Monday, February 26, 2007

Two Early Books on UNESCO

UNESCO: its purpose and its philosophy by Julian Huxley
Huxley, the first Director General of UNESCO wrote this as UNESCO was being conceived. It was published by the UNESCO preparatory commission in 1946.
UNESCO: Peace In The Minds Of Men by Theodore Besterman
This is the first book published on UNESCO (in 1951). Besterman was an early employee of the organization.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

UNESCO's History

The opening of UNESCO's first General Conference
at the Sorbonne, Paris (20 November to 10 December 1946).
© UNESCO/Eclair Mondial

There are a number of resources on the web that might be useful to those interested in the history of UNESCO.

"The Organization's History" on the UNESCO website. This site has a brief statement of early history, plus some interesting archival photos.

The history of UNESCO's headquarters.

UNESCO's Directors General

On the occasion of its 60th anniversary, UNESCO hosted, in its Paris headquarters, an international symposium on the Organization’s history. Click here for a copy of the program for the meeting.

UNESCO at 60: 60 weeks 60 themes

60 Women Contributing to the 60 years of UNESCO.

Sixty Years of Science at UNESCO 1945-2005

The Association of Former Employees of UNESCO has produced a number of publications on UNESCO history, and in fact has a history club.

"UNESCO Celebrates 60 Years of History" by Caroline Haddad of the UNESCO Bangkok office.

A timeline of UNESCO's communications history.

Read The MacBride Report, "Many Voices, One World" of 1980.

You might also find "A New World Order in Communication" by William F. Fore interesting about one of the controversies that resulted in the departure of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Singapore from UNESCO.

Related is "The United States and the Founding of the United Nations, August 1941 - October 1945" published by the U.S. State Department.

The United Nations History Project.
Links to related projects on history of UN agencies.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 MISSIONS by Jacques Tocatlian, apparently published by the author, but available online, 2000.

From the publisher's summary:
"Around the World in 80 Missions", by Jacques Tocatlian, is not an autobiography. It is rather the product of an interaction between imagination, experience, fiction, reminiscence and fantasy. A cocktail mixed in the environment of international diplomacy and tempered by a sprinkling of light humor.
This book provides both light reading and an unusual insiders view of UNESCO. Its fictitious main character, Jacques Dupont, joins UNESCO in 1965, at the age of thirty and retires in 1995 when he reaches the age of sixty.
The author's ambition in writing this book was to make a modest contribution to international understanding. The frictions and wounds caused by cultural differences and interethnic misinterpretations will only be healed by tolerance. Tolerance based on a better understanding of others.

World Heritage in Young Hands

World Heritage in Young Hands is an on-line learning community for students, teachers, museum-personnel and others involved in the preservation and promotion of cultural and natural heritage sites from local to global levels. It was created upon request from students and teachers worldwide participating in the UNESCO "World Heritage in young hands" Project.

Launched in 1994 at the grassroots level by the UNESCO Associated Schools Project Network (ASPnet) and the UNESCO World Heritage Center, this Project gives young people a chance to voice their concerns and to become involved in the protection of the world’s natural and cultural heritage.

Check out:
* The World Heritage Education Kit

* A Map of World Heritage Sites

Friday, February 23, 2007

Education and Globalization

Contributing to peace and human development
in an era of globalization through education,
the sciences, culture and communication
Theme of UNESCO's
Medium Term Strategy

According to Alan Taylor:
We are now living in the second era of globalization, not the first. The first stretched from roughly 1870 until the start of World War I in 1914 and saw unprecedented integration in international market for goods, capital, and labor.......Circa 1870, the ratio of world trade to GDP stood at 10 percent, rising to 21 percent by 1914, falling to 9 percent by 1938, and then rising to 27 percent by 1992.
Branko Milanovic points out:
The “Halcyon days” were never Halcyon for those who were “globalized” through colonization since colonial constraints prevented them from industrializing. And they were even less “Halcyon” for those who were taken into slavery. Even among the Western economies, the 19th century globalization, contrary to some views, failed to bring income convergence. The record of the last two decades (1978-1998) is shown to be uniformly worse than that of the previous two (1960-78). It is thus only by a serious misreading of the recent evidence that the partisans of globalization are able to argue for its unmitigated beneficence........Global capitalism needs to be “civilized” in the same way that national capitalisms of the 19th century were “civilized” after World War II—a period which then witnessed the fastest growth in history.
UNESCO as Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz "What is the impact of globalization in the fields of education, culture and knowledge sharing?" He replied:
New technologies can support cultural diversity by making it easier for communities to express themselves. But globalization has sometimes been pushed too fast and in an inappropriate way, threatening the stability of existing cultures. Many societies have traditional ways of handling social support, but sometimes international institutions have come in with assistance programmes that undermine those local systems.
What specifically does Globalization mean for educators? UNESCO has addressed this issue in a number of publications:
* UNESCO Position Paper on higher education in a globalized society

* "Globalization and Educational Reform: What Planners Need to Know" by Martin Carnoy, UNESCO, 1999.

* "Globalization, Human Rights and Education" by Jacque Hallak, UNESCO, 1999.

* "Education and Globalization," IIEP Newsletter, April-June, 1998.

* “Globalization and Higher Education,” First Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education.
More generally, the idea of “globalization with a human face” is woven into the very fabric of UNESCO’s program, as its strategic responses to globalization. Thus in 2004, UNESCO held a conference on the theme of Globalization and Intangible Cultural Heritage: Opportunities, Threats and Challenges in Japan. Siimilarly, in 2006, UNESCO and the United Nations University held a conference in Japan on the theme of Science and Technology in the Era of Globalization.

Here is a 2005 annotated review on the topic of Education and Globalization (posted on the Eldis website).

Monday, February 19, 2007

UNESCO and Hewlett-Packard launch project to counter brain drain in Africa

Read the full UNESCO Press Release.

UNESCO and Hewlett-Packard have launched a joint project to help reduce brain drain in Africa by providing grid computing technology to universities in Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Zimbabwe.

The “Piloting Solutions for Reversing Brain Drain into Brain Gain for Africa” project aims to establish links between researchers who have stayed in their countries and those that have left, connecting scientists to international colleagues, research networks and potential funding organizations. Faculties and students at beneficiary universities will also be able to work on major collaborative research projects with other institutions around the world.

How to Better Finance Two UNESCO Programs

UNESCO's Information for All Program is the only intergovernmental program exclusively dedicated to promoting universal access to information and knowledge for development. It is a small program, which has been supported by nine donor nations. IPAP was created in 2000, but it has never received a donation from the U.S. government. The Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Program has been invested with the authority to speak on strategic priorities and to lobby and create awareness about issues pertaining to the use of information and ICT for development at the international level. More than 50 IFAP National Committees have been created. The program has approved and funded a number of small projects.

The International Program for the Development of Communication is a major forum in the UN system designed to develop free and pluralistic media with a global approach to democratic development. Created at the initiative of the United States, it currently receives support from 25 governments, including that of the United States. It also accepts donations from individuals (but requires them to be made by bank transfer.) The program is managed by an Intergovernmental Council and its Bureau. Over the last quarter century, IPDC has mobilized some US$ 90 million for over 1000 projects in 139 developing countries and countries in transition.

Suggestion: An website should be created to allow individual contributions to individual projects sponsored under these programs.

With the development of the Internet and the World Wide Web, a number of websites have been developed which illustrate how this might be done:
* GlobalGiving was created in 2000 by two former World Bank officials. It allows the managers of small development projects to post descriptions of those project on its website, and allows donors to make small donations online to those projects. More than $US3million has been raised through this organization, and almost all goes to the development projects themselves.

* The U.S. Peace Corps website provides facilities for individuals to donate to small projects that are posted by the PCVs themselves, thus allowing the donor to directly support a project without overhead to a charitable organization.

* Heifer International provides an online Gift Catelog allowing donors to make small gifts of livestock to projects in developing countries. An email to the organization will allow the gift to be made to a specific project -- for example, to a project introducing rabbit raising in Uganda or duck raising in Haiti.
UNESCO might create such a website for its small grants programs, or alternatively civil society (with the assistance of a corporate donor) might create one in support of UNESCO.

Click here to read an interview with the founder of GlobalGiving, describing the operation of its website for online giving.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

A good article on the United Nations system

Read "Is the UN Doomed?" by Tony Judt in The New York Review of Books (Volume 54, Number 2 · February 15, 2007). Subscription or online payment is required to read this.

Bob Maybury alerted me to this review of three recent books about the United Nations.

"There are actually many UNs of which the military and political branches (General Assembly, Security Council, Peacekeeping Operations) are only the best known." UNESCO is the first of several that Judt names.

"Much of the work done by these units is routine. And the "soft tasks" of the UN- addressing health and environmental problems, assisting women and children in crisis, educating farmers, training teachers, providing small loans, monitoring rights abuse -- are sometimes performed just as well by national or nongovernmental agencies, though in most cases only at UN prompting or in the wake of a UN sponsored initiative."

Judt may underestimate the global importance of UNESCO's leadership in providing the vision for "Education for All", or the catalytic role of UNESCO in focusing the world's attention on the preservation of world heritage sites.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

UNESCO’s Offers Help to World Heritage City of Valparaiso, Chile

Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, has offered the Organization's assistance in repairing damage caused by the fire that destroyed part of the historical city centre of Valparaiso, Chile, killing several people, on 3 February.
"Firstly, I wish to extend my sincere condolences to the families and friends of the victims of this tragedy," the Director-General said. He also announced that "UNESCO stands ready to extend emergency assistance to the appropriate Chilean authorities in their effort to repair the damage caused to the historic centre of Valparaiso. We are in touch with the authorities and will do all we can to help them preserve this outstanding landmark. I have fond memories of my visit to Valparaiso, in the company of its mayor, before the city was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2003. I remember the city as a place of great beauty, bearing rich testimony to the region's cultural, economic and social history."
A mission of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre will visit Valparaiso in early March and will discuss restoration plans with the local authorities.

For more information on the fire, try this story from The Santiago Times. It notes:
In Valparaíso’s historic Puerto neighborhood, the gas leak caused a blast so severe that it downed power lines and blew out windows in a three-block radius. The explosion also resulted in a massive fire that consumed three buildings along Calle Serrano (ST, Feb. 5, 2007).
Comment: My sympathy too goes out to the people of Valparaiso, who were so hospitable and kind to me in the years I lived in that beautiful city. JAD

Scripps Health Director Reappointed to U.S. NatCom for UNESCO

San Diego Source > News:
The State Department has reappointed Scripps Health President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Van Gorder to the United States National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization for a three-year term. Scripps is currently the only health care organization on the commission."

You can see a complete list of the members here.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The New Issue of the UNESCO Courier Is Out

© UNESCO; Video training in Hebron, Palestinian Territories

Click here to read issue number 1 for 2007 of The UNESCO Courier.

"Whatever the particular challenges of life in different parts of the world, people everywhere need pluralistic and independent media. Since its creation, UNESCO has sought to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image in the interest of international solidarity, democracy, peace and development....

"The current edition of the UNESCO Courier looks at how UNESCO has been helping people around the world acquire the media that will meet their specific needs; learn about their problems and possible solutions; share experiences and opinions; and celebrate their culture."

The "issue examines some of these projects, like the training Palestinian television reporter Lana Shaheen received to help her contend with the challenges of working in a context of political instability, material hardship and gender stereotyping.

Other programmes help geographically scattered communities, like those of the Caribbean islands, pool know-how and resources. While some training workshops, for example, assist journalists - in this instance in Mongolia - gain awareness of important issues of democratic governance. Meanwhile, in Cape Verde UNESCO has helped the authorities design the legislative framework that is indispensable for free and independent public and private media.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Federal Budget Request Short-Changes United Nations, Lantos Says

Read the full press release from Representative Lantos' office.

"Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said the Administration is short-changing the United Nations in the budget proposal delivered to Congress today, which will ultimately harm national security.

“'We face a $130 million shortfall in the account used to pay U.S. dues to the United Nations,' Lantos noted. 'For the first time since the historic Helms-Biden agreement to pay off old U.S. debt the United Nations, we will once again be in arrears. This is absurd. The Administration is budgeting for massive new arrears to the United Nations at a time when we need the organization to help us in Iraq, Darfur, Lebanon, Haiti and a host of other global hot spots.'"

"Ancient Temples Face Modern Assault"

Image from The Washington Post.

Read the full article subtitled "Rapid Rise in Tourism Is Overwhelming Cambodia's Ability to Protect Fragile Sites" by Anthony Faiola in The Washington Post, February 6, 2007.

Including Cambodians, the number of visitors to the ancient Angkor "archaeological park will reach a record 2 million this year and at least 3 million by 2010, according to the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which identified Angkor as a World Heritage site in 1992.

"The growth has put the Cambodian government in a difficult position, observers say, forcing it to balance the potential to make money against the need for preservation, restoration and study. It is a dilemma familiar to other countries that profit from treasured cultural sites.

"The Acropolis in Athens, the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Hagia Sophia area of Istanbul are all experiencing tourism pressures. In Peru, the massive sand lines at Nazca and Palpa have come under threat from encroaching power lines and roving tourists in jeeps. In Nepal's Kathmandu Valley, UNESCO has decried 'uncontrolled urban development.'

UNESCO's World Heritage Program, which under Russell Train's leadership the United States proposed for UNESCO, provides a uniquely cost-effective instrument by which we can encourage countries to protect natural and cultural sites that are the heritage of all mankind.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Where Does UNESCO Fit in the Multinational Family of Organizations?

Source: The United Nations

The United Nations system includes a large number of organizations and programs. United Nations programs, such as the Peace Keeping Programs and the United Nations Development Program, which fall directly under the United Nations itself may be considered to form one aspect of the system. The World Bank Group of agencies, including the International Monetary Fund, The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the International Development Association (together with other international development banks) may be considered to form another aspect of the system -- one with independent governance. The third aspect would then be the decentralized agencies, such as UNESCO, the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization, etc. These too have their own independent governance structures. All cooperate, and all share certain features such as a those of the international civil service.

The Global Policy Forum maintains a website with good information on UN Finance. The United Nations and all its agencies and funds spend about $20 billion each year. (The International Development Banks, which loan as well as grant fund projects, are not included in this total.) The regular budget of UNESCO is some US$300 million per year, of which the United States government contributes 22 percent, under US$70 million per year. This might be compared to the operating budget of the public schools of the county in which I live, of US$1.85 billion. In 2000, according to the National Science Foundation, "global R&D expenditures totaled at least $729 billion, half of which was accounted for by the two largest countries in terms of R&D performance, the United States and Japan." Note that the United States is severely in arrears in its payments to the United Nations:
31 October 2006
Regular Budget: $526 million (80%)
Peacekeeping: $799 million (31%)
Total: $1,384 million (42%)
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (and their answers) about the United Nations, provided by The Federation of International Civil Servants' Associations.

While you are at it, check out Lien/Links, the online magazine of the Association of Former UNESCO staff members.