Sunday, May 31, 2009

What is Expected of a UNESCO Chief

A reporter contacted me to ask what will be expected of the new Director General of UNESCO, to be elected in October. I will share my thinking with the readers of this blog:

Of course, the Director General is the Chief Executive Officer of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, responsible to its General Conference and Executive Board for the conduct of the programs of the Organization. He leads an organization with some 2000 staff members spread over some 58 nations, which has a budget in excess of US$500 million. The designers of the organization, recognizing the complexity of the governance pf UNESCO, created the post of Director General with a considerable amount of authority and independence.

I believe however that this traditionalist view of UNESCO and its Director General tells only a part of the story. UNESCO is especially important in its roles of convening people and organizations to work together. Thus it reaches out to the global education, science and cultural communities through a network of National Commissions in each of its member states. The U.S. National Commission, for example, has 100 members, most of whom in turn represent important educational, scientific or cultural organizations within the United States. UNESCO links educators worldwide in leading the Education for All program. Its intergovernmental scientific organizations link scientists worldwide in areas such as oceanography and geology. It has convened networks of nearly 900 world heritage sites, hundreds of bioreserves, thousands of UNESCO clubs, thousands of UNESCO associated schools, as well as a large network of university chairs. The Director General stimulates and encourages the work of these networks, of course often working through his staff and offices reporting to him.

UNESCO, created in the aftermath of World War II, states in its constitution that since wars are created in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that we must begin to build the defenses of peace. UNESCO's mission is thus to build those defenses. One of my friends has called UNESCO the conscience of the United Nations system. The Director General has singular moral authority to encourage the development of a culture of peace and a dialog among nations. He regularly denounces violence against reporters and abuses of freedom of the press.

The first Director General was Julian Huxley, scion of the famous Huxley family and a world famous scientist in his own right. He was followed by Luther Evans, a historian who had been the Librarian of Congress, world's largest library and certainly its most influential library at the aftermath of World War II. These men, with their successors by their examples endowed the Director General of UNESCO with great moral authority, especially in matters of education, science, culture and communications.

Rather than try to say what is "expected of" the new Director General, I would say that was is hoped for from the man is:
  • leadership in advancing the mission of UNESCO
  • to be a strong and credible spokesperson for education, science, culture, communications, and peace
  • to effectively promote intercultural understanding and respect for cultural diversity
  • continued progress in improving the operation of the staff of the organization, as well as leadership in developing and allocating resources, and managing UNESCO's programs
  • promoting and leadership in coordinating the global efforts of the networks inspired by and linking to UNESCO.
Today is the last day for nomination of candidates for the post of Director General!

New Board Member Publication

I published a short piece on the online magazine, Foreign Policy Digest, titled "How Technology Can Support Education in Africa". It describes some UNESCO efforts as well as other examples of use of information and communications technology applicable to education in Africa.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Se abre la postulación para dos puestos en la UNESCO Santiago

La Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (UNESCO), ha abierto dos nuevos puestos profesionales en su Oficina Regional de Educación para América Latina y el Caribe, con asiento en Santiago de Chile.

Los puestos son los siguientes:



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

School to Watch: University of the People

The University of the People recently opened under the auspices of the UN Global Alliance for Information and Communication Technology and Development (GAID). In opening, the UP is now the world's first tuition-free global Internet university.

Students will be charged some fees, however, such as an enrollment fee of $15 to $50 and a test processing fee ranging from $10 to $100, depending on the student's country of origin. A high school diploma and a proficient level of English will also be required.

Assisting this platform will be open-source technologies and materials, and classes will be taught by a mix of professors, librarians, teaching assistants, and other professionals. Those teaching classes will be both paid and voluntary.

And the idea seems to be attractive to many. After two weeks of enrollment, over 200 people from 52 countries registered. Classes, focused on computer sciences and business administration, will begin this fall. Enrollment goals to sustain the university are around 15,000, and the UP will need an estimated $6 million annually to remain open.

UP launched under the Israeli entrepreneur Shai Reshef, who has decades of experience in global education. Reshef has headed companies such as the Kidum Group, an online university affiliated with the University of Liverpool, and He has donated $1 million of his own money to the UP, saying the UP can make the dream of education possible for hundreds of millions of people who would not have access otherwise.

A Comment on Science and Technology Education

The Summary Report of the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2009 states:
From an international perspective, the gulf between rich and poor countries is wide – not only in terms of getting children through school but also in terms of what they are actually learning. A comparison of enrolment levels between Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries and sub-Saharan Africa is particularly telling. By age 7, almost all children in OECD countries are in primary school, compared with 40% for sub-Saharan Africa. At age 20, in OECD countries 30% are in post-secondary education, and 2% in sub-Saharan Africa. Many children in countries such as Mali and Mozambique have less chance of completing primary school than their counterparts in France or the United Kingdom have of reaching tertiary education.

Global inequalities in education between high- and low-income countries often mask major disparities within countries. National inequalities based on income, gender, ethnicity, location and other factors can block a child’s educational attainment. Children from the poorest 20% of households in South and West Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa are less than half as likely to reach grade 9 as those from the richest 20% (Figure 1). National governments and international development agencies must strengthen the focus on equity to achieve the core EFA goals.
Consider the children who get only a few years of schooling. (Unfortunately, most of them not only get very little schooling but the schooling that they do receive is of very low quality.) Thus the few years of schooling that they receive should provide them some basic science and technology, such as:
  • Some understanding of basic hygiene and of the communicable diseases prevalent in their environments;
  • Some understanding of human nutrition, and the dangers of addiction;
  • For future farmers, some understanding of plant growth and the role of water and soil nutrients in crop production;
  • Some understanding of statics and mechanics, such as the theories of levers and pulleys, that would be useful in manual laboer,
  • Some understanding of electricity and electrical devices that they might operate in the future;
  • Some understanding of motors that they might operate in the future;
  • Some understanding of animal sexual reproduction and genetics, especially for future farmers and herders.
  • Some basic understanding of economics, such as of markets and the choices of where and when to buy and to selll and of microfinance and collateral.
It does not seem that UNESCO's science and technology education program is focusing on these needs. Certainly spending time on space science and technology seems unwise even if the children are interested in the topics. There is no intrinsic reason why the science and technology that will help a poorly educated farmer, mother, or laborer to work smarter is not intrinsically uninteresting.

It is important that science and technology education awaken an interest in lifelong learning. Not only is new scientific and technological knowledge being created all the time, people's needs for such knowledge are continually evolving. For the children who will obtain very little schooling, it would seem especially important to motivate them to learn about science and technology out of school.

Similarly, students should learn where to get accurate science and technology information and services. They should learn of the importance of consulting health educators, health service providers, agricultural extension workers, industrial extension workers and others who provide valid information rather than the sources of traditional knowledge in their communities, whose information may often be suspect.

Thus the difficult task of those in primary schools serving children who will be expected to get very little schooling is to help them to become scientifically and technologically literate in the areas most relevant to their lives, and to give them the attitudes and linkages that will help them to learn more about science and technology when they have left school.

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

Have you checked these social networking sites?

Here are three social networking sites for those interested in UNESCO:
  • Americans for UNESCO on Twitter (short messages via Internet or phone, with more than 500 followers)
  • UNESCO's Friends (discussions, news and jobs with more than 350 members on LinkedIn, a social networking site for professionals)
  • UNESCO (basic information, discussion board, "wall", links and photos with more than 1000 members on Facebook, the popular social networking site)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Flash: Israel Withdraws Opposition to Hosny

According to Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper:
Israel agreed to lift its objection to the appointment of Egypt's vehemently anti-Israeli culture minister as head of UNESCO, following a recent meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Farouk Hosni, who has served as Egypt's culture minister since 1987, has declared that if he could, he "would burn Israeli books in Egyptian libraries." Despite such rhetoric, Hosni is a leading candidate for the top spot in the UN's education and cultural organization, having been recommended by Mubarak.

As part of a secret agreement, reached during their May 11 meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Netanyahu promised Mubarak that Israel would cease the international campaign it has waged against Hosni's appointment during the past year. It is still unclear whether Netanyahu, who is known for his insistence on the principle of quid pro quo in Israel's relations with the Arab world, received something from the Egyptian leader in return.
Editorial comment: This would seem to greatly increase the likelihood that Farouk Hosny will become the next Director General of UNESCO. JAD

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Who will be the next head of UNESCO?

SciDev.Net has published an excellent article by Yojana Sharma reviewing the candidates for Director General of UNESCO. The article is timely since nominations close on the 31st of May. Ms. Sharma names the following individuals (presented here in alphabetical order):
  • Ivonne Baki, Ecuadorian, 48
  • Marcio Barbosa, Brazilian, 57
  • Mohamed Al Bejawi, Algerian, 81
  • Irina Bokova, Bulgarian, 58
  • Mounir Bouchenaki, Algerian, 66
  • Farouk Hosni, Egypt, 71
  • Ina Marčiulionyté, Lithuanian, 47
  • Sospeter Muhongo, Tanzanian, 54
With a few days left for nominations, new candidates may appear. Indeed, it has been hoped by many that someone of the stature of Al Gore might be nominated. (Gore has said he is not available.)

Editorial comment: I would hope that the next Director General would bring a serious background in science or education to the job, given the critical challenges faced by UNESCO in these areas in the next decade. Of the people listed above only Sospeter Muhongo, a geologist who is the African regional director of the International Council for Science, seems to bring such qualifications to the race.

The post of UNESCO Director General should involve extensive travel, many public appearances, and long periods of intense intellectual concentration; the physical and mental capacity of each candidate to handle such a job should be taken into account in the election.

I would hope that the State Department will take a strong interest in this election. I understand that Assistant Secretary Ester Brimmer has visited UNESCO recently, and her personal interest in the election is important.

The United States should not simply chose a candidate most likely to minimize potential controversy, but rather help elect the candidate most likely to provide the leadership UNESCO needs and deserves in order to meet the challenges of the coming decade. State should work closely with the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO in this respect, as well as with the international development, educational, scientific and cultural agencies of the government. The meeting of the National Commission (that had been scheduled for May) has been postponed, but the members of the Commission could be contacted individually for support and advice. Indeed, they might well take the initiative to contact State if State does not contact them.

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

Friday, May 22, 2009

Three in Opposition to the Election of Farouk Hosny

Three intellectual leaders have written an opinion piece in the French journal Le Monde calling for opposition to the election of Farouk Hosny as Director General of UNESCO. Bernard-Henri Lévy, a philosopher, Claude Lanzmann, a filmmaker and director of the review Les Temps modernes and Elie Wiesel, writer and 1986 Nobel Prize winner cite a history of anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic statements to conclude:
L'évidence est donc là : Farouk Hosni n'est pas digne de ce rôle ; Farouk Hosni est le contraire d'un homme de paix, de dialogue et de culture ; Farouk Hosni est un homme dangereux, un incendiaire des coeurs et des esprits ; il ne reste que très peu de temps pour éviter de commettre la faute majeure que serait l'élévation de Farouk Hosni à ce poste éminent entre tous.
I translate this as:
The evidence therefore is that: Farouk Hosny is not worthy of this role; Farouk Hosny is the opposite d' a man of peace, dialog and culture; Farouk Hosny is a dangerous man, one who inflames hearts and spirits; There remains very little time to avoid the major mistake of elevating Farouk Hosni to this eminent position.
Comment: It appears that there is increasing opposition to the candidacy of Hosny, currently the Egyptian Minister of Culture. I have heard that the French government has abandoned its original support of his candidacy, and that the governments of the United States and Israel remain adamant in their opposition to Farouk Hosny. The Brazilian government, which has announced support for Hosny, is running into a firestorm of criticism from Brazilians calling for support of Brazilian Marcio Barbosa, currently Deputy Director General of UNESCO who has also been nominated for Director General in the coming election. JAD

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Otorgan Premio José Martí a Atilio Borón

La Organización para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura de las Naciones Unidas (UNESCO) anunció en París que el Premio José Martí 2009 fue otorgado al argentino Atilio Borón, investigador en Ciencias Sociales.

El jurado internacional destaco los aportes de Borón al estudio y la promoción del pensamiento de José Martí. Borón, reconocido como una de las más sobresalientes figuras de la teoría política contemporánea es profesor en la Facultad de Ciencias Sociales de la Universidad de Buenos Aires e investigador en el Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas de Argentina.Borón tambien fue secretario ejecutivo del Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO).

"Sindicalizados del INAH presentarán una denuncia ante la UNESCO"

Fuente: LaJornada, 21 de mayo de 2009

"Investigadores sindicalizados del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) presentarán una denuncia ante la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (UNESCO) por los daños causados a monumentos de la zona arqueológica de Teotihuacán con el montaje de luz y sonido."

U.S. Natural History Museum helps Mexico

Research conducted under the auspices of the San Diego Natural History Museum played a crucial role in the recent decision by UNESCO officials to list Mexico's Gulf of California, including 244 islands and coastal areas, as a World Heritage site. As such, the area joins a list of the world's most spectacular places, including the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the Galapagos Islands, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef, and Yosemite National Park. The UNESCO decision was of course made on the basis of the nomination made by Mexico, the member nation claiming the Gulf of California.

The Gulf is unique in the richness of its biodiversity: the area is documented as containing 695 vascular plant species; 891 fish species, 90 of them endemic; 39% of the world's marine mammal species; and a third of the world's marine cetacean species.

Dr. Exequiel Ezcurra, director of the Biodiversity Research Center of the Californias (the research arm of the Museum), edited a compendium of recent scientific research documenting the significance of the Gulf, A New Island Biogeography of the Sea of Cort?s, which was published in 2002. This book provided essential evidence in the argument to place the islands on the UNESCO list.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Job: Chief of Section

Section of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions,
Division of Cultural Expressions and Creative Industries
Culture Sector
Duty station Paris, France
Grade P-5
Post number CLT-945
Closing Date: 9 June 2009
Click here for more information
Click here to apply.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The World Heritage Culture Center

The World Heritage Cultural Center is a non-for-profit organization whose mission is to promote cultural awareness through the arts and to give back to the community through knowledge and charity.

Currently it is in the process of raising money to secure a physical location through three events in 2009. Once fully established in 2010 in Westchester, New York, its founders intend that the World Heritage Cultural Center will begin to donate proceeds to support and create centers for abused women and children, the homeless, and cancer and HIV awareness campaigns, in the United and third world countries.

"N. Fork plight in U.N. spotlight"

Chris Peterson writes in the Hungry Horse News:
Sen. Max Baucus last week said he would push to have the North Fork of the Flathead designated as a World Heritage Site in Danger, a dubious distinction as Glacier National Park turns 100 next year.

The North Fork will see the international limelight in June, when Will Hammerquist, the Glacier representative of the National Park Conservation Association and Ryland Nelson, of the Canadian environmental organization Wildsight, will testify in front of a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization World Heritage panel.

The Canadian Flathead threatened by mining.
(Chris Peterson photo)

21 May: World Day for Cultural Diversity, for Dialogue and Development

The General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 21 May as World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialog and Development. UNESCO appeals to the Member States as well as to all civil society to celebrate this World Day by involving as many actors and partners as possible.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

La Voz de los sin Voz

La Voz de los sin Voz fue concebido por el pianista y hoy representante permanente de la República Argentina ante la UNESCO, Emb. Miguel Angel Estrella y se desarrolla en el ámbito de la Subsecretaría de Relaciones Institucionales del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores, Comercio Internacional y Culto de la República Argentina.

La Voz de los sin Voz, en conformidad con las orientaciones de la UNESCO, concibe la fuerza vitalizadora de la cultura como elemento indispensable de los procesos de integración social y diversidad cultural.

La Voz de los sin Voz” contribuye a los siguientes propósitos de la UNESCO::
  • Contribuir a los Propósitos y Funciones enumerados en la Constitución de la UNESCO, así como al espíritu de la propia Organización.
  • Sentar las bases para promover en América Latina la puesta en práctica de la Convención para la Salvaguarda del Patrimonio Cultural Inmaterial (París, 17 de octubre de 2003), de la Declaración Universal de la UNESCO sobre Diversidad Cultural (París, 2 de noviembre de 2001) y de la Recomendación sobre la Salvaguarda de la Cultura Tradicional y Popular (París, 15 de noviembre de 1989).
  • Aportar a los trabajos de diversas divisiones de la UNESCO, entre ellas División de las Políticas Culturales y del Diálogo Intercultural y el Programa para la Erradicación de la Pobreza.

Job: Director, Secretariat - Governing Bodies/Secretary - General Conference and the Executive Board

Level: D2
Location: Paris, France
Closing Date: 28 June 2009
For more information click here.
To apply click here.

An Interesting Initiative from Our Northern Neighbors

The Pimachiowin Aki (Pim-ah-chee-owe-in Ahh-key) Corporation is a non-profit corporation formed by four First Nations: Poplar River, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi and Pikangikum, Ont. Pimachiowin Aki’s goal is to achieve international recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for lands on the east side of Lake Winnipeg that straddle the Manitoba-Ontario border. The area under discussion is about 40,000 square kilometres. It includes the traditional territories of the Poplar River, Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi and Pikangikum First Nations, Atikaki Provincial Park in eastern Manitoba and Woodland Caribou Provincial Park in northern Ontario.

The application for World Heritage status will include the final boundaries of the designated site and will describe the innovative ways the area will be managed using both traditional Anishinabe and western scientific knowledge. Extensive community consultations, research, mapping and comprehensive community-based, land-use planning are required to complete the nomination.

The Manitoba and Ontario provincial governments in Canada are partners with the corporation. The Manitoba government has announced $531,000 in new provincial funding to support efforts to achieve the prestigious international designation and to help east side communities develop their land use plans.

Perhaps we in the United States might emulate this Canadian initiative to develop partnerships with native Americans and state and federal governments to protect tribal lands which have both natural and cultural values of such magnitude to justify world heritage status.

Iowa City Book Festival set for July 18

As a UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa City this summer will inaugurate a new festival to celebrate and investigate the city's literary connections. The inaugural Iowa City Book Festival will be held Saturday, July 18.

2008 Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize is awarded to President of Brazil Lula da Silva

The President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has been chosen as the laureate of UNESCO’s 2008 Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize. The award ceremony will take place in July.

UNESCO Celebrates Cultural Diversity from 11 to 22 May 2009

The numerous cultural events held on and around the World Day of Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (21 May) at UNESCO Headquarters and elsewhere in the world are meant to underscore not only the intrinsic value of specific cultural productions, but also and above all the fertility of their diversity. Together, they remind us that humanity’s fundamental wealth lies in its diversity. By bringing out what is primordial to the human condition, art is a catalyst for the building of peace in the minds of men.

Read more!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

"U.S. elected to U.N. rights council for first time"

The Washington Post reports:
The United States won election to the U.N. Human Rights Council for the first time on Tuesday, joining 17 other nations picked for the body, after the Obama administration ended a U.S. policy of boycotting it.
Recall that in the United Nations there is a convention that Council such as the Security Council are more powerful than Commissions such as the Commission on Science and Technology for Development. In the recent reorganization, the "Human Rights Commission" was upgraded to the "Human Rights Council" in an effort to increase the quality of UN attention to human rights issues. The United States was a member of the Human Rights Commission in the past, but did not seek membership in the Council under the Bush administration. Thus this is in fact the first election of the United States to the Human Rights Council.

The State Department issued a press release stating:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice are pleased with the outcome of the election and eager to take up the important work of the Council.

When the United Nations was formed, it sent a powerful and historic message by placing human rights at the very core of its charter. To fulfill that mission, we strongly believe that all member states must work to ensure that the United Nations offers a credible, balanced and effective forum for advancing human rights.

The United States sought a seat on the UN Human Rights Council at this time to underscore our commitment to human rights and to join the efforts of all those nations seeking to make the Council a body that fulfills its promise.
One of the early acts of the United Nations General Assembly was to issue the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted under the leadership of the U.S, delegate to the Human Rights Commission, Eleanor Roosevelt, and with the assistance of UNESCO.

While the Declaration did not have the force of a treaty, it has had enormous moral influence in the six decades since it was issued. It has also been the basis for a number of Human Rights Covenants and Conventions that do have the force of treaties.
Over the past sixty years, UNESCO, in cooperation with the international community, has achieved significant progress in the implementation of the four rights which figure in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which are directly within its fields of competence:

* Right to education (Article 26) ;
* Right to take part in cultural life (Article 27) ;
* Right to freedom of opinion and expression including the right to seek, receive and impart information (Article 19) ;
* Right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications (Article 27)......

Within UNESCO, the protection of human rights is assured by the Committee on Conventions and Recommendations, working alongside the countries concerned. Relatively unknown, this committee examines cases and issues relating to complaints of alleged violations of human rights. From 1948 to 2007, amongst 545 cases that have been examined by the committee, 344 have been settled.
The decision of the Obama administration to seek membership in the Human Rights Council, together with President Obama's statement of support for UNESCO suggests that there may be increased U.S. support for UNESCO's human rights efforts.

Educational Technology Debate

This new (May 2009) website hosts debates on the applications of information and communications technology to enhance learning in developing nations. Its purpose is to stimulate conversation around low-cost information and communication technology (ICT) device initiatives for educational systems in developing countries and how they are relevant to the very groups they purport to serve – the students, teachers, and their surrounding communities.

It is a project of UNESCO and infoDev. InfoDev is a project hosted by the World Bank, located in Washington D.C., and supported by a consortium of donors.

The website has begun its discussions with three topics:

1. Are ICTs the Best Educational Investment?
2. Not Quite the Best Investment, but Pretty Good
3. If & When Schools Invest in ICT, Teachers First

Editors note: For some years I served as Acting Work Program Director for infoDev.

Interactive radio makes learning an active activity. Students at F.G. Girls Primary School, NHC learn ‘Face Parts’ through an acting game. Photo/ESRA

Monday, May 11, 2009

Friends of World Heritage

UNFoundation via YouTube.

UNESCO in Cyberspace

Keyword popularity across the Blogosphere
This chart illustrates how many times blog posts across the Blogosphere contained the following keywords.

Technorati provides this widget with the frequency of mentions of UNESCO (red) and World Heritage (blue) in blogs. The widget updates the information, but as it is shown today, there is a peak interest in UNESCO in mid-April. That might be related to the meeting of the Executive Board of the Organization.

I have noted that there seems to be recent concern among Brazilians participating in Twitter that their government is supporting Farouk Hosny, a controversial Egyptian candidate for Director General of UNESCO rather than Marcio Barbosa, the Brazilian Deputy Director of UNESCO who is widely regarded as having done a good job and as being a serious candidate for the post.

There has also been some recent twittering about "Is UNESCO damaging the world's treasures?" The article in The Independent (UK) expresses a serious concern that UNESCO designation as a World Heritage site results in damaging some important sites as the designation results in more traffic to fragile sites that their governments can not properly maintain.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Nod to Nollywood

Bollywood and Hollywood take note: Nollywood is on the rise. UNESCO's Institute of Statistics (UIS) released the results of a global survey today indicating that while India remains the world's leading film producer, Nigeria's industry is gaining momentum and has surpassed the United States for the second-place position.

The survey, measuring 2005-2006, took data from 101 countries and was based on questionnaires and alternative sources. Results indicated that while Bollywood produced 1,091 films, Nollywood produced 872. The United States produced 485 films with only eight other countries producing more than 100. More specific findings can be found here:

UIS indicated the survey was useful in showing regional trends in the film industry. Yet as the data chiefly came from the United States and Europe, UIS pointed out generalizability of findings are limited due to the unequal geographic representation.

Nollywood's growth, however, is unquestionable. Its growth is attributed to the practice of shooting low-budget films in digital video formats over a period of a few weeks. Further, films are both distributed and viewed informally; 99% of screenings are in home theater settings. The 1992 film Living in Bondage is often noted as the first Nollywood movie developed and distributed using these techniques. These Nollywood techniques are now increasingly being used in developing countries in Africa and around the world, although piracy is a growing concern.

Another reason given for Nollywood's rise is its multilingualism as around 56% of films are in local languages, and the rest are in English. This growth in multilingual films was noted in other countries as well: In Bollywood, for example, only 2% of films are produced in English where the rest are around 30 other languages. UIS likewise found films are more frequently being produced in regional languages in recent years, although the lack of data makes this growth difficult to quantify.
In noting this rising linguistic diversity in film, UIS did point out English is still the dominant language as 36% of all films and all the top 10 films in 2006.
These trends are certainly intriguing and can also illustrate cultures in powerful ways. As Director-General of UNESCO Koïchiro Matsuura pointed out, "Film and video production are shining examples of how cultural industries - as vehicles of identity, values and meanings - can open the door to dialogue and understanding between peoples, but also to economic growth and development." It is hoped this growing diversity in film, therefore, can lead to positive conversations and initiatives around the world.

International Conferences of the UNESCO History Project

The opening of UNESCO's first General Conference at the Sorbonne, Paris (20 November to 10 December 1946).
The International Scientific Committee for the UNESCO History Project is organizing a series of three international conferences in 2009-2010, with the common purpose of encouraging and stimulating historical research and reflections on UNESCO's programs, activities and orientations from 1945 to date. These three conferences are a follow up to the international symposium on UNESCO's history that took place in Paris on the occasion of the Organization's 60th anniversary in November 2005.

The Committee has selected the following three themes:
  1. "Towards the Transnational History of International Organizations: Methodology / Epistemology". This conference will pay special attention to UNESCO as a case-study, and take a broader view of methodological issues relating to the study of the history of international organizations. The conference was hosted by the Center for History and Economics at King's College, Cambridge University, United Kingdom, and took place on 6 and 7 April 2009.
  2. "UNESCO and the Cold War". UNESCO was an important arena for the Cold War, but it was also an actor with an agenda of its own. The purpose of the conference is to explore different historical perspectives concerning the extent of the Cold War's impact on UNESCO and vice versa. The conference is to be hosted by the Heidelberg Center for American Studies at the University of Heidelberg and to take place on 4 and 5 March 2010.
  3. "UNESCO and Issues of Colonization and Decolonization". Among UNESCO's founding Member States were both colonial powers and former colonies. This Conference invites students and scholars utilizing a range of methodological approaches and intellectual frameworks to reflect on UNESCO's historical role, relevant orientations and actions in regard to colonialism and the era of decolonization. The conference will be hosted by the Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, and take place on 1 and 2 October 2009.
There is a very brief history of the Organization on its website. The website of UNESCO's Archives has a number of featured links on various aspects of the history of the organization, Additional materials may be found using the "history tag" of the online UNESCO bibliography.

There are several historical studies specific to UNESCO's education program.

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialog and Development

The Day proclaimed by UNESCO provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to “live together” better.

Upcoming Meetings of the UNESCO Future Forum

Source of figure: Futures of Europeans

The UNESCO Future Forum series is part of the Foresight programme of UNESCO which aims at fostering the reflection on key future-oriented issues in the domains of the Organization.

CONFINTEA VI postponed

The Government of Brazil has decided to postpone the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) – which had been due to take place in Belém do Pára (Brazil) from 19-22 May 2009 – following the spread of the influenza virus H1N1 (“swine flu”).

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Should UNESCO have named Beirut City of the Book 2009

This year Beirut became the ninth city in the world to be designated as World Book Capital by UNESCO. According to UNESCO:
Beirut was chosen in particular thanks to « its efforts for cultural diversity, dialog and tolerance as well as for the variety and dynamism of its programme »
The Wall Street Journal, in an opinion piece by William Marling, recently questioned that choice.
Just last week "World Book and Copyright Day" was kicked off with a variety of readings and exhibits that honor "conformity to the principles of freedom of expression [and] freedom to publish," as stated by the UNESCO Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the UNESCO's "Florence Agreement." The catch is that Lebanon has not signed the Florence Agreement, which focuses on the free circulation of print and audio-visual material.

Even a partial list of books banned in Lebanon gives pause: William Styron's "Sophie's Choice"; Thomas Keneally's "Schindler's List"; Thomas Friedman's "From Beirut to Jerusalem"; books by Philip Roth, Saul Bellow and Isaac Bashevis Singer. In fact, all books that portray Jews, Israel or Zionism favorably are banned.

Writers in Arabic are not exempt. Abdo Wazen's "The Garden of the Senses" and Layla Baalbaki's "Hana's Voyage to the Moon" were taken to court. Syria's Sadiq Jalal al-Azm was prosecuted for his "Critique of Religious Thinking."......

According to Beirut newspaper L'Orient, any one of the recognized religions (a system known as "confessionalism") can ask the Sûreté to ban any book unilaterally. The Muslim Dar al-Fatwa and the Catholic Information Center are the most active and effective. (The latter got Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" banned.) Even works by self-proclaimed Islamists such as Assadeq al-Nayhoum's "Islam Held Hostage," have been banned, and issued only when re-edited in sympathetic editions (in Syria).
Editorial Comment: Certainly one must question the judgment of UNESCO in honoring the capital of a country which bans so much expression as "World Book Capital". However, in view of the very serious likelihood that Farouk Hosny, an Arab who is on the record as calling for book burning, will be elected Director General of UNESCO in October, one must express concern for the continued commitment of UNESCO to freedom of expression. This would be grave in any organization of the United Nations system, but the defense of freedom of expression is at the very core of UNESCO's charter and purpose. JAD

A university student browses an Arabic novel at a bookshop in Beirut, Lebanon. Source: Emirates Business, May 5, 2009.

The opinion expressed in this posting are the author's alone, and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO.
John Daly

Landmark UNESCO-Professional Team Partnership

FCBarcelona is one of Europe's great professional soccer teams. Now its associated Foundation, the FCBarcelona Foundation, has signed a landmark agreement with UNESCO by which they will partner in four areas:
  • The fight against racism and violence in sport
  • The fight against doping
  • Education and literacy teaching for defenseless children
  • The creation of a UNESCO Chair FCBarcelona on "Sports and Civic Responsibility"

Forum UNESCO-University and Heritage (FUUH)

Forum UNESCO-University and Heritage (FUUH) is a UNESCO Project undertaking activities to protect and safeguard the cultural and natural heritage, through an informal network of higher education institutions. FUUH is under the joint responsibility of the UNESCO World Heritage Center and the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV) Spain. This internet website is not an official site of UNESCO but a website created and managed by the UPV within the framework of the project.

China View Says Hosny in Lead

China View reports, based on an interview Hosam Nassar, a consultant to Farouk Hosny in his role as Egyptian Minister of Culture
there are about 30 out of 58 countries which have the right to vote.

Earlier, Russia, Chad, Congo and Brazil have announced their support for Farouq Hosni.
As previous postings have pointed out, Hosny is a controversial figure. Nominations by national governments are open until the end of the month. The 58 person Executive Board of UNESCO will vote on the candidates just prior to the General Conference meeting in October and its recommendation would be expected to be accepted by the General Conference.

Study of movie production worldwide

The UNESCO Institute of Statistics (UIS) has just conducted a survey to determine how many feature length films were produced in the world in 2006. The countries that produced the most films were:
  • India 1,091
  • Nigeria 872
  • United States 485
Eight other countries produced more than 100 films each:
  • Japan 417
  • China 330
  • France 203
  • Germany 174
  • Spain 150
  • Italy 116
  • South Korea 110
  • the United Kingdom 104
36% of films produced worldwide in 2006 were shot in English.

U.S. films continue to dominate admissions globally. Thus, all of the top ten films seen in Australia, Bulgaria Canada, Costa Rica, Namibia, Romania, and Slovenia were made in the U.S.

Monday, May 04, 2009

GigaPan Dialogues

The GigaPan Dialogues seek to promote empathy and understanding between cultures and create a greater sense of community through an exchange of explorable, high-resolution digital imagery. The GigaPan technology is state of the art but also simple enough to be used by students.

