Thursday, December 31, 2009

Irina Bokova on Climate Change

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova gave an informative briefing on UNESCO's actions with regard to Climate Change during the Copenhagen meeting earlier this month.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Puerto Rico: miembro asociado de UNESCO?

El actual Secretario de Estado ha manifestado que no habrá de continuar las gestiones que llevaba a cabo el pasado Secretario de Estado, para lograr que Puerto Rico ingrese a la UNESCO, como Miembro Asociado. Dichas gestiones son apoyadas por muchas de las principales organizaciones y personalidades de la cultura de país. Lea mas!

The State Department Announces UNESCO Jobs

(AdvDeg: PolicyPlanning/Mgmt; extnsv sr lvl exp; Fr); ADG; $205K Closing date: 01/27/10

DEPUTY DIRECTOR, Office of the Director-General; UN Edu, Sci & Cult Org (UNESCO); (ODG-015); Paris, France
(AdvDeg: SocSci/Law; 10+ yrs int’l exp; Fr); D-1; $177K Closing date: 02/08/10

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Best Wishes

For those readers who are Christians, may today's celebrations by happy, healthy and bright. For others, may you too have a happy, health and bright day!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

EFA Global Monitoring Report Due in January

The 2010 Education For All Global Monitoring Report on reaching the marginalized will be launched at UN headquarters in New York on 19 January, 2010. It will be followed on 20 January by a policy event to be held in Washington, DC. Read more!

Space Looking out for World Heritage

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The German Aerospace Center is collaborating with UNESCO to exhibit Large satellite images of World Heritage Sites. The exhibition 'What a Sight - Space Looking out for World Heritage' is currently being shown at the UN campus in Bonn. This exhibition was also held in Paris, Berlin, Stuttgart, Cologne and Brussels.

Click here to see an online gallery of the 30 satellite images that are presented in the exhibition.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Movie Premiere: Clint Eastwood’s Invictus

The French Premiere of Invictus is being hosted by UNESCO in Paris on 11 January 2010. The objective is to highlight the power of “sport for reconciliation”, and the importance of the fight against racism to the cause of peace and conflict resolution.

This major event is being organized by UNESCO, the United Nations’ lead agency for Physical Education and Sport (PES), in collaboration with Havas Sports & Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures. The film is produced and directed by Clint Eastwood and is based on Nelson Mandela’s life during the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa. The UNESCO Premiere will bring together political figures, UNESCO Champions for Sport and VIPs from the field of sport to celebrate and advocate for the power of “sport for reconciliation”.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

UNESCO Publications -- overview 2008 and 2009

The following resources provide easy to consult information on UNESCO publications issued in 2008 and planned for 2009:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

News About UNESCO Jobs

A number of senior positions in UNESCO are being recruited, reflecting the change in administration of the Organization. The following recruitments, originally to close in December, have been extended to January 27th.

Two other important positions are closing on February 8th:
This should be a good time for those seeking jobs in UNESCO, since a large portion of the Secretariat is at or near retirement age and, since there has been a small increase in UNESCO's budget, their positions should be refilled on retirement of the current occupant.

According to the State Department
UNESCO will not be soliciting applications for the Young Professionals Program for 2010. We do anticipate that the program will restart for 2011 and therefore a new application will be available during the fall of 2010.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

National Commission to hold Telephone Meeting Tomorrow

The Annual Meeting Teleconference will take place on Thursday, December 17.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 10am and last until approximately 1pm. There is a fifteen minute period of time set aside for members of the public to either make comments or ask questions. That portion of the call is scheduled to take place at approximately 12:25pm.

You may still be able to participate by contacting the National Commission secretariat in the Department of State.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

UNESCO TV on YouTube

There are a great many videos available on this website, all officially provided by UNESCO. They appear to be primarily focused on cultural heritage, and they seem to be a few minutes in length each.

The UNESCO Institute for Water Education also has its own TV Channel on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

France24 Interview with Irina Bokova in September

Christianity and Islam in the Context of Contemporary Culture

This publication presents the results of a joint international research project with the aim of providing a systematic cross-cultural analysis of fundamental problems and actual perspectives of interfaith dialogue between Christianity and Islam, as seen from the perspectives of Russia and Lebanon.

Number of pages: 288p
Published by UNESCO
Publication date: December 2009

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Art in the defense of peace

This video shows the winner of "Ukraine’s Got Talent", Kseniya Simonova, 24, drawing a series of pictures on an illuminated sand table showing how ordinary people were affected by the German invasion during World War II. Her talent is mesmeric to watch.

UNESCO seeks to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men, and if you wonder how the arts can contribute to that process, this is the answer.

