Wednesday, April 28, 2010

UNESCO club hosts commission

Source: Nicholas C. Stern, The Frederick News Post, April 28, 2010

The UNESCO Center for Peace and Hood College hosted the April meeting of the Maryland Governor's Commission on African Affairs at Hood's Marx Center Tuesday night.

The commission was created to address the need for state agencies to respond effectively to the needs and concerns of Maryland's African citizens, according to a UNESCO Center for Peace statement.

According to Guy Djoken, executive director for UNESCO Center for Peace, the African community in Frederick County has grown significantly over the past decade, though he could not cite specific numbers.

Djoken said immigrants from Ghana, Ethiopia, Liberia, Cameroon, Congo, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and The Gambia, among others, live in the county.

Israeli FM thanks Clinton on UNESCO action

Israel’s foreign minister thanked Hillary Rodham Clinton for removing items critical of Israel from UNESCO’s agenda.

The United States’ “strong and consistent position,” Avigdor Lieberman wrote in an April 25 letter to the U.S. secretary of state, “prevented the introduction of five anti-Israel resolutions initiated by the Arab group” of states in the U.N. agency.

Meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

Liz Kanick, the Executive Director of the National Commission, has just confirmed that the public sessions of the meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will be held on May 26 and 27. The announcement will soon appear in the Federal Register.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mónica González Mujica to receive UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2010

The Chilean journalist, Mónica González Mujica, a heroine of the struggle against dictatorship in her country, has been named laureate of the 2010 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

“Throughout her professional life, Mónica González Mujica has shown courage in shining the light on the dark side of Chile,” said the President of the jury, Joe Thloloe, Press Ombudsman of the Press Council of South Africa. “She has embodied the very spirit of the Award. She has been jailed, tortured, hauled before the courts but has remained steadfast.”

“Ms González is now ploughing her experience back to the younger generation through her work at the Center of Journalism and Investigation and her workshops on investigative journalism in various countries,” added Mr Thloloe.

An Exercise on UNESCO Governance

Irina Bokova, the new UNESCO Director General

Yesterday we had a classroom exercise in the GWU graduate seminar on UNESCO focusing on the election of the UNESCO Director General last year. The seminar has focused on the history of UNESCO and UNESCO's programs to this point, while the exercise focused on UNESCO governance.

By UNESCO governance I mean
  • its legislative bodies, the General Conference and its Executive Board with representatives of its member nations,
  • the Director General which the legislative bodies elect, and
  • the Director General's senior staff who are contracted and are not under the International Civil Service.
Fortuitously, the nine members of her senior staff were announced this week.

The students in the seminar are all Masters level students from the George Washington University International Education Program. While most are employed or have been employed, they do not have experience either with upper management or with the the political bodies that determine policy for intergovernmental organizations.

Thus the purpose of the exercise is to help students to understand not only the formal operation of the governance structures to set policy and direct operations, but also the way that the processes of governance affect the organization. For example, when UNESCO was created 65 years ago, the Executive Board was composed of individuals chosen for their personal excellence and their commitment to the purposes and program of UNESCO; some decades ago the UNESCO Constitution was changed and the Board was thereafter composed of the Permanent Representatives to UNESCO of those nations elected to serve on the Board. This change significantly affects the processes of the Board, its choice of Director General, and thus the Organization as a whole.

Describing the process by which Irina Bokova was elected Director General of UNESCO not only shows by example how the legislative processes work in UNESCO (and how governments use diplomacy to influence the choice of a Director General), but also help the students to understand what kind of person is likely to be elected to the post.

The nine candidates for UNESCO Chief
and the Chair of the Executive Board

The election has been termed especially contentious, but I suspect that there have been other occasions in which the election of the Director General has also been vigorously contested, such as that won by Luther Evans or that in which Amadou M'Bow finally declined to run for a third term.

What was different about this election was that it was held in the Internet age. It was possible to quickly obtain reports on the election for all parts of the world and it was even possible to search for reports in languages one does not speak and quickly obtain acceptable translations of the reports found via the Internet.

Utilizing these aids I was able to create a website on the election some months before the Executive Board met and to add material to the website on a continuing basis during the critical period. Surprisingly, a number of people stepped up to help me in that effort and indeed people working for various candidates also began to correspond with me. I assigned students the website as a resource for the class exercise.

The naming of the nine senior staff members (Deputy Director and eight Assistant Directors General) provided an opportunity to discuss the problems not only in finding experts to lead the various program and administrative units within the Organization, but also to achieve geographic and gender balance, a team that can work together well with each other and the Director General, and to satisfy the Ambassadors from the key member nations and the various UNESCO constituencies.

