Monday, September 28, 2009

I am on vacation

and may not be posting for a couple of weeks. Expected time of return about October 12.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Gestionan adhesión de Puerto Rico a Unesco"

Fuente: JOSE FERNANDEZ COLON, The Associated Press via Chron, Sept. 26, 2009

"El fundador del Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña informó que emprendió nuevas gestiones para lograr que Puerto Rico se integre a la Organización de Naciones Unidas para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura (Unesco).

"Ricardo Alegría, el gestor cultural de 88 años, declaró el sábado a la AP que 'si somos miembros de la UNESCO, vamos a tener soberanía cultural para que a los intelectuales nuestros se les invite a todas las partes del mundo, igual que a los boxeadores, corredores, beisbolistas y baloncelistas puertorriqueños'."

World Forum on Culture and the Cultural Industries

In cooperation with the Italian Government, the Lombardy Region and the city of Monza, UNESCO held the First UNESCO World Forum on Culture and the Cultural Industriesat the Villa Reale in Monza, Italy from 24 to 26 September, 2009.

Friday, September 25, 2009

World Teachers’ Day, October 5

World Teachers’ Day, held annually on 5 October since 1994, commemorates the anniversary of the signing in 1966 of the UNESCO/ILO Recommendation Concerning the Status of Teachers. It is an occasion to celebrate the essential role of teachers in providing quality education at all levels.

Read more!

UNESCO to Open Gandhi Institute for Peace Education in India

UNESCO’s Executive Board approves India’s proposal to set up Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace & Sustainable Development as UNESCO Category-I Institute

India is poised to become the first country in Asia to have an UNESCO Category – I Institute, which will be named Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development. The Executive Board of UNESCO has approved India’s proposal to set up a Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace & Sustainable Development as UNESCO Category I Institute. This approval was accorded by acclamation in the Joint Administrative and Finance Commission of the Executive Board at its 182nd Session which was held on 18th September, 2009. This would be the first Category-I Institute of UNESCO to be established in the Asia Pacific region. At present, there are eleven UNESCO Category-I institutes and except 3 of them, all are located in developed countries and none is located in Asia.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Media Literacy 101: Of Toilets, UNESCO and Demand-Side News

The Eiffel Tower out the window of UNESCO's 13th floor ladies' room.

Susan Moeller has an article in The Huffington Post based on her participation in a UNESCO meeting of those interested in including curriculum in K through 12 education to help kids evaluate what they see in the media. (Moeller suggests that people treated to the views of Paris from UNESCO's headquarters, such as the one above, may tend to feel that they are especially favored.) She sees the long term effort to improve "media literacy" of the public as complementary to the Obama administration efforts to help media news, analysis and opinion sources survive the social transformations being driven by the Internet Revolution. I recommend the article.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Irina Bokova Selected to be new UNESCO Director General

In the fifth round of voting of the Executive Board, the Bulgarian Ambassador to France and Permanent Representative to UNESCO has been selected to be the new Director General. Her nomination must be confirmed by the General Conference in October.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tomorrow is a very important day for UNESCO's future

Tomorrow will be the fifth and final round of voting for the new Director General of UNESCO. The Executive Board has voted four times, reducing the original slate of nine candidates to the final two: Irina Bokova and Farouk Hosny. On the fourth round these two were tied 29 votes to 29 votes -- the 58 countries represented on the Executive Board split down the middle.

Tomorrow will see either the first woman and first citizen of a former Communist nation elected of the first Arab. It is seen as quite important by the international community that high level positions in intergovernmental organizations not be monopolized by any country or cultural group.

The Director General of UNESCO, like the President of the United States, serves a four year term, and can be reelected once and only once. Thus the new UNESCO Director General, who will take office in November (after ratification of the Executive Board Choice by the General Conference in October), may well have a term of office closely linked in time with that of Barack Obama.

For UNESCO, the next few years should be critically important.
  • The benchmarks for the Education for all program and the Millennium Development Goals were set for 2015, and UNESCO should lead the global effort over the next few years to set new global objectives for education.
  • The new international climate convention under negotiation should add new urgency to UNESCO's scientific programs, especially those focusing on understanding water resources, biological diversity and the oceans.
  • The need for UNESCO-moderated, inter-cultural dialog continues to be acute, not only in Africa and the Middle East, but in Asia, between Russia and the West, between the emerging economic powers and the established economic powers, and in Latin America.
  • The Information Revolution continues to underlie global aspirations to achieve a global information society -- aspirations which UNESCO can help member nations realize through its functions as a clearinghouse for ideas and a catalyst for cooperation.
All of these priorities would appear also to be priorities of the U.S. Government, and specifically of the Obama administration.

Irina Bokova is currently the Bulgarian Ambassador to France and to the Principality of Monoco as well as Bulgaria's Permanent Delegate to UNESCO. In this latter role she has gained considerable expertise about UNESCO. She has served as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria and early in her career on the Bulgarian delgation to the United Nations in New York. In 1991, after the fall of Communism, Ms. Bokova served as a member of the Constituent Assembly helping to write the new Bulgarian Constitution. She was a founder, and served as Chairperson from 1997 to 2005 of the European Policy Forum, a civil society organization. She has written a number of scholarly publications. Initially educated at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, she was later the recipient of a two year NATO fellowship on democratic institutions, and has studied at the University of Maryland and Harvard University. She speaks English, Russian, Spanish and French as well as her native Bulgarian.

Farouk Hosny is currently the Egyptian Minister of Culture, a position that he has held for some 22 years. Early in his career he served as Egyptian cultural attache in France for seven years. He also served in several roles in the Egyptian cultural program in Rome, including as Director of the Egyptian Art Academy and as Cultural Councelor for the Egyptian embassy. He cites major achievements of the Ministry of Culture during his term of office including development of Pharaonic archaeology, the creation of a new museum and the Library of Alexandria, a nationwide system of local libraries, and a national literacy program. He is an abstract artist whose works have shown internationally. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Alexandria. He speaks Arabic, French, Italian and English (which he describes as "fair")

In contrast to that of Irina Bokova, the candidacy of Farouk Hosny has been very controversial. Two issues have been especially frequently treated in the media (both of which have been denied by Minister Hosny):
  • He has been subject to charges that he holds anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli views. He has stated that he opposes the normalization of Egyptian-Israeli relations that would lead to a restoration of cultural exchanges until progress was made in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
  • There is also opposition based on the record of censorship of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture during his administration.
Both candidates have been campaigning hard. Ambassador Bokova has visited 45 countries, making presentations to senior officials of those nations in company with senior representatives of the Government of Bulgaria. Minister Hosny has been campaigning for two years, with the strong support of his government.

Prior to the irruption of the controversies over Government Hosny, he was thought to be the front runner in the race, in large part due to support of Arab, other Islamic and African nations that had been sought be the Government of Egypt.

In the first four rounds of voting, Minister Hosny's support grew from 22 to 29 votes. In those same rounds, Ambassador Bokova's support grew from 8 to 29 votes. Essentially, as candidates with fewer votes withdrew from the race, most of their supporters went to Ambassador Bokova rather than to Minister Hosny.

The State Department does not announce publicly its votes in United Nations elections since they are to be held by secret ballot. However, it is widely believed that the U.S. delegate has opposed the Hosny candidacy.

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

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Assistant Secretary of State Brimmer at the Human Rights Council

The United States is pleased to join the rest of our colleagues on the Human Rights Council. It is with a sense of mutual respect that we take our place on the Council, next to the friends and partners we will work with to forge common ground on one of the most fundamental roles of the state: to protect and advance human rights.

The charge of the Human Rights Council ties closely to the United States’ own history and culture.

Freedom of speech, expression and belief. Due process. Equal rights for all. These enduring principles have animated some of the proudest moments in America’s journey. These human rights and fundamental freedoms are, in effect, a part of our national DNA, just as they are a part of the DNA of the United Nations.

And yet, we recognize that the United States’ record on human rights is imperfect. Our history includes lapses and setbacks, and there remains a great deal of work to be done.

But our history is a story of progress. Indeed, my presence here today is a testament to that progress, as is the Administration I serve. It is the President’s hope and my own that we can continue that momentum at home and around the world.

Our decision to join the Human Rights Council was not entered into lightly, and was reached based on a clear and hopeful vision of what can be accomplished here. Our vision is not merely made in America, but rather reflects the aspirations embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the mandate of the Human Rights Council itself.


The United Nations and this month’s General Assembly offer us a venue and a forum for nations to work together to live up to that founding charter and abide by and enforce international rules in service of global peace and security.

I have in my office in the State Department a picture of Eleanor Roosevelt, one of my particular heroines, and she is sitting at a desk working on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I’ve said this before, but I think that channeling Eleanor Roosevelt is not a bad idea. (Laughter.) It reminds us of what is at stake as we move forward with our responsibilities, as does Strobe Talbott’s recent book, The Great Experiment. We have to have effective global institutions. That is not a choice. That is an imperative. It is up to us to determine how to make them effective. The United Nations is a building. It is not able to act in the absence of the decisions made by those member-nations. We, in my view, ignore it and walk away from it at our peril, especially in the 21st century, where interconnectiveness gives voice and prominence to views that could have easily been either ignored or marginalized in the past.
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton
Speech at the Brookings Institution prior to the opening of the 2009 General Assembly of the United Nations

Friday, September 18, 2009

Esther Coopersmith appointed UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador

Esther Coopersmith (right) with
No'a Meridor, wife of the Ambassador of Israel to the United States.
Photo from Diplomatic Pouch, 2007

On 8 September 2009, the Director-general of UNESCO, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, designated Mrs Esther Coopersmith from the United States of America as UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for intercultural dialogue. The ceremony took place at UNESCO in presence of the new United States Ambassador, David Killion, his wife and various distinguished guests.


Monday, September 14, 2009

UNESCO Helps Resolve Irish Controversy

Source: The Economist

"UNESCO listed Skellig Michael as a “World Heritage Site” in 1996. Last year it published a report on the island that tried to settle the Irish argument. Its intervention was largely prompted by Michael Gibbons, an independent historian who had asserted that archaeological mistakes were being made there, and were being covered up by a conspiracy of silence.....

"In a Solomonic judgment, UNESCO found that the structures on the South Peak—apparently an offshoot of the monastery, to which monks went for retreat or penance—had indeed been rendered “dramatically different”. UNESCO said Ireland’s Office of Public Works should have opened a broader debate before proceeding with any restoration; but it did agree that some conservation was necessary. The Irish government has followed some of UNESCO’s recommendations, including naming a panel of independent Irish scholars to oversee the site."

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The limits of soft cultural power

On the Emei mountain, for example, visitors now see not only a famous Buddha statue, but a series of man-made caves with copies of other Chinese Buddhas—and nearby there is a brand-new statue of Shiva, an unrelated Hindu deity. “You have to peer at the plaque closely to see whether the object in front of you is Han dynasty or 21st century,” in the wistful words of one recent visitor.

Guarding precious and vulnerable places is one of the better things the UN’s cultural agency does—but it may topple over if it stretches too far

Sid Passman sent me a copy of an article from the Economist warning that UNESCO's World Heritage program risks losing its effectiveness, which depends only on the powers of persuasion and publicity, if it continues to increase the number of World Heritage sites, and if it fails to take the strongest available means to encourage countries to protect their sites. The report also cites a report by the IUCN critical of the use of scientific data by the World Heritage Center for the protection of natural World Heritage sites.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Top Seven World Heritage Sites in the United States

What does the Statue of Liberty have in common with the Olympic or Grand Canyon national parks? Well, they were all declared the USA's cultural and natural World Heritage Sites. Among twenty American sites appreciated by UNESCO there are several places of such outstanding beauty or significance that they deserve a separate mention.
Check out the list, then come back here and set the author right in our comment section. How can Yellowstone and Yosemite be left out of the top seven???!!!

UNESCO & CHEA Join to Fight Diploma Mills

Source: "Accreditation Group and Unesco Team Up to Take On Diploma Mills," The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 24, 2009.
The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization put out a joint statement today with suggestions for combating diploma mills around the world.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Monastery Maulbronn - Impressions of a UNESCO World Heriage A life-recording of the concert, which took place at the convent church in Maulbronn, june 12./13. in 1999.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Editorial: Intangible Cultural Heritage from the U.S. should be added to the list

UNESCO maintains a Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind. At this time there are no entries in the list from the United States. I suggest that the U.S. seek to add elements of America's contribution to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind to the list.

The first things that occurred to me for the list were jazz and American popular song.

It occurs to me that a better choice is the Internet. Certainly the Internet was invented in America. Fundamentally, it is the set of standards for interconnecting physical communication networks, and as such is intangible. The Internet is not only an important heritage of mankind, but it is in fact used directly by a billion people around the world, and indirectly affects us all. It may in fact be imperiled by its own success.

A useful point to be made by such a submission is that World Heritage items need not be old nor quaint.

John Daly
(The opinion expressed in this posting is the author's alone, and should not be considered to represent that of Americans for UNESCO.)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

UNESCO celebrates the power of literacy, September 8

A visit by Mrs Laura Bush, an awards ceremony and the launch of a touring classroom in a truck form part of UNESCO’s International Literacy Day celebrations in Paris.

This year’s theme, Literacy for Empowerment, highlights the staggering 776 million – or one in five - adults worldwide who still lack basic reading and writing skills. Two thirds of them are women.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Who Will Be The Next Director General of UNESCO?

The UNESCO Executive Board begins its meeting next week at which it will choose a new Director General for the Organization. The new Director General should continue the reforms made by his immediate predecessors, while implementing the instructions of UNESCO's governing bodies, and providing leadership in meeting the new challenges facing UNESCO in the coming decade.

There are eight active candidates who have been nominated for the position. While much of the campaign is conducted behind a screen of diplomatic secrecy, there has been a great deal of press coverage of the campaign.

The leading candidate, Farouk Hosny, is the Minister of Culture of Egypt. He has been campaigning actively with the support of his government for two years. In the last few months, however, people have challenged his candidacy, notably in the magazine Foreign Policy and the French daily L'Monde (in translation also in The Huffington Post) and the Anti-Defamation League. Thus his election is now in some doubt, and there may be several ballots before a candidate receives a majority.

The United States is said to have opposed Hosny during the Bush administration. With the change in administration, the UNESCO election appears to have received little U.S. Governmental attention for some months. More recently, however, the Obama administration seems to have encouraged the entry of several candidates into the race. A French journal today reports that the U.S. Congress might not support funding UNESCO if it were to be headed by Hosny. Were the U.S. to withhold or delay contributions, given that it provides 22 percent of UNESCO's regular budget, the impact would be severe.

Discuss the election on UNESCO's Friends group on Linkedin!