Climate change seeps into the fabric of world heritage

Edinburgh is a heritage gem,
but will climate change kill its sparkle?

"When world leaders meet in Copenhagen to discuss climate change, one aspect they are unlikely to touch upon is how it affects world heritage sites. But just because it's not on the agenda, doesn't mean it's not an issue.

"Across the globe, almost 900 cultural and natural gems officially bear the UNESCO World Heritage title. In addition, there are innumerable other sites which have stood the test of time for long enough to be deemed historically valuable.

"As much as ancient architecture and archaeological remains are a source of national pride, they are also a wellspring of worry. Vulnerable to the elements at the best of times, old buildings are potentially at risk from the changing nature of the global climate."

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Jordan Education Initiative wins UNESCO King Hamad Prize

The Jordan Education Initiative (JEI) has won the UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize for the Use of Information and Communication Technologies in Education. The prize was awarded on the recommendation of an international arbitration committee. It was judged best of 39 projects presented by 29 countries.

The JEI was created as part of the Global Education Initiative at the World Economic Forum, and is a large scale public-private partnership to bring information technology to the public school system of Jordan. USAID has provided JEI with $7 million to help expand its program.

UNESCO & Google bring you World Heritage sites via Street View

Director General's Address to the Executive Board

Irina Bokova, the new Director General of UNESCO addressed the Executive Board last week, her first opportunity to do so since her investiture. She previously served as the representative of Bulgaria to the Executive Board and so has inside knowledge of the functioning of the Board.

I quote from her address:
With our fields of competence in education, culture, natural science, social and human sciences, communication and information, combined with our two priorities – gender equality and Africa – we are in a unique position in the multilateral arena, in order:
  • first, to assist in harnessing globalization more in the service of humanity andsustainable development and in attaining internationally recognized developmentobjectives, in particular the Millennium Development Goals;
  • second, to make a difference internationally, and at the national level in particular, through effective high-quality activities in our fields of competence, in which we must play an international leadership role;
  • third, to refine our unique role in the multilateral system, as an Organization that promotes and facilitates dialogue among decision-makers, scientists, the academic world, intellectuals, members of civil society, journalists, spiritual leaders and many others; this must have a definite impact on the overriding goal of our Constitution, which is to construct the defences of peace in the minds of men and women;
  • fourth, to continue to contribute fully to the reform of the United Nations, in particular at the country level, in order to highlight our capability to meet the Member States’ priorities and demands.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

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

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will host its Annual Meeting on Thursday, December 17, 2009, from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Eastern Time by telephone conference.

The meeting will have a series of subject-specific reports and allow for brief question and answer periods. The Commission will accept brief oral comments or questions from the public or media during a portion of this approximately three-hour conference call. The public comment period will be limited to approximately 15 minutes in total, with two minutes allowed per speaker. Those who wish to present oral comments or listen to the conference call must make arrangements with the Executive Secretariat of the National Commission by December 14, 2009.

The National Commission may be contacted via e-mail at, or via phone at (202) 663-0026. Its Web site can be accessed at:

Once Seen As A Model, Iraq Struggles To Rebuild Its Education System

Source: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

"Despite the brutality of its former regime, Iraq was once seen as a model of education in the Arab world. The country boasted some of the region’s highest literacy rates, justifying the Arabic saying, “The Egyptians write, the Lebanese publish, the Iraqis read.”

"Today, up to one-quarter of Iraq's adults are illiterate.......

"International Literacy Day on September 8, which is sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific,and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), is an opportunity to address these issues.

"This year, the UN agency is putting the spotlight on literacy’s importance for civic participation, citizenship, and social and human development.

"The message will be delivered in Iraq, where economic sanctions imposed in the 1990s and six years of occupation and violence have dramatically affected the education system."

Interview with Laura Bush

Recently, CNN Zain Vargee interviewed Laura Bush in Paris where she was attending a UNESCO meeting. I quote from the transcript:

Zain: You're here in Paris, for an important event, you're going to be talking about literacy worldwide. What is your one key message?

Laura: Well, the one key message is how important it is to read and how governments really need to focus their priorities on making sure everybody in their countries can read and that's what UNESCO does. UNESCO is the big U.N. agency that has education as part of its charge and this is the decade of literacy and the decade will be over in 2012 so we've got a lot of work to do to make sure people learn to read between now and then.

Zain: How do you make governments have literacy a priority? Because if you look at Africa, you look at Asia and so many other places around the world, governments have to struggle with so many other things there's corruptions and there's.... how do you do it?

Laura: Well, what UNESCO is trying to do is focus on the 34 most illiterate countries the countries with the highest rates of illiteracy. They have two programs, one is an assessment program, so they will help governments really assess how many people are illiterate who they are, where they are and what they can do to intervene in their lives... and then the other program out of UNESCO is called LEAP and it's an adult literacy program and its an adult literacy program and of course most of the people who are illiterate in the world... and they think... 700 million people who are illiterate I think it is, it's really a lot around the world that are illiterate... Watch the full interview with Laura Bush »

Zain: So it's really a way to put pressure on governments?

Laura: That's right and to help them in whatever way they can, because you're right, the countries with the highest illiteracy are also the poorest, they are the countries with the least capacity to be able to build education systems.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Google and UNESCO announce alliance to provide virtual visits of several World Heritage sites

Sites of outstanding universal value inscribed on the World Heritage List – the Palace of Versailles in France, the historic centre of Prague in the Czech Republic and the old town of Cáceres in Spain, for example – can now be explored online by internet users around the world, thanks to an alliance signed by UNESCO and the international corporation Google.

The agreement makes it possible for internet users to visit 19* of the 890 World Heritage properties via Google’s Street View interface. All the other sites on the List will be shown on the Google Earth and Google Maps interfaces.

*Spain: Santiago de Compostela (Old Town); Old Town of Cáceres; Historic Walled Town of Cuenca; Old City of Salamanca; Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches; Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct; Historic City of Toledo France: Palace and Park of Versailles; Paris, Banks of the Seine Italy: Archaeological Areas of Pompei, Herculaneum and Torre Annunziata; Historic Centre of Siena; Historic Centre of Urbino; Historic Centre of San Gimignano Netherlands: Mill Network at Kinderdijk-Elshout Czech Republic: Holy Trinity Column in Olomouc; Historic Centre of Český Krumlov; Historic Centre of Prague United Kingdom: Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

International Conference on Adult Education

“Today, we are here to demonstrate the power of adult learning and education to ensure a viable future for all. Our goal over the next four days is to take forward the agenda of adult learning and education by securing stronger political recognition of its critical importance for development and agreeing on concrete recommendations to increase its scope and reach,” said the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, at the opening session of the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education in Belem, Brazil on 1 December.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The UNESCO Courier 2009

The 2009 Archives of the UNESCO Courier provides links to all the monthly issues of UNESCO's principle online magazine as well as to three special issues.

World AIDS Day 2009 : “Universal Access and Human Rights” this year's theme

Universal access to prevention and treatment will not be possible “without fully respecting the universality of human rights, regardless of a person’s age, sex, ethnicity, occupation, religious beliefs and sexual orientation,” stresses UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in her message for 1 December, World AIDS Day.

Education: the key to a better future for excluded children.

Director-General of UNESCO Ms Irina Bokova said education was the key to a better future for excluded children. She spoke during a day of events at UNESCO headquarters on November 26 devoted to street children and held to mark the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Ms Bokova said education was not only a universal right but a weapon in the fight against poverty. ‘What can the future offer street children if they are excluded from education. It is by learning reading, writing and mathematics that they can break the vicious circle of misery and take their destiny into their own hands.’

Despite that the U.S. was an active and prominent participant in the decade-long drafting process, we, along with Somalia, remain the only two nations a party to the UN who have not ratified this celebrated document.

Friday, November 27, 2009

UNESCO publishes WSIS Followup brochure

The brochure, entitled Fostering Information and Communication for Development, is a short introduction to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and its follow-up. It presents different aspects and outcomes of WSIS. Read more!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pensez-vous que le monde globalisé menace les cultures nationales ? ... Forum d'Avignon 2009 Irina Bokova.

Shakira Supports Education for All

Singer Shakira has set up the Barefoot Foundation to insure that every child has the right to a quality education. The program already has schools running in Shakira's native Columbia.

I quote from a recent interview:
Education is a right, not a privilege, and we need to treat it that way. Far too often, children who are born poor die poor, trapping too many children in a cycle of despair. Education is the most powerful way to break the cycle. Education affects every aspect of development. Research has shown that access to education increases wages, lowers the risk of disease and decreases the likelihood a child will turn to a destructive violent life. A single year of primary education can increase a girl’s wages by 10 to 20 percent later in life. We cannot possibly hope to thrive as a global community if we continue to turn our backs on the potential and talents of millions of children.

It’s difficult to believe that, in today’s world, 72 million kids don’t have access to any kind of education, and 226 million adolescents don’t attend secondary school. Hundreds of millions who do attend school can’t learn because of inadequate teachers, lack of supplies or empty stomachs.
Shakira is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and honorary chair of the Global Campaign for Education.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The UNESCO Courier: Memory and History

Image source: UNESCO

From the cruel dictatorships of Latin America and Cambodia, the destruction of the Burgundian kingdom, and the Korean enlightenment, to the splendour and intrigues of the Malagasy Empire, the saga of the Kalahari and the constructive failure of the League of Nations – memory and history wend their way through this issue, revealing the extraordinary wealth of the documented heritage of humanity.

