Wednesday, January 31, 2007

UNESCO Outraged by Attack on Baghdad Girls School

On Sunday, according to
In Baghdad, mortar shells crashed down on a girls high school, killing at least five students and wounding 13 other people, including two teachers, said Brig. Gen. Saad Sultan of the Interior Ministry.

Hours after the attack, grieving parents wept as the bodies of their children were placed in coffins.

Police said four of the girls were killed instantly and a fifth died later.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Islamic Republic News Agency reports:
UNICEF and UNESCO in a joint statement, a copy of which was faxed to IRNA here Monday, expressed outrage at a terroristic act of mortar attack on a girls' school in Baghdad on Sunday January 28, 2007.

UNICEF Representative for Iraq, Roger Wright, and Mohamed Djelid, UNESCO Country Director, both emphasized, "This is yet another tragic reminder of the risks facing Iraq's schoolchildren every day as they struggle amidst the insecurity to receive their right to education.

The apparently deliberate targeting of children in this incident is an unforgivable crime."

The two UN agencies stressed that violence and the threat of more violence have seriously disrupted the education system across parts of Baghdad. Girls' schools in particular have suffered, with girls now making up the majority of the far too many children out of school in Iraq's capital.

UNICEF and UNESCO called upon all parties in Iraq to exercise their responsibility and duty to ensure that schools remain safe havens for children to attend, learn and play. Finding appropriate strategies to bring education to children in environments where normal schooling has become impossible is now an imperative.
To read the full article on the Islamic Republic News Agency website click here.

"Young People and AIDS: A Practical Guide"

Published on paper, this UNESCO book was designed for primary and secondary school teachers, youth leaders in voluntary organization and radio and for all those interested in working on HIV/AIDS preventive programmes targeting young people.

For more information or to order a free copy, click here.

Editor's comment: Why in the world would UNESCO publish this first or only on paper, when the problem of educating young people about AIDS is so urgent? They must have had an electronic copy, and it is certainly easier to mount such a copy of the World Wide Web than to type set and print the book. With something like one billion personal computers in the world, most connected to the Internet, it seems clear that this book would be of interest and widely used if and when it is made available on the Web. JAD

Briefing Book for Congress on the UN

The Better World Campaign has published online its 2007 Briefing Book for the Congress with lots of information on the United Nations. It is full of useful, accurate information.

Check out its briefing titled: Agencies, Funds, and Programs

A few years ago, before President Bush announced that the United States would rejoin UNESCO, the Better World Campaign published this add.

An "Ancient Settlement Is Unearthed Near Stonehenge"

National Geographic Society photo of the Stonehenge monument, within UNESCO Stonehenge World Heritage site in January 2007.

Read the full article subtitled "Sites Apparently Used for Ceremonies and Burials" by Marc Kaufman in The Washington Post, January 31, 2007.
New excavations near the mysterious circle at Stonehenge in southern England have uncovered dozens of homes where hundreds of people lived -- at roughly the same time that the giant stone slabs were being erected 4,600 years ago.

The finding strongly suggests that the monument and the settlement nearby were a center for ceremonial activities, with Stonehenge probably a burial site, while other nearby circular earthen and timber "henges" were devoted to feasts and festivals.

The small homes and personal items found beneath the grounds of the Stonehenge World Heritage Site are the first of their kind from that late Stone Age period in Britain, and they suggest a surprising level of social organization and ceremonial behavior to complement the massive stonework nearby. The excavators said their discoveries, about two miles from Stonehenge itself, together constitute an archaeological treasure.

Monday, January 29, 2007

NatCom Seeks Information for List of UNESCO Clubs

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO (the NatCom) is seeking to compile a list of UNESCO clubs and associations in the United States. Click here for information on how to contact the Department of State UNESCO unit.

