Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Call for Restoration of Support for UNESCO

Bryan Gould, the chair of the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO, has published an opinion piece in The Guardian (UK) on the occasion of the current meeting of UNESCO's Executive Board. I quote:
Step forward UNESCO. The oldest UN agency, during the era of economic man, has been pushed to the sidelines. Its emphasis on education, on the physical, human and social sciences, on culture and language, on the sustainable use of natural resources, as the mainsprings of human development and wellbeing, has seemed quaintly old-fashioned in an era of aggressive profit-seeking. But a restatement of those goals and values is now overdue. We can now assert, amid the wreckage created by economic man, that we are more than economic agents, and that Unesco's preoccupations point the way to a more complete and empowering sense of where our future lies.....

There are.......better ways of spending our money......Our focus should be on strategically planned programs for education in countries where schooling is still at a premium, in the strengthening of cultural identities to give people confidence to understand who they are and how they can play a constructive role in the world, in projects to protect and develop sustainable supplies of fresh water.....

UNESCO has never been funded to undertake these activities itself. Its current budget is pathetically small, and – in the current crisis – likely to get smaller. But, with proper financing, UNESCO could provide the intellectual leadership and strategic direction to ensure that skills and capabilities that are at present scattered and fragmented across the globe can be linked and co-ordinated, so that we get the maximum benefit from what we already have. UNESCO's role is to help us to do better than merely learn what not to do. Agencies like UNESCO can help us move forward by providing outcomes that are greater than the sum of their parts.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Clubs for UNESCO: a practical guide

Clubs for UNESCO: a practical guide, published in 2009 is a manual for those interested in starting or managing a UNESCO club. There are nearly 4,000 UNESCO clubs worldwide, but very few in the United States. The manual is an attractive 33 page brochure in PDF format.

World Heritage Scholarships in U.S. National Parks

Anasazi site, Mesa Verde National Park. NPS Photo

The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is offering fellowships to qualified candidates who wish to learn from the U.S. experience in managing and protecting World Heritage Sites. All expenses paid extended residencies in U.S. parks designated as World Heritage Sites will be available to site managers and staff of World Heritage Sites in developing nations.

The training opportunity will allow selected individuals to work alongside NPS professionals in a variety of areas including resource management, concessions, interpretation and education, planning, and law enforcement. The NPS Office of International Affairs, in cooperation with park partners, will pay for and arrange for travel to the US, while individual host parks will provide housing and a modest living stipend.

The NPS has considerable experience in international training. Every year, more than one hundred individuals from all over the world volunteer in America's National Parks. The International Volunteers-in-Parks Program (IVIP) benefits both the individual volunteer and the National Park Service (NPS).

Perhaps the most famous sites which are both World Heritage sites and U.S. National Parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone are best known as natural heritage sites. However, there are also important cultural World Heritage sites managed by the NPS such as Mesa Verde, the Statue of Liberty and Philidelphia's Independence Hall.

Fellowship candidates should be English speakers willing to spend a minimum of 6 weeks in the US. Residencies; up to 4 months can be arranged. The NPS Office of International Affairs will assist each selected individual in securing the appropriate visa to allow entry to the United States.

For more information, you may contact the responsible NPS officers:

Human Rights Pledges of the United States

On March 31, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice announced that the United States will seek a seat this year on the United Nations Human Rights Council with the goal of working to make it a more effective body to promote and protect human rights.

As part of the process that will culminate in elections on May 12, each candidate country is asked to produce a pledge outlining its commitment to promoting human rights. This information is circulated among countries and posted on the UN Human Rights Council website. The United States has produced its pledge - Human Rights Commitments and Pledges of the United States of America.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The American Artist for Peace

UNESCO Artists for Peace are internationally-renowned people who use their influence, charisma and prestige to help promote UNESCO’s message and programs. UNESCO works with these distinguished personalities in order to heighten public awareness regarding key development issues and to inform the public about the Organization.

One U.S. citizen is included in this distinguished group, N. Scott Momaday, a Kiowa, who
won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel, House Made of Dawn, Momaday is the Poet Laureate of Oklahoma and operates the Buffalo Trust, a nonprofit organization working to preserve native cultures. He has most recently been awarded a 2007 National Medal of Arts by President George W. Bush.

He was designated UNESCO Artist for Peace by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura in a ceremony at the Organization’s Headquarters on 12 May 2004.
Mr Momaday received this distinction “for his outstanding achievements as a writer and painter, his action in support of the restoration and preservation of Native American heritage and cultural traditions and communities […] and in recognition of his dedication to UNESCO’s Programme for intercultural dialogue and for the safeguarding of indigenous cultures.”

Queen Rania in "The Situation Room"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

LEA - Links to Education and Art

Links to Education and Art (Lea International) is an international network of experts and practitioners which has been in existence for a decade. It was created by UNESCO with a view to strengthening the role of arts teaching in general education.

LEA’s aim is to multiply contacts between specialists throughout the world for the exchange of information and dissemination of best practices, pedagogical tools and interdisciplinary resources in each discipline. It also gathers information on teacher training.

LEA is therefore elaborating an inventory of the situation of international arts education that can assist governments in furthering arts education in their country. The first phase of this program was concluded by a World Conference on Arts Education (Lisbon, Portugal, 6 to 9 March 2006).

On the Election of the Director General

When she addressed the UNESCO Executive Board in March of 2008, Ambassador Oliver mentioned this year's election of a new Director General for UNESCO, including the following:
I’d like to end my remarks by mentioning the most important issue facing UNESCO and the U.S. in the immediate future, which is of course the election of a new Director-General at the General Conference in October 2009. This will be the first time in 27 years that the U.S. will be engaged in the election process.

The selection of a new Director-General is critical for the organization, not only because that individual gets to choose his or her cabinet and the senior staff, but also because approximately one-third of UNESCO’s staff will reach the mandatory retirement age in the next five years. Moreover, since the U.S. has no veto at UNESCO, it is of the utmost importance for us that a new Director-General who is supportive of active U.S. engagement at that organization be selected.

The Chairman of the Executive Board is supposed to send a letter to all the delegations in June outlining the D-G selection process that took place last time. The process will be discussed at the October Executive Board, after which the Executive Board will send out a formal letter inviting individuals to apply for the position.

What makes this election process a bit awkward is that several candidates have already been actively campaigning for months. It is also unfortunate that although the U.S. really needs to play a major role in this process, both the State Department and the Mission will be facing significant changes in personnel and leadership. We must make sure that despite the transition to a new Administration, the U.S. voice at UNESCO remains strong during this crucial time.
UNElections.Org in March published a long and useful article on the election of the new Director General.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Power of Peace Network

The Power of Peace Network (PPN) is a UNESCO-led initiative seeking to harness the power of the 2.0 web and the energy of young innovators and activists.

Another Candidate for UNESCO Director General

I understand that Mounir Bouchenaki, currently Director-General of the International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Pestoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) has been nominated for the post of Director General of UNESCO. He served as a UNESCO staff member for many years before being appointed to ICCROM.

The Literacy Project

Google hosts this resource for teachers, literacy organizations and anyone interested in reading and education, created in collaboration with LitCam, Google, and UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning. The site provides materials in five languages.

Check out this great set of innovative projects on the Literacy Project website!

UNESCO at the Anti-Racism Conference

Source: "UN anti-racism conference winds down amid NGO expulsions for bad behaviour," UN News Center, 23 April 2009.

I quote:
A number of the UN agencies spoke at the five-day Durban Review Conference, which comes to a close tomorrow, including the International Labour Organization (ILO), which warned that saying no to racism in the work is key to promoting respect, tolerance and inclusiveness.

For its part, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) highlighted its own role in countering pseudo-scientific theories of racial superiority.

"Sharp drop in aid to basic education jeopardizes school chances for millions"

A sharp decline in aid to basic education to developing countries threatens to reverse progress towards the international goal of universal primary schooling. This is the stark conclusion drawn by UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report Team.

According to the latest figures from the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) for 2007, total aid commitments to basic education declined from US $5.5 billion in 2006 to US $4.3 billion in 2007, representing a decrease of nearly 22%.

UNESCO’s Global Monitoring Report 2009 warned that the world will fall short of goals agreed by the international community at Dakar in 2000. There are currently 75 million children out of school; many millions more drop out before completing primary education. Projections indicate that the target of universal primary education by 2015 will be missed by at least 30 million children.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Class: The Final Session

The final session of our seminar on UNESCO at George Washington University was devoted to the students sharing descriptions of their class projects. I thought the projects ranged from very good to wonderful. I will not identify the titles of the projects and their authors to protect student privacy.

The students are asked to submit a brief project proposal at mid semester, and get written faculty feedback from that submission. Most meet with one of the faculty for an hour or two to discuss the project, usually narrowing the scope. We make an effort to assure that each student takes on a UNESCO related project that really interests her/him, and ideally that ties into their work or their career plans. While most projects take the form of an academic paper, they also take the form of project proposals, website designs, manuals, and one in the past was even the plan for a museum exhibition. Most students work alone, but in some cases students work on a joint project.

I admit my thinking about the projects has evolved over time. Certainly each project provides its author with an opportunity to go into depth about a facet of UNESCO. If we succeed in the student's selecting a project in which she/he is really interested and has some relevant background, the experience should be more fun and the product better. I also like for projects to produce useful outputs -- why have that much work go into something that is read only once. We try to get students to think about the methods for producing a project, to think about the audience for their project results, and especially to get away from secondary sources and to actually talk to (interview) people who have practical experience; these are practices that will serve them well in the future. Since most of the students in this course will not be career academics, the project gives them the opportunity to develop a product that will be typical of their professional work product with the supervision of an experienced professional.

The overall design of the course

Since this is the last in the series of postings on the course, I will take the opportunity to reflect a little more on its design.

The nominal objective of the course is to teach students about UNESCO, an organization that is likely to be important to their future careers, and about the way in which the United States relates to UNESCO. For that purpose we seek to combine information about the history of the organization, its programs, its organization, its governance, its staffing, and its processes. Fortunately we have access to people trained in history who have studied UNESCO's history specifically and who have long personal experience with the organization, and they provide a couple of lectures early in the semester.

The students present a half dozen classes, each focusing on a program or subprogram of UNESCO. Together these cover almost all of UNESCO's programs. We started to do this feeling that the students would learn more in preparing their presentations, and that they would better communicate the information that they had accumulated to their fellow students. We discovered that the students are mostly professional teachers and that they are better at teaching than most university faculty and most of our guest faculty. The classroom performance ranges from good to truly outstanding.

I try to help the students to build tools for understanding large, international organizations that will generalize from UNESCO to other organizations with which they may work or interact in the future.

We also scheduled two role playing exercises this semester. The idea in part was to help the students to understand the way in which UNESCO works as a forum for international discussion, and the perception was that by playing the roles they would internalize better the complexity of both the issues being addressed and the processes by which negotiations take place in an international setting.

We were fortunate enough to have a retired senior diplomat come in and share his experience with the oversight of U.S. representation to UNESCO. In addition to the nominal content of the class, this provided an opportunity for the students to get to know and interact with a career professional diplomat. Indeed, during the semester we probably averaged three senior professionals in the classroom for each class. Remember, the roots of the words "professional" and "profess" are related, and I feel there is something important to be gained by giving students the opportunity to interact with really experienced professionals in their chosen fields.

A couple of the classes were specific future exercises, in keeping with the title of the course, "UNESCO: Agenda for the 21st Century." The exercises also help the students to think prospectively and not just retrospectively, and to address the nature of the organization from still another perspective.

We found the seminar format to be useful, in large part because we had a small class (nine students) who were thoughtful and articulate. It was interesting to see the degree to which the class discussion was driven by a couple of students who were outgoing and inquisitive. I suspect that sharing discussion with fellow students encouraged thoughtful construction of questions and follow-ups.

All and all, I think the class was a success. We will find out more when we get the feedback from the student evaluations.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Summer Internship working on the new UNESCO website

UNESCO is currently searching for summer interns to work on helping define and launch the new UNESCO website. Duties vary from editorial, technical to promotional activities.

UNESCO.ORG has over 1.5 visitors per month from around the world and publishes content in over seven languages. The site is currently undergoing a total overhaul including a content renewal and development of a new user interface.

Sound exciting? Then visit UNESCO's volunteer webpage to find out if you have the right profile and submit your candidature:

You can contact Stephen Roberts, UNESCO Web Coordinator, directly once this has been done, with a short letter of introduction and motivation. Note that he is a member of the UNESCO's Friends Group on LinkedIn, the social networking site.

Dept of Ed Policy Attache to UNESCO Cut from U.S. Budget

Tuesday the Washington Post had a story that the White House had cut the position of Education Attache from the staff of the Permanent Representative of the United States to UNESCO. The cut is estimated to save between $631 thousand to $713 thousand.
That includes the following: one GS-15 salary, plus benefits; one Paris apartment, plus parking; travel and moving expenses; education costs for children of up to $60,000; and $170,000 for International Cooperative Administrative Support Services, an expenses-sharing mechanism used by agencies for overseas staff.
Sally Lovejoy, formerly a Congressional aid, was appointed to the job in 2006 and resigned at the end of the Bush administration. I assume that we will replace Ms. Lovejoy with a considerably junior officer, who has much less luxurious support services.

No Wonder This Woman Is Smiling
Photo credit: Susan Walsh - AP

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Level: D1
Location: Paris
Competition Closes: 14 May 2009
For more information:
To Apply:

Job: Chief of Section on the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

Level: P5
Location: Paris
Closing Date: 9 June 2009
To Apply:
For More Info:

A Boom Time for Cultural Cooperation and Industries

Past weeks, certainly, have led to exciting milestones in bringing together cultural goods and services. The World Digital Library, for example, has rightfully generated buzz about the wealth of resources now available in sharing information from around the world. Further, projects cherishing cultural cooperation like UNESCO's Memory of the World project and today's World Press Freedom Day cherish diversity of expression in all forms.

These projects and events are just a few of the signs that indicate diversity is more often seen as an asset and not a threat around the world than in the past. In fact, UNESCO reports indicate that initiatives promoting diversity for development will increase in the future.

One upcoming initiative may be especially intriguing in this regard. UNESCO's first Forum of Cultural Industries will be held this coming September in Monza, Italy, and will focus on one specific segment of cultural industries in seeking to increase the capacity of cultural industries worldwide.

This September's forum will bring together hundreds of international experts and focus on promoting innovation and excellence in the craft and luxury industry. The specific goal is to generate discussion and ideas on how to strengthen multi-stakeholder partnerships in this area, especially in the private sector.

UNESCO hopes that this will be the first of many forums that will further strengthen links in cultural sectors at local, national, and international levels.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Launch of the World Digital Library

The world is atwitter with the news of the launch of the World Digital Library, literally. The Twitter social networking site was abuzz with hundreds of tweets about the inauguration, including tweets in Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian, as well as other languages.

In 2005, at the first meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO after the United States reentered its community of nations, James Billington took advantage of his opening plenary address to lay our a vision of the World Digital Library. He proposed an online collection, global in scope and catalyzed by UNESCO, that would be modeled after the Library of Congress' American Memory, a website that provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. At the time of his talk, the American Memory already contained 40 million entries.

Billington's proposal, that the United States delegation take his proposal to UNESCO, was enthusiastically accepted by the members of the National Commission. Since that time the proposal has been exhaustively reviewed and approved by UNESCO's governing bodies. A number of national libraries and the Library of Alexandria joined in the effort. $10 million has been raised, including $3 million from Google.

This week the World Digital Library was made available with 1,200 documents and their explanations from scholars in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish and Russian. But it is designed to accommodate an unlimited number of such texts, charts and illustrations from as many countries and libraries as want to contribute.

Read the article describing the launch in:

Join the LinkedIn UNESCO Group

A group has formed on the LinkedIn social network in support of UNESCO and its programs. It currently has 280 members, and more are welcome. The website provides news, a forum for discussions, job information, and means to link with others interested in the UNESCO. LinkedIn is the social network most used for professional networking.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mercedes Sosa - Solo le Pido a Dios

Sosa is UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Latin America and the Caribbean. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

UNESCO's Posters

As you would expect from an organization that leads the United Nations in the fields of Communications and Culture, UNESCO not only has produced large numbers of posters to publicize its many programs and projects, those posters often have great artistic merit.

During its celebration of its 60th anniversary, UNESCO created an exhibition of the 60 most beautiful posters which had illustrated the Organizations priorities. Some were signed by famous artists, and others were products of the imaginations of staff members. The exhibition is still available on the UNESCO website.

The poster shown above was created by UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Ikuo Hirayama. It honors a five-year major UNESCO project on an integral study of the Silk Roads as “roads of dialogue.”

April 29: International Dance Day

The Dakar Ballet, Senegal, dancers performing at UNESCO
Claude, Michel © UNESCO

International Dance Day is celebrated every year on the 29th of April. The date commemorates the birthday of Jean-Georges Noverre, who was born in 1727 and was a great reformer of dance.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Proposal to Reccgnize the Inca Roads as World Heritage

Source: "Caminos incas, propuestos para ser reconocidos por UNESCO," El Universal
(Quito), April 14, 2009.

Representatives from Colombia, Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina met last week in Quito, Ecuador with the intention of placing Qhapaq Ñan, the network of imperial Inca roads on the list of World Heritage sites. The two day meeting was organized by the Ministry responsible for coordinating the Natural and Cultural Heritage of Ecuador. The participants were to seek integration and coordination of their country delegations for the support of the proposal in UNESCO.

The 600 year old Inca road system included some 30,000 kilometers of improved roads that permitted rapid communication over an area now covered by seven countries. The working meeting discussed plans to maintain and conserve the roads, a necessary step in the application for World Heritage status.

Editors note: I have seen a small part of this road network, and is seems to me to be an engineering accomplishment perhaps comparable to the road systems of ancient Persia or ancient Rome, or for that matter to the Great Wall of China. Good luck to our Latin American neighbors in their quest. JAD

The International Day for Monuments and Sites

The Thermo Technical Institute
of the Catholic University of Leuven

April 18th

The International Day for Monuments and Sites (informally known as the World Heritage Day) was created on 18 April, 1982, by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and later approved at the 22nd UNESCO General Conference in 1983.

The theme of the meeting this year is Heritage and Science.

The ICOMOS April 18 website
With lots of information on sites of technological heritage.

Perhaps in commemoration of the day, the Examiner (Seattle, Washington) has published an article by Annika Hipple:
UNESCO's World Heritage List: What does it mean, anyway?

Mexico City Declaration on Cultural Policies

UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies, Mexico City, 06 August 1982.

The Conference adopted a celebrated broad definition of culture:
in its widest sense, culture may now be said to be the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features that characterize a society or social group. It includes not only the arts and letters, but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions and beliefs;

that it is culture that gives man the ability to reflect upon himself. It is culture that makes us specifically human, rational beings, endowed with a critical judgement and a sense of moral commitment. It is through culture that we discern values and make choices. It is through culture that man expresses himself, becomes aware of himself, recognizes his incompleteness, questions his own achievements, seeks untiringly for new meanings and creates works through which he transcends his limitations.

Class: "UNESCO: Agenda for the 21st Century"

The UNESCO Headquarters illuminated

Our GWU seminar discussed the future of UNESCO last night. The two hour session began with three brief presentations>

Frank Method began the class with a discussion of demographic trends of the next 40 years. While much of the educational effort for less and least developed nations has been focused on expanding educational services both to increase enrollment and to meet the demands of increasing numbers of children, those pressures will be decreased in future decades and the numbers of children may even decrease in some countries such as China and India. On the other hand, the numbers of people over 60 years of age will increase rapidly, implying needs to educate people for their longer lives among other things. Frank pointed out that UNESCO is the logical forum for international policies to be worked out in response to these demographic trends. He also pointed out that UNESCO has been deeply involved in a number of multiyear educational programs which will end in the next few years, and there will probably be a need to find new vehicles for international cooperation. Frank suggested that in the future there would be need for more focus on educational quality, on vocational education, on higher education and on educational technology than in the past.

Ray Wanner referred back to the response of Archibald MacLeish, the head of the U.S. delegation at the founding of UNESCO, when asked about the program of the Organization. MacLeish suggested the metaphor of a kite on the ground that would lift and fly in response to breezes and changes in the wind. UNESCO would similarly respond to currents of international thought and dialog. In fact this has happened again and again, as in the case of the creation of the World Heritage Convention or the creation of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. Next week the World Digital Library will be launched, representing the latest major initiative; it was proposed in 2005 at the U.S. National commission meeting by the Librarian of Congress, and has gone through the complex approval process resulting in a network of major libraries around the world working with a platform developed by industrial partners.

Ray also described the complex governance process of UNESCO, which involves a General Conference of about three weeks every other year with delegations from all the member nations. The Executive Board, of 58 nations, has business several-week-long meetings twice a year, with additional information meetings. These cost the organization $14 million per year, and require the presence of senior staff at all plenary sessions. The next meeting of the Executive Board has 60 agenda items, for each of which the Secretariat has produced a supporting document translated into five languages.

I (John Daly) sought to promote serious and original thinking by suggesting for discussion the proposition that UNESCO should be broken up. I summarized a critique of the diversity of programs and their lack of synergy, the governance, the system of election of Directors General, the lack of serious concern for its mission "building the defenses of peace in the minds of men", and the resultant unwillingness of member nations to budget adequately for UNESCO to carry out its many missions. I also pointed out that programs such as education, water and world heritage both met an increasing need and were widely regarded as effective within their constraints. I suggested that the United States might still have the clout to lead an effort to unbundle the programs of UNESCO, but that increasingly its influence in UNESCO governing bodies would be diminished as other countries successfully improved their economies and sought influence in world forums.

I suggested that therefore UNESCO might be broken up into a World Education Organization, A World Water Organization and a World Heritage Organization. While some programs would be abolished, others might be transferred to other intergovernmental organizations (Basic Sciences to the Trieste System, Copyright to the World Intellectual Property Organization, Doping in Sports to the World Anti-Doping Organization, etc.).

The Discussion

The discussion generally focused on defending the continued existence of UNESCO. Arguments for UNESCO included that:
  • it has a relatively well known, accepted and prestigious brand,
  • there are synergies among its programs, and efforts such as those helping children in conflict situations would suffer,
  • that the human rights focus fundamental to UNESCO is important, it it would probably be impossible to negotiate an agreement on a comparably strong support for freedom of expression and freedom of religion in new organizations.
It was noted that efforts to spin off programs from UNESCO were not always successful. The the MIRCEN microbiological network has gone silent when it was dropped from the UNESCO family of programs, even though such microbiological fields such as biotechnology and genetics are becoming increasingly important. In that context it was suggested that programs such as science education and vocational education which were deemphasized when the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore pulled out of UNESCO have never been adequately restored.

Especially interesting was the discussion of the important role of UNESCO as a forum for discussion. At the General Conference heads of government and Government Ministers get a chance to meet and discuss issues in an environment that minimizes conflict and promotes reasoned discourse. During the course the role of UNESCO's Future Forum and its ability to convene the heads of the UN agencies to work our common approaches to problems such as those imposed by the current global economic crisis were not emphasized. Thus this discussion provided an important complement to the discussions of individual programs.

The discussion also focused on my critique of UNESCO's governance and management. Arguments were advanced that modest improvements could and should continue to be made. It was also argued that while the plenary sessions of UNESCO's governing bodies tend to be dominated by diplomats, there are associated round tables "crackling with energy" at which sectoral experts do in fact provide effective guidance to UNESCO's Secretariat. It was noted that UNESCO's style of governance and management allows flexibility that is often conducive to innovation and initiative. Finally, it was suggested that while the view of UNESCO using models of top-down bureaucratic management suggest permanent problems of coordination and efficiency, newer models of networked organizations might also be applied; as the world learns more about network management we may see improvements in the efficiency and coordination of the operations of UNESCO's distributed networks of Institutes, Centers, Clubs, National Commissions, World Heritage Sites, Biosphere reserves, Associated Schools, University Chairs and Networks, etc.

While a couple of hours is not enough time to discuss the future of UNESCO in any detail, the session tended to draw upon the foundation laid during the rest of the semester to focus student attention on the future of the Organization.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

UNESCO World Heritage Sites - United States of America

Sarah's List of her choices for the top ten World Heritage sites in the United States on diddit, a social networking site. Diddit members can indicate which of the sites they have visited and which they want to "do".

Monday, April 13, 2009

UNESCO: World conference on higher education

The first announcement has been issued of the 2009 World Conference to be held from 5 to 8 July 2009 at UNESCO, Paris. It will address questions such as:
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”?

Check out an interview on the Conference with Stamenka Uvalić-Trumbić, Chief of the Section for Reform, Innovation and Quality Assurance, in the Higher Education Division at UNESCO’s Headquarters, in Paris.

Check out an interview with Marco Antonio Rodrigues Dias, the United Nations University representative at UNESCO who played a a central role in organizing the first UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education in 1998. The interview focuses on the higher education trends and the challenges to be faced in the coming years.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Young People Can Volunteer at UNESCO

Interns at the UNESCO Asian Youth Forum
Source: Korean National Commission for UNESCO: Luce Program - Korea
via Wellesley College Internship website.

UNESCO offers unpaid internships of one to four months to graduate and postgraduate students. The internships are available in UNESCO's Paris headquarters and also in UNESCO's field offices.

Depending on qualifications, these internships relate either to UNESCO's strategic activities or to administrative or technical functions. The aim is to provide an opportunity for professional experience in an international organisation which relates to and supplements interns' studies. UNESCO does not remunerate or pay interns. Costs and arrangements for travel, visas, accommodation, health insurance, and living expenses are the responsibility of interns or their sponsoring institutions.

The UNESCO office in Bangkok has an especially active program that not only offers internships but also puts non-student volunteers to work.

It appears that UNESCO decentralized institutes such as The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg and The UNESCO-UNEVOC International Center for Technical and Vocational Education and Training in Bonn will sometimes provide internships.

The World Heritage Center offers opportunities to volunteer at World Heritage sites around the world.

Gorillas and Chimps are among the world's most endangered species. The UNESCO/IUCN Great Apes Survival Project (GRASP) looks for volunteers to help in their protection.

For several years the Institute for International Education managed a UNESCO Fulbright Fellowship Program for U.S. citizens funded by the State Department, but it seems no longer to be available.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The University of Oregon to Host UNESCO Network Conference

The University of Oregon's Center for Intercultural Dialogue will host the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chairs from the Intercultural Dialogue Program in the first U.S.-based meeting of the group.

Chairs from UNESCO's university twinning and networking system (UNITWIN) will come together May 8 to 12 in Eugene, Oregon. Seventeen of the 19 Chairs in UNESCO's Intercultural Dialogue Program will attend the conference. The Chairs - from Austria, France, Georgia, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Moldova, Russia, Romania, Tajikistan, the UK and Uzbekistan - will present on their research on Friday, May 8.

Friday, April 10, 2009

U.S. Ratifies UNESCO Convention to Protect Cultural Property in Time of War

The Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict was negotiated in 1954. On March 13, 2009 the instrument of ratification was presented to UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. The U.S. signed the Convention soon after its creation, and on September 25, 2008, the Senate voted to give its advice and consent to ratification. It is only after the Senate gave it consent that the United States became a full party to the Convention. The United States thus joins 122 other nations as a party to this treaty.

United States diplomats Stephen Engelken (center) and T. Michael Peay (left), present the instrument of ratification to UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura.
© UNESCO/Michel Ravassard

Links of Interest

UNESCO Flash Info: The United States of America deposits its instrument of ratification of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict

Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property In the Event of Armed Conflict (The Hague Convention), 14 May 1954

U.S Department of State International Cultural Property Protection

Ambassador's Fund for Cultural Preservation

Class: U.S. Foreign Policy and UNESCO - A View from the Top

Esther Brimmer
Recently confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State
for International Organizations

Michael Southwick spoke to our graduate seminar last night, drawing from his experience as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State during the Clinton and Bush administrations, and especially on his experience as the United States rejoined UNESCO.

Michael Southwick (and Frank Method)

There was a confluence of circumstances that resulted in the U.S. reentry into UNESCO:
  • It was generally agreed that the problems that had been cited when the United States withdrew from UNESCO had been ameliorated or resolved.
  • President Clinton had made a public statement at the end of his administration that the United States should rejoin UNESCO when the United States had paid the billion dollars it owed to the United Nations agencies. Thus when the debt had been repaid, the support of the Democratic leadership could be counted upon.
  • The State Department had done a low-level internal review of the value of UNESCO membership in terms of U.S. foreign policy interests which concluded that membership in UNESCO offered a low-cost alternative to achieve U.S. objectives in international education, science and culture, that UNESCO would be more effective than bilateral agencies in some locations important to U.S. foreign policy, and that letting UNESCO work in other locations would relieve the need for the U.S. government to take action.
  • Rep. Tom Lantos had introduced legislation in the House of Representatives calling for reentry which had passed.
  • The United Kingdom and Japan were strongly supporting U.S. reentry into UNESCO, and were combining personal appeals with more formal diplomatic contacts.
  • Key gatekeepers in the State Department and White House supported the reentry, as did the Secretary of Education and the First Lady.
  • Surprisingly, there had been no delegations from civil society leaders (in education, science or culture) to the State Department advocating reentry, and surprisingly there had been no request from Rep. Lantos for inputs from State on his UNESCO legislative initiative.
While the process was put on hold due to 9/11, it was found convenient to announce reentry when President Bush made a major address to the United Nations General Assembly. He received a standing ovation on making the announcement, something that is both exceptional and against UN rules on that announcement.

The reentry into UNESCO remained controversial within the Republican Party, but the opponents were unable to muster their forces when the decision was made; they were able to do so later, and key members of the Bush administration were only won over to support for UNESCO with years of experience with the organization.

Ambassador Southwick indicated that UNESCO one of 42 intergovernmental agencies for which the State Department Bureau of International Organization Affairs provides U.S. representation, and indeed receives less attention than others such as the United Nations itself.

He emphasized the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the operations of the United Nations system, and characterized UNESCO (as seen from State) as the soul of the system, the agency in which intellectual leaders could debate important issues. UNESCO is a place in which American diplomats can hold serious discussions with diplomats from Islamic nations.

Within the State Department, the most prestigious posts deal with major countries -- Russia, China, etc. Foreign Service Officers, chosen for their economic and political expertise, depend on officers from other government agencies for substantive leadership as they deal with the specialized agencies in areas such as education, public health and agriculture. (He described leading a 90 person delegation to a meeting of the International Postal Union, in which 85 delegates came from the Postal Service including the Post Master General. U.S. Government policy is that even in such technical discussions, delegations be led by diplomats rather than sector specialists.) In these circumstances, there is little understanding of U.N. mission agencies in the higher levels of the State Department, and little attention to their programs.

In the discussion, Ambassador Southwick distinguished between the United Nations treaties, for which negotiations are led by diplomats, and programs of cooperation and assistance. He noted the fact that many key UN treaties have not been ratified by the United States, and the difficulties involved in trying to explain that failure to ratify a treaty does not imply opposition to its objectives.

One of his more interesting comments compared the process of negotiating an international agreement in a UN conference to the process of serving as a liaison of the State Department with the Congress. In both cases it pays to develop a strategy, recognizing the structure of the body in which the debate is taking place, and focusing on the key players in the negotiation.

There was some discussion of the means by which different governments influence international negotiations, ranging from diplomat-to-diplomat requests for support, to block voting, arm twisting of heads of government by heads of government, offers of increases in foreign aid, and even illicit financial incentives.

This was an exceptional opportunity for graduate students to get the straight information from someone who was really in the know, having lived the diplomatic process for years under different administrations. As such, it was an opportunity that might be unique in the Washington DC university system.

Check out:
Students Calder, Auten, Khouri, Tew and Cline
(and Method) listening to the speaker

Thursday, April 09, 2009

New digital library to display world on a website

Huexotzinco Codex, 1531, documenting in pictographic language part of the testimony in a legal case against representatives of the colonial government in Mexico, ten years after the Spanish conquest in 1521. Photograph: Library of Congress

The Guardian has an article today on the forthcoming World Digital Library. I quote:
Four years after Washington's Librarian of Congress, Dr James Billington, suggested the idea, curators have accomplished the first stage in the construction of a truly global library. With all material free of charge on a website translated into seven different languages, the WDL is expected to be an unrivalled educational tool.

"We hope that this brings cultures together, that it promotes better understanding between those cultures and that it provides educational uses for a world in which reading and scholarship have to face competition from 24/7 media," said John Van Oudenaren, the director of the project.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

UNESCO University Chairs and Networks in the United States

The UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Program, created in 1992, was conceived as a way to advance research, training and program development in higher education by building university networks and encouraging inter-university cooperation through transfer of knowledge across borders.

The 15 UNESCO Chairs in the United States are shown below, with the year in which they became part of the UNESCO network. Note that several of them were enrolled prior to the time when the United States rejoined UNESCO and the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO was revived, including three in Puerto Rico. (The number in parentheses represents the place in the list of Chairs in chronological order of enrollment.)
  1. UNESCO Chair of Education for Peace (1996), Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan de Puerto Rico (172)
  2. Mobile UNESCO Chair dedicated to the Problems of Habitability in the Hispanoamerican Cities and to the Integral Revitalization of their Historical Centres (1996), Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico, San Juan (173)
  3. Chaire UNESCO d'enseignement supérieur (1999), Universidad de Puerto Rico, San Juan de Puerto Rico (485)
  4. UNESCO Chair in Comparative Human Rights (2001), University of Connecticut, Connecticut (544)
  5. UNESCO Chair in Human Rights (2002), Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton (595)
  6. UNESCO-Cousteau Ecotechnie Chair in Global Coastal Assessment (2004), University of Rhode Island, Narragansett (658)
  7. UNESCO-Cousteau Ecotechnie Chair in Coastal Resources (2004), The State University of New Jersey, Rutgers (665)
  8. UNESCO Chair in Communication (2000), The University of Texas, Austin (673)
  9. UNESCO chair in Inclusive Education (2005), The University of Colorado, Denver and Health Sciences Center (692)
  10. UNESCO Chair in Bioethics (2005), the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington D.C. (700)
  11. UNESCO Chair on Growing up in cities (2005), Cornell University, New York (702)
  12. UNESCO Chair in creating independent, pluralistic media: training and exchange program for journalists (2005), University of Colorado, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Boulder (703)
  13. UNESCO Chair on Achieving the Promise of EFA: A Focus on Literacy and Sustainable Development (2006), Georgetown University, Washington, DC (741)
  14. UNESCO Chair in Transcultural Studies, Interreligious Dialogue, and Peace (2007), the University of Oregon (774)
  15. UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Rivers (2008), the University of Washington (808)
There are also two UNITWIN Networks headquartered in the United States:
  1. UNITWIN Network for Improving Biological Sciences Education through the Development and Use of Information Technologies in some Arab States Universities (318), established in 1997 at Purdue University, West Lafayette
  2. UNITWIN Network on Gender, Culture and People-Centered Development (780), established in 2007 at Boston University, Women’s Studies Program

Promote The Big Read to Help a Big Cause

In less than two weeks on April 20 through the 26, the Global Campaign for Education will have its Global Action Week highlighting one of the most neglected Education for All goals: literacy. Now is the time to plan big and small ways to support this extremely worthy endeavor!

UNESCO, as the chief coordinator of EFA and of the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012) , fully supports this cause and will have events worldwide related to the Big Read. Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura, for example, will host an event at UNESCO headquarters on April 23 to commemorate the week. Listings of more events and other information can be found here.

As UNESCO and others strive to realize the EFA goal of cutting literacy in half, it is essential for all to promote literacy in every way possible. For more information on the campaign for literacy, see

and information on

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The New Issue of the UNESCO Courier is Out

Laanecoorie reservoir, Bendigo (Australia)
© Rodney Dekker

The UNESCO Courier: 2009 - Number 3: Troubled water

Increased demand, waste and insufficient investment: water shortage may come sooner than we think. Although water covers three-quarters of the world’s surface, only 0.0075% of this immense volume is available for humanity’s use. Some countries have already reached the limits of their resources.

We must act now, warns the just-launched United Nations World Water Development Report, “Water in a changing world”, which assesses the global water situation. The UNESCO Courier examines some strategies for better management.

Read the editorial


  • The water we eat

  • Blue Scorpions against water corruption

  • The Yangtze or a journey through time

  • Australia’s water revolution

  • Water in a Changing World

"After the G20: UN chiefs point the way to recovery"

Meeting at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on the weekend of 4 and 5 April, the Chief Executives of 28 UN bodies issued a joint communiqué on the economic crisis.
The social effects of the crisis are already disturbing and could worsen. If action is not taken urgently, it can be devastating for the most vulnerable and voiceless, with growing social insecurity and displacement of people. The achievement of the MDGs is at stake. Progress in reducing poverty and hunger in developing countries is being set back. The 850 million people already suffering from chronic hunger in 2006 will increase to around one billion in 2009. The middle class in many countries is being weakened. The vulnerable groups, children, women, youth, elderly, migrants and people with disabilities, are hit the strongest.

Even before the onset of the current financial crisis, significant challenges existed in terms of food, education, health, water and sanitation, housing and minimum welfare for the most needy. Poverty and deprivation define the lives of too many.
The communiqué defined a set of joint initiatives:
1. Additional financing for the most vulnerable: advocating and devising a joint World Bank - UN system mechanism for the common articulation and implementation of additional financing, including through the World Bank proposed Vulnerability Fund.
2. Food Security: strengthening programmes to feed the hungry and expanding support to farmers in developing countries.
3. Trade: fighting protectionism, including through the conclusion of the Doha round and strengthening aid for trade initiatives and finance for trade.
4. A Green Economy Initiative: promoting investment in long-term environmental sustainability and put the world on the climate-friendly path.
5. A Global Jobs Pact: boosting employment, production, investment and aggregate demand, and promoting decent work for all.
6. A Social Protection Floor: ensuring access to basic social services, shelter, and empowerment and protection of the poor and vulnerable.
7. Humanitarian, Security and Social Stability: Emergency action to protect lives and livelihoods, meeting hunger and humanitarian needs, protecting displaced people and shoring up security and social stability.
8. Technology and Innovation: developing technological infrastructure to facilitate the promotion and access to innovation.
9. Monitoring and Analysis:
• strengthening macroeconomic and financial surveillance and implementing an effective economic early warning system;
• Urgently establish a UN system-wide vulnerability monitoring and alert mechanism to track developments, and report on the political, economic, social and environmental dimensions of the crisis.