This issue of the UNESCO Courier (2009, Number 9) was produced in partnership with UNESCO’s Memory of the World program.

New UNESCO Director-General gives first speech on education and innovation

The new Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, is making her first public speaking engagement at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) taking place in Doha, Qatar from November 16 to 18.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Happy Birthday UNESCO

The Constitution of UNESCO, signed on 16 November 1945. Yesterday Irina Bokova began her term of office as 10th Director General of the Organization. Best wishes to both!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Fall of Icarus

Pablo Picasso painted a huge mural for UNESCO, shown in a thumbnail image above. According to Time magazine (at the time of the unveiling of the mural):
"The painting represents the victory of forces of light and peace over those of evil and death. The skeleton-like figure [center] with black wings is falling through an infinity of blue, like the fall of Icarus, while a female form [left] rises majestically, white and radiant. On the right side of the painting, the three brown figures in repose are the motionless spectators of the drama; they symbolize humanity at peace, contemplating the fulfillment of its destiny.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

World Philosophy Day, 19 November 2009

For this year’s 2009 edition of World Philosophy Day, celebrated since 2005, the Russian Federation is at the honor as a host of the international celebration of the Day, which will take place from 16 to 19 November in Moscow and in Saint Petersburg. Various other activities will also take place at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris as well as in numerous countries in all regions around the world.

Ever since its inauguration as a “Philosophy Day at UNESCO” in 2002 and particularly since its institutionalization in 2005 as a “World Philosophy Day”, this celebration of philosophy has inspired much enthusiasm. With its aim to bring philosophy closer to everyone, academics, students and the general public alike have all shown great interest in this activity that offers new opportunities and space for philosophical reflection, critical thinking and debate.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Confronting the shadow education system: what government policies for what private tutoring?

Mark Bray is Director of UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) and author of a new book, Confronting the shadow education system: what government policies for what private tutoring? He talks to Eduinfo about the global rise of private tutoring and its impact on mainstream schooling and equity in education. More....

Thursday, November 05, 2009

UNA/USA 2010 National High School Essay Contest

This year's National High School Essay Contest on the United Nations focuses on Millennium Development Goal Eight, "Develop a Global Parnership for Development," and asks students to tackle the challenge of promoting development through international partnership. Specifically, MDG 8 has five targets, including:
  • Target 1: Address the special needs of least developed countries, landlocked countries and small island developing states, and
  • Target 5: In cooperation with the private sector, make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications
The U.S. engages with the international community through a numberof organizations. While many of these are economic institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, U.S. participation also extends to a number of agencies with broader goals. Organizations like the Organization of American States and the Arctic Council promote regional cooperation, while such institutions as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Interpol ensure that no part of the globe is beyond the rule of law.

UNESCO, another intergovernmental organization seeks to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men through education, science, culture and communications. The United States played a critical role in its development and today it involves people from many of the intellectual communities of the United States in its programs. UNESCO has thematic interest in small island states and has played a key role in the field of information and communication technologies in development.

Students are asked to write a letter to the President of the United States answering the following questions:
1. How can the U.S. build an international system that promotes good governance, development, and poverty reduction?
2. How can the U.S. promote sustainable development and economic growth in developing countries?

UNESCO is recruiting a new senior staff

UNESCO has published the announcements of the competitive recruitment of the following posts:

Serra da Capivara

The Serra da Capivara National Park in Brazil is a World Heritage site.
Many of the numerous rock shelters in the Serra da Capivara National Park are decorated with cave paintings, some more than 25,000 years old. They are an outstanding testimony to one of the oldest human communities of South America.
Here is a nice video from YouTube on the site.

For those who are willing to deal with narration in Portuguese, this is also a very nice video on the Hill of the Capivara World Heritage site:

Brazil is now to join China and Bahrain as the third country to have a UNESCO authorized center for training of people to manage World Heritage sites.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

UNESCO pays tribute after death of anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss

The world has lost one of its greatest thinkers with the death of Claude Lévi-Strauss, the head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said today, as he paid tribute to the renowned anthropologist.

Mr. Lévi-Strauss was “one of the giants of the 20th century,” said Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO Director-General, in a statement issued from the agency’s headquarters in Paris following the announcement of the Frenchman’s death at the age of 100.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Top Obama administration Official visits UNESCO

Ambassador Verveer with UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and UNESCO Director-General Elect Irina Bokova at the 7th UNESCO Forum on Gender Equality, entitled “Beijing: 15 Years After.”
©UNESCO/Michel Ravassard.

