Saturday, February 28, 2009

Why is UNESCO the Way it Is?

Michael Abiola Omolewa, President of the General Conference 2003
Photo by Andrew Wheeler © UNESCO

The Problem

Students in our UNESCO seminar are increasingly aware that the Organization has some quirks. For example:
  • UNESCO stresses programs in Africa but most of its staff is in Paris.
  • Its budget is tiny compared to the huge global challenges it faces in education, science, culture and communications.
  • While :Science" was added to the UNESCO Charter almost as an afterthought, there are now both "natural science" and "social and human science" programs; the combined science budget is larger than that for either the education or the culture programs.
  • The social and human science includes sports and philosophy, but not disciplinary programs in economics, sociology, anthropology and the other social sciences.
  • UNESCO is supposed to focused on promoting progress in developing nations, yet it has relatively little focus on promoting the applications of social science knowledge for that purpose, nor on promoting cultural changes that will facilitate such development.
  • While two-thirds of the UNESCO budget comes from assessed contributions, the rest is from extrabudgetary resources which are always hard to predict and which tend to bias efforts away from those directed by UNESCO's governing bodies.
  • The governance is vested in an unwieldy 193 nation General Conference that meets only every other year, but largely delegated to a 58 member Executive Board that also meets relatively infrequently and is also unwieldy.
Moreover, there are other governance bodies for portions of the program, and a couple of score of "Category 2" UNESCO Centers as well as hundreds of UNESCO Chairs which are not funded by UNESCO, nor effectively governed by its governing bodies.

The question comes up, how did the Organization come to be so quirky? One thing is clear. UNESCO is not the result of a rational decision as to how to allocate available resources to best achieve the Organization's mission.

The Charter

Perhaps surprisingly, there is and always has been a considerable effort to keep the Organization's programs closely linked to UNESCO's original charter which focuses the Organization on building the defenses of peace in the minds of men, promoting global efforts in education, science, culture and communications towards that end. (Students in our class have been treated to a lecture by Dick Arndt and Ray Wanner on how that charter was created, and have been provided with readings on the subject.)

The UNESCO Secretariat generally tries to do that which its member nations instruct it to do through UNESCO's governing bodies. It does so with the resources that are available for those purposes. While that is true, that statement does not respond to the fundamental questions about the decision making that resulted in the current structure of UNESCO and the composition of the portfolio of its programs.

Incrementalism and Fit

Clearly, an important factor in UNESCO's design is the niche that it fills within the web of intergovernmental organizations. That web itself has been evolving since World War II. UNESCO is clearly seen as complementary to the United Nations, and is deeply affected by U.N. products such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Millennium Development Goals. UNESCO seeks to work in ways complementary to the efforts of other decentralized agencies such as the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. So too, it seeks to complement the efforts of United Nations programs and funds such as the United Nations Development Program and the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF). It participates in United Nations interagency programs such as the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, and works in the context provided by other United Nations bodies such as the Human Rights Commission, the High Commission on Refugees, the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development and the U.N. Commission on Science and Technology for Development.

UNESCO today is the result of six decades of incremental decision making. Decisions were made at each step that had to take into account the then existing staffing and organization of UNESCO, its existing programs and their importance and degrees of success. Essentially there is a kind of inertia in an organization and a program as large and complex as those of UNESCO.

During this long period there were major trends in international diplomacy that had profound affects on decision making affecting UNESCO. UNESCO's programs evolved from helping to repair the intellectual systems damaged by World War II, to dealing with problems raised by the Cold War, to helping with nation building that followed decolonization, to dealing with the cultural impacts of globalization.


To understand the decisions that have influenced UNESCO one must consider its governing bodies. The delegates to these bodies can be expected to function in predictable ways, forming coalitions, trading votes, etc. UNESCO's General Conference delegations each represent a member nationl each delegation is usually composed of government officials and representatives of the national educational, scientific and cultural communities, often as members of the national commission for UNESCO. The members of a delegation do not always agree on how to promote the interests of the country that they represent; delegations vary in success according to the interests and abilities of their delegations.

Our understanding of legislative bodies, as based on the Congress of the United States perhaps, must be adapted to the special features of UNESCO. American legislators get to know each other well, meeting frequently over a period of years. While the permanent delegates to UNESCO of the member states may get to know each other, most of the delegates to the biennial meetings may not have links to members of other delegations or even know other members of their own delegation well. The U.S. Congress delegates functions to a plethora of committees and subcommittees, each with its staff, which are in continuous operation; UNESCO depends only on its Executive Board, and the Secretariat of UNESCO both supports governance decision making and implements the decisions made.

Decisions made by a government with respect to UNESCO are affected by and affect the position of that government with respect to other agencies. This year a new Director General is to be elected by the UNESCO General Conference on the basis of a recommendation from the Executive Board. Few individual decisions are likely to have more impact on the organization and programs of UNESCO. Several announced and several unannounced candidates are angling for the post. Each will wish for his/her government to use all of its diplomatic means to advance his/her candidacy. However, the governments are concerned with the entire web of intergovernmental organizations and overall foreign policy. In choosing to offer or deny support to their own national they must consider other elections in other organizations. The debts incurred in lobbying for a candidate for UNESCO will generally have to be paid in some other venue at some other time; the favors given to other nations can be redeemed in other elections.

For the outsider, understanding decision making in UNESCO's governing bodies is difficult. The culture of governance of intergovernmental organizations tends to hide processes and disagreements. Public decisions are often made by consensus to project unanimity but only after it becomes clear to the delegates which option is most popular. While insiders in the delegations and ministries of foreign affairs may be very much aware of disagreements, the outside public seldom is.

The Secretariat

If in theory legislative bodies make policy and executive agencies implement policy, in practice executive bodies lobby and use other techniques to influence legislation and extend policy in implementation. In the case of UNESCO, the original planners of the organization -- in the belief that its legislative body would be unwieldy -- designed the Organization with strong powers in the office of the Director General. The eight elected Directors General have left the imprints of many of their decisions on the organization.

