Friday, May 21, 2010

Editorial: The U.S. Intellectual Community should be more involved in UNESCO.

Francesco Bandarin mentioned in his talk to the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO that the new administration of UNESCO will give high priority to strengthening the participation of the U.S. educational, scientific and cultural and communications and information communities in UNESCO's efforts and networks. That participation languished during the years in which the United States was not a member of UNESCO, and has not been fully restored since the United States reentered UNESCO in 2003.

From the point of view of the UNESCO Secretariat, the desire to strengthen U.S. participation in UNESCO is obvious. Not only does the United States contribute 22 percent to the regular budget of UNESCO, but:
  • The U.S. education community is very strong. Thus one study finds 55 of the top 100 universities in the world are in the United States.
  • The U.S. scientific community is very strong. According to the NSF the United States provides one-third of the world's funding for research and development and produces more scientific and technological journal articles per year than any other country.
  • The U.S. cultural community is very stron. According to the UNESCO Institute of Statistics, the United States leads the world in trade of cultural goods.
  • The United States is a leader in the development of the information society. U.S. innovations include the transistor, the semiconductor chip, the personal computer and the Internet.
The effort to strengthen the participation of the U.S. intellectual community in UNESCO's programs should be welcomed by the Government and those communities. Through participation in UNESCO's activities and networks Americans can promote understanding of the United States by others while improving our understanding of other cultures. UNESCO provides a neutