Sunday, February 15, 2009

"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.)

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