Thursday, May 31, 2007

Education for All (EFA) Developments

Read the Address by Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of the Information Meeting for Permanent Delegations on Education for All (EFA) Developments (30 May 2007).

Educational problems remain severe in the world. 77 million children are not in school and over ten times that many adults lack basic literacy skills. Gender inequalities, the poor quality of education and the lack of early childhood learning and of non-formal opportunities for young people, as well as issues of capacity and system reform – all these are the challenges we face.

Today, seven years after the World Education Forum in Dakar, Senegal, at which the six EFA goals were adopted, we are almost exactly half way to 2015. The 2007 EFA Global Monitoring Report focused on the first goal – early childhood care and education. The Report showed that children who participate in early childhood programs are more likely to enter and complete primary education. It also demonstrated the link between early childhood education and future academic achievement, as well as the overall efficiency of education systems.

Secretary-General Matsuura has
decided to set up an International Advisory Panel on EFA – the IAP – of about 15 people and comprising the four main constituencies of EFA: developing countries; donors; multilateral agencies; and civil society and the private sector. The IAP held its first meeting on 21 May.
This year the EFA Global Monitoring Report will be crucially important. It will not examine a specific EFA theme, as it has in the past, but rather take stock of overall EFA progress. The focus will be on equity, equality and quality, and the report will examine the nature of the challenges up to 2015.

Reporting on financial resources, Mr. Matsuura said:
The funding of EFA is a constant and urgent concern. Recent data from the GMR shows some worrying trends, both in terms of domestic funding and external assistance.

Out of the 67 developing countries for which we have data, 39 have increased public expenditure on education as a share of GNP since 1999, while in 28 countries public spending has actually decreased, in some cases significantly. This is an extremely disturbing development. Strong and sustainable domestic funding is absolutely key to EFA progress. It is therefore crucial that developing countries reprioritize spending towards basic education. We should not forget: investment in education is one of the most productive investments a nation can make.

The picture for international aid is likewise mixed.

New pledges of significant funds, such as the UK commitment for the next ten years, were a welcome development in 2006. The EFA Fast Track Initiative (FTI) has become a trusted channel of funding for primary schooling and has a growing financial envelope as well as an increasing number of partner countries where funds are at work......

The recent Brussels conference, gave further shape to how existing funding will be spent, but.....stopped considerably short of raising the sums needed to achieve universal primary schooling, let alone the other EFA goals.

And there are more troubling signs. Total external commitments to basic education in low-income countries increased steadily year by year from 1.6 billion US$ in 1999 to 2.6 billion US$ in 2003, before rising rapidly in the following year to 4 billion US$. However, according to initial analysis of OECD/DAC aid data by the GMR team, it appears that commitments then fell in 2005 to just 2.4 billion US$.
UNESCO has three core initiatives in EFA:
  • UNESCO’s Literacy for Empowerment initiative (LIFE) targets the 35 countries that face the greatest literacy challenges, and is already up and running in 11 countries.
  • The EDUCAIDS Initiative within the UNAIDS framework addressing HIV/AIDS.
  • UNESCO’s Teacher Training Initiative for sub-Saharan Africa (TTISSA), which is a ten year project aimed at increasing the quantity and improving the quality of the teaching force in sub-Saharan Africa, where needs are particularly acute.
UNESCO's Education Sector reform seeks to strengthen UNESCO’s role in education, above all in the priority area of EFA. The reform has created a more streamlined, integrated and accountable structure, providing UNESCO with the framework it needs to fully exercise its leadership role. Mr. Matsuura said that "the recent departure of the ADG for Education will not in any way affect the ongoing implementation of these reforms. Board Members firmly agreed, endorsing the direction I have taken, and giving me a strong mandate to proceed. At this critical juncture in our efforts to achieve EFA, UNESCO must not, and will not, be seen to waver."

President Bush Discusses U. S. International Development Agenda

Read the full speech made at the United States Global Leadership Council on May 31.

The President stressed the importance of trade, and of opening of trade relations. He described the effort made by the United States and other nations of the G8 to reduce the debt burden of poor nations. Since 2001 U.S. development spending across the world has increased
from about $10 billion in 2000, to $23 billion in 2006. It's the largest increase in development assistance since the Marshall Plan..... The first four years of my administration, we doubled our assistance to Africa. At the G8 summit in 2005, I promised our assistance to Africa would double once again by 2010.
President Bush described three key goals of foreign assistance:
  • to help developing countries build democratic and accountable institutions and strengthen their civil societies,
  • to improve education, and
  • to fight the scourge of disease in Africa and other parts of the developing world.
Here is the specific wording of the discussion of the education priority:

All of this will go for naught if people don't have a good education. So the second way we're using our aid is to improve education so that the young in the developing world have the tools they need to realize their God-given potential. Many parents across the world either have no access to education for their children, or simply cannot afford it. It's a fact of life, something the world needs to deal with, particularly those of us who have got some money.

In many nations, girls have even less educational opportunity. It robs them of a chance to satisfy their ambitions or to make use of their talents and skills, and it's really sad, when you think about it. It really is. The question is, does the United States care? Should we do something about it? And the answer is, absolutely. If boys and girls in Africa and other developing nations don't learn how to read, write, and add and subtract, this world is just going to move on without them. And all the aid efforts we'll be trying will go to naught, in my judgment.

And so in 2002, I launched the African Education Initiative to help address the great need. Through this initiative, we have provided about $300 million to expand educational opportunities throughout the continent, and we're going to provide another $300 million by 2010. We will have doubled our commitment........

And we need to do more, for not only children on the continent of Africa, but poor children throughout the world. And so I'm calling on Congress to fund $525 million over the next five years to make our educational initiatives even more robust. And the goal is to provide basic education for 4 million additional children on the continent of Africa and across the globe.

We've got another interesting idea, and that is to establish new Communities of Opportunity centers in poor nations to provide skills and language training for 100,000 at-risk youth; giving these young people in these countries the skills they need to succeed, we're going to give them keys to a brighter future.

The speech concluded:

The initiatives I've discussed today are making a difference in the lives of millions; our fellow citizens have got to understand that. We're talking about improving lives in a real, tangible way that ought to make our country proud. That's why we've asked these folks to come. It's one thing for the President to be talking about stories; it's another thing for the people to see firsthand what our help has done.

I'm so proud of the United States of America. This initiative shows the good character and the decency of the American people. We are a decent people. We feel responsible for helping those who are less fortunate. And I am proud to be the President of such a good nation.

James G. McCargar

James McCargar accepting the
Col. Michael Kovats Medal of Freedom
from the American Hungarian Federation

We regret to inform you of the death of James G. McCargar, a long time member of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO. Mr. McCargar died on the afternoon of May 30, 2007.

A graduate of Stanford University, James McCargar, briefly a reporter on the San Francisco Call-Bulletin, was commissioned a Foreign Service Officer in 1942. He was Vice Consul at Vladivostok 1942-43, and Secretary of Embassy, Moscow, 1943. Assigned to the Dominican Republic in 1943, he was commissioned in the Naval Reserve in 1944, and served as Foreign Liaison Officer with the Soviet Navy and Merchant Marine at Akutan and Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Appointed Secretary of Legation, Budapest, in 1946, he was Chief of the Political Section and, under State Department authorization and orders, established an escape network in then-Russian-occupied territory which saved more than sixty democratic Hungarian and Romanian political leaders and pro-Western figures and their families in danger of arrest, deportation and/or death.

At Genoa during the Italian elections of 1948, McCargar was then detailed to the Office of Policy Coordination, in the CIA, where he served until 1950 as Chief, Division of Southeastern European Affairs. He served at the Paris Embassy as a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Allied Coordinating Committee, 1950-53. In 1955 he joined the Free Europe Committee in New York, as liaison with the United Nations and the Assembly of Captive European Nations. European Director at Paris of political, social and cultural programs for the Committee, 1956-58, he continued at Paris as a Consultant to the President of the Committee until 1960. That year he was co-founder and Secretary, Americans Abroad for Kennedy.

As Special Assistant to the Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1978-1982, McCargar was the Coordinator, Executive Branch, on cultural policy for the U. S. National Commission on UNESCO. He attended two UNESCO General Conferences as an expert, and in 1982 was a member of the U. S. Delegation to the Second UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policy. At the invitation of the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO, he was the U. S. Observer at the 1991 UNESCO European Regional Conference on Cultural Development at Oslo. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Americans for the Universality of UNESCO from 1985, and continues as a member of the Board of Americans for UNESCO.

From 1940 to the present McCargar published articles, fiction, and book reviews under his own name and as "Christopher Felix" in a dozen publications, and from 1960 on authored or co-authored four books. He was also ghostwriter for Men of Responsibility, the 1965 memoirs of Dirk U. Stikker, former Foreign Minister of The Netherlands, and Secretary-General of NATO.

Read this long letter by James McCargar published in Commentary magazine refuting an article on the U.S. departure from UNESCO.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

President George W. Bush to speak to USGLC on May 31

The U.S. Global Leadership Campaign will host the President of the United States to deliver remarks on the United States International Development Agenda. President George W. Bush’s remarks will be delivered in advance of his attendance at the upcoming G-8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, on June 5-8. This is an invitation only event.

There are rumors that he will include a major education initiative in the speech.

There are eight main items on the summit agenda, ranging from breaking down international trade barriers to combatting poverty in Africa and moving towards a replacement for the Kyoto treaty on climate change that expires in 2012.

The U.S. Global Leadership Campaign (USGLC) is a broad-based, nationwide coalition of businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community leaders that advocates for a strong U.S. International Affairs Budget. The International Affairs Budget provides America with the fundamental tools to meet the global challenges of the 21st century and is critical to ensuring our national security, building economic prosperity, and strengthening humanitarian values.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

UNESCO-SALIS e-Learning Portal for Awareness Raising on Information Literacy

UNESCO-SALIS workshop (6-10 November 2006, Chennai, India)
© UNESCO New Delhi

The Society for the Advancement of Library and Information Science (SALIS), India, in collaboration with UNESCO, has just launched a six-month project entitled Interactive E-Learning Portal on Information Literacy Competency Development Skills for South Asia.
The project aims to raise awareness and enhance information literacy competency skills of laymen as well as information professionals and educators. Its objectives are fully in line with UNESCO’s mandate to bridge the digital divide and UNESCO’s vision of Knowledge Societies.

The UNESCO Budget

UNESCO's budget for the next two years will be set in the meeting of the General Conference in October, on the basis of the draft budget prepared by the secretariat under the direction of the Director General and the Executive Board. The key decision will be on the core budget, which is funded through assessed contributions of the member states. (There are also extrabudgetary resources contributed by many member states, that are separately determined.) The budget is approved for two years, and implements a medium term strategy of six years. In three of the past four budgets, there as a zero growth policy. Only with the return of the United States to UNESCO was the budget allowed to grow in real terms. In the current draft, there are options of including a zero growth and a modest real growth budget. My colleague has sent the following message to many of us:


We must make a determined effort to see that the US supports the level of at least $648 million for UNESCO's next biennium,so that the organization can be effective in its vital mission.

Write Secretary Rice, Deputy Secretary Negroponte, President and Mrs. Bush, and the appropriate Congressional Members.and urge them to support the higher level for UNESCO's budget.

Sidney Passman
Comment: I must agree with Sid. UNESCO's is the lead agency for education, science, culture, and communications and information in the United Nations system. Its charter calls for it to strengthen these sectors worldwide, and to network vast communities. Yet its core budget is on the order of one-third of my local school district's. The United States at very little cost to the tax payer, could encourage the nations of the world to devote more resources to UNESCO's mission. To do so would help to overcome the clash of cultures and to advance peace. JAD

Decisions from the Executive Board

The decisions of the Executive Board of UNESCO at its meeting in April 2007 are available online.

Click here!

Some of the decisions are shown below:

Report by the Director-General on an improved version of the Global Action Plan to
achieve the EFA goals by 2015, and progress report on its implementation (176 EX/9;
176 EX/66 Part I)

The Executive Board,
1. Recalling 175 EX/Decision 7,
2. Having examined document 176 EX/9,
3. Reaffirming the importance of accelerating progress towards the six EFA goals and other educational development goals,
4. Welcoming the changes introduced into the Global Action Plan reflecting the specific concerns expressed by the Executive Board and the participants in the Sixth Meeting of the EFA High-Level Group held in Cairo, Egypt, in November 2006,
5. Having requested the Director-General to continue to improve and develop the Global Action Plan by reinforcing collective ownership through ongoing regular consultations among the five original EFA convening agencies so that it remains a dynamic framework for coordination, and can be expanded to include other EFA partners,
6. Taking note of the efforts made to coordinate the Global Action Plan with the United Nations reform process and the fact that the Global Action Plan will be increasingly focused on implementation at the country level, including that of the pilot countries selected in the context of the United Nations reform,
7. Further noting the welcome given to the improved version of the Global Action Plan by the Sixth Meeting of the EFA High-Level Group,
8. Welcoming the efforts to harmonize the Global Action Plan and the UNESCO National Education Support Strategy (UNESS) at the country level,
9. Further welcoming the new agreement on “Partnerships for Education” between UNESCO and the World Economic Forum,
10. Invites the Director-General to seek other partnerships of this kind;
11. Supports the Director-General in his efforts to continue working on the strategy for support to education in order to enhance the number of countries participating in the UNESCO National Education Support Strategy;
12. Invites the Director-General to submit to the Executive Board at its 179th session an initial report on the application of the Global Action Plan, including at the country level, taking into account the forthcoming EFA Global Monitoring Report and the discussions and conclusions of the meeting of the EFA High-Level Group to be held in Dakar in December 2007.

Report on UNESCO action in favour of the respect for freedom of expression and
respect for sacred beliefs and values and religious and cultural symbols (176 EX/23;
176 EX/66 Part II)

The Executive Board,
1. Recalling 33 C/Resolution 49 and 174 EX/Decision 46,
2. Having examined document 176 EX/23,
3. Takes note of the conclusions, as presented in document 176 EX/23, of the compilation and comprehensive study of all existing relevant international instruments on the subject of respect for freedom of expression and respect for sacred beliefs and values and religious and cultural symbols, as well as of the progress achieved towards the implementation of the plan of action for the dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples;
4. Recognizes the complexity and multi-dimensional character of this issue, as well as the need to strengthen UNESCO’s leadership role in advocating the promotion of dialogue among cultures, religions and peoples through an interdisciplinary and coordinated approach within UNESCO;
5. Invites the Director-General to report to it at its 179th session on the implementation of innovative modalities of action, including the Power of Peace Network, for the purpose of furthering mutual understanding, as well as respect for all people’s religious and cultural values, and for freedom of expression.

Preparation of a convention for the protection of indigenous and endangered
languages (176 EX/59; 176 EX/INF.16; 176 EX/66 Part II; 176 EX/67)

The Executive Board,
1. Having examined document 176 EX/59,
2. Considering that indigenous and vernacular languages as a whole are increasingly affected by the adverse consequences of globalization,
3. Expressing concern at the continuous displacement and extinction that often threaten many languages, year after year, throughout the world,
4. Stressing that indigenous and vernacular languages are vehicles of peoples’ cultural identity and ancestral knowledge, and constitute a vast irreplaceable heritage,
5. Further stressing that whenever there is a veiled threat of displacement or extinction of the linguistic and cultural heritage, indigenous communities and peoples which are the bearers of such heritage, at various levels, have responded actively and have voiced their protests in international fora with strong statements in support of their cultural and linguistic heritage with a view to its perpetuation,
6. Recalling that the Organization, in fulfilling its basic purpose of protecting creativity and cultural diversity throughout the world, has undertaken to promote linguistic diversity and multilingualism through international standard-setting instruments such as the 2001 UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, and the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, and by implementing an intersectoral strategy for the programmatic integration of indigenous languages into the Organization’s five sectors,
7. Considering that the political will of States and the implementation of regional initiatives to safeguard and revitalize languages and promote multilingualism may not suffice at the world level to guarantee the preservation and intergenerational transmission of indigenous and vernacular languages,
8. Requests the Director-General to conduct a preliminary study of the technical and legal aspects of a possible international standard-setting instrument for the protection of indigenous and endangered languages, including a study of the outcomes of the programmes implemented by UNESCO relating to this issue, and to submit such a preliminary study to the Executive Board for examination at its 179th session;
9. Invites the Director-General to convene a meeting of experts, including representatives of indigenous peoples, to assist him in the preparation of such a preliminary study, and to seek extrabudgetary funding for it.

(Monday 16 April, Tuesday 17 April and Wednesday 18 April 2007)

176 EX/Special plenary meeting/Decision
Israeli archaeological excavations at the Mughrabi ascent in the Old City of Jerusalem
(176 EX/Special Plenary Meeting/1; 176 EX/Special Plenary Meeting/INF.1; 176 EX/Special
Plenary Meeting/INF.2)

The Executive Board,
1. Recalling the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of
Armed Conflict of 1954, the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of 1972, the inscription of the Old City of Jerusalem at the request of Jordan on the World Heritage List (1981) and on the List of World Heritage in Danger (1982), the relevant resolutions, decisions and recommendations of UNESCO, paragraph 6 of Decision 30 COM 7A.34 of the World Heritage Committee, and other conventions as appropriate,
2. Having examined the report of the technical mission sent by the Director-General from 28 February to 2 March 2007 “to study the reconstruction work and archaeological excavation at the Mughrabi ascent”,
3. Reaffirms the outstanding universal value of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem and the importance of its protection and safeguarding for the collective memory of people from different religions and cultural backgrounds, especially the peoples of the region, having regard to their history and civilization;
4. Encourages the Israeli authorities to provide the necessary details regarding the final design of the Mughrabi ascent, and affirms that the principal aim of the said design should be to maintain the authenticity and integrity of the site;
5. Encourages the Israeli authorities to cooperate with the Waqf of Jerusalem and the Jordanian authorities;
6. Encourages all Member States, authorities and institutions to cooperate constructively for the protection, safeguarding and restoration of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem;
7. Expresses its sincere thanks to the Director-General for the actions he has taken to reaffirm UNESCO’s noble mission to safeguard, preserve and restore world heritage for the sake of humanity and future generations;
8. Appreciates the concern expressed on this topic at the special plenary meeting;
9. Invites the Director-General to request the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee to convene immediately to prepare the ground for the informal meeting of the World Heritage Committee in early June, in order to ensure a substantive discussion on the follow-up to the report of the technical mission at the 31st session of the World Heritage Committee;
10. Requests the Director-General, within the framework of the World Heritage Convention, to propose to the World Heritage Committee at its forthcoming session a mechanism to ensure the proper implementation of World Heritage Committee decisions;
11. Invites the Director-General to submit to the Executive Board at its 177th session a report on the progress made in this regard.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

History of UNESCO

A conference was held in 2005 titled:

60 Years of UNESCO’s History"

The conference website provides a lot of interesting information on UNESCO's history. For example (click on the title to read the paper):
Every ten years or so the UNESCO Courier publishes a special issue dealing with UNESCO's history. Those special issues are all online here!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

UNESCO Can Spread Good Governance, State's Negroponte Says

Here is the announcement of the appearance.

Promoting good governance, ensuring the free flow of information and expanding global literacy are key international goals that the U.N. Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) can help advance, according to a senior U.S. official.
John Negroponte

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

U.S. National Commission for UNESCO meeting

The United States National Commission for UNESCO held its annual meeting Monday and Tuesday. The meeting was well attended, with the majority of the Commissioners present and perhaps 100 members of the public attending. Most of the meeting was devoted to parallel meetings of five committees devoted to the five major programmatic areas of UNESCO.

High points of the meeting were the presentations by Ambassador Louise Oliver and Deputy Director General Marcio Barbosa. Ambassador Oliver described the great success that was achieved by a drafting committee for a resolution on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The committee, in which she was a key participant, also included members from Egypt, Jordan and Israel, and dealt with a very contentious issue in a very constructive fashion.

An auditor's report detailing failures of UNESCO procedures in contracting for consultant services for the reorganization of the education sector of UNESCO was a hot topic at the recent UNESCO Executive Board meeting in Paris. The problems resulted in the resignation of the Assistant Director General for Education, who was at the time the highest ranking U.S. citizen in the Secretariat. Ambassador Oliver described the action of the U.S. delegation to the Executive Committee in joining with other delegations to demand the reform and improvement of UNESCO's administrative systems so that such problems would not occur in the future. She did not describe, as others have done in private, the success of the team she led in limiting the damage to the interests of the United States resulting from the situation. The Executive Board issued instructions with the full approval of the Director General, that the reforms of the Education Sector would go forth to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its programs.

The attendance at the National Commission meeting of Deputy Director General Barbosa indicated both the concern for UNESCO leadership has for the role of the United States in that organization and the importance UNESCO places on the National Commissions. In his remarks, he recognized the worldwide importance of the leadership provided by the educational, scientific, cultural, and communications communities of the United States and thus their roles in UNESCO. He and Ambassador Oliver both were enthusiastic about the reform that makes the medium term strategy for the next six years a rolling strategy, to be less rigid than in the past. He also described the importance of upcoming efforts to finalize the plan and budget for the next two years, and the follow-on work to develop detailed implementation arrangements for that plan.

The misfit between UNESCO's huge global responsibilities and its very limited resources continues to be a problem. In three of the last four biennium, there were zero growth budgets; only with the return of the United States to membership in UNESCO in the last eight years was there a significant increase in available resources. Unfortunately, the National Commission did not see fit to advise the U.S. government to change its position which still supports an inadequate budget for UNESCO.

The United States has increased its extrabudgetary contributions to UNESCO. In private conversation with Ambassador Oliver she acknowledged how important those contributions are in encouraging UNESCO into programs and projects deemed important by the United States. Still, the U.S. extrabudgetary contributions are much less than would be expected given the economic power of this nation, and indeed are much less than those of some other countries.

The Secretariat of the National Commission reported some success in finding qualified U.S. citizens for UNESCO employment, especially in finding suitable candidates for the young professional program, several of whom were hired. It also reported on the success of efforts to link the U.S. with UNESCO's programs, most notably the literacy initiative associated with first lady, Laura Bush.

Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte gave a strong keynote address, not only formally stating the importance the United States government gives to UNESCO, but symbolizing that fact through his presence and his obvious knowledge of UNESCO programs and their importance.

In short, this was another successful meeting of the National Commission. The State Department staff who organized the event are to be congratulated. Georgetown University provided great facilities for the meeting.

Winners of World Heritage Photo Contest

Third Prize Winner: Saint Catherine Area, Egypt
Photo by John Deaton
World Heritage inscribed 2002

Friends of World Heritage has announced the winners of its contest for the best images of World Heritage sites. A panel of judges—including experts on photography, responsible tourism, and World Heritage preservation from National Geographic,, UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Mexico Tourism Board, Solimar International, Expedia and the UN Foundation—reviewed nearly 600 photographs of World Heritage sites located in more than 70 countries, submitted by avid travelers to select the winners.

Friends of World Heritage is an initiative of UNESCO's World Heritage Center,, and the United Nations Foundation.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Launch of UNESCO's World Centre for Language Documentation

Debbie Garside, CEO, WLDC

The World Language Documentation Center (WLDC), to include world-renowned experts in language technologies, linguistics, terminology standardization, and localization, was officially launched on 9 May 2007 at the offices of UNESCO in Paris.

The WLDC promotes multilingualism in cyberspace and the maintenance and sustainability of information about the languages of the world.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will hold its annual meeting on:

Monday, May 21
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

at the

Marriott Georgetown University Conference Center and Hotel,
3800 Reservoir Road, NW
Washington, DC.

The theme of this year's annual meeting is "UNESCO as Capacity Builder: Pursuing its mandate through Education, the Sciences, Culture and Communications."

The keynote address
will discuss the Department of State's Strategic Plan and Transformational Diplomacy Plan as it relates to IO and UNESCO.

The meetings will be open to the public, and those who wish to attend should contact the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO (202-663-0026;

Click here for the Agenda for the meeting.

Click here for more information on the meeting.

Click here for Directions to the Conference Center.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

May 21st is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development!

In celebration of the day, UNESCO will will bring together about forty experts from the academic community, notably with philosophical, history, anthropological, political science, history of religions and cultural studies backgrounds as well as representatives from intergovernmental and non governmental organizations. The meeting, organized by UNESCO in cooperation with ALECSO, aims at translating into concrete policy proposals the principles of cultural diversity and inter-cultural dialog, based on a critical analysis of the terminology used among the intellectual community and policy-makers.

Climate Change

Climate change is of concern to UNESCO, and UNESCO programs are helping to monitor climate change and protect world heritage sites from dangers imposed by climate change.

The UNESCO Global Climate Change Monitoring Program
UNESCO's network of Biosphere Reserves is set to have a new role - monitoring global climate change. Out of the 408 biosphere reserves in 94 countries, 138 are in mountain areas. And mountains are proving to be extremely sensitive to global warming. Melting glaciers have recently unleashed deadly mudslides, rare ecosystems are threatened, and a lack of snow is crippling economies that depend on winter tourism. While the data from these sites will enable scientists to draw a more accurate picture of global climate change, those data may also help to avoid or ameliorate catastrophes when hazardous conditions develop. In a partnership with the Mountain Research Initiative (MRI), the International Human Dimensions Program on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), UNESCO is selecting biosphere reserve sites from each of the major mountainous regions of the world as the focus for this new global climate change monitoring program. And in addition to its assessment of environmental impacts, the program will also see how global change is affecting the socio-economic conditions of mountain people. UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura is to announce this initiative when he addresses the Global Mountain Summit, due to open in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) on October 29, the culminating event in the International Year of the Mountain.

UNESCO Case Studies on Climate Change and World Heritage
The report features 26 examples - including the Tower of London, Kilimanjaro National Park and the Great Barrier Reef - case studies that are representative of the dangers faced by the 830 sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. "The international community now widely agrees that climate change will constitute one of the major challenges of the 21st century," says the Director-General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, in his Foreword to the publication, calling for "an integrated approach to issues of environmental preservation and sustainable development." The publication, intended to raise awareness and mobilize support for heritage preservation, is divided into five chapters that deal with glaciers, marine biodiversity, terrestrial biodiversity, archaeological sites, and historic cities and settlements. One issue identified is the melting of glaciers around the world, which is affecting the appearance of sites inscribed for their outstanding beauty and destroying the habitat of rare wildlife species such as the snow leopard, in the Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal. These changes could also have disastrous effects on human lives with flooding resulting from glacial lake outbursts threatening human settlements. The establishment of monitoring and early warning systems and the artificial draining of glacial lakes are recommended to help avoid disasters.

World Information Society Day

May 17, 2007

World Information Society Day is celebrated each year on 17 May to raise awareness of the possibilities that the Internet and other information and communication technologies can bring to societies and their economies.

Click here to visit the UNESCO World Information Society Day website.

Click here to visit the International Telecommunications Union World Information Society website.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

World Heritage, Unesco, and the USA

World Heritage project has reached many people's lives around the world and gained positive recognition among member states and their citizens. However, the project also brings an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, the nations are the sovereign units within the UN system. On the other hand, foreign organizations and states try to control soils within a nation's sovereign territory. In this respect, World Heritage project poses challenges to the United States.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Contribution of Higher Education to National Education Systems: Current Challenges for Africa

Second Regional Research Seminar for Africa

The Contribution of Higher Education to National Education Systems:

Current Challenges for Africa

22-24 March 2007
Accra, Ghana

The Regional Scientific Committee for Africa chose "The Contribution of Higher Education to National Education Systems: Current Challenges for Africa" as the theme of its second research seminar, organized in cooperation with the Association of African Universities (AAU), the University of Ghana, Legon and the UNESCO Office in Accra.

Education and health -- UNESCO Conference in Germany

Towards Sustainable Global Health

Bonn, Germany

9 to 11 May 2007.

How can education promote health in the classroom and the workplace? Particular focus will be given to technical and vocational education and training and the use of workplaces as a route and means for education. Themes will include HIV and AIDS preventive education, workplace hygiene and occupational health and safety. Through this conference, UNESCO-UNEVOC and its partner organizations aim to involve politicians, institutions and the private sector in an exchange of knowledge and best practices.

A giant step towards Education for All

The launch of Partnerships for Education (PfE) was announced by UNESCO and the World Economic Forum in Brussels, Belgium, on 2 May.

PfE is a major global alliance for education based oan unprecedented collaboration between governments, the private sector, international organizations and donors to meet the goal of providing education for all (EFA) by 2015.

UNESCO and the World Economic Forum (WEF), through its Global Education Initiative, are among the main organizations leading the partnership, along with the EFA Fast-Track Initiative and corporate partners: AMD, Cisco, Intel Corporation and Microsoft.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Towards Wise Societies

In the preparations for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), UNESCO called for an emphasis to be placed not on the Information Society, but on the Knowledge Society. That was the genesis of its report titled Toward Knowledge Societies.

UNESCO staff felt that WSIS was too likely to be a conference about connectivity. More important issues than the availability of information involve the quality of that information, whether it is internalized, what is learned, and how that learning is put to use. The focus on Knowledge Societies was an improvement.

I have been thinking about UNESCO a great deal, and it occurs to me that the founders of that organization were thinking "towards wise societies". The world had just emerged from World War II, and people everywhere understood that society had to be wise enough to avoid another world war, one that would be fought with nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. The more farsighted among the leaders recognized that the inequities in the world distribution of power, wealth, income, and knowledge were unwise.

UNESCO was created with a unique mission and structure. It was to focus on the minds of men. Education was and remains a central focus of the organization. So too were the sciences. For Americans, it is not always clear what UNESCO means by the sciences, for they include not only the natural sciences and the social sciences, but the human sciences. That latter term reflects French thinking, and includes in the mission of UNESCO what Americans tend to think of as the humanities. Thus history and philosophy were and are key areas of concern for UNESCO. UNESCO's mission also included culture, again a field misunderstood by many Americans who think of "high culture" involving art, music, drama, literature, and dance. UNESCO does include these fields, and they clearly are critically important in determining our understanding of life and how to act. However, UNESCO also deals more holistically with culture, using a definition such as that employed by social scientists to include the entire body of knowledge and institutions that define a people or a society. Finally, UNESCO includes communication and information in its mandate, perhaps reflecting the early influence of William Benton, the advertising genius and State Department official who later became a U.S. Senator. UNESCO recognizes the need for libraries and a strong global information infrastructure, for book publishing and an intellectual property rights regime which encourages expression, as well as militating for freedom of expression everywhere.

If you think about this mandate, it is a mandate to work to make nations and peoples act more wisely!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Building Partnerships for the Knowledge Society

I attended a presentation on this topic today by Abdul Waheed Kahn, the Assistant Director General of UNESCO for Communication and Information. Dr. Kahn is responsible for the newest, and one of the smallest sectors of UNESCO -- a sector that was created only in 1990. Of course, UNESCO's interests in information and communication technologies extends back to the origins of the organization in the 1940's, but with the Information Revolution, it has grown stronger.

The meeting was sponsored by the State Department and UNESCO, and was attended by several member of the National Commission for UNESCO, as well as members of civil society organizations. The U.N. Foundation provided the facilities for the meeting, in their elegant headquarters at 1800 Massachusetts Ave.

The Assistant Director General was able to stop in Washington on his return from Medellin, Colombia, where he had attended the activities in honor of World Press Freedom Day. He mentioned that each year the Guillermo Cano Prize is given to a reporter who has led in the battle for press freedom (and each year, UNESCO angers the home government of that reporter, which had usually tried to suppress press freedom.

Dr. Kahn stressed that UNESCO is a very strong advocate of Freedom of the Press, and indeed informed the leaders of the World Summit on the Information Society that WSIS would be considered a failure by UNESCO if it did not proclaim the importance of freedom of the press. UNESCO succeeded in making WSIS about building knowledge societies, and not simply a meeting about increasing connectivity. It has been given the responsibility as lead agency in many of the follow-up programs of WSIS.

Dr. Kahn mentioned programs managed under his authority:
* The International Program for the Development of Communications, and

* The Information for All Program
In the new biennium, the Communication and Information program may devote as much as 22 percent of its budget to inter-sectoral efforts, such as ICT for Education the applications of ICT to science.

The ADG said that he would put his power point presentation on the Internet soon.

I was impressed by Dr. Kahn's acknowledgment of the primacy of education among UNESCO's program. As the former head of the world's largest university, he should of course value education. He stressed the importance of ICT in making education affordable and accessible through distance education. He also underlined the importance of the technology in making education available to the 10 percent of the world's population suffering from disabilities of one kind or another.

Dr. Kahn was exceptionally sensitive to the problems of maintaining cultural diversity in the face of homogenizing forces unleashed by new technologies and globalization. He emphasized the cultural dimensions of UNESCO's mission of building the defenses of peace first in the minds of men.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

New Edition of the NatCom Newsletter

Comments from the Executive Director:
The first part of 2007 has been particularly productive for the United States and its involvement with UNESCO. As you will see, the articles in this issue clearly demonstrate the high level of participation in two of our priorities - literacy and water. In addition, we are pleased to see the progress of the development of the U.S. World Heritage Candidate List, the success of the L'Oreal Women in Science Awards Program, and the honoring of the 200th anniversary of the end of the transatlantic slave route. Finally, enjoy the article about "A Celebration of Jazz", a well-attended event that took place immediately prior to the Executive Board, and hosted by our Mission. Here in Washington, the attention of the Commission Secretariat is now focused on preparations for our upcoming 3rd Annual Meeting, to be held May 21-22, in Washington DC. The theme of the meeting is "UNESCO as Capacity Builder: Pursuing its Mandate through Education, the Sciences, Culture, and Communications".
Click here to read the newsletter online.
Volume 3, Issue 1, January/February/March/April 2007


"U.S. Fights Off Bid to Punish UNESCO Official"

Read the full article subtitled "Former Congressman Accused of Giving 'Preferential Treatment' on Contract to Chicago Firm" by Colum Lynch in The Washington Post of May 6, 2007.
The United States and its key allies last week fended off a campaign by developing countries to discipline UNESCO's highest-ranking U.S. official, Peter Smith, a former Republican congressman from Vermont. Smith resigned in March after an audit found he granted "preferential treatment" to a Chicago-based consulting firm that received $2.15 million in contracts -- often without competitive bidding.

The move placed the United States -- which has long called for greater transparency and accountability at the United Nations -- in the awkward position of opposing an initiative to improve accountability and fiscal integrity in the global body. Louise Oliver, the U.S. representative to UNESCO, recently told foreign delegates it is time to put the matter to rest and implement reforms Smith put in place before he left the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

The UNESCO Thesaurus

The UNESCO Thesaurus is a controlled and structured list of terms used in subject analysis and retrieval of documents and publications in the fields of education, culture, natural sciences, social and human sciences, communication and information. Continuously enriched and updated, its multidisciplinary terminology reflects the evolution of the Organization's programs and activities.

The UNESCO Thesaurus contains 7,000 terms in English and in Russian, 8,600 terms in French and in Spanish.

The UNESCO Thesaurus is also available on CD-ROM.

Comment: A thesaurus, such as the UNESCO Thesaurus, is required for the definition of key words to describe documents in a library of data base. It imposes a hierarchical structure on fields of knowledge. Colleagues who know about such things tell me that the UNESCO Thesaurus is the gold standard in the fields it covers, and is used all over the world. JAD

Cultural Property: International Conventions and United States Legislation

Read the full 2004 report of the Congressional Research Service.


The looting of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, initially described as a devastating blow to the world's cultural heritage, has raised interest in measures to protect cultural patrimony. While more recent reports revealed that the loss of museum holdings had been exaggerated, the damage continues to be assessed as significant. There is broad international consensus that antiquities and art deserve special protection from the ravages of war, as is codified in the 1907 Hague Regulations, the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and the 1954 Hague Convention. Other agreements address protection of world heritage from pilfering and smuggling, including conventions drafted under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT). However, there is no international consensus on the most appropriate and effective means of providing protection. U.S. law to prevent the illicit "black market" trade in art and antiquities imposes both civil and criminal sanctions on art thieves, looters, and smugglers. This report describes relevant treaties, U.N. Security Council Resolution 1483, current U.S. law, and proposed legislation, including H.Con.Res. 113, the Iraq Cultural Protection Act (H.R. 2009 and H.R. 3497), and the Emergency Protection for Iraqi Cultural Antiquities Act of 2004 (S. 1291 and S. 671, the latter of which has passed the Senate as an engrossed amendment to H.R. 1047, the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2004). The report will be updated as events require.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Resources for National Commissions

National Commissions and UNESCO's staff
© UNESCO/Michel Ravassard

National Commissions play a crucially important role, linking UNESCO with the educational, scientific, cultural and communications and information communities in member states. They also help those communities articulate their interests and concerns so that they may be expressed by their governmental representatives in UNESCO's governing bodies.

In light of this importance, UNESCO provides a number of resources to help National Commissions. These include:
* Learning from One Another: Four Pilot Inter-regional and Sub-regional Projects

* Charter of National Commissions for UNESCO

* Good Practices of National Commissions for UNESCO: A Compendium

* Architecture of National Commissions

The Role of the National Commission for UNESCO

National Commissions for UNESCO are intended to play a major role in UNESCO's activities.

A letter from UNESCO's Director General to Ministers of the member states in charge of relations with UNESCO which states in part:
I have regularly drawn the attention of the Member States to the importance and further potential of the network of National Commissions for UNESCO.

A unique network within the United Nations system, National Commissions now emerge as central actors whose comparative advantage as a catalyst for mobilizing civil society in support of democracy and social inclusion can be put to much greater use through their multiple roles in UNESCO's programming, visibility, outreach to partners and decentralization.
Another UNESCO document notes the expansion of the role of national commissions over the decades since UNESCO's creation:
* 1945: The UNESCO Constitution (Article VII): a unique creation, result of a compromise
The UNESCO Constitution stipulates that the National Commission shall act in a consultative and liaison role (Article VII). They are the only UNESCO partners mentioned in the Constitution, apart from the Member States from which they emanate.
* 1966: Resolution 14C/5.21: expansion of the field of action
At its 14th session in 1966, a new role was recognized to National Commissions as information and execution organs. The General Conference, through Resolution 14C/5.21, invited Member States "to make increasing use, within the framework of their national legislation, of the National Commissions as advisory, liaison, information and executive bodies at the national level".
* 1978: Adoption of the Charter of National Commissions for UNESCO: respective attributions of the Member States and the Secretariat
The Charter of National Commissions for UNESCO, adopted by the General Conference at its 20th session in 1978, confirms the functions of the National Commissions in the elaboration, execution and evaluation of UNESCO programme activities. The Charter also defines the responsibilities of the Member State vis-à-vis its National Commission and of the Secretariat vis-à-vis the National Commissions as a whole.
* 1989: Resolution 25C/15.212: the world is becoming more complex; the National Commissions must undertake more
An important turning point the General Conference at its 25th session, considered that "UNESCO [would] have to respond to new challenges and for that purpose call increasingly upon National Commissions, which will have greater responsibilities".
The key documents are contained in Legal Texts on the National Commissions for UNESCO.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Global alliance 'to educate all'

Businesses, international organizations and governments are joining forces to provide education to all children by 2015. As the World Economic Forum and UNESCO announced the 'Partnerships for Education', Global Campaign for Education (GCE) criticized world leaders for not delivering their promises to fund basic education for every child. In the GCE-produced 'league table', USA ranks at the bottom, along with Italy, Germany and Japan.

Annual Meeting of The U.S. National Commission For UNESCO

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will host its annual meeting on Monday, May 21 and Tuesday, May 22, 2007 at the Marriott Georgetown University Conference Center and Hotel, 3800 Reservoir Road, NW in Washington, DC.

The theme of the conference is "UNESCO as Capacity Builder: Pursuing its mandate through Education, the Sciences, Culture, and Communications."

The Commission will have a series of informational plenary sessions and subject-specific committee breakout sessions on Monday, May 21, and the morning of Tuesday, May 22. The Commission will meet in plenary session to discuss its recommendations on Tuesday, May 22, 2007, from 1:45 PM until 4:00 PM.

The meetings will be open to the public, and those who wish to attend should contact the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO (202-663-0026; no later than Wednesday, May 16th, for further information about admission, as seating is limited.

Educational Specialists Discuss UNESCO’s Literacy Initiatives

In celebration of Education for All Week, Dr. Perri Klass, a medical director of Reach Out and Read; Anita McBride, an assistant to the president and chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush; and Russ Whitehurst, director of the Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences, participated in an April 26 Webchat on global literacy initiatives.

Read the full State Department transcript of the webchat.

The New Edition of the UNESCO Courier is Out

Read the fourth edition for 2007 on the theme

Control of the media has always been a temptation. Repressive regimes without a free press go to extreme lengths to silence journalists. New media are harder to control than traditional media, but so is the quality of the information they put out.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

DoE International Affairs Office UNESCO Website

Check out the website of the International Affairs Office of the U.S. Department of Education devoted to UNESCO initiatives!

The U.S. National Interest and UNESCO

Dick Nobbe, who has served on the U.S. Permanent Delegation to UNESCO, as Deputy Executive Secretary to the the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, in the UNESCO Directorate of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, and as a long time member of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO has provided a copy of this report from 1992.

The report summarizes the importance of UNESCO to U.S. international interests. It is especially interesting in the extensive bibliography it provides on UNESCO, and the list of organizations that have participated in the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO in the past. The report is not only of historical interest, but remains a fine introduction to UNESCO and its importance to the United States.

Read the full report online. (PDF, 4.6 MB)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

Read the new highlight from the Americans for UNESCO website on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

The National Commission is a unique institution, created by Congress so that sixty non-governmental organizations, chosen by the Commission itself, would each appoint a member. Thus 60 percent of the body are not named by the government, but by civil society.

This was once a star studded body, with representatives not only of educational, scientific and cultural organizations, but also members named by the American Federation of Labor/Congress of Industrial Organizations, the national Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers. Meetings were attended by many hundreds of organizations when the National Commission was headed by Milton Eisenhower, and included luminaries such as Pulitzer Prise winning poet and playwright Archibald MacLeish and soon to be Senator William Benton.

Today's National Commission is, I fear, only a pale reflection of that early body. Still, it plays an important role, and may with time regain its strength and status!

In memorium

Thursa Bakey Sanders, 90, who was once personal secretary to Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and playwright Archibald MacLeish, died April 11 at her home in McLean. She had Alzheimer's disease. In 1945, while working closely with MacLeish (who was then assistant secretary of state for cultural and public affairs) and Adlai Stevenson (then a special assistant to the secretary of state), Mrs. Sanders assisted in the creation of the United Nations charter in San Francisco and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization in London.