If you are interested in obtaining the Power Point presentation for the class exercise, the educational objectives for the exercise and other related materials, please send an email request to:

The Executive Board in session.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

UNESCO Chief Announces Her New Senior Staff

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova has announced the new members of her senior staff:
  • Deputy Director General: Getachew Engida
  • Assistant Director General for the Education Sector: Qian Tang
  • Assistant Director General for the Natural Science Sector: Gretchen Kalonji
  • Assistant Director General for the Social and Human Sciences Sector: Maria del Pilar Alvarez-Laso
  • Assistant Director General for the Culture Sector: Francesco Bandarin
  • Assistant Director General for the Communications and Information Sector: Janis Karklins
  • Assistant Director General for the Sector for External Relations and Cooperation: Eric Falt
  • Assistant Director General for the Administration Sector: Khadija Ribes
  • Assistant Director General for the UNESCO’s Africa Department: Lalla Aïcha Ben Barka
The new staff members are expected to take office on July 1, 2010.

Dr. Gretchen Kalonji is an American who has had a distinguished career at the University of California system, the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the University of California since 2005, she was responsible for university wide international strategy development. The UC announcement of her appointment stated:
At UW, she has led a campus-wide effort to integrate collaborative international research activities into curricular pathways of students, across the disciplines and from freshmen to doctoral level. This initiative, entitled UW Worldwide, has been honored with multiple grants and awards, both in the United States and in partner regions. Over the past 10 years, Kalonji has been the principal or co-principal investigator on more than $19 million dollars of related grants.

Professor Kalonji’s work, both in materials science and in educational transformation, has been recognized by numerous awards and honors, including: the Presidential Young Investigator Award; the George E. Westinghouse Award from the American Society for Engineering Education; the Leadership Award from the International Network for Engineering Education and Research, and the National Science Foundation’s Director’s Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, the highest honor offered by the NSF. Professor Kalonji has held visiting faculty appointments at numerous universities and institutes around the world, including the Max Planck Institute (Germany), the University of Paris (France), Tohoku University (Japan), and Sichuan University and Tsinghua University (China). She serves on numerous national and international advisory boards and committees, particularly for projects and organizations focusing on innovations in education, equity and access in higher education, and international science and engineering. Prof. Kalonji has been called upon to give more than 115 invited lectures in institutions around the world.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Call for Papers: 14th UNESCO-APEID International Conference

14th UNESCO-APEID International Conference
Education for Human Resource Development
21-23 October 2010
Bangkok, Thailand

Bridging the world of education and the world of work

Go to the Call for Papers!

The National Park Service and World Heritage

The National Park Service plays a key role in the United States with regard to UNESCO's World Heritage Program. It is the governmental link to the UNESCO World Heritage Center. It maintains a website with information on the U.S. World Heritage sites, almost all of which are U.S. National Parks. It has a Junior Ranger program which focuses on World Heritage sites, moderated by Wallie the World Heritage Wolf! Now it has created a blog with news and views on World Heritage sites.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

UNESCO Symposium Offered for 4th Time

Students doing presentation on the UNESCO culture program

The seminar on UNESCO offered in the International Education Program of George Washington University is nearing completion. During the semester approximately half of the sessions are led by students who present overviews of the various programs of UNESCO. The other half of the classes are devoted to people with long experience with the Organization describing their experience, focusing on the history of the Organization and the process of representation to UNESCO. In the four semesters the course has been offered, 55 students have developed a detailed comprehensive understanding of UNESCO, and indeed have learned how to study a large complex organization. Click here for a detailed description of the course as it was offered last year.

Students attending to the presentation

World Heritage Day!

Site of UNESCO's first great success in protecting monuments

On 18 April 1982 on the occasion of a symposium organised by ICOMOS in Tunisia, the holding of the "International Day for Monuments and Sites" to be celebrated simultaneously throughout the world was suggested. This project was approved by the Executive Committee who provided practical suggestions to the National Committees on how to organise this day.

The idea was also approved by the UNESCO General Conference who passed a resolution at its 22nd session in November 1983 recommending that Member States examine the possibility of declaring 18 April each year “International Monuments and Sites Day”. This has been traditionally called the World Heritage Day.

Read more!

Go to the UNESCO World Heritage Center.

The UNESCO-HP Brain Gain Initiative

The migration of highly-skilled people is having a significant impact on higher education and research in developing nations, as universities and research centers have to retain highly-skilled and increasingly mobile professionals in increasingly competitive labour markets.

UNESCO and HP joined forces in 2003 to develop several projects, using innovative technology to create a “brain gain” for regions that are particularly impacted by the exodus of academics and scientists.

In 2009 UNESCO and HP agreed to scale up the initiative to help create a sustainable university e-infrastructure for science, bringing together higher education institutions and research centres in Africa and the Arab States region and allowing them to pursue innovative education projects.

By the end of 2011, this infrastructure could span some 100 higher education institutions in 20 countries provided like-minded corporations and organizations join UNESCO and HP in this initiative.

Interns Begin Work at Frederick UNESCO Club

Zsofia Szabo, a Hungarian, and Stephen Perrine, an American, have begun internships at the UNESCO Center for Peace, a UNESCO club in Frederick, Maryland. Read more in the Frederick News Post.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wole Soyinka, Literature Nobel Laureate, on Haiti

Interview: Jacky Lumarque: Haitian university rector, innovator and agitator

A new model of education has emerged from the ruins of Quisqueya University in Haiti, which was entirely destroyed when the earthquake hit on 12 January 2010, killing 17 students and staff.

Driven by skills-based volunteering and solidarity, the initiative is rooted in the community and overseen by dynamic rector Jacky Lumarque.
He spoke to
EduInfo while in UNESCO for the Haiti Forum on 24 March.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Competition “10 ideas for tomorrow's Africa” (deadline: 30 April 2010)

Within the framework of the 50th anniversary of African independence, the Social and Human Sciences Sector of UNESCO (SHS) is launching a “Call for Ideas” for prospective proposals in favour of Africa’s development within the next decade.

Among the proposals, which should be submitted before Friday 30 April 2010 at midnight (Paris time), 10 ideas will be selected by an international jury and presented by their author(s) during 10 small-scale conferences to be held at UNESCO Headquarters, in mid-June 2010.

These 10 contributions to the thinking on Africa’s future will also be published in a special issue of SHSviews magazine.

Each proposal is expected to develop one idea which would amplify the positive effects and reduce, or contain, the negative impacts of the major trends observed in Africa on one of the 10 following topics:

Topic 1: Economy and Development (Environment, Food Security, New Information and Communication Technologies…)

Topic 2: Governance, Policy, Institutions, Leadership

Topic 3: Regional Integration, Population, Migration, Urbanization

Topic 4: Cultural Identities (Languages, Religions…)

Topic 5: Youth

Topic 6: Human Rights, Gender and Justice

Topic 7: Diaspora

Topic 8: Peace, Security and Conflict

Topic 9: Health, Education and Social Development

Topic 10: International Relations

Meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

I have heard unofficially that the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will meet in Washington, D.C. from May 25th to May 27th, 2010. The meeting should soon be announced on the National Commission website.

The Power of Peace Network Introduction Video

Visit the Power of Peace Network's website. The Power of Peace Network is supported by UNESCO.

Susan Sarandon helps reopen Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu recently was selected by popular vote as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It had been closed for two months after flooding caused by heavy rains washed out the rail line providing the only modern access to the site but was reopened to visitors on April first. Susan Sarandon, surrounded by hoards of photographers, participated in the opening ceremonies.
“I had no idea there were so many journalists at Machu Picchu,” joked Sarandon, who was flanked by a U.S. Embassy bodyguard and Peruvian Tourism Minister Martín Pérez. “Oh, (this is) just for me? I though it was like this all the time. So I guess that means maybe I’ll have to see Machu Picchu when you all go and then I’ll have a better idea of what it’s like.”
Read more about the problems faced by Peru in maintaining Machu Picchu while maximizing the economic benefits to the country of World Heritage tourism.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Remarks of the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO at the February meeting of the Executive Board

Ambassador Killion and
Director-General Bokova

Mr Killion (United States of America) congratulated the Director-General, indicating she was off to a tremendous start, and that her efforts to raise the visibility of the Organization were already bearing fruit. She has proven to be an effective communicator on the world stage. Having accompanied the Director-General for part of her visits in Washington DC, he could report that they had been incredibly successful, and had included the first meeting between a Director-General and a United States Secretary of State since his country re-entered UNESCO. The Secretary of State had expressed a strong desire to work with the Director-General on tackling the problem of education for girls.

The United States of America applauded and supported the Director-General’s efforts to put
UNESCO at the lead of the international effort to preserve Haiti’s patrimony. Mr Killion knew that the Director-General had written to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and others on the subject. The U.S. delegation, however, was concerned about reports recently received that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had not yet begun to address the issue of preserving Haiti’s cultural heritage. Ambassador Killion asked:
  • What replies had been received to those letters?
  • Was MINUSTAH now firmly committed to saving cultural property in Haiti, and what, specifically, was being done on the ground?

UNESCO Venice Newsletter - Issue N°1 2010 (January-March)

The UNESCO Venice Newsletter is a quarterly newsletter published in English by the UNESCO Office in Venice. This issue of the UNESCO VENICE Newsletter features articles about Science and Culture, UN initiatives and joint programming in the region.