Program and Budget for 2008–2009. The Board also recommended that the Director-General temporarily stop creating normative instruments, put more effort into implementing education for all, and implement a review of the Natural and Social and Human Science programs.

U.S. priorities at the Executive Board were to maintain budget discipline within UNESCO and focus UNESCO program efforts and budget resources on the areas of literacy, capacity building in science and engineering, and the preservation of cultural objects. In particular, the United States was pleased with UNESCO efforts in the area of education.

In 2005, UNESCO saw several successes in the area of education, a main priority for the United States. The United States worked with other member states to promote results-based education programs at the country level, where they will do the most good toward achieving the goals of education for all. The United States also worked closely with UNESCO in launching the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment, a literacy strategic framework with the goal of achieving concrete, measurable results in 34 countries with the highest rates of illiteracy. U.S. literacy experts were included in the preparation of this strategy, as a way to help ensure that U.S. research and experience in this critical area could be shared with others, including the promotion of an inter-generational, mother/child approach to literacy programming.

At the General Conference in October, the United States was able to join consensus on the Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights by heading off an intense effort to include a number of subjects that were inappropriate for the declaration. The United States, however, voted against the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions after it became clear that the Convention was going to be used to implement trade protections for “cultural expressions.” Negotiations on the Convention, which was heavily promoted by France and Canada, were set in motion by the adoption of a related Declaration before the U.S. reentry to UNESCO in 2003. In addition to concerns about the Convention’s potential effect on trade, the United States also expressed concerns about the impact of the Convention on the free flow of information. The vote on adoption of the Convention was 148 to two (U.S. and Israel), with four abstentions. Thirty countries must deposit their instruments of ratification with UNESCO for it to enter into force.

The UNESCO regular budget for 2005 was approximately $305 million; the U.S. assessment was $76.7 million. Since 1986, the United States has also regularly made voluntary contributions to UNESCO. The 2005 contribution totaled $837,000 and was used to support UNESCO-related international educational, scientific, cultural, and communications activities considered to be in the U.S. national interest. In 2005, of the 732 positions subject to geographic distribution, Americans held 30 posts, or 4.1 percent.

"UNESCO and its rivals: Protecting precious places"

Read the full article from The Economist of December 19th 2006. (Subscription required.)

Kaiping in southern China (with environs dotted with amazing fortified mansions built in the early 20th century), the Sydney Opera House, the French city of Bordeaux and the Greek island of Corfu have been proposed for recognition as “world heritage sites” by UNESCO.
Almost any location—a building, an entire city or a slice of nature can be considered for this status, which implies world acknowledgment that it is important to humanity and worth looking after. For host governments and locals, recognition brings prestige, tourism and technical aid.

But there are already 830 such sites, and the currency will be debased if the number rises too fast. In theory, any government in the world can make up to two nominations—one a man-made site, the other a natural one—per year. In practice, new recognitions per year are held at an average of 20 to 25.
While 80 people work at UNESCO's World Heritage Center, its annual budget is only $9m. In practice, the Paris Center receives another $20m-25m per year in what it calls extra-budgetary funds, to which the biggest private donor is the United Nations Foundation, set up by Ted Turner, an American tycoon.
Then there are some private agencies that try to do the same job as UNESCO on a smaller scale. One is the New York-based World Monuments Fund, which shames the planet's vandals by listing sites threatened by neglect or conflict. (UNESCO also publishes lists of endangered sites, but denouncing bad behaviour by states will always be easier for a private body than for an inter-governmental agency.) Another aspiring mini-UNESCO is the California-based Global Heritage Fund, which has worked at historic sites to devise plans that allow for economic development as well as conservation. Without such a plan, a UNESCO listing risks leading to an unmanageable influx of tourists.

Francesco Bandarin, an Italian who runs the World Heritage Centre, says it is not jealous: it would like lots of imitators. Whatever 2007 brings for Corfu or China, it might be better still if more rich philanthropists took up the UN's challenge and gave it some competition.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Protection and Promotion of Musical Diversity

This detailed study of the situation of musical diversity in the world has been published online by the International Music Council (IMC).