There are now some 4.000 UNESCO associations, centers and clubs in about 100 countries throughout the world. However, we believe there are relatively few in the United States. Club movement members, who are all volunteers, share a commitment to UNESCO’s ideals and work to translate them into reality on the ground. In the half-century since the first UNESCO club was founded in Japan, the world has witnessed a vast range of events. Those events have included ones in every one of UNESCO’s fields of competence.

At the international level, the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs, Centers and Associations (WFUCA) is responsible for informing, coordinating and mobilizing its members, with UNESCO's support and cooperation. Officers of Americans for UNESCO currently represent the United States in the World Federation.

There is considerable information on this UNESCO website for those who might be interested in starting a UNESCO club. The materials include a 191 page online book by Anne Willings-Grinda on the history of UNESCO clubs from 1946 to 1996: UNESCO Clubs, Paths to Light

More information about UNESCO clubs, centers, and associations is available from UNESCO.

Apply Now to Become a UNESCO Chair

The deadline to apply is March 30, 2007.

UNESCO Chairs are awarded each year to individual colleges, universities and research institutions to initiate programs that further research and training in one of UNESCO's fields of competence. A Chair may be established by reinforcing an existing teaching or research program and giving it an international dimension, or one may be established as a new teaching and research unit.U.S. organizations wishing to apply.

Upon the recommendation by the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, UNESCO recently has approved two UNESCO Chairs at U.S. universities. The University of Oregon proposal for a chair in Transcultural Studies, Interreligious Dialogue, and Peace was approved, as well as, a Georgetown University proposal for a chair in Achieving the Promise of EFA: A Focus on Literacy and Sustainable Development.

Obtain more information on how to submit your application through the Department of States Secretariat to the United States National Commission for UNESCO at this website.

Friday, January 26, 2007

"U.S. Civil Society Views of UNESCO"

Read the full report of the meeting.

The Board on International Scientific Organizations of the National Academies in 2002 held a meeting of experts from U.S. civil society organizations to discuss the United States’ re-entry into UNESCO. The meeting was held at the request of the Bureau of International Organizations of the U.S. Department of State, and took place at the facilities of the National Academies on November 22, 2002. The report of the meeting represents the opinions of individuals who attended, and does not represent the formal recommendations of the National Research Council (nor does it appear to have been subjected to the Academies' peer review process required for more formal recommendations.) Still the material is of sufficient interest and importance to be quoted extensively.