EFA - Global Monitoring Report 2009

Overcoming inequality: why governance matters

Despite much progress since 2000, millions of children, youth and adults still lack access to good quality education and the benefits it brings. This inequality of opportunity is undermining progress towards achieving Education for All by 2015.

Who are these individuals and groups? What are the obstacles they face? How can governance policies help break the cycle of disadvantage and poverty? What policies work? Is education reform integrated into the bigger picture? Is the international community making good on its commitments?

Full list of GMR 2009 resources

Sunday, November 01, 2009

UNESCO: Virtual campus for Iraq

The Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has launched a three-year Avicenna Virtual Campus project with Unesco to expand access and improve the nation's higher education system.

Three Avicenna centres will be established at the universities of Baghdad, Basra and Salahaddin to link these institutions with others that are part of the Avicenna Virtual Campus in the Mediterranean region. The virtual campus was first created by the European Commission and Unesco and now has centres in 14 countries.

Photoshelter: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Photoshelter is a cooperative project making available digital photos via the Internet. It has made available a number of photos of World Heritage sites in Asia that are worth your interest.
Asia has many UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Luang Prabang, Hoi An and Penang are special for the blend of architecture that has been preserved there. My Son, the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and Angkor Wat are all well known for their history, archeological discoveries and ruins. Toshogu Shrine in Nikko is special for its unique design, as is Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok - one of the largest royal compounds in Asia. Japan is particularly rich in these protected sites, especially Kyoto.

"U.S. Conservatives Attack UNESCO's Sex-Ed Guidelines"

Sex-education and self-awareness classes are held for young women and girls in the sprawling Kibera slum in Nairobi
Time magazine has published an article by Bruce Crumley (September 3, 2009) on the controversy that was created by a UNESCO publication suggesting guidelines for sexuality education in its member nations.
Any attempt to decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies and slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV around the world has to be a good thing, right? That's what the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) thought. But now it finds itself under fire from American conservatives for proposing a new set of guidelines on sex education in schools as a means of helping young people avoid potentially dangerous sexual activity.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Día de Muertos

El Día de Muertos es una celebración mexicana de origen prehispánico que honra a los difuntos el 2 de noviembre, comienza el 1 de noviembre, y coincide con las celebraciones católicas de Día de los Fieles Difuntos y Todos los Santos.

En ceremonia llevada a cabo en París, Francia el 7 de noviembre de 2003 la UNESCO distinguió a la festividad indígena de Día de Muertos como Obra Maestra del Patrimonio Oral e Intangible de la Humanidad. La distinción por considerar la UNESCO que esta festividad es:
"...una de las representaciones más relevantes del patrimonio vivo de México y del mundo, y como una de las expresiones culturales más antiguas y de mayor fuerza entre los grupos indígenas del pais."
Además en el documento de declaratoria se destaca:
"Ese encuentro anual entre las personas que la celebran y sus antepasados, desempeña una función social que recuerda el lugar del individuo en el seno del grupo y contribuye a la afirmación de la identidad..."
además de:
"...aunque la tradición no está formalmente amenazada, su dimensión estética y cultural debe preservarse del creciente número de expresiones no indígenas y de carácter comercial que tienden afectar su contenido inmaterial."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

UNESCO World Report Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue,

After years of preparation, UNESCO has issued is second World Report. This major report focuses on Culture, but is a product of the entire UNESCO Organization and all of its programs.


Key figures:

Estimates set at 6,000 to 8,000 the number of languages in the world today, which – although one language does not necessarily correspond to one culture (several cultures can speak the same language, and in one culture different languages may be spoken) – gives an idea of cultural diversity.

There are many imbalances in the global trade of creative products: Africa’s share remains marginal (at less than 1% of exports), despite its abundance of creative talent.

Most of the 75 million children who did not go to school in 2006 (55% of whom were girls) were from cultural ‘minorities’, indigenous populations or nomads.

Half of the languages in the world are spoken by linguistic communities of less than 10,000 people.

While in 2000 53% of Internet users were English-speaking their number fell to 29% in 2009.

Developing countries’ exports of cultural and media equipment increased rapidly between 1996 and 2005, growing from US$51 billion to US$274 billion, which showed the emergence of so-called “counter-flows”, which are countering the extreme concentration of media ownership.

Crafts and tourism are a major source of revenue for developing countries: crafts production and tourism represent more than 25 % of the GDP of Morocco, for example.