The study addresses issues including:
* The relationship between the situation of musical diversity and the situation of human rights
* Musical diversity and sustainable development, covering aspects of the use of music in broader development, the use of music to alleviate poverty, and the development of a music industry
* Musical diversity and its potential contribution to peace
* Government standards and regulations that impact positively or negatively on musical diversity
* Musical diversity and the imposition of a monoculture, including commentary on the potential use and misuse of the new UNESCO Convention for the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions
* Musical diversity and issues around personal and community identity
* Challenges and responses to musical diversity: an extensive exploration of various circumstances in which musical diversity is endangered and actions that might be taken in its support.
Read the report (pdf) and the appendices (pdf)

The International Music Council (IMC) is a global network of expert organizations and individuals working in the field of music. Founded in 1949 by UNESCO, IMC is mandated to promote musical diversity.

U. S. Support for Multinational Organizations

Read the Review of the Development Co-operation Policies and Programs of United States by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The United States is a leader in international development cooperation because of the large size of its economy, its ability to influence global action and its presence within the international donor community. It is the largest donor in the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) with a record high net official development assistance (ODA) of USD 27.6 billion in 2005.
As a share of Gross National Income, this ODA represented 0.22%. While this was its highest level since 1986, the US ranks second to last within the DAC for this statistic. The bulk of this growth is explained by Iraq debt forgiveness and reconstruction; reconstruction and anti narcotics efforts in Afghanistan; and specific programs in Africa, primarily Sudan and Ethiopia. Given the substantial debt relief granted for 2004-05, aid volumes may be lower in the future, although an annual level over USD 20 billion is probable.
U.S foreign assistance funding is fragmented among government institutions. USAID was responsible for 38.8% of total ODA in 2005 (down from 50.2% in 2002). A primary factor in this decline was the rapid increase in ODA disbursements managed by the Department of Defense (21.7% in 2005 versus 5.6% in 2002).

While the volume of (U.S. support for) multilateral ODA has fluctuated over time, its share of gross ODA has experienced a decline from almost 26% in 2002 to 8% in 2005. This figure is among the lowest of DAC member nations. Thus not only does the United States provide less official development assistance as a portion of GDP than virtually any other developed nation, it provides a smaller portion of that assistance via multilateral organizations such as UNESCO.

Monday, December 18, 2006

UNESCO source book for science teaching, 2006

Suggestions for Science Teachers in War Devastated Countries (1947) was one of UNESCO's first successes. By 1973, it had become the UNESCO Sourcebook for Science Teaching, selling 750,000 copies in 30 languages.

That in turn was followed by “The New UNESCO Sourcebook for Science Teaching,” printed in 1973 and reprinted until 1979, One can still find copies of the New Sourcebook for sale used on the Internet. The New Sourcebook was written by a team of American science educators. According to John Elfick, these books "revolutionized secondary school science teaching because they brought concepts normally left until tertiary education to secondary schools through simple experiments."

Elfick worked in UNESCO from 1990 to 1999, both in the Science Education section in Paris and in UNESCO Beijing. He describes himself has having become "obsessed with the idea of revising the UNESCO Sourcebook" and did so in Beijing in the Chinese language, assisted by the science staff at Capital Normal University. When he returned to the School of Education, University of Queensland, Australia, he started putting the English version on the internet. Click here to see that version.

It has since received almost 150,000 hits, over 40% from North America. Now UNESCO has given John Elfick a contact to produce the book version, and you can see his progress on the website.

Thanks to Bob Maybury for alerting us to the history of this important effort.

UNESCO: 50 Years for Education

Since its founding, UNESCO has sought to promote worldwide educational information exchange. It collects data on key aspects of education from Member States and disseminates it through a network of nearly 40.000 organizations and institutions. The purpose of this exchange is to share ideas, encourage innovation and reform, and promote international co-operation in education. A decade ago, celebrating its 50th anniversary, UNESCO published this material in the form of a CD-ROM. It is now available on this website, which you can access freely.

Thinkers on Education

In 1993 and 1994, PROSPECTS: Quarterly review of comparative education published a series of profiles of 100 famous educators (including philosophers, statesmen, politicians, journalists, psychologists, poets, men of religion) from around of the world.

The International Bureau for Education (IBE) offers access to these profiles, together with the profiles which have been published in subsequent issues of PROSPECTS (The UNESCO quarterly review of comparative education) online. They are available in English, French and Spanish.

Click here to go to the website and read the profiles.

Paper copies of Thinkers on Education in four volumes (sold together) are available for 30,50 € from: UNESCO Publishing.