General comments reported from the meeting were:
* Given that there is a significant overlap between U.S. civil society’s priorities and those of UNESCO, a mechanism is needed to better integrate U.S. and UNESCO programs and thereby multiply their effectiveness.
* Several people pointed out that in the United States there is a general lack of awareness and understanding of UNESCO programs. Civil society organizations can help inform the U.S. public about UNESCO and its programs. For example, the media can play an important role in promoting and increasing awareness of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
* UNESCO programs tend to be too compartmentalized; there is a need for more collaboration across the different UNESCO sectors.
* It would be useful to strengthen partnerships between UNESCO and other international organizations.
* UNESCO’s main role is as an advocate and convener, not as a funder.
* In addition to discussing how the United States can influence the programs funded through UNESCO’s appropriated budget, it is also important to look at how to impact extra-budgetary programs.
* In support of technical cooperation and international assistance objectives, the United States should encourage more partnerships, particularly with the UNESCO regional offices and institutes.
* In looking at UNESCO’s priorities and draft program, participants expressed concern about going to UNESCO with many specific changes to the program and budget without a good understanding of the overarching strategy and priorities. It was suggested that it might be helpful to reexamine UNESCO’s mandate since it has not changed significantly since 1946 when the organization was first established.
* As the United States looks at which UNESCO program areas are most important to U.S. goals, it should especially consider activities that engage large segments of different communities and activities where UNESCO would bring some unique added value that cannot be acquired anywhere else.
* As a member of UNESCO, the U.S. may have some new opportunities. These include: the ability to work globally and benefit from the capacity of each of the members of this global organization, and the formation of partnerships between government and non-government organizations.
* The principal priority for UNESCO’s education sector, Education for All, is also a priority for the United States education community. The United States can help UNESCO increase its staff and develop its resources to create the internal organization it needs to carry out this principal priority. It can also provide UNESCO with policy advice and talent from the U.S. government, private sector, academia, and the professional community.
* While UNESCO advocates the role of civil society in Education for All programs, its primary experience has been working government to government. To help develop public-private partnerships, the United States can contribute its experience in working with civil society through policy forums and by bringing U.S. education experts to UNESCO’s staff.
* The U.S. education community should help to develop programs that go beyond a sectoral framework. For example, programs could address themes such as international citizenship, dialogue between civilizations, and global awareness.
Science Education
* Science education is fragmented within UNESCO – higher education in the science sector and K-12 in education. The sectors are beginning to collaborate and hold joint meetings in an effort to develop a common direction.
* The United States is in a leadership role on the issues of gender in science and technology for development and science education.
* In higher education, UNESCO could play a key role on issues of mutual recognition of degrees, credentials, quality assurance mechanisms, and accreditation. It will be difficult for UNESCO to achieve international accreditation standards without U.S. involvement.
* Culture is a topic that the United States has traditionally been reluctant to discuss in government circles and in the international arena. Culture is an area that should receive greater attention, especially in the context of promoting good will and peace throughout the world.
* Because increased tourism could potentially be harmful to some World Heritage sites, there should be more emphasis on enabling governments and the world preservation community to better manage heritage sites rather than focusing primarily on the World Heritage List. The United States could contribute its expertise in preservation and conservation to the UNESCO World Heritage Fund program. Related to this, the UN Foundation has made the preservation of biodiversity at natural World Heritage sites a priority. It has developed partnerships with other foundations and organizations to generate additional funding for natural World Heritage sites.
* The United States could partner with UNESCO and other organizations in an effort to preserve cultural diversity. A possible project could be a web-based “cultural genome” that would map out all the existing indigenous cultures of the world before the records of these cultures are lost.
The role of U.S. civil society in advising the U.S. government on UNESCO

The UNESCO constitution requires each member state to have a national commission. U.S. legislation from 1946 allows for a commission of up to 100 people: 15 from federal government, 15 from state and local government, 40 from non-governmental organizations, and 30 other at-large groups. Several participants commented that it is important to look at new possible formations. Other countries, such as Canada, Germany and Brazil, are using their national commissions to help inform their domestic policies and programs, not just as the representative body for UNESCO. Participants discussed the idea of ad hoc committees or subgroups on specific issues. Linkages between such groups and good communication among the staff of the commission, the State Department’s IO Bureau, and civil society groups are key to a successful national commission.

There was a discussion on how to reach out to and include civil society – and the private sector – in the national commission. It was suggested that perhaps a few key organizations could have a permanent slot on the commission, with some sort of rotating mechanism so that all of the different professional societies are represented at some stage. The State Department could use the national commission as the head of a civil society network.

In order to facilitate its work and to reach out to the public, the commission could take advantage of information technology. A Web site and a regular online newsletter could be useful in engaging the public in activities of the commission and promoting greater U.S. participation in UNESCO.

The U.S. national commission could use the help of U.S. civil society in recruitment for jobs at the UNESCO Secretariat. Civil society groups could 1) inform the commission of any upcoming vacancies at the UNESCO Secretariat that they hear about through their networks; 2) identify which positions at the UNESCO Secretariat are of primary interest to the United States; and 3) help identify candidates for these positions.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Donna E. Shalala Joins Americans for UNESCO

Donna Shalala has joined the Advisory Council of Americans for UNESCO.

Donna E. Shalala has been President of the University of Miami since June 1, 2001. She was U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) for eight years (1993-2001), the longest serving HHS Secretary in U.S. history. As Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1987 to 1993), she led what was then the nation’s largest public research university. She served in the Carter administration as Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and was President of Hunter College of the City University of New York from 1980 to 1987.

Dr. Shalala received her A.B. degree in history from Western College for Women and her Ph.D. degree from The Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. A leading scholar on the political economy of state and local governments, in addition to her current professorship at Miami, she has held tenured professorships at Columbia University, the City University of New York (CUNY), and the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Where would we be now without UNESCO?

Read “The world needs both skeptical intelligence and vision.” by Paul Kennedy in The InterDependent (magazine of the United Nations Association of the United States of America), Vol. 4, No. 4, Winter 2006/07. The article is on pages 15 and 16.

Paul Kennedy is the author of The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations and a great historian and writer. He says in part:
What does our world posses today, because of the United Nations organization, that it did not possess in, say, 1942-43, the middle of the Second World War?...

We have established a stunning array of international bodies to respond to the needs of the world’s women and children, especially the poorest and most discriminated against...

We have established an international human rights regime that for all its dreadful setbacks may be the single most significant advance in our globe mentality—in our way of thinking about the rights of others—since the campaigns against slavery...

We are steadily, and with setbacks and grudging opposition, setting up an international monitoring regime to protect our environments, local, national and global, and to safeguard future generations from the all too obvious harm that neglect of our ecologies can bring...

We have, alongside all this institutional building, witnessed the emergence of the idea of an international civil society. It is vague, contested and always in flux, which is probably a good thing. It has developed thanks to the profound technological, economic, social and ideological transformations of the post-1945 era. And it has done so not apart from international institutions, but in conjunction with them...
Of course, Kennedy is addressing the entire United Nations system of organizations, but UNESCO plays an especially important role in each of the efforts mentioned above.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Standards and norms in education

Check out the new UNESCO website on standards and norms in education.

This is a collection of UNESCO’s standard-setting and normative instruments in education, legal as well as non-legal. It also includes support documents, plus other relevant United Nations documents pertaining to the right to education as well as other key education themes.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

World falling behind on 2015 education goal

Read the full article by David Alexander in Reuters AlertNet.
"Access to education increased dramatically over the past century but 323 million children worldwide are still not in school and efforts to achieve universal primary education by 2015 are likely to fail, a new study said on Wednesday.

"Despite the findings, the study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences said the goal of providing a high-quality education to all children could be achieved at a reasonable cost with more support and funding from governments worldwide.

"'There's no question that it's possible," said David Bloom, one of the authors of the study. "It's a question of financial resources and it's a question of political will.'

"'We have cost estimates, for example, of what it would take and we're looking at numbers that are less than what the U.S. is spending on an annual basis in Iraq and Afghanistan,' he said. The United States is currently spending about $8 billion a month on the Iraq war."
Click here for the website for the Academy report Educating All Children: A Global Agenda.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

UNESCO and Mrs. Laura Bush hosted roundtable on literacy and teacher training

DSC_0070 copie WEB 200pixels.jpg The United States and UNESCO yesterday hosted a roundtable discussion at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters focused on literacy and teacher training for educational practitioners who teach literacy outside of formal school settings. The roundtable, entitled "Teacher Training and Literacy" highlighted the need for a greater supply of trained teachers in regions where an acute shortage is affecting efforts to promote literacy and meet the goals of the Education for All program by 2015. It was hosted by Laura Bush and Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO. Mrs. Bush is the Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literacy Decade.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Peter Plympton Smith

PETER PLYMPTON SMITH, UNESCO's Assistant Director-General for Education, is the highest ranking U.S. citizen on the UNESCO staff. He took up the duties as Assistant Director-General on 20 June 2005.

Educational Qualifications:
Dr. Smith served as Assistant to the Commissioner of Education of Vermont, then in 1970 founded and served as President of the Community College of Vermont (1970-78), concurrently serving as Director, Office of External Programmes of the Vermont State Colleges (1975-76). In 1986, he became Vice President (1986-1988) of Norwich University, Vermont. Between 1991 and 1994, he served as Dean of the Graduate School of Education and Human Development (GSEHD) at George Washington University. From 1994 to 2005 he 1994, he was the Chief Executive Officer and Founding President of California State University, Monterey Bay.