Fair trade has grown rapidly, by an average of 40% over the last five years.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

UNESCO DG Irina Bokova at Women's Forum Global Meeting 09

U.S. Multilateral Engagement: Benefits to American Citizens

“…the time has come for the world to move in a new direction. We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and our work must begin now.”
President Barack Obama

The United States is deeply engaged with the United Nations and other international organizations to promote U.S. national interests. While most Americans are familiar with U.S. leadership at the United Nations as part of the Security Council and as a leading voice in support of human rights, economic development, and humanitarian relief, fewer Americans are aware of the many benefits that stem from U.S. engagement with the many technical and specialized international organizations.

Read the State Department Fact Sheet!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Elizabeth Kelley-Kanick Named Executive Director

Elizabeth Kelley-Kanick has been named the new Executive Director of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. She was formally the Administrative Director in the Office of Senator Hillary Clinton.

New UIS projections on teacher shortages

The UIS has released a new series of projections to help governments better gauge future needs for primary education teachers.

Across the world, countries are committed to reaching the goal of Universal Primary Education (UPE) by 2015. The UIS has identified the countries that need to expand their teaching forces in order to be able to enrol all primary school-age children by this target date. According to UIS estimates, 96 out of 195 countries will need at least 1.9 million more teachers in classrooms by 2015 than in 2007.

The projections by the UIS indicate that 27 out of 45 countries in sub-Saharan Africa face a critical teacher gap. In these countries, 2.6 million teachers were in the classrooms in 2007. This number must grow to 3.7 million in just eight years to meet the UPE goal. This means that for every two teachers teaching in 2007 in the region, there must be three in 2015.

Consult the UIS projections:

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dream for the future

“It is my dream to nurture relations of perfect synergy between the Director-General and Member States, so as to move together towards the creation of societies that are more just and prosperous, based on knowledge, tolerance and equal opportunity for all, thanks to education, science, culture and access to information. I shall be guided in my work by my concept of a new humanism for the 21st century.”
Irina Bokova, the newly elected Director General of UNESCO

Friday, October 16, 2009

Irina Bokova elected Director-General of UNESCO

The 35th Session of the General Conference today elected Irina Bokova of Bulgaria as the tenth Director-General of UNESCO. The investiture will take place in a ceremony on Friday 23 October 2009, when Irina Bokova will become the first woman to hold the post since the foundation of the Organization in 1945.

Monday, September 28, 2009

I am on vacation

and may not be posting for a couple of weeks. Expected time of return about October 12.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Gestionan adhesión de Puerto Rico a Unesco"

Fuente: JOSE FERNANDEZ COLON, The Associated Press via Chron, Sept. 26, 2009

"El fundador del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña informó que emprendió nuevas gestiones para lograr que Puerto Rico se integre a la Organización de Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (Unesco).

"Ricardo Alegría, el gestor cultural de 88 años, declaró el sábado a la AP que 'si somos miembros de la UNESCO, vamos a tener soberanía cultural para que a los intelectuales nuestros se les invite a todas las partes del mundo, igual que a los boxeadores, corredores, beisbolistas y baloncelistas puertorriqueños'."

World Forum on Culture and the Cultural Industries

In cooperation with the Italian Government, the Lombardy Region and the city of Monza, UNESCO held the First UNESCO World Forum on Culture and the Cultural Industriesat the Villa Reale in Monza, Italy from 24 to 26 September, 2009.

Friday, September 25, 2009

World Teachers’ Day, October 5

World Teachers’ Day, held annually on 5 October since 1994, commemorates the anniversary of the signing in 1966 of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers. It is an occasion to celebrate the essential role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels.

Read more!

UNESCO to Open Gandhi Institute for Peace Education in India

UNESCO’s Executive Board approves India’s proposal to set up Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace & Sustainable Development as UNESCO Category-I Institute

India is poised to become the first country in Asia to have an UNESCO Category – I Institute, which will be named Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development. The Executive Board of UNESCO has approved India’s proposal to set up a Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace & Sustainable Development as UNESCO Category I Institute. This approval was accorded by acclamation in the Joint Administrative and Finance Commission of the Executive Board at its 182nd Session which was held on 18th September, 2009. This would be the first Category-I Institute of UNESCO to be established in the Asia Pacific region. At present, there are eleven UNESCO Category-I institutes and except 3 of them, all are located in developed countries and none is located in Asia.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Media Literacy 101: Of Toilets, UNESCO and Demand-Side News

The Eiffel Tower out the window of UNESCO's 13th floor ladies' room.