Decades of development of management science has revealed that decision making in bureaucracies is decentralized to varying degrees, is often done by committees rather than individuals and is often implicit rather than explicit. Even the explicit decisions are made with limited rationality and incomplete information. The cumulative set of bureaucratic decisions has profound influence on the structure, procedures and culture of the organization, and thus on organizational performance.

In the case of UNESCO, the Secretariat is multinational, multiethnic and multilingual, located in scores of offices spread across the entire world. Educational, scientific, cultural, and communications officials also come from different professional cultures. The come to the organization with different educations, different work experiences, in different countries. Decision making in a bureaucracy so staffed can not be simple.

The Professional Communities

The Man and the Biosphere Program of UNESCO is generally considered to have grown out of the consensus created in a scientific meeting. Similarly, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission is believed to have been created as a result of lobbying by Roger Revelle and other oceanographers. Indeed, the addition of science to UNESCO's charter is attributed importantly to the efforts of Joseph Needham to raise support among an international network of scientists.

These are examples of fundamental decisions affecting UNESCO which came out of the scientific community. Similar examples could be adduced for the other UNESCO programs of initiatives arising from the intellectual community served by the program. UNESCO was specifically designed to serve and link the intellectual communities of its member nations. Indeed, UNESCO's constitution, calling for national commissions drawn from civil society as well as government, is unique and was intended to involve the larger educational, scientific, cultural and communications communities not only in UNESCO's work but also in its governance.

As scientists network internationally via meetings and journals, so too do members of the other UNESCO communities network globally within their own professional communities. Indeed, with improvements in transportation and communications, this networking has become much stronger. Not only do professionals travel more often to international meetings, but journals have proliferated as has their international distribution, and the Internet and other modern communications technologies have resulted in a quantum leap in speed and a radical reduction of costs as compared with snail-mail communication.

Social scientists are improving their understanding of such professional networks. We know something about how their structure influences their behavior. We know that there are individuals who are especially important in communications networks, and that influence and authority are not uniformly distributed within the networks. Social science research is thus helping us to understand how professional leaders, well connected and authoritative within their professional communities, can lead decision making within the educational, scientific, cultural and communications communities.


UNESCO's structure, procedures and programs have thus evolved over time, under the influence of major global trends, based on the decisions made in its member states, its legislative bodies, the bureaucracy of its Secretariat, and its constituent communities. So too, reforms and improvements in the organization will come from decisions made in these arenas through a complex process of negotiation and compromise.

The history of the organization shows that individuals and non-governmental organizations (as well as governments) can have profound influence on UNESCO. Efforts to improve the organization will probably not work well if naively based on simplistic models of rational decision making, but may be quite effective if they are advanced through recruitment of allies, networking, and coalition building.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

International Women's Day 2009

Every year in March, UNESCO celebrates International Women’s Day (March 8) by hosting round-tables, conferences, exhibitions and cultural events that highlight issues relating to the empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Furthering Discussion: Higher Education Preparatory Conference Tackles Challenges

In an encouraging continuation of regional higher education conferences, India is currently hosting the Sub-Regional Conference for South, Southeast, and Central Asia February 25-26 at the Vigyan Bhawan Conference Centre in New Delhi. The meeting brings together officials from 14 countries throughout the region. It is also seen as another important regional step in preparing for the World Conference on Higher Education (WCHE) that will be held in July 2009 in Paris.
This Sub-Regional Conference is sponsored by the Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India, and the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA) in coordination with UNESCO. Entitled"Facing Global and Local Challenges: The New Dynamics of Higher Education," the meeting seeks to promote greater understanding of trends and issues in higher education on regional, national, and global levels. Conference participants will also create a set of recommendations for WCHE.

Source: UNESCO website

The conference will have three main plenaries outlined on the agenda. The first plenary's theme is higher education goals in national development and centers on understanding higher education in the changing context of globalization. The second plenary regarding evolving new agendas in higher education focuses on reforms and new challenges in knowledge management. The last plenary, a panel discussion on higher education in global contexts--approaches and strategies, will touch on many topics related to expansion, reform, and inclusion in furthering the development of higher education. Reports on participating countries will also be given.

More notes on the conference can be found here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Iraq to reopen museum

Source: "Iraq to reopen museum looted in US invasion chaos," SAMEER N. YACOUB, The Associated Press, February 23, 2009.

Iraq's restored National Museum is reopening today.
U.S. and Iraqi officials have said about 15,000 artifacts were stolen from the museum and about 8,500 of those items had been recovered. A number of countries in the region, including Jordan, Syria and Egypt, have returned stolen objects to Iraq......

Up to 7,000 pieces are still missing, including about 40 to 50 considered to be of great historical importance, according to the U.N. cultural body UNESCO.
UNESCO has been of great help to Iraq in ascertaining the damage done during the invasion and its aftermath and helping to mobilize the international community to support the restoration of the museum and its collection. The recuperation of the stolen articles was made possible in large part due to the UNESCO Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

Broken Classical sculpture from Roman gallery, 2003
Source: The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago

Monday, February 23, 2009

UNESCO and Ecomigration

Source: "Climate Fears Are Driving 'Ecomigration' Across Globe," Shankar Vedantam, The Washington Post, February 23, 2009.
There were about 25 million ecomigrants in the world a little more than a decade ago, said Norman Myers, a respected British environmental researcher at Oxford University. That number is now "a good deal higher," he added. "It's plain that sea-level rise in the wake of climate change will inundate the homelands of huge numbers of people."

In Bangladesh, about 12 million to 17 million people have fled their homes in recent decades because of environmental disasters -- and the low-lying country is likely to experience more intense flooding in the future. In several countries in Africa's Sahel region, bordering the Sahara, about 10 million people have been driven to move by droughts and famines.

In the Philippines, upwards of 4 million people have moved from lowlands to highlands as a result of deforestation. And in an earlier era, about 2.5 million Americans became ecomigrants after droughts and land degradation during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s.
Editorial comment: UNESCO has a program utilizing its expertise in education, science, culture and communications to help small island developing states meet their development problems. Climate change will be especially devastating for those states, and UNESCO can help them to deal with the challenge. Perhaps especially relevant will be efforts by UNESCO to help ecomigrants from these states to deal with the cultural impact of their forced migration.