Technologies for Education: Potential, Parameters, and Prospects

This book is by Wadi Haddad, a member of the Advisory Council of Americans for UNESCO, and a former member of its Board of Directors, and Alexandra Draxler of UNESCO. It "explores how information communications technologies can promote improvements in educational reach and delivery, content, learning outcomes, teaching, quality, and pertinence in developing countries." (PDF, 1.5 MB)

The United States Mission to UNESCO

The United States Mission to UNESCO has a new website:

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Environmental Ethics and International Policy

What is the moral value of the environment? What in nature is worth protecting, preserving or respecting? What do we mean by global sustainability? How much should we care for the interests of future generations? What are the implications of the principle of justice for policy decisions related to environmental issues?
In this new publication from UNESCO, eight experts in environmental ethics from around the world, advising the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology, address key ethical issues at stake in environmental sciences and policies. The studies presented analyze the state of the art in the relatively new area of environmental ethics. They also develop approaches to determining how international policy can promote ethical reflection about the environment.

The book is available from UNESCO publications for 22,00 €.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The UNESCO Digital Arts Award

Young artists around the world are encouraged to submit creative projects based on the DigiArts’ 2007 theme ‘Urban Environment and Communities’.

The prize of US$10.000 will be awarded to one or several laureates. In addition, the prize winner(s) will be invited to lead a training workshop at the Sharjah Biennial 8 (4 April - 4 June 2007, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates): "Still life - Art Ecology and the Politics of Change".

Deadline for submission: 31 December 2006

Click here to transfer to UNESCO's Call for submissions.
DigiArts is one of UNESCO’s major initiatives aiming at the development of interdisciplinary activities in research, creativity and communication in the field of media arts.

AIMS of the project:
# Disseminate historical, theoretical, artistic, technical and scientific research in the field of electronic and digital arts, including interdisciplinarity study of the arts and the sciences;
# Promote information exchange, dialogue and communication among artists, scientists and technicians from different geo-cultural regions, especially enabling developing countries to develop their own approaches and practices in various disciplines and fields of knowledge connected to media arts;
# Support existing institutions and networks throughout the world in the transfer of knowledge;
# Encourage the use of electronic software among the youth for electronic communication and creation.
The UNESCO Digital Arts Award forms a special category of the UNESCO Prize for the Promotion of the Arts and is dedicated to recognizing outstanding creative achievements by young artists using innovative expressions and forms through the use of digital technology.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Kofi Annan at the Truman Library

You Americans did so much, in the last century, to build an effective multilateral system, with the United Nations at its heart. Do you need it less today, and does it need you less, than 60 years ago?

Surely not. More than ever today Americans, like the rest of humanity, need a functioning global system through which the world's peoples can face global challenges together. And in order to function, the system still cries out for far-sighted American leadership, in the Truman tradition.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Join the EFA Global Monitoring Report Online Consultation

From 4 to 22 December an online consultation will review what governments are doing to reach the unreached, as a contribution to the 2008 EFA Global Monitoring Report.

The purpose of the online discussion is to review what governments, in partnership with the international community and civil society, are doing to reach the un-reached children, youth and adults with good quality education. The consultation includes both formal and non-formal education. Gender analysis is central to the discussion. Discussion is invited in relation to:

• Successful policies and programs
• Key challenges to tackle exclusion
• Role of the international community
• Flexibility and innovation in provision
• Teacher recruitment, retention and professionalism

We look forward to contributions which highlight successful policies and programs and examine key challenges that countries face. The consultation will provide useful material for the 2008 EFA Global Monitoring Report.

The 2008 EFA Global Monitoring Report will be the key global stocktaking report assessing progress towards the achievement of the six EFA goals. It will be a general and not a themed report.

Register here
Join the discussion here
Three Questions to Nicholas Burnett, Director of the EFA Global Report Monitoring Team

Friday, December 01, 2006

World AIDS Day 2006: Message from Director-General of UNESCO

Photo ©UN

The following is extracted from the full message. Click here to read the message in its entirety

This year marks 25 years since the world first heard the acronym ‘AIDS’. Since 1981, we have witnessed major achievements in the response to the epidemic - from individuals and local communities up to the global level.

This year, World AIDS Day is dedicated to the theme of ‘accountability’. It is a theme that embraces responsibility for one’s personal conduct, solidarity between individuals and groups in different countries, and pledges made by major global organizations and national governments. In many cases, accountability boils down to whether commitments are being honored and promises being kept. In this regard, there are encouraging indications that the world is willing to address the ongoing challenge posed by the epidemic.

Governments worldwide committed themselves to accelerating their responses to the epidemic at the 2001 United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS), a commitment that was reaffirmed at the United Nations World Summit in 2005 and again at this year’s High-Level Meeting on AIDS. In the years following UNGASS, there has been strengthened action at all levels, with increased leadership and commitment, more resources and intensified delivery of HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.

Despite this progress, however, approximately 40 million people are living with HIV today, an estimated 8,500 new infections occur daily and only one in ten people have access to treatment and prevention services, including prevention of mother-to-child transmission and access to antiretroviral therapy. There can be no room for complacency when it comes to HIV and AIDS. Strong action is required, particularly through massively expanded and intensified prevention efforts alongside activities to expand access to treatment, care and support. Otherwise, the epidemic will continue to spread and threaten hard-won development gains and future prospects for sustainable development.

For its part, UNESCO undertakes its work in the context of a broader effort organized through UNAIDS to move towards Universal Access to prevention, care, treatment and support. The priority that UNESCO has given to education is based on evidence that education contributes towards the knowledge and personal skills essential for the prevention of HIV, and protects individuals, families, communities and nations from the impact of AIDS. Beyond this, education can create the conditions of understanding and tolerance that contribute to reduced stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV.

To reflect the priorities of Universal Access and UNESCO’s role within the UNAIDS program, earlier this year I initiated a revision and updating of the UNESCO strategy on HIV and AIDS. This is being conducted through an extensive consultative process throughout UNESCO and, when completed at the end of this year, will provide the framework for guiding our actions in the years ahead. The overarching goal of the strategy remains to ensure that Member States have the most effective response to HIV and AIDS in all sectors relevant to UNESCO’s mandate. The priority is to prevent the spread of HIV through education and to protect the core functions of the education system from the worst effects of the epidemic, drawing on the strengths and resources of all UNESCO sectors.

In 2004, UNESCO raised its level of engagement by establishing its leading role in EDUCAIDS, the Global Initiative on Education and HIV & AIDS, supporting comprehensive education sector responses.

In these and other ways, UNESCO is addressing the challenges presented by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. I urge everyone to use the occasion of this year’s World AIDS Day to renew our collective commitment by holding ourselves accountable for the success of UNESCO’s response to HIV and AIDS.

Some of the events that UNESCO is organizing throughout the world include:

Kenya: Conference on HIV-positive teachers in Eastern and Southern Africa
Morocco: Web portal discussion on HIV and AIDS
Thailand: Guinness World Records attempt to create the World’s Longest Condom Chain
Russian Federation: Contemporary Arts Project
Russian Federation: Launch of “HIV/AIDS and Human Rights: Young People in Action” Kit
Uganda: Launch of Toolkit for Youth in Africa on Theatre, HIV and AIDS

UNESCO and US Library of Congress Host Meeting on World Digital Library Project

UNESCO and the Library of Congress will host today at UNESCO Paris Headquarters a meeting to pave the way for the launch of a World Digital Library, an internet-based repository of knowledge from all cultures and in all languages.

The meeting will seek to establish a network of experts and partners who will work on the project. It is hosted by UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Abdul Waheed Khan, U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO Louise Oliver, and Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, who first proposed the idea for a World Digital Library in 2005. It will be chaired by Claudia Lux, President-elect of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

“Making all this available free of charge on the Internet will give teachers and librarians a new resource to encourage young people to reads and study foreign languages, and will advance learning both with and between countries”, said Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States of America, and Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literacy Decade, in a message to the meeting.
“I am pleased UNESCO, the United States and other partners continue moving forward on this important initiative,” said UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. “We must encourage all Member States to pool efforts at all levels to protect unique and endangered books, manuscripts, archival documents and audio-visual materials through the use of state-of-the art technologies,” added Mr Matsuura.

A key aspect of the project is to build digital library capabilities in the developing world, so that all countries and parts of the world can participate and be represented in the World Digital Library.
“For UNESCO, libraries – be they paper-based or digital – have always played a crucial role to fulfill its mandate to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image and to maintain, increase and spread knowledge”, said Abdul Waheed Khan announcing UNESCO’s support to the initiative.
Related links
Proposal for a World Digital Library. James H. Billington. The Librarian of Congress. Remarks to the Plenary Session. The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. Georgetown University. 6 June 2005
U.S. Mission to UNESCO
* UNESCO Supports Libraries
* World Digital Library Initiative Factsheet
* Should UNESCO Promote the Development of a World Digital Library?
* World Digital Library Planned: Library of Congress Envisions Collection to Bridge Cultures