Susan Moeller has an article in The Huffington Post based on her participation in a UNESCO meeting of those interested in including curriculum in K through 12 education to help kids evaluate what they see in the media. (Moeller suggests that people treated to the views of Paris from UNESCO's headquarters, such as the one above, may tend to feel that they are especially favored.) She sees the long term effort to improve "media literacy" of the public as complementary to the Obama administration efforts to help media news, analysis and opinion sources survive the social transformations being driven by the Internet Revolution. I recommend the article.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Irina Bokova Selected to be new UNESCO Director General

In the fifth round of voting of the Executive Board, the Bulgarian Ambassador to France and Permanent Representative to UNESCO has been selected to be the new Director General. Her nomination must be confirmed by the General Conference in October.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tomorrow is a very important day for UNESCO's future

Tomorrow will be the fifth and final round of voting for the new Director General of UNESCO. The Executive Board has voted four times, reducing the original slate of nine candidates to the final two: Irina Bokova and Farouk Hosny. On the fourth round these two were tied 29 votes to 29 votes -- the 58 countries represented on the Executive Board split down the middle.

Tomorrow will see either the first woman and first citizen of a former Communist nation elected of the first Arab. It is seen as quite important by the international community that high level positions in intergovernmental organizations not be monopolized by any country or cultural group.

The Director General of UNESCO, like the President of the United States, serves a four year term, and can be reelected once and only once. Thus the new UNESCO Director General, who will take office in November (after ratification of the Executive Board Choice by the General Conference in October), may well have a term of office closely linked in time with that of Barack Obama.

For UNESCO, the next few years should be critically important.
  • The benchmarks for the Education for all program and the Millennium Development Goals were set for 2015, and UNESCO should lead the global effort over the next few years to set new global objectives for education.
  • The new international climate convention under negotiation should add new urgency to UNESCO's scientific programs, especially those focusing on understanding water resources, biological diversity and the oceans.
  • The need for UNESCO-moderated, inter-cultural dialog continues to be acute, not only in Africa and the Middle East, but in Asia, between Russia and the West, between the emerging economic powers and the established economic powers, and in Latin America.
  • The Information Revolution continues to underlie global aspirations to achieve a global information society -- aspirations which UNESCO can help member nations realize through its functions as a clearinghouse for ideas and a catalyst for cooperation.
All of these priorities would appear also to be priorities of the U.S. Government, and specifically of the Obama administration.

Irina Bokova is currently the Bulgarian Ambassador to France and to the Principality of Monoco as well as Bulgaria's Permanent Delegate to UNESCO. In this latter role she has gained considerable expertise about UNESCO. She has served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria and early in her career on the Bulgarian delgation to the United Nations in New York. In 1991, after the fall of Communism, Ms. Bokova served as a member of the Constituent Assembly helping to write the new Bulgarian Constitution. She was a founder, and served as Chairperson from 1997 to 2005 of the European Policy Forum, a civil society organization. She has written a number of scholarly publications. Initially educated at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, she was later the recipient of a two year NATO fellowship on democratic institutions, and has studied at the University of Maryland and Harvard University. She speaks English, Russian, Spanish and French as well as her native Bulgarian.

Farouk Hosny is currently the Egyptian Minister of Culture, a position that he has held for some 22 years. Early in his career he served as Egyptian cultural attache in France for seven years. He also served in several roles in the Egyptian cultural program in Rome, including as Director of the Egyptian Art Academy and as Cultural Councelor for the Egyptian embassy. He cites major achievements of the Ministry of Culture during his term of office including development of Pharaonic archaeology, the creation of a new museum and the Library of Alexandria, a nationwide system of local libraries, and a national literacy program. He is an abstract artist whose works have shown internationally. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Alexandria. He speaks Arabic, French, Italian and English (which he describes as "fair")

In contrast to that of Irina Bokova, the candidacy of Farouk Hosny has been very controversial. Two issues have been especially frequently treated in the media (both of which have been denied by Minister Hosny):
  • He has been subject to charges that he holds anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli views. He has stated that he opposes the normalization of Egyptian-Israeli relations that would lead to a restoration of cultural exchanges until progress was made in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
  • There is also opposition based on the record of censorship of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture during his administration.
Both candidates have been campaigning hard. Ambassador Bokova has visited 45 countries, making presentations to senior officials of those nations in company with senior representatives of the Government of Bulgaria. Minister Hosny has been campaigning for two years, with the strong support of his government.

Prior to the irruption of the controversies over Government Hosny, he was thought to be the front runner in the race, in large part due to support of Arab, other Islamic and African nations that had been sought be the Government of Egypt.

In the first four rounds of voting, Minister Hosny's support grew from 22 to 29 votes. In those same rounds, Ambassador Bokova's support grew from 8 to 29 votes. Essentially, as candidates with fewer votes withdrew from the race, most of their supporters went to Ambassador Bokova rather than to Minister Hosny.

The State Department does not announce publicly its votes in United Nations elections since they are to be held by secret ballot. However, it is widely believed that the U.S. delegate has opposed the Hosny candidacy.