Dr. Smith received an M.A. degree in teaching (1970) and doctoral degree (Ed.d) in Education Administration, Planning and Social Policy (1984) both from Harvard University.
Dr. Smith served as State Senator (1980-1982), Lieutenant Governor (1982-1986), and a Member of the U. S. House of Representatives (1989-1990) for the state of Vermont. During his tenure as Congressman-at-large, he served on the Education and Government Operations Committee and on the Select Committee on Children and Youth.
Read Dr. Smiths biography on the UNESCO website or his entry in Wikipedia.

Since his arrival at UNESCO, Dr. Smith has been very much involved in the reform of the educational sector. The Director-General and the Executive Board asked Dr. Smith as he assumed his post to create a decentralized, result-oriented Education Sector that operates more effectively and accountably in achieving its mission. They also asked him to work with the education sector staff to develop an Action Plan and a Management Framework for Education For All (EFA). Navigant Consulting, Inc., a U.S. consulting firm, is reported to have been contracted to advise on the reform. Progress is reported to have been good so far in the planning and reform process.

The U.S. and UNESCO Co-organize Teacher Training and Literacy Roundtable

Today, the United States and UNESCO hosted a roundtable discussion at UNESCO’s Paris Headquarters. The event focused on literacy and teacher training for educational practitioners who teach literacy outside of formal school settings. The roundtable, entitled "Teacher Training and Literacy" highlighted the need for a greater supply of trained teachers in regions where an acute shortage is affecting efforts to promote literacy and meet the goals of the Education for All program by 2015.

It was hosted by the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, and Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady of the United States. Mrs. Bush is the Honorary Ambassador for the UN Literacy Decade. Other participants included teachers from the developing world, representatives from UNESCO delegations and UNESCO secretariat staff.

“Teacher Training and Literacy” served as a bridge between the first ever White House Conference on Global Literacy in September 2006, and the first of five follow-up UNESCO regional literacy conferences, which will be held in
Qatar in March. That meeting will be followed by the Africa regional conference in Mali in September. Three other conferences are planned for Latin America, Europe and Central Asia and Asia.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

UNESCO Awards Czech Film Festival One World

The following is excerpted from Prague's Daily Monitor, 01/03/2007

UNESCO has given a special mention to the One World International Documentary Film Festival focused on human rights annually held in the Czech Republic. UNESCO has been presenting awards for human rights education every other year since 1978. In 1990 the award was given to then Czechoslovak and later Czech president Vaclav Havel. Havel reportedly proposed the candidacy of the Czech festival, presenting documentaries focused on human rights issues.

The One World festival has been annually held in Prague and other Czech towns since 1999. Last year, the event offered almost 120 films from 40 countries. This year´s festival will be held from February 28 to March 30. Click here for further information on One World 2007.
© Prague Daily Monitor

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

UNESCO's Guide for Electronic Theses and Dissertations

The Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) site is a resource for graduate students who are writing theses or dissertations, for graduate faculty who want to mentor ETD authors, for graduate deans who want to initiate ETD programs, and for IT administrators at universities.

Published by UNESCO, The Guide is an international, "living" document, written by ETD scholars throughout the world. The Editors, Web Administrators, Graphic Designers of the Guide are Professors from prestigious US Universities such as Cornell, whose goal is to identify "technologically innovative" theses and dissertations, and provide models of new media scholarship for the next generation of scholars and researchers.

Theses or dissertations that are "technologically innovative" are crafted in new ways, perhaps using streaming multimedia, interactive features (chats, listservs, response questionnaires, three-dimensional models, animation.

The Guide will be updated regularly based on submissions by ETD authors and NDLTD members. You may access the ETDs collection, or submit your innovative dissertation on the ETD website.
© Picture: Mahidol University

Monday, January 08, 2007

UNESCO and the Management of Social Transformations

The Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Program, which is part of the Social and Human Sciences Sector (SHS) of UNESCO, is the first intergovernmental initiative launched within the United Nations System, and was created to “manage social transformation”.From 1994 to 2003, the program focused on international research. The most recent initiative (2004-2013) focuses primarily on the need to link international public action networks to those of researchers and experts. The goal is to make social science research relevant to concrete political issues. The program works in close relationship with National Committees established in 63 countries.
MOST promotes a culture of evidence-based policy-making – nationally, regionally and internationally. The initiative seeks new ways to widely distribute information pertinent to target groups including social affairs ministers, regional and local authorities, the media, grass-roots organizations, civil society and the academic community. A series of services and resources was developed to meet their needs.

Launched at the end of spring 2005, the MOST-2 Digital Library, is a clearing house for the program’s publications. A multilingual search engine makes it easy to access documents.

More about MOST, Phase II: Bridging research and policy-making

About Growing Up In Cities, a UNESCO/MOST project

MOST-UNESCO Summer School for Latin America and the Caribbean , Salvador de Bahía, Brazil, 26 February to 2 March 2007
This Summer School aims to bring together young researchers, scholars and students following a Masters degree or a PhD from the region. The program will concentrate on the following themes: poverty, social management and local development.

Towards a Free, Pluralistic, Vibrant Media in Iraq

An International Conference on Freedom of Expression and Media Development in Iraq will take place from 8 to 10 January at UNESCO Paris Headquarters. The conference is organized by the Communications and Media Commission of Iraq (CMC)* in cooperation with UNESCO and UNDP. A session will be devoted to journalists who have risked – and in all too many cases lost – their lives to cover events in Iraq.

The Conference will provide a forum for debate, reflection and analysis of different issues concerning the Iraqi media landscape and its development needs, addressing such themes as: journalist safety; international assistance; ownership, editorial independence, pluralism; professional standards; human and institutional capacity building and gender issues; markets and commercial sustainability; public service broadcasting; regulatory frameworks and legislation.

With the recent constitution of Iraq’s first permanent government, it is an ideal time to meet again and to take stock of the most pressing challenges faced by Iraqi journalists and media outlets. Furthermore, there remains a great deal to do in terms of journalist protection and capacity-building.

The consensus of opinion is that a conference should be held to refocus attention on challenges faced by Iraqi media, and that the chances of success of such a conference would increase with the involvement of United Nations organizations-players with the objectivity and gravitas to encourage all parties to work together toward common goals.
Some 180-200 participants, including a delegation of Iraqi media professionals, international NGOs and other implementing organizations, donors, Iraqi government officials and other policy makers are expected to attend the event.

*The Communications and Media Commission of Iraq (CMC) was established in mid-2004 under Iraqi law as the independent regulatory body with exclusive authority to license and regulate broadcasting and telecommunications in Iraq. In addition to these regulatory responsibilities, the law obliges the CMC to work towards developing media in Iraq - including print, internet and other media - in accordance with internationally-accepted best practices and requirements of international law for freedom of expression and media independence.

© Photo: UNESCO/ Giovanni Boccardi, Iraki TV, UNESCO provided equipment and trained staff

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Editorial: How Young Should a Young Professional Be?

The Director General of UNESCO launched its Young Professionals Program for 2006 and has continued it for 2007. This is a very good initiative, providing a way to bring new ideas and new people into the organization.

The program is limited to only about 10 or 12 new appointments per year. That number might be appropriate for a test of the concept, but seems low for a continuing program. One would expect a competitive program recruiting young professionals to be a major source for UNESCO's staff of career officers.