That is not to say that the need for UNESCO services to assist other ecomigrants will be less acute or extensive. An ecomigrant fleeing from desertification in the Sahel will not face lesser challenges than one fleeting from inundation of his island home.

History suggests that when a people are forced into wholesale migration, violence often follows. UNESCO's primary mission is to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men, and doing so in the minds of ecomigrants may be especially important in the prevention of war.

John Daly
(The opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO.)

"U.S. picks 2 potential World Heritage sites"

Source: Rob Lovitt Columns, MSNBC, January 13, 2009.

The two sites nominated are Mount Vernon and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
It’s been 15 years since the U.S. last nominated any sites to be inscribed on the global list maintained by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The last two — Carlsbad Caverns and Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (in conjunction with Canada) — were added in 1995.

Three years ago, though, the Office of International Affairs (OIA) of the National Park Service began developing a new list of candidates for future nomination. Thirty-five applications were submitted, 14 of which were eventually selected for the nation’s new World Heritage Tentative List. That roster will guide U.S. submissions (up to two per year) to the UNESCO list for the next 10 years.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meeting of the International Scientific Committee of the Slave Route Project

This 9th meeting of the Committee took place on 17 and 18 February at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Committee members reviewed the many activities which had taken place in 2007 and 2008 and devoted most of their time to the discussion of a new strategy for the Slave Route Project, to be presented at the Executive Board in April. Professor Michael Gomez was elected to the chairmanship of the Committee. He is on the History faculty of New York University where he specializes in the African diaspora and Islam in West Africa.

The Slave Route Project, launched in 1994, has three objectives, namely to:
• contribute to a better understanding of the causes, forms of operation, issues and consequences of slavery in the world (Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, Middle East and Asia);
• highlight the global transformations and cultural interactions that have resulted from this history; and
• contribute to a culture of peace by promoting reflection on cultural pluralism, intercultural dialogue and the construction of new identities and citizenships.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The UNESCO World Report on Cultural Diversity

The UNESCO World Report on Cultural Diversity is to be published in early September, just in time to inform the General Conference of UNESCO which is to be held in October. This is the second major World Report from the Organization.

The authors aim for the Report "to take stock of all that is being said, thought and done in the name of cultural diversity, and tease out the necessary conditions for diversity to become an asset and not a threat, a source of renewal for public policies in service to development, social cohesion and peace."

An Advisory Committee has been formed to help in the preparation of the Report. It includes one member from the United States: Tyler Cowen, a Professor of economics at George Mason University and at the Center for the Study of Public Choice.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Greg Mortenson: the man who builds schools

The current issue of UNESCO's EduInfo online magazine has an interview with Greg Morenson. Mortenson is an American who has devoted his life since 1993 to building schools in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Starting by selling his car and personal possessions to raise $2,500 dollars, he has created the Central Asia Institute which has built more than 50 schools. Mr Mortenson will receive the Star of Pakistan civilian award from the government of Pakistan in honor of his contribution to the country.

UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development

The UNESCO World Conference on Education for Sustainable Development – Moving into the Second Half of the UN Decade will be held in Bonn, Germany, from 31 March to 2 April 2009.

Organizers of the conference are UNESCO and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in cooperation with the German Commission for UNESCO.

Five years into the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, for which UNESCO is the lead agency, the conference aims to highlight the relevance of ESD to all of education; promote international exchange on ESD.

Memory of the World Program Survey

UNESCO's Memory of the World Program was created to encourage the preservation of the valuable archival holdings and library collections all over the world and to help ensure wide access to their contents. These U.S. contributions have been registered:
The program is currently conducting a survey and is seeking information from library, archives and museum specialists on awareness of the program and how that awareness could be increased.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

2009 World Conference: “The New Dynamics of Higher Education”

The 2009 World Conference to be held from 5 to 8 July 2009 at UNESCO, Paris. The last World Conference on Higher Education was held in 1998 and this year's Conference will provide a forum for review of the changes in higher education that have occurred since that time. The participants will also consider the strategic agenda for the development of higher education policies and institutions in the foreseeable future.
To what extent is higher education today a driver for sustainable development in the national and international context? Does the sector live up to the expectations placed in it to induce change and progress in society and to act as one of the key factors for building knowledge-based societies? How does higher education contribute to the development of the education system as a whole? What are the most significant trends that will shape the new higher education and research spaces? How are learners and learning changing? What are the new challenges for “quality” and “equity”?
Last June a preparatory conference was held on Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean. Conference participants included 25 ministers, deputy ministers and state secretaries; rectors and directors of higher education institutions; in total, there were 3,500 participants from 33 countries. Thus the Paris Conference in July should be very well attended.

The 2009 Conference should be of great interest to universities, community colleges and other institutions of higher education in the United States. Moreover, given the strength and prestige of the U.S. higher education system, the Conference should provide an important opportunity for the Obama administration to make an initiative in public diplomacy.

I am told that in the distant past, the U.S. delegation to such an event might include the presidents of 50 American universities. I also understand that given the change in administration little has been done to date to select the U.S. delegation for July. Given the busy schedules of the key leaders of our higher education system, one hopes that nominations will be made soon.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Student Groups Call for UNESCO Ombudsman

Source: University World News, February 15, 2009.

At a meeting in Paris last month 17 organizations representing students across the globe took part in an official preparatory meeting for the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education to be held in July. Recognizing that student rights are being violated in institutions around the world, the students' groups at the meeting called on UNESCO to establish a global ombudsman's office to tackle breaches of their rights.

Comment: This would seem to be a role for which there is no obvious alternative to UNESCO, but such a role would engage the Organization in controversial confrontations with governments of member states, and would presumably require a substantial commitment of the Organization's resources. Perhaps the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO should consider the costs and benefits of such a role for UNESCO in order to advise the State Department. JAD

Ethiopian policemen look at students demonstrating at a campus of the Addis Ababa university, Ethiopia AFP photo, 6/7/05) via Fettan Archives

"Risk-Based Evaluation of UNESCO’s Capacity to Deliver"

The Evaluation Section of UNESCO's Internal Oversight Service has just published an analysis of the risks perceived by the Organizations leaders as they face the organization's future. The top ten risks that were identified are:
1) The gap between expected and available resources;
2) Uncertainty about future regular budget and reliance on extrabudgetary funding;
3) Complex structure which does not promote intersectoral collaboration;
4) Lack of responsiveness to our clients;
5) Inadequate information and network systems;
6) Insufficient accountability;
7) Incomplete performance-based monitoring;
8) Untimely succession plan;
9) Imbalance between process control and program delivery;
10) Predominance of central services over programs.

Editorial Comment: These risks seem rather bureaucratic to me.
"SINCE WARS BEGIN IN THE MINDS OF MEN, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed."
From the preamble of UNESCO's Constitution
UNESCO was created after World War II. The United Nations, and especially the UN Security Council were created to allow the community of nations to take political action to prevent or limit wars. UNESCO was created simultaneously, with the primary mission of building the defenses of peace in the minds of men. The job of building those defenses is far from complete, and indeed the worsening global financial crisis may bring with it greater likelihood of intra and international wars. Perhaps the greatest risk faced by UNESCO is that it will not be able to make sufficient progress in the current crisis in building the defenses of peace in the minds of men.

I understand the charter of UNESCO, with the inclusion of education, science, culture and communications in its programmatic responsibilities, to include services to help develop the intellectual capacities of the world's societies. While the genesis of UNESCO was in the concerns of the allies to rebuild the educational and scientific institutions destroyed by World War II, decolonization has led to a major emphasis on helping developing nations to build towards "information societies" and indeed toward "knowledge societies".

UNESCO's flagship program in this respect is the Organization's support for Education for All, and that global initiative is surely going to fail to meet its goals set for 2015. Even those ambitious goals fall far short of what is needed to achieve a global community of knowledge societies. Thus there is a great risk that UNESCO will not adequately play the role envisioned by its founders and its member nations in helping to develop the intellectual capacities of the societies of its member nations.

John Daly
(The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO.)

Memory of the World logo competition

Image source: UNESCO

UNESCO has decided to launch an international competition for a new the logo for the Memory of the World Program. The logo should reflect the mandate of the Program which is "to promote, protect and preserve the world’s documentary heritage".

Since the logo will often be shown alongside of the UNESCO logo, the new logo should not repeat elements of the UNESCO logo. The two logos should look good side by side.

Proposals should be sent by 31 May 2009. The winner of the contest will be announced by July 2009 and will receive a monetary award of US $2,000. He/she will also be featured in a special news item on the Memory of the World website.

All rights for the selected logo will be held exclusively by UNESCO.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

International Mother Language Day, 21 February

On February 18th, the Non Aligned Movement (NAM) group at UNESCO will sponsor a forum titled
Autochthonous Languages: cosmovision, globalization, development and peace
Doctor Esteban Magannon, professor emeritus of the national Institute for Languages and Eastern Civilizations (INALCO), from Philipines, and Guatemalan researcher and teacher Jesus Garcia Ruiz will be guests to the event.

The new edition of the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing aims to answer these questions. It will be presented to the press at UNESCO Headquarters on 19 February, on the eve of International Mother Language Day (21 February).

On February 20th, the Design 21 prize will be awarded to the designer of the winning poster for International Mother Language Day.

In honor of the day, let me share with you the most famous poem by my ancestor, Raftery the Poet:
Mise Raiftearaí an file,
Lán dóchas ‘s grá,
Le súile gan solas,
Le ciúnas gan crá…
Féach anois mé
Is mo chúl le balla
Ag seimn ceoil
Do phócaí folamh.

In translation:
I am Raftery the poet.
Full of hope and love.
My eyes without sight,
My mind without torment.

Going west on my journey
By the light of my heart,
Tired and weary
To the end of the road.

Behold me now
With my back to the wall.
Playing music
To empty pockets.
Anthony Raftery, blind from a bout with smallpox as a young boy, lived in Ireland at the and of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries -- the time when English rulers sought to wipe out Gaelic culture and the Gaelic language. His poems were not published during his lifetime, but some survived in the memories of those who heard them, and some were written down by his listeners to be saved. In the Celtic Renaissance at the end of the 19th century the surviving Raftery poems were collected and eventually published. Today Irish schoolchildren learn this poem in schools so they do not forget the Irish language, nor the things that were expressed in it.

John Daly

Friday, February 13, 2009

After EFA: What Next

Last night in our seminar, UNESCO: Agenda for the 21st Century, we conducted a role playing exercise in which the students debated future priorities for the global educational system.

Education for All (EFA) has been the basis for international efforts in education since 1990, complemented by the educational Millennium Development Goals and the Fast Track Initiative. Universal primary education was to be achieved by 2015, with a broader agenda that focused on lifelong learning as well as schooling.

While there has been great progress towards universal primary education, there are many nations which will not achieve that goal. Moreover, the quality of education has often suffered from the expansion efforts, and many observers feel that there is a dramatic need for better education as well as more education. Similarly, there are huge needs for educational opportunities for youths who are out of school, for trade and vocational educational services, for growth and improvement of higher educational systems, for better opportunities for girls' and women's education, for education for the disabled, and for more and better educational opportunities for marginalized groups and for the poor.

My co-coordinator of the course, Frank Method, make the point that there surely should be some global agreement reached on priorities for education after 2015. It will surely take several years to achieve such an agreement. The question was posed: "what can UNESCO do now and in the near future to help the world reach such an agreement, and further, to reach an agreement that will be effective in promoting education worldwide?"

There are a number of things UNESCO can do, including:
  • Continuing the monitoring of EFA so that the negotiations will be based on a clear understanding of what has been accomplished and what remains to be done;
  • Providing a forum for Ministers of Education and others to discuss the issues and opportunities now, before agreements have to be formalized;
  • Supporting educational planning efforts in member countries so that they will enter the negotiation process with a clear picture of their internal priorities and of the potential roles of donors, civil society and the private sector in achieving their educational goals;
  • Networking via National Commissions for UNESCO, Associated Non-Governmental Organizations, University Chairs and Networks and other means to stimulate wide discussion of the future priorities within the global community of educators and those interested in education;
  • Mobilizing and publishing expert advice through seminars and publications; and using the media to bring the matter to the attention of the general public and to promote public interest in the priorities for future efforts to promote education.
It seems likely that a well defined sequel to EFA will help:
  • to stimulate global efforts to improve education, and
  • help governments, donors, NGOs and others to coordinate their efforts to achieve greater efficiency and relevance.
On the other hand such efforts could easily founder by lapsing into platitudinous generalities, by failing to offer enough benefits to the various participants to engender compromise, by failing to recognize the legitimate interests of the key participants, or by degenerating into fruitless controversy over the sources of funding or the locus of control.

The conclusion: UNESCO can and should play a useful role now and in the next few years in helping its member nations to reach a useful accord on the sequel to EFA.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Election of the Director General

A new Director General of UNESCO is to be elected, with the final decision taking place in the meeting of the General Conference in October. The election seems to be heating up. Here are excerpts from two recent articles:

From the Media Line (February 2, 2009):
Controversy continues to follow Egypt’s minister of culture Farouk Hosny as he attempts to build a global consensus for his candidacy as the next chief of the United Nations cultural organization, UNESCO, with Israel and the United States the most outspoken critics of his election......

The United States and Israel have been lobbying against Hosny’s candidacy, arguing that he is not equipped to deal with the international community. The Bush administration allegedly asked Egypt to reconsider the minister’s nomination.

An American Embassy official in Cairo confirmed the Bush administration was opposed to Hosny’s election, saying that his past comments and actions had threatened to undermine international cultural institutions.
From an article by Beth Day Romulo in the Manila Bulletin (February 9, 2009):
Ambassador Irina Bokova, of Bulgaria, is campaigning for the post of UNESCO Director General with a tour of 15 countries, to drum up support for her campaign. In Asia, she will also visit Japan, South Korea and Thailand, then travel to the United States, Moscow and African countries.
From Petar Kostadinov in the Sofia Echo (Bulgaria):

In May 2008, Bulgaria's Government nominated the country's ambassador to France, Irina Bokova, to become Unesco director-general in the place of Koichiro Matsuura, whose term of office expires in 2009.

Bokova has already received the full support of the majority partner in the ruling coalition, the Bulgarian Socialist Party.
From the Penki News (Lithuania) (January 30, 2009):
During his visit to Davos for the World Economic Forum, President of the Republic of Lithuania Valdas Adamkus met with President Ilham Aliyev of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Prime Minister Gillani Syed Yousaf of Pakistan.......

President Adamkus asked for Azeri support to the candidature of Ina Marčiulionytė nominated by the three Baltic states for the position of UNESCO Director General. The issue of support for the Baltic candidature was also brought up in the meeting with the Prime Minister Gillani Syed Yousaf of Pakistan. According to the President, support from Pakistan as a member of UNESCO Executive Council would be highly appreciated in this matter.

Editorial Comment: I have heard rumors that current and former staff members of the UNESCO Secretariat are interested in running, if they can get the support of their governments.

I wonder whether there might be an intellectual leader from Latin America, India or China who might be a better candidate than any of those who have so far announced for the position. Ten years ago there were eleven candidates, so perhaps more will appear.

The time is fairly short for before the deadline for countries to nominate their candidates. For all practical purposes, the decision will be made long before October as the delegates and their governments pledge to support one candidate or the other. JAD

UNITAR Evaluation of Impact of World Heritage

The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) will hold the Hiroshima Management and Conservation of World Heritage Sites Workshop from April 19 to April 24, 2009. The workshop is jointly sponsored with UNESCO's World Heritage Center, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the International Council on Monuments and Sites, and the Getty Conservation Institute.

The 2009 Workshop is entitled “Conservation for Peace - World Heritage Impact Assessment”. It begins the second five year cycle in this program of workshops. There were five previous workshops.

The participants (up to 30) will consist of:
  • Potential or actual heritage site managers;
  • Natural/cultural conservation specialists and trainers;
  • Decision makers and government officers within national World Heritageadministrations such as the Ministries of the Environment, Culture, Forestry, Conservation or Tourism;
  • Representatives of national academic institutions, think-tanks and civil society.


The UNESCO Future Forum will be held on 2 March 2009 at UNESCO Headquarters to reflect on the ramifications of the present financial and economic crisis and their implications for international cooperation in general and in particular for UNESCO’s domains, namely education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.

Click here to download the Power Point presentation created to introduce the topic.

Monday, February 09, 2009

UNESCO and Trade In Higher Education

Some three million people are enrolled in institutions of higher education outside of their own countries. The Internet is transforming distance education, and it seems certain that there will be a dramatic growth in Internet mediated international educational services. While education was traditionally what economists term a "non-tradable" service, it is increasingly an element in international commerce. Indeed, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been the site of negotiations on trade in educational services, including primary, secondary, post-secondary and adult education services, as well as specialized training such as for sports. (These negotiations have been suspended with the suspension of the Doha Round.)

Not surprisingly, UNESCO too plays a role in this evolving system of international education. An important initiative in this respect is the UNESCO Portal on Higher Education Institutions which is intended to help students choose recognized institutions of higher education worldwide. It also publishes Study Abroad, an international guide to higher-education study opportunities and scholarships offered by higher education institutions and international organizations in some 151 countries.

Two aspects of UNESCO's program are describe below:

The UNESCO/OECD forum on trade in educational services
conducted three international meetings early in this decade. The first of these meetings was held in Washington in May of 2002, cosponsored by the U.S. Government Departments of Education and Commerce, the Center for Quality Assurance in International Education (CQAIE, located in greater Washington D.C.) and the U.S. National Committee for International Trade in Education (NCITE). The second meeting were held in November of 2003 in Norway, and the third in 2004 in Australia. UNESCO in collaboration with the OECD has promulgated ‘Guidelines on Quality Provision in Cross-border Higher Education’.

UNESCO Conventions of the Recognition of Studies: A series of regional conventions have been negotiated and deposited with UNESCO by which countries pledge to recognize Studies, Certificates, Diplomas, Degrees and other Academic Qualifications in Higher Education provided by qualified institutions in other signatory nations of the region. (A convention is a multi-party treaty.) Read more...

These conventions in turn have led to the creation of regional bodies which work to facilitate the efforts of nations in the regions to improve the quality of higher education, such as The Asia Pacific Academic Recognition Network (APARNET).

The World Conference on Higher Education will be held 5-8 July 2009 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris.

Celebration of Darwin Anniversaries

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species. Incidentally, 50 years ago there was a centennial edition of the book with an introduction by Julian Huxley (the first Director General of UNESCO, known for his seminal book Evolution: The Modern Synthesis); the centennial edition remains instructive and has been reissued this year in paperback. Huxley came from a distinguished family. His brother was the writer Aldous Huxley, and his half-brother a fellow biologist and Nobel laureate, Andrew Huxley; and his paternal grandfather was Thomas Henry Huxley, a friend and supporter of Charles Darwin and protagonist of evolution.

Down House, Darwin's Home and Workplace from 1842 until his death in 1882 has been on the list of tentative candidates for inclusion in UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites since 1999 and is the nominee of the United Kingdom for 2009.

As part of the commemoration of Darwin's work, UNESCO is sponsoring a series of symposia with the International Union of Biological Sciences. (Read more about the symposia.)

Perhaps the most enduring memorial to Charles Darwin would be the protection of the Galapagos Islands. These have a unique biological diversity, and Darwin's visit to the islands was instrumental in helping him to develop his theory of evolution. The Galapagos Islands have been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1978 and the Galapagos National Park (of Equador) has been a part of UNESCO's global network of bioreserves since 1984. Unfortunately, the Galapagos Islands have been on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in Danger since 2007.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The "Other" Education Programs Of UNESCO

Last week in our UNESCO seminar we discussed the role of the organization in coordinating the Education for All global program. This week we discussed the other sections of the UNESCO education program. The discussion in class raised complex issues that I will address in this posting.

The Components of UNESCO's Education Program

There is a complex education program managed in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, which includes not only the monitoring and support of the Education for All program but also a number of other activities. UNESCO also funds and works through:
  • A decentralized set of six educational institutes and two education centers
  • The UNESCO Institute of Statistics which emphasizes educational statistics (but also works in areas of scientific, cultural and communications statistics)
UNESCO also influences education via programs and activities managed by its
  • 27 cluster offices covering 148 member states,
  • 21 national offices (each serving a single member state),
  • 10 regional bureaus (4 of which -- Nairobi, Beirut, Bangkok, and Santiago de Chile -- are for education),
  • and liaison offices in Geneva an New York.
Moreover, other programs of UNESCO conduct educational activities within their specific fields of action.

There are many other organizations that have affiliated with UNESCO (without UNESCO funding), through which UNESCO can influence educational systems and educators:
  • 623 UNESCO Chairs and 60 UNITWIN networks of universities
  • 335 non-governmental organizations that have affiliated with UNESCO
  • partners from the private sector (multinational corporations, small and medium enterprises, philanthropic foundations, professional and economic associations, as well as other organizations of the business community and individuals.)
  • 4,000 UNESCO clubs in 100 countries
  • 7,900 UNESCO Associated Schools in 176 countries
  • National Commissions for UNESCO which are required by the organization's charter in each of the 193 member states.
Follow the Money

According to UNESCO's Approved Program and Budget for 2008-2009, the budget for UNESCO's education program (exclusive of overhead for the overall operation of the agency) is about US$88.5 million per year. That can be compared to the budget for my local school system (Montgomery County, Maryland) of US$2.2 billion per year. According to the OECD Development Assistance Committee, the total commitments to educational aid in 2007 were US$10.2 billion.

About 62 percent of the overall education program budget is in the regular budget and the rest is to come from "extrabudgetary resources" donated to the organization. UNESCO divides it educational budget between that of the six educational institutes (US$7.9 million per year, of which only US$250 thousand is voluntary contribution) and four subprograms. Two of these ("Global leadership in EFA, coordination of United Nations priorities in education, and development of strong partnerships" and "Provide capacity development and technical support to assist national efforts in achieving the Dakar Goals") appear to be primarily in support of Education for All. The other two ("Development of a global framework and networks for capacity development in planning and management of education systems" and "Promote policy dialog, research, set norms and standards") appear to relate primarily to the non-EFA efforts. These latter two subprograms have a total annual budget of US$26.2 million, of which three-quarters is from the assessed contributions and one-quarter from voluntary contributions.


The central educational programs of UNESCO are managed by the Secretariat under the direction of the 193 member General Conference (one-nation, one vote) that meets every other year, and the 58 member Executive Board. The decentralized Institutes and Centers have their own governing bodies.

Of course the myriad organizations affiliated with UNESCO which do not receive UNESCO funding have their own independent governance structures.

Complementary Organizations

UNESCO operates within a web of intergovernmental organizations. Some, such as the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization have important educational interests within their own spheres of activity (e.g. WHO: medical and nursing education and non-formal health education; FAO: agricultural education and agricultural extension services; ILO: lifelong learning and technical and vocational education.) Some have even more direct involvement with schooling:
  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF): This is a fund administered under the United Nations system which received over US$3 billion in donations in 2007. The Executive Director is an American, and the United States is UNICEF's largest donor. It is governed by an Executive Board of 36 members with a specified regional distribution elected for four year terms by the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
  • The United Nations University (UNU) does research and capacity building. It has a headquarters in Tokyo and 14 research and training centers/programs around the world as well as a network of associated and cooperating institutions and scholars. The Rector of the UNU has the rank of Undersecretary General of the United Nations. The UNU Governing Council has 24 appointed members and several ex officio members including the Secretary General of UNESCO. The UNU is funded by voluntary contributions, with an annual budget of some US$75 million per year and an Endowment with nearly US$400 million.
  • The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) seeks "to deliver innovative training and to conduct research on knowledge systems to develop the capacity of beneficiaries." Its Director General has the rank of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. It is a relatively small agency that emphasizes executive training for UN staff and for personnel of the 190 member nations of the UN.
  • The United Nations Development Program is a program of the United Nations organization itself. It is currently emphasizing efforts in support of the Millennium Development Goals. The UNDP Administrator is the third highest ranking member of the United Nations staff after the United Nations Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary . The current Secretary General is a Turkish citizen (with long experience in intergovernmental organizations) but in its early years the Secretary General was always a U.S. citizen. In 2005, the UNDP’s entire budget was approximately US$4.44 billion. Of that total, core, unrestricted financing reached approximately US$921 million. Non-core, earmarked contributions grew to over US$2.5 billion, and resources to support countries’ own development programs totaled US$1.02 billion. The UNDP Executive Board is made up of representatives from 36 countries around the world who serve on a rotating basis.
  • Multilateral Development Banks: The World Bank Group, the Inter-American Development Bank, the African Development Bank and other regional development banks provide loans and grants to developing and transition countries. The World Bank has the largest budget among these, but other development banks may have larger budgets within their regions. The World Bank has transferred about US$36.5 billion in loans and credits for education since the Bank started lending in the sector in 1963. Funds for the multilateral development banks are obtained by borrowing from capital markets; they borrow money at good rates due to the guarantee provided by donor nations. They also receive pledged contributions to concessionary windows such as the International Development Agency of the World Bank Group. The president of the World Bank is generally considered to be named by the U.S. government, and the Members of the Board of Directors are elected to serve specific regions by a process which recognizes the financial contributions to the Bank of the nations within the specific regions they represent.
  • The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) provides some educational services for some refugees. The United Nations Relief Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Mid East (UNRWA) provides educational services for its target population.
Donor nations also have bilateral development assistance programs which provide financial and technical assistance to the educational sectors of developing nations. (According to the OECD Development Assistance Committee, in 2007 total donor assistance amounted to US$120.8 billion, while that for all multilateral agencies amounted to US$11.8 billion.)

The OECD, sometimes thought of as a "rich nations club" provides intergovernmental services to its member states. There are also a number of regional international organizations (e.g. European Union, Organization of American States) that have educational programs serving the governments in their regions.

The fundamental point is that donor nations provide relatively little economic support for education through UNESCO, favoring other channels over which they have more influence in the governing bodies.

UNESCO as an Institutional Response to Globalization

In the past the global education sector was highly fragmented, not only into national sectors but even into local educational systems within nation-states. In the 20th century, especially in its second half with increasing globalization, national educational communities found it increasingly possible and important to deal with each other. Indeed, social institutions are evolving to allow them to do so.

Think about a market as an institution that is not an formal organization but that allows large numbers of buyers and sellers to interact in a productive manner, especially through an economic process which Adam Smith termed “The Invisible Hand”. The social institution that is allowing national educational communities to interact globally may too function via an invisible hand. However, as an economic market depends on formal organizations such as regulators and standards organizations for its functioning, so the evolving global institution allowing interaction among national educational communities also involves formal organizations, among which is UNESCO, or better, the core network of UNESCO related organizations.

Is UNESCO More Like a Spider or a Starfish?

My first thought when I consider the term “institution” is to think of large, formal organizations such as manufacturing firms, governments, schools systems, or UNESCO. My friends who are economists tend, I believe, to think of the market as the prototypical “institution”. Sociologists and anthropologists tend to think of a broad spectrum of social institutions.

UNESCO is of course a formal organization, and as such it is an enormously complex, highly decentralized organization, beset by very complex governance structures and weak financing, as well as a multinational, multilingual, multiethnic staff dispersed among offices in 50 countries. Its Education Program is then seen as a vertically organized program within this complex structure.

The UNESCO Education Program can also be seen as an the nexus of a network of a large number of interacting organizations – Institutes, Centers, National Commissions, Associated Schools, Clubs, University Chairs and Networks, affiliated Non-Governmental Organizations, and other partner organizations. This network is in turn part of a still larger network of Ministries of Education, school systems, professional organizations of educators, etc.

In this respect, one might consider The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom. I quote from the author's description of the book's thesis:
One thing that business, institutions, governments and key individuals will have to realize is spiders and starfish may look alike, but starfish have a miraculous quality to them. Cut off the leg of a spider, and you have a seven-legged creature on your hands; cut off its head and you have a dead spider. But cut off the arm of a starfish and it will grow a new one. Not only that, but the severed arm can grow an entirely new body. Starfish can achieve this feat because, unlike spiders, they are decentralized; every major organ is replicated across each arm.

But starfish don't just exist in the animal kingdom. Starfish organizations are taking society and the business world by storm, and are changing the rules of strategy and competition. Like starfish in the sea, starfish organizations are organized on very different principles than we are used to seeing in traditional organizations. Spider organizations are centralized and have clear organs and structure. You know who is in charge. You see them coming.

Starfish organizations, on the other hand, are based on completely different principles. They tend to organize around a shared ideology or a simple platform for communication- around ideologies like al Qaeda or Alcoholics Anonymous. They arise rapidly around the simplest ideas or platforms. Ideas or platforms that can be easily duplicated. Once they arrive they can be massively disruptive and are here to stay, for good or bad. And the Internet can help them flourish.
Using this metaphor, UNESCO is perhaps more like a starfish than like a spider, especially in terms of its quite decentralized system of governance, management and control.

Management theory was developed in the 20th century, and in most of that century focused on the management of large, centrally managed organizations. It has been suggested, notably in The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business by Alfred D., Jr. Chandler, that these spider-like organizations evolved because the information processes of the large hierarchical organization more adequately met the needs of expanding industries than did markets.

With the Information Revolution the world is seeing many large organizations downsize, outsourcing many of their functions. Essentially the increasingly powerful information infrastructure is thought to make other means of coordination possible which are still more efficient and effective than those of traditional hierarchical organizations. As a result, there is much more interest among management theorists in decentralized organizations and their management.

While UNESCO's Constitution calls for National Commissions to share with their national governments the responsibility for the governance of UNESCO, in fact it is the governments that have taken most of the authority for that representation. Thus most of the people functioning in UNESCO's governing bodies are members of large, bureaucratic organizations. One expects these people to naturally conceive of management in terms of the theories most applicable to the hierarchical organizations in which they work. To the degree that UNESCO is decentralized rather than centralized, starfish-like rather than spider-like, alternative management theories may be more effective.

The lack of central planning and control over UNESCO's myriad educational activities bothers most bureaucrats, including many of those involved in UNESCO's governance. The question should be asked, however, whether the organization achieves more with its limited financial and human resources in advancing global education objectives of its member states with its current structure than it could with a more traditional bureaucracy.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"Unesco Takes On International Diploma Mills"

Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog, January 29, 2009

Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic, chief of the section for reform, innovation, and quality assurance in higher education, spoke recently at the annual meeting of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Among the UNESCO efforts that he described
is an Internet listing of higher-education institutions “recognized or otherwise sanctioned by competent authorities in participating countries” — a so-called white list that students, employers, and others can use to check the credentials of a university.

So far, 23 countries are participating in the effort, including China, the United States, Britain, Australia, and Japan, as well as developing countries like Kenya and Nigeria.

The accrediting group, known as CHEA, is an association of 3,000 accredited institutions. It is also working with Unesco to develop a set of suggestions for countries to deal with fraudulent universities.

2009 Will Be “The Year of Climate Change” for UNESCO

Ban Ki-moon has stressed that 2009 will be "the year of climate change" culminating in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s fifteenth Conference of the Parties (COP-15) in Copenhagen in December 2009.

UNESCO will host two conferences in 2009 on climate change and education, and climate change and journalism, in addition to preparing sessions at the third World Climate Conference.

UNESCO OER Discussion: Open Access

Next week offers a wonderful opportunity to begin exploring and contributing to the voices and educational resources of the global community. Beginning on February 9, UNESCO's Open Educational Resources (OER) community is launching a three-week discussion on the subject of access issues to its web-based materials that are used for teaching, research, and learning. The discussion is open to all and ends February 27.

The first week will focus on identifying and classifying the primary concerns in accessing OER materials. Then, the second and third weeks will be devoted to sharing solutions to the problems encountered when accessing them. The discussion will be facilitated by Bjoern Hassler, a senior research associate at the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies.

New and established voices are extremely welcome; if you desire to participate, please contact Catriona Savage. Please note you need to indicate you would like to become a member of the community to be given the ability to participate in present discussion. The discussions will take place in English, although there are translation tools available, and will take place through a community mailing list.

The OER Community itself began in 2005 and has over 700 members from 102 countries that includes 72 developing countries. Slightly over half its members come from Western Europe or North America; around half of its members are also affiliated with or work for a university. For more information on its vast resources:

New Issue of the UNESCO Courier: Submerged memory

Underwater remains dating back to the first century B.C. (Croatia)
© D.Frka/Courtesy of the Ministry of Culture, Croatia

More than three million shipwrecks are lying on the ocean floor today. Hundreds of underwater decorated caves, towns and monuments remain to be discovered. How can we make use of the knowledge contained in these remains? How can they be presented to the general public? This issue of the Courier tackles these questions.

This issue was prepared in collaboration with UNESCO’s Section of Museums and Cultural Objects. It coincides with the entry into force of the Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage this January and the first Meeting of States Parties to the Convention, which will be held 26 and 27 March at UNESCO.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

UNESCO’s photo contest on The Changing Face of the Earth

The UNESCO's photo contest on the Changing Face of the Earth has been won by Anil Risal Singh from India in the adult category.

Education for All

This weeks session of our seminar on UNESCO at George Washington University focused on the Education for All program, and UNESCO's role in its monitoring and coordination.

While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights identified basic education as such a right, when the first EFA meeting was held in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990 few development professionals regarded the concept as more than a pipe dream, something beyond the realm of possibility. Today, 19 years later, even though the 2008 EFA status report said that the goals will not be reached by 2015, most development professionals not only feel that universal primary education is possible, but that it is within reach.

  • the donor community has narrowed the scope of the efforts to focus on primary schooling rather than the more expansive concerns of lifelong learning promoted in the 1990's
  • the quality of schools is dismal in far too many countries
  • the financial crisis that is before us for the next few years makes it unlikely that the financial commitments of national governments or of donors will be met.
Still, the progress made in expanding basic education to reach hundreds of millions more kids is a great triumph for the world.

The Dick and Ray Show

Last week, Dick Arndt and Ray Wanner led our UNESCO class discussing the history of the organization and the role played by Americans in its founding, and in this country's withdrawal from UNESCO.
Frank Method, co-coordinator of the course
introduces Dick Arndt

Ray Wanner, having described the central role of the United States delegations in the creation of UNESCO and the important role of people from the United States in encouraging UNESCO to create some of its key programs, such as those of the World Heritage program and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, ended saying the United States has much to be proud of about UNESCO.

Ray Wanner checking his notes

I will allow myself to wonder whether the United States also has much to be ashamed of in its role with respect to UNESCO.
  • The Organization functions under a complex governance system which sometimes hampers its efficiency and effectiveness. The United States delegates to UNESCO's planning and governing bodies bear more responsibility than most countries for UNESCO's governance structures and processes.
  • The United States representatives to UNESCO and our Civil Society organizations have encouraged the Organization to embark on new and often ambitious undertakings. On the other hand, the U.S. Government has sought to limit the rate of growth of UNESCO's budget. The withdrawal of the United States and the U.K. created a financial crisis for UNESCO. Now UNESCO fails to play the ambitious role that its constitution and the majority of its members demand because its resources fail to meet its responsibilities.
I could go on, but perhaps the proper position is not to assign blame or credit, but to consider the role that UNESCO could play internationally, and helping it to achieve the excellence we require in assuming that role. There are remarkable successes within the UNESCO program such as the creation of CERN (which in turn hosted the creation of the World Wide Web) and the World Heritage network of protected cultural and natural sites. The creation of the SESAME project which is showing the way towards international cooperation in the Mid East or the work to create a global tsunami warning system may be equally valuable in the future. How do we make sure that UNESCO remains capable of such important initiatives?

John Daly
(The opinions expressed in this posting do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO.)