John Daly
(The opinions expressed in this posting are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO or any other organization.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Assistant Secretary of State Brimmer at the Human Rights Council

The United States is pleased to join the rest of our colleagues on the Human Rights Council. It is with a sense of mutual respect that we take our place on the Council, next to the friends and partners we will work with to forge common ground on one of the most fundamental roles of the state: to protect and advance human rights.

The charge of the Human Rights Council ties closely to the United States’ own history and culture.

Freedom of speech, expression and belief. Due process. Equal rights for all. These enduring principles have animated some of the proudest moments in America’s journey. These human rights and fundamental freedoms are, in effect, a part of our national DNA, just as they are a part of the DNA of the United Nations.

And yet, we recognize that the United States’ record on human rights is imperfect. Our history includes lapses and setbacks, and there remains a great deal of work to be done.

But our history is a story of progress. Indeed, my presence here today is a testament to that progress, as is the Administration I serve. It is the President’s hope and my own that we can continue that momentum at home and around the world.

Our decision to join the Human Rights Council was not entered into lightly, and was reached based on a clear and hopeful vision of what can be accomplished here. Our vision is not merely made in America, but rather reflects the aspirations embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the mandate of the Human Rights Council itself.


The United Nations and this month’s General Assembly offer us a venue and a forum for nations to work together to live up to that founding charter and abide by and enforce international rules in service of global peace and security.

I have in my office in the State Department a picture of Eleanor Roosevelt, one of my particular heroines, and she is sitting at a desk working on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I’ve said this before, but I think that channeling Eleanor Roosevelt is not a bad idea. (Laughter.) It reminds us of what is at stake as we move forward with our responsibilities, as does Strobe Talbott’s recent book, The Great Experiment. We have to have effective global institutions. That is not a choice. That is an imperative. It is up to us to determine how to make them effective. The United Nations is a building. It is not able to act in the absence of the decisions made by those member-nations. We, in my view, ignore it and walk away from it at our peril, especially in the 21st century, where interconnectiveness gives voice and prominence to views that could have easily been either ignored or marginalized in the past.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton
Speech at the Brookings Institution prior to the opening of the 2009 General Assembly of the United Nations

Friday, September 18, 2009

Esther Coopersmith appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

Esther Coopersmith (right) with
No'a Meridor, wife of the Ambassador of Israel to the United States.
Photo from Diplomatic Pouch, 2007

On 8 September 2009, the Director-general of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, designated Mrs Esther Coopersmith from the United States of America as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for intercultural dialogue. The ceremony took place at UNESCO in presence of the new United States Ambassador, David Killion, his wife and various distinguished guests.


Monday, September 14, 2009

UNESCO Helps Resolve Irish Controversy

Source: The Economist

"UNESCO listed Skellig Michael as a “World Heritage Site” in 1996. Last year it published a report on the island that tried to settle the Irish argument. Its intervention was largely prompted by Michael Gibbons, an independent historian who had asserted that archaeological mistakes were being made there, and were being covered up by a conspiracy of silence.....

"In a Solomonic judgment, UNESCO found that the structures on the South Peak—apparently an offshoot of the monastery, to which monks went for retreat or penance—had indeed been rendered “dramatically different”. UNESCO said Ireland’s Office of Public Works should have opened a broader debate before proceeding with any restoration; but it did agree that some conservation was necessary. The Irish government has followed some of UNESCO’s recommendations, including naming a panel of independent Irish scholars to oversee the site."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The limits of soft cultural power

On the Emei mountain, for example, visitors now see not only a famous Buddha statue, but a series of man-made caves with copies of other Chinese Buddhas—and nearby there is a brand-new statue of Shiva, an unrelated Hindu deity. “You have to peer at the plaque closely to see whether the object in front of you is Han dynasty or 21st century,” in the wistful words of one recent visitor.

Guarding precious and vulnerable places is one of the better things the UN’s cultural agency does—but it may topple over if it stretches too far

Sid Passman sent me a copy of an article from the Economist warning that UNESCO's World Heritage program risks losing its effectiveness, which depends only on the powers of persuasion and publicity, if it continues to increase the number of World Heritage sites, and if it fails to take the strongest available means to encourage countries to protect their sites. The report also cites a report by the IUCN critical of the use of scientific data by the World Heritage Center for the protection of natural World Heritage sites.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Top Seven World Heritage Sites in the United States

What does the Statue of Liberty have in common with the Olympic or Grand Canyon national parks? Well, they were all declared the USA's cultural and natural World Heritage Sites. Among twenty American sites appreciated by UNESCO there are several places of such outstanding beauty or significance that they deserve a separate mention.
Check out the list, then come back here and set the author right in our comment section. How can Yellowstone and Yosemite be left out of the top seven???!!!