The program is also limited to those from unrepresented and under-represented countries. This seems at first glance to be a reasonable policy, as a multinational organization should have international civil servants from many countries on its staff. The policy now provides an advantage for applicants from the United States and bars applicants from France, which no doubt pleases the U.S. State Department. But it also keeps out well qualified candidates from other developed nations, and encourages emigration of highly qualified people from countries desperately short of educational, scientific and cultural leaders -- the poor nations that are often under or unrepresented in UNESCO. It would be better to open the program to all nations, but to use the representation of the candidates nations as a criterion for selection among equally qualified candidates.

The program is limited to those who will be under the age of 30 at the start of their employment. The World Bank Young Professionals Program accepts people 32 or younger, that is up to three years older than does UNESCO. Age 35 seems an even better standard.

Consider the ideal candidate for a career position in UNESCO's educational program. That person should probably have teaching experience, as well as experience in educational planning and administration. The person should speak several languages, and should have international experience as well as experience in his/her own country. Education to the doctoral level would seem necessary for those involved in higher education programs, and highly desirable for those in most other education programs.

If anything, the ideal candidate for UNESCO's cultural programs should have an even broader background, combining not only professional qualifications in a specific discipline, but broad understanding of culture and development, and professional abilities in the planning and administration of cultural programs.

Increasingly, UNESCO must be seen as a development organization, emphasizing services to poverty reduction and developing nations. Thus the young professionals entering the organization should be prepared as development experts as well as leaders in education or cultural programs. Thus a further training and professional background is to be desired.

Giving candidates up to 35 years to achieve all these qualifications does not appear at all unreasonable. While many administrative positions in UNESCO might be filled more than adequately with less well trained and experienced people, the core functions of the organization demand the highest levels of professionalism that are available. Those qualifications often are not achieved until people are in their mid 30's.

It seems very likely that by the time the new class of Young Professionals is ready to retire, the mandatory retirement age will be 65 or older. Thus a person entering a career in UNESCO at the age of 35 today might well expect to work for the organization for 30 years.

UNESCO needs and should demand exceptionally qualified people to lead its global efforts. Recruiting young professionals provides an opportunity for the organization to develop such leadership through its own ranks. However, the entrants to that process should be of the highest quality available. Selecting fewer than 20 candidates worldwide per year should allow the organization to set a very high standard indeed. Giving the candidates up to 35 years to qualify would allow more of the best young men and women time to meet such standards. JAD

"United It Wobbles"

Read the full review by Samantha Power, subtitled "Should we blame the U.N. for its shortcomings, or the countries that make up the world body?" in the Washington Post Book World (January 7, 2007).

This is a review of two books:
* THE BEST INTENTIONS: Kofi Annan and the UN In the Era of American World Power By James Traub, and
* COMPLICITY WITH EVIL: The United Nations in the Age Of Modern Genocide By Adam LeBor
I quote:
Since the United States helped found the United Nations in 1945, American ties with the organization have often been strained. Because the last six decades have coincided with an epoch of U.S. hegemony -- first as the stronger of two superpowers, then as the lone post-Cold War "hyperpower," now as an economic powerhouse that has been politically neutered by the catastrophic invasion of Iraq -- Americans have generally seen the United Nations as a body more likely to curb U.S. power than to enhance it.

But something appears to be changing in the United States. Poll data show that Americans are at last grasping that the major 21st-century threats -- transnational terrorism, nuclear proliferation, global warming, public health calamities, large-scale refugee flows -- cannot be met by individual nations. For all their frustrations with international organizations, Americans have also come to understand that U.S. policies with international backing are more likely to succeed than those advanced solo.

Because the United States needs help, and because the United Nations is the lone body that gathers all of the world's countries in one place, reflections on the organization -- how to live with it and how to reform it -- seem suddenly urgent.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Education and ICTs

This website is formally a proposal for an Education sub-﷓portal to be developed as part of UNESCO's Knowledge Portal -- specifically that section dealing with teacher education and information and communication technologies or ICT. However, it provides a wealth of resources for those interested in the topic.

The Right to Education

The Right to Education is a fundamental human right. It occupies a central place in Human Rights and is essential and indispensable for the exercise of all other human rights and for development. "As an empowerment right, education is the primary vehicle by which economically and socially marginalized adults and children can lift themselves out of poverty, and obtain the means to participate fully in their communities." None of the civil, political, economic and social rights can be exercised by individuals unless they have received a certain minimum education.

Go to the UNESCO website on the right to education for more information on UNESCO's programs to insure this right for all people, the legal basis for this right, and other resources.

Check out the Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, adopted by the World Conference on Special Needs Education : Access and quality, (Salamanca, Spain, 10 June 1994)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

UNESCO's International Conventions

UNESCO uses international standard setting instruments such as Conventions, and Recommendations and Declarations by the General Conference to improve education and the international flow of information. Read this description of UNESCO's 28 International Conventions produced for the Americans for UNESCO website.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Heritage Fellowships on Offer

Launch of New Cycle of UNESCO-VOCATIONS PATRIMOINE Co-Sponsored Fellowships for World Heritage Site Managers

World Heritage site managers and people intending to pursue a career in World Heritage site management are being invited to apply for Fellowships offered through this World Heritage Site Managers Program.

At present, the Fellowships are only offered in connection with the Master of Arts in World Heritage Studies at Brandenburg Technical University, Cottbus, Germany (, and with the Master of Science in World Heritage Management at University College Dublin, Ireland ( Applicants should therefore either be in receipt of an offer on or in the process of applying to one of these courses. Applicants should be under 45 years of age.

Applicants may submit their application to the official national liaison body for UNESCO (usually the National Commission - see Communities section on http://portal/ ), which will select a maximum of 2 candidates from each country to forward to UNESCO. Applications must reach UNESCO by 31 March 2007.

The UNESCO Education Portal

Two million people visited the UNESCO Education Portal in 2006. Be one of the first to visit it in 2007!

Check out these 2006 highlights on the Education Portal:
* International Years and Decades
* the Human Rights Program
* The Global EFA Monitoring Report
* three 2006 issues of Education Today
* Priority Program initiatives:
- Literacy
- Teacher training
- Responses to HIV and AIDS

Monday, January 01, 2007

Communication from Ambassador Morella

Andre Varchaver forwarded a communication from the U.S. Ambassador to the OECD, Constance A. Morella to your editor. It stated:
On the very day I received your letter and the Americans for UNESCO brochure, I had lunch with Ambassador Stapleton and Ambassador Oliver. I shared the information with them and we acknowledged our mutual support of UNESCO. You may know that the U.S. Mission to UNESCO is in the same building as the U.S. Mission to OECD. We work together whenever possible.
Ambassador Morella was my Congresswoman for many years, and earned my respect and that of my neighbors for her intelligence and devotion to her work and our nation. JAD

UNESCO and the Reduction of Terrorist Threats

Rod Beckstrom, in an interview with Elizabeth Williamson in the Washington Post, (January 1, 2007) said:
The most important thing for us to remember is that decentralized terrorist networks are driven by ideology. Ideologies are not only the glue that binds them; they coalesce a social energy. One of the most important ideology factories in the world are schools.

As a nation we have not engaged in supporting good education across the Middle East. That is probably the most important thing we can contribute to . . . increase employment, promote more critical analysis and reasoning among the population, and to teach what we might consider modern social values.

Another thing we can do is focus on a simple ideological principle called respect. Many Muslims do not feel respected by Americans or by the Western press, and they feel that their own cultures are diminished. When cultures feel insulted, people can become radicalized.
Editor's comment: UNESCO's education programs are the most powerful instrument available to the United States and its allies in improving education in the Middle East and other areas where terrorist threats loom large. UNESCO is also a powerful instrument to build the peace by building cultures of respect among different peoples, and by building a free press that reports fairly and honestly. JAD