UNESCO's International Bureau for Education (IBE) and Carnegie Mellon University are collaborating on this innovative project. Last year the mayor of Pittsburgh proclaimed October 23rd as GigaPan UNESCO IBE Day.

The New Issue of the UNESCO Courier is Out

A “lesson” in Baicao River
Sichuan (China)
© Tang Ming

2009 - Number 4

School for the future

Preserving the environment, respecting biodiversity and safeguarding human rights represent new dimensions for education. Since the 2005 launch of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, ESD is becoming reality through myriad initiatives, evoked in this month’s UNESCO Courier.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

More about the election of the Director General

The recent opening remarks of Stephen Engelken, acting as Representative of the United States, to the Executive Board of UNESCO have been made available online. He stressed the importance of the election of the new Director General.
The choice of the next Director-General is the most important decision we will face for many years. Sixty years after its founding, the basic reasons for having UNESCO remain as strong as ever. Members of the world community need to cooperate with each other on education, science, culture, and communications. Now, more than ever, we need to tear down these mental barriers and suspicions that keep us apart.

While it may be too early to talk of names – the deadline for submitting candidacies is not until May 31 – it is not too early to begin thinking seriously about the qualities we seek in the next Director-General.

To some extent, we have already begun. In the text of the letter agreed at our last Board we said we were looking for someone with management skills, a strong commitment to the objectives of the Organization, a good knowledge of the UN system, and high moral and ethical standards. Most importantly, we said we wanted someone who could display leadership and a visionary approach. All of these qualities are important, but perhaps none more than the sense of vision. UNESCO urgently needs to look forward into the coming century and to keep reinventing itself to meet the needs of all of its members.
In another story we learn that Ambassadors of 60 UNESCO member countries are to visit Bulgaria.
Bulgaria’s permanent mission to UNESCO, the National Commission for UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture organize from May 2 to May 9 a cultural visit to Bulgaria of members of the UNESCO Executive Council. As part of the visit on May 4 the Boyana governmental residence in Sofia is hosting a one-day conference on the protection of heritage and cultural diversity as an original response to globalization under the aegis of President Georgi Parvanov, who will open the event. Speakers at the conference will be Sri Lanka’s Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha, the President of the UNESCO General Conference and Greek Ambassador to the organization George Anastasopoulos, the Rector of Sofia University Prof. Ivan Ilchev, as well as ambassadors of UNESCO member countries.
Note that Ambassador Irina Bokova, of Bulgaria, is campaigning for the post of UNESCO Director General with the support of her government.

Interview with the Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong

Adama Ouane, director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, looks forward in this interview to CONFINTEA VI, the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education, “Living and Learning for a Viable Future – the Power of Adult Learning”, which takes place in Belem (Brazil) May 19-22.

"Is Unesco damaging the world's treasures?"

Simon Usborne provides this long and serious article in The Independent (UK).
Since its inception, 37 years ago, UNESCO World Heritage has become a global brand whose seal is slapped on the planet's most precious places. The Taj Mahal is on the list, alongside the Pyramids of Giza and the Grand Canyon. These are the man-made and natural wonders considered to be of such outstanding value to humanity that their importance transcends borders, politics – and even economics. They are deemed deserving of the ultimate layer of protection – to be placed beyond the reach of polluters, developers, looters, bombers, and the ravages of time. The World Heritage seal is a guarantee of preservation.
He cites the effort led by UNESCO to restore the beautiful and historic center of Dubrovnik in the 1990s after is was shelled by Serb and Montenegrin forces as successful and prototypical of what UNESCO is supposed to do.
But now many within the conservation community are convinced Unesco is failing. They say the moribund organisation is teetering on its once sound foundations as its principles and priorities crumble under the weight of bureaucracy and outside influence. The World Heritage emblem has come to represent a grandiose marketing tool – fodder for "things to see before you die" coffee-table books.
Usborne suggests that World Heritage status is fine for countries that are proud of their sites and have both the knowledge and resources to protect them against the damage done by increased tourism, but that some sites in developing nations are endangered by their very popularity. Moreover, the tourism industry has learned that World Heritage status can be helpful to its business and Usborne fears that the industrial pressure is getting sites of less than transcendental importance included on the list.

Editorial comment: This is an important critique of the program. Surely the World Heritage program is underfunded and understaffed. One hopes that National Commissions and UNESCO's governing bodies will review this situation carefully and make such adjustments as are needed to assure recognition and protection of the sites which are truly so important as to represent the heritage of all mankind.

I have found online commentaries which may be of interest: