Thursday, January 29, 2009

Publication of final volume of UNESCO’s General History of Latin America

The final volume of UNESCO's General History of Latin America (La Historia General de América Latina) has been published: Los proyectos nacionales latinoamericanos: sus instrumentos y articulación 1870-1930 .

The General History is divided into nine parts, one in two volumes. It charts the development of Central and South American societies from the Pre-Columbian era to the 20th century. More than 240 historians from diverse schools of thought contributed to the work under the supervision of a scientific committee headed by Venezuelan historian Germán Carrera Damas.

Published in Spanish, the History presents the main cultural, social, economic and political currents that have influenced the region and contributed to its specific, albeit diverse and evolving, identity.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

"A Loyal Bushie Burrows Into Obama's System"

Source: Elana Schor, TalkingPointsMemo (TPM), January 23, 2009.

Dr. Kathie Olsen has resigned her politically appointed position of Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation and assumed a career position of "senior advisor" in the NSF's Office of Information and Resource Management. She was apparently a career Senior Executive Service employee at NSF in the 1990's. Dr. Olsen was trained as a neuroscientist and worked in that field for many years.
Before becoming deputy director of the NSF, Olsen was the associate director of the Bush White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy. Her immediate boss there was Bush science adviser John Marburger.
The TPM article suggests that in that position "Olsen was at the forefront of the former president's systematic denial of the human causes of climate change." It also suggests that stepping down from the number two position in NSF to that of "senior advisor" she was burrowing into a career position.

According to her NSF biography:
Prior to OSTP, Olsen served as Chief Scientist for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (May 1999-April 2002) and the Acting Associate Administrator for Biological and Physical Research (July 2000-March 2002).
One might wonder how a neuroscientist became Chief Scientist for NASA. Perhaps the answer lies in her Congressional service:

According to her NASA biography:
From February 1996 until November 1997, she served as a Brookings Institute Legislative Fellow and then as a NSF detailee in the Office of Senator Conrad Burns of Montana.
Conrad Burns was a three term Republican senator from Montana who was powerful due to his place on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and his chairmanship of the Interior subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Burns was selected by Time as one of "America's Five Worst Senators." The magazine dubbed him "The Shock Jock" and called him "serially offensive" for his many controversial statements during his career, such as a 1999 remark in which he called Arabs "ragheads." The magazine also criticized his "meager" legislative record and his legal problems involving Jack Abramoff.
Burns' rating by major think tanks and political action committees included:
  • American Conservative Union : 91%
  • American Civil Liberties Union: 0%
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce: 94%
  • National Education Association: 0%
  • League of Conservation Voters: 5%
  • Christian Coalition of America: 100%
  • American Land Rights Association: 100%
So Dr. Olsen, a neuroscientist, worked for a very conservative senator and then was appointed to be chief scientist in an agency that his committees oversaw, went from that position to the Office of Science and Technology policy, and then to Deputy Director of NSF as a political appointee, and is now returning to a much less influential career position in NSF.

This history is presented here because Dr. Olsen was one of 15 people chosen to work with five UNESCO staffers on the UNESCO Overall Review of Major Programs II and III, the natural sciences and social and human sciences programs.

One might wonder why UNESCO -- which does not have a neuroscience program nor a space science program -- would choose a neuroscientist who had been chief scientist of NASA to review UNESCO's natural science and social and human science programs. Might it have been susceptible to influence from the political appointees of the Bush administration? Might the Bush administration have wanted a "politically reliable" member on that important panel?

I would note that Dr. Olsen's former boss, John Marburger strongly endorsed the recommendations of the panel when he represented the United States in Ministerial Roundtable in 2007.

Perhaps the Obama administration appointees dealing with UNESCO should quickly review the proposed revisions to UNESCO's science programs.

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

Caroline Kennedy for U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO?

Al Kamen in his "In the Loop" column in the Washington Post yesterday suggested that Caroline Kennedy be appointed Ambassador to UNESCO by the Obama administration. The suggestion appears to have been made in jest, but it may not be such a bad idea. Not only is she a Kennedy, but her father introduced himself in Paris as the husband of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy who was indeed much admired by the French. Were she to take the job, her voice would be heard in Washington and in the White House, and she would be a star in the diplomatic community in Paris.

In point of fact, according to Wikipedia, she has considerable experience in communications and has been a fund raiser for the New York city public school system for decades. She did a museum internship. As a lawyer she would be better equipped than most of our diplomatic corps to deal with the many UNESCO conventions.

We could do a lot worse.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mining the Past to Best Inform the Future

On such a historic week in the United States, it is easy to become enraptured with future hopes. Indeed, these hopes are what sustain and inspire us--they are what cause us to seek better for ourselves and for future generations. Yesterday's inauguration and the masses that came to share in the day celebrated how hopes can empower. They can propel all with optimism and excitement in stepping into the future.

Yet yesterday also highlighted another important element: the increasing diversity of not just the United States but of all nations. The words spoken by Obama and by so many others reflected not only hope but the need for awareness of those around us. It is with this increased understanding that compassionate, positive change can occur.

In this vein, UNESCO offers a wealth of information for those seeking to increase their knowledge of the heritage of their neighbors both near and far. UNESCO has spent over 40 years compiling 51 volumes, and it now offers its trove of information in General and Regional Histories:

General and Regional Histories

Over 1,600 global scholars have informed these six volumes, and its collections incisively delve into cultural and scientific heritages of different regions of the world. Considering the content of these works may well intertwine with our hopes to wisen all future steps we take.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

DG's Update on UNESCO Program

On January 18th the Director General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, briefed the Executive Board on the state of the Organization's programs. A few of his comments are reported below:

At this mid-term period, it is critical to maintain the momentum on EFA. Despite significant progress since Dakar, we still have a long way to go, and efforts must be redoubled if we are to achieve the EFA goals by 2015.

This is why UNESCO is working hard to include EFA priorities on the agendas of other development meetings, and to raise awareness and understanding of the connections between EFA and other global issues. Certainly, we must retain our clear and determined focus on the six Dakar goals. We cannot allow the EFA agenda to be diluted or confused. However, we must not forget that achieving EFA is inextricably linked with other development challenges – including poverty reduction, public health, HIV and AIDS and environmental sustainability. A better understanding of these links would help strengthen our campaign for EFA. I believe it is possible to deal with these synergies and still retain our focus........

I also wish to mention the ongoing series of literacy conferences, which likewise focus on regional and subregional challenges. Since literacy is not included among the MDGs it has tended to be neglected. The aim of these conferences is to show that literacy is just as important to achieving our development goals as universal primary education. Our purpose is to mobilize political and financial support at the highest levels and give literacy the place it deserves on the agendas of national governments and international partners.
He went on to discuss specific meetings relating to the Education for All program. Given the need expressed by various review meetings of greater efforts to achieve the EFA goals in Africa, the Director General discussed the African efforts in more detail.


International Year of Languages, to be celebrated this year, with many events planned throughout the world, will be another opportunity to highlight the crucial role of multilingualism in the preservation of cultural diversity and to promote dialogue and exchange among cultures. International Mother Language Day, on 21 February, will mark the launch of the Year, which I hope many of you will also celebrate.

Another important date will, of course, be 21 May, on which World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development will be celebrated and the UNESCO World Report on Cultural Diversity will be launched. The importance of languages in that regard will certainly be stressed on that Day......

Other questions raised concerned the progress achieved in implementing the Action Plan for the safeguarding of the cultural heritage of the Old City of Jerusalem.

The Action Plan documents have been collated and transmitted to the parties concerned and to the donors who have provided funding (namely Italy, Saudi Arabia and the European Union). A brochure on the projects is being compiled and a meeting with permanent delegations will be held soon to launch a campaign to mobilize funds for the implementation of the second phase of the Plan.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Departure of the NatCom Exec Director

Alex Zemek yesterday sent the following message to members of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO:
Today is my last day as the Executive Director of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. It has been my pleasure being a part of this office from the beginning. We have come very far since President Bush announced the U.S. intention to rejoin UNESCO on September 12, 2002. I joined this office after having come back from a year in Iraq, looking for an opportunity where I could continue to contribute to the U.S.’s foreign policy objectives. In these past four and a half years we have begun to make a difference at UNESCO and in the world. From important issue from literacy, potable water, countering youth radicalization, and upholding and advancing civil liberties like freedom of expression.

Thank you all for making this a rewarding experience. I know I will continue to interact with you all through the Commission’s Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship. The challenges at UNESCO will continue but with your help we can continue to build off of the great foundation that this Administration has laid on investing in people and helping others to govern justly and democratically.

I am excited about the new members who are joining the Commission. It is a great group that builds off of many of your recommendations from last year. I would have wanted to announce them all by this point and inform you of who has been selected as chairs and vice chairs of the subject committees, however, most information hopefully be released in the coming days by the next administration.

I will be starting a new opportunity next week at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA); I am excited to continue my serve to the defense of this great nation. Thank you all for the service that you provide.

UNESCO: Agenda for the 21st Century

Yesterday I wrote an entry for my blog, Thoughts About K4D, about the complementary ways one can understand UNESCO, based on something I prepared for a seminar on UNESCO. Dmitry Epstein, the Think Macro blogger, posted a comment asking for updates on the course. I share my first response to that request.

The title of the seminar is "UNESCO: Agenda for the 21st Century" and I have posted the Syllabus online. I am coordinating the course with a colleague, Frank Method, and many members of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO are participating during the semester.

The seminar is intended to provide students with an understanding of UNESCO and the context in which it works as an intergovernmental organization focusing on education, science, culture and communications and information. Students lead about half the sessions, and are expected to do a project for the course. In the two previous semesters that the seminar was offered, projects have included:
  • The creation of a manual for students intending to start a UNESCO club in their university,
  • The design of a museum exhibit on natural World Heritage sites and their conservation,
  • A proposal for a multimedia self-learning course on the World Heritage sites in U.S. national parks, which has been accepted by the National Parks service, and
  • A paper on UNESCO's role in the students home country which was accepted as the basis of a paper for an international conference.
This is the third time the course has been offered at George Washington University. It is a graduate seminar in the International Education Program. However, the seminar is open to students in other parts of the university and for cross registration for students in other universities of the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Indeed in previous semesters the class has been enriched by students of museum management and foreign affairs and by students from Georgetown university.

This semester there are ten students signed up. They are an impressive group. Most have lived abroad and have mastered more than one language, and almost all have some professional working experience. We have only had the orientation meeting so far, but I am looking forward to the semester.

John Daly

Friday, January 16, 2009

Thoughts on the Nomination of a New Ambassador to UNESCO

Louise Oliver, Ambassador to UNESCO as a Bush administration appointee, is leaving that office. The Obama administration is to appoint a replacement. Ambassador Oliver has faced important challenges at UNESCO, managing the reentry of the United States into the organization and representing this country in an era of its decreasing international reputation. Reliable observers tell me that she has been extraordinarily effective, representing her administration's policies consistently in a professional manner while gaining respect and making friends for America among the diplomatic community and the UNESCO Secretariat. The new appointee should build upon and extend her successes.

It is my hope that the new appointee will be given Ambassadorial rank by the administration. That rank has been established for Ambassador Oliver, and has been helpful in establishing her personal authority in Paris. It also symbolizes the importance of UNESCO to the United States.

The Obama administration has expressed its concern for improved international partnerships. President-elect Obama wrote in an article in Foreign Affairs magazine:
To renew American leadership in the world, I intend to rebuild the alliances, partnerships, and institutions necessary to confront common threats and enhance common security. Needed reform of these alliances and institutions will not come by bullying other countries to ratify changes we hatch in isolation. It will come when we convince other governments and peoples that they, too, have a stake in effective partnerships.......

(T)he United Nations requires far-reaching reform........Yet none of these problems will be solved unless America rededicates itself to the organization and its mission.
In her opening remarks in her hearing before the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Secretary of State designate Clinton stated:
We should also use the United Nations and other international institutions whenever appropriate and possible. Both Democratic and Republican presidents have understood for decades that these institutions, when they work well, enhance our influence. And when they don’t work well – as in the cases of Darfur and the farce of Sudan’s election to the former UN Commission on Human Rights, for example – we should work with likeminded friends to make sure that these institutions reflect the values that motivated their creation in the first place.
In their various statements the spokepersons for the Obama administration have stressed objectives for U.S. foreign policy that are fully consistent with UNESCO's programs. UNESCO's emphasis on peace and human rights, its leadership in education, and its scientific programs providing the knowledge to deal with global resource and environmental problems are all prototypical of efforts that the Obama administration will seek to enhance.

Thus the new Ambassador will be charged with collaborating with partner nations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of UNESCO as it carries out its fundamental missions.

The next Ambassador should be:
  • An articulate and charismatic spokesperson for the United States;
  • Fully committed to the foreign policy goals of the United States as articulated by the Obama administration, especially those for the promotion of peace, the reduction of poverty, the sustainable development of nations, and the solution of global environmental problems;
  • Capable of leading an organization with 2,000 staff and a $500 million annual budget which is capable of catalyzing global action;
  • A distinguished professional in one of the fields of competence of UNESCO;
  • A capable diplomat, able to negotiate compromise among the disparate interests of UNESCO's member nations; and of course
  • A person of sterling personal and professional integrity; as well
  • As someone who can communicate effectively in French as well as other major languages used in UNESCO.
I would stress, however, that while the new Ambassador must be a capable diplomat, his/her function should not be simply to negotiate with other diplomats and international civil servants, but to conceptualize how UNESCO's programs can be integrated with those of other U.S. and international agencies to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives, advocating the needed changes in UNESCO to achieve those ends, and also advocating the needed changes in U.S. policies towards UNESCO.

The first U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO was Athelstan Spilhaus, who served on UNESCO's Executive Board from 1954 to 1958. Dr. Athelstan Spilhaus was listed in "American Men of Science" as a meteorologist and an oceanographer, and made contributions to cartography. He was the inventor of the bathythermograph, a device to measure water temperatures in the deep ocean. That device contributed substantially to the success of sonar in WW II, and thus to America's victory in the war. He also developed balloons for meteorological and remote sensing applications. He was best known to the public for his extraordinary success in communicating scientific knowledge to the public through his comic strip read by some 12 million people per week, and to the academic community as the father of the Sea Grant program of the U.S. government. He as seen both as a global intellectual leader and as an effective advocate of U.S. policies.

I would hope the new Ambassador will live up to and extend the record of excellence established by Louise Oliver and Athelstan Spilhaus.

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

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thoughts About Choosing a New Director General for UNESCO

UNESCO is the lead agency of the United Nations system for education, natural and social sciences, culture and communication and information. More fundamentally, it was created in the aftermath of World War II to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men.

A new Director General of UNESCO is to be elected in October. The term is four years, but Directors General often serve two terms. Thus the delegates of the member nations will soon select someone to act as a global spokesperson for peace, for education, for science, for culture and the protection of our cultural heritage, and for freedom of expression for most of the coming decade.

Member nations have until the end of May to nominate candidates for the position. The nominations will be considered by the Executive Board consisting of the representatives of 50 nations. The Executive Board's recommendation will be acted upon by the General Conference of all 193 nations in October.

UNESCO has a unique governance structure in that its Constitution calls for member states to create national commissions which provide their educational, scientific and cultural communities with the means to exercise leadership in UNESCO affairs in collaboration with their governments. In no other United Nations organization is there such empowerment of civil society.

Now is the time for the national commissions to search for suitable candidates and to encourage their governments to make suitable nominations. This summer will be the time for the national commissions to consider the nominations, to evaluate the qualifications of the candidates, and to encourage their governments to support the best candidate.

The next Director General should be:
  • An articulate and charismatic spokesperson for peace and international understanding;
  • Capable of leading an organization with 2,000 staff and a $500 million annual budget which is capable of catalyzing global action;
  • A world leader in one of the fields of competence of UNESCO;
  • A capable diplomat, able to negotiate compromise among the disparate interests of UNESCO's member nations; and of course
  • A person of sterling personal and professional integrity; as well
  • As someone who can communicate effectively in the major languages used in UNESCO.
UNESCO's first Director General was Julian Huxley, a world class scientist who was one of the leaders in the synthesis of genetics and Darwinian evolution, a former Director of the London Zoological Society, and an effective disseminator of scientific information to the general public. The first Director General from the United States was Luther Evans, who had been the Librarian of Congress (the world's largest library) and who had organized and headed the Historical Records Survey (bringing order to the disparate historical records held in the individual states of the United States for the first time). Both of these men were known worldwide in fields of central importance to UNESCO, and both had demonstrated records in successfully leading major organizations. The next Director General should be add further luster to the tradition that they began.

If the nominations and selection of a new Director General is left to diplomats we can expect a diplomat to be selected. While diplomatic skills are important in the Director General, there are few diplomats who are qualified to lead UNESCO in its global mission. It is time for the educational, scientific and cultural leaders to stand up and be sure that the best representatives of their communities are considered for the post. The national commissions must exercise their authority to assure that a truly outstanding leader will be chosen to lead UNESCO into the new decade.

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

Sunday, January 11, 2009

UNESCO Director-General expressed grave concern over attacks against Gaza UNRWA schools

In a joint statement, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, expressed grave concern over the recent attacks against UNRWA schools and associated facilities. These facilities had been set up by the UN as places of refuge for civilians fleeing the fighting in Gaza.

U.S. Participation in the International Conference on Education

U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO Louise V. Oliver led the U.S. delegation to the 48th session of the International Conference on Education, hosted by UNESCO's International Bureau of Education in Geneva, from November 25-28, 2008. The delegation included Tracy Justesen, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and Troy Justesen, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, from the U.S. Department of Education, Sally Lovejoy, Education Attaché to the U.S. Mission to UNESCO, Emily Spencer, Education Program Officer, Office of International Organizations/UNESCO, Kenneth Schagrin, Trade Attaché, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and Anna Mansfield, Deputy Legal Advisor, U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

Approximately 153 UNESCO member states, 20 intergovernmental organizations and 25 NGO's, foundations and other institutions of civil society attended the IBE Conference, which is held every four years, bringing together Ministers of Education, representatives from international organizations, and civil society representatives to discuss and exchange ideas related to a specific education-related theme. The theme for this year’s session was "Inclusive Education: The Way of the Future."

Commissioning of the Institute for African Culture and International Understanding

DG Matsuura meeting with Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo
(UNESCO archival photo)

UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura has traveled to Nigeria for the commissioning of the Institute for African Culture and International Understanding (IACIU) in Abeokuta, Ogun State, as well as the Centre for Black Culture and International Understanding in Osogbo, Osun State.

The Institute is a "Category II" Center, supported by the Government of Nigeria. According to the UNESCO documentation proposing the approval of the center:
The Institute aims to study, evaluate, inventorize, exhibit and disseminate all relevant material related to Africa's cultural heritage – both tangible and intangible – and its diasporas. In addition, it will encourage academic and scientific research on black culture and its cultural expressions, creating a global network of specialists on this topic with workshops and seminars aimed at raising awareness not only among Nigerian stakeholders but also among national and local decision-makers. The Nigerian Government wishes to link this Institute to other national bodies devoted to the safeguarding of heritage and black culture from Africa and other parts of the world.
The first such body is the Center for Black Culture and International Understanding. That Center is built around a collection of Nigerian materials, largely drawn from the Yoruba culture, donated by Ulli and Georgina Beier.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Interview with Ali Moussa Iye

Ali Moussa Iye is the Chief of the Inter-cultural Dialog Section of UNESCO where he coordinates the slave routes projects and UNESCO's History of Africa. He was recently interviewed by McPhilips Nwachukwu for Vanguard Online (Nigeria).

African leaders in the 1960's were concerned that the available historical record of Africa had been written by Europeans and reflected the views of the colonial powers rather than of the Africans themselves. As a result, UNESCO was asked to take on the job or coordinating the production of a major survey of African history written by African historians. Over a period of 25 years that history was published in eight volumes. In his interview Iye states:
Now at UNESCO, we are launching the second phase of the Journal History of Africa. We are launching a project to try to elaborate three contents to be included at the primary and secondary levels for all the African Union member States. So, we are working with African Union.
Iye also discusses UNESCO's Slave Route Project, which was started in 1993. That project initially focused on the Atlantic slave route, but Iye (who is from Djibouti on the Horn of Africa) is seeking to move now to include the trade of slaves from Africa into the Islamic lands.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A New Year Brings New Vitality to Push for Education and Training

Those paying even scant attention to the news in the past few months may be a tad pessimistic about the current economic landscape. Yes, the present situation clearly does not warrant much to cheer about as no field is unaffected. Certainly included in this group is education; growth in educational fields has most certainly seemed quite grim as of late.

But wait.

Now may be the time to reintensify efforts for education and training on all levels as UNESCO and Education for All have recently done. This intensification call is supported by research conducted by UNESCO and others under the Education for All movement that has drawn constant links between education and economic development. Because of this and other findings, the High Level Group on EFA has called for national governments to allocate 15 to 20 percent of public expenditure to education. Addressing the shortage of teachers and teacher training are particular areas for investment.

Although these calls to support education are at national and international levels, much can be done locally and individually as well. Now, in the first days and hopes of the new year, is the time to offer simple acts of devotion of time and resources toward enhancing education. These small steps will add up to ensure all generations have the opportunities they deserve.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Do You Want a Job at UNESCO?

UNESCO is Recruiting for the position of a program specialist in education. The person selected will work in the UNESCO mission in Dakar Senegal. Applicants must apply no later than February 2, 2009.

You can find how to apply to this and other positions on this UNESCO website.

I have noticed that postings relating to employment at UNESCO continue to receive many visitors. If you are starting the process of getting such a job yu may find the following interesting:
The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO provides some information about opportunities at UNESCO on its website.

State Department's U.N. Jobs website

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Next meeting of the National Commission for UNESCO

On May 19 and May 20, 2008, the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will hold its Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Agenda for Americans for UNESCO for 2009

The Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO will meet on January 13th to consider the program of activities for 2009 for the organization. Dick Nobbe has provided this list of possible activities to be considered. Your comments are invited:
  1. GWU UNESCO Course - Offer for a third time a course on UNESCO for credit at George Washington University (N.B. AU has broken new ground in this area and there appears to be strong administrative and student interest in the topic. And AU has plenty of competence to handle it under the animated leadership of John Daly.).
  2. GWU UNESCO Club - Assist further the students at GWU in founding a UNESCO Club. (N.B. As I understand it, this project is still in the developmental stage. We should regard this activity as resource building for American participation in UNESCO's youth programs which have gained in status and now become a permanent feature of UNESCO General Conference sessions .I personally have a valuable collection of books, magazines, reports etc which I would be glad to donate to its library. Perhaps others do too.).
  3. U.S. National Commission for UNESCO - (N.B. We need to follow up on our transition paper calling for the restructuring of the US National Commission for UNESCO to its original legislative role of influencing policy direction at State and expanding knowledge about UNESCO's activities to the public.).
  4. The Ray Wanner Manuscript- (N.B. Any organization worth its salt must publish something periodically (besides minutes of its meetings) if it is to remain visible and viable.We have in hand a unique , ready-to-go publication which needs to see the light of day. AU should take advantage of GWU's lay-out and composition department while we still have access to their services. Funding may be difficult, but we should calculate the cost, earmark a portion of AU's budget to it, and pass the hat .My experience is that original publications of this kind eventually obtain funding.)
  5. UNESCO Reports of Meetings- (N.B. The principal end-product of UNESCO is the reports of its numerous technical meetings at considerable cost,yet they seldom see the light of day. AU should undertake a study of this problem with the view to cataloguing some of the more important ones for internet or website distribution to higher education institutions, NGOs, and other technical bodies in the US.)
  6. New US`Ambassador to UNESCO - Arrange a substantive dinner meeting for the new Ambassador early in the game accompanied with selective written materials such as our transition paper, previous brochure, and UNESCO publication on national commissions. (N.B. We did this for the previous US Ambassador and it was a great success by all accounts).
  7. Former US`Ambassador - Solicit her interest post haste in becoming an AU Board member in a Vice-President capacity. (N.B.In my opinion, she is very knowledgeable about UNESCO's programs and activities, is an excellent spokesperson and could be a real resource for us. Besides, she has undergone an epiphany, and we need converts and money for our cause. Nothing ventured, nothing gained !)
  8. UNESCO ADG Briefings. Arrange for one or two seminars during CY 2009 on a UNESCO sector.(N.B. It will be recalled that AU did this in cooperation with the UN Foundation and the UNESCO Liaison Office in New York in 2008 involving the ADG for Communications, and it was a big success. .I would give priority to the Social Science Sector after the incumbent ADG leaves since knowledge about the entirety of this sector's program is practically non-existent in the US Government and private sector).
  9. AU Social Science and Natural Sciences Committees (N.B.) These two committees need to be strengthened. For all practical purposes, they are leaderless or memberless.)
  10. US MAB Committee- Play a lead role in assisting the State Department to encourage Congress to provide support for a robust role of the US MAB Committee in UNESCO's program (N.B. I realize this matter is on State's agenda, but AU could help if we brought on Tom Gilbert and Sam McKee as AU Board members since both have formerly and prominently been involved with this program).
  11. Sid Passman's UNESCO News Bulletins. Explore with Sid ways of expanding his audience to include not just AU members, but all NatCom members, selective higher education institutions, NGOs (especially religious ones), and philanthropic foundations (N.B. I realize that not everyone is enthralled by what Sid selects but the fact remains Sid is the only source providing us with information about the totality of UNESCO activities., and he devotes considerable time to this effort. Frankly, without. his contributions, most of us would be in the dark about what UNESCO does).
  12. Universal Access to Cyberspace - Continue to monitor UNESCO's program activities contributing to the creation of an international strategic partnership to reduce the digital divide and to the development of knowledge societies through the implementation of the WSIS Plan of Action. (N.B. AU should team up with other NGOs to further this goal and participate in important international conferences to keep abreast of developments in this field).
I would add to this list, continued production of this blog and management of the AU website, with the possible recruitment of added volunteers to provide content.

In order to carry out an ambitious agenda, funds will be required. You can donate using the button above, or contracting Americans for UNESCO directly.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Welcome to the International Year of Astronomy

International Astronomical Union

Symposium 260

"The Rôle of Astronomy in Society and Culture"


19-23 January 2009

This is one of the opening events of of the International Year of Astronomy which is taking place in 2009 under the aegis of the UN, UNESCO and the International Astronomical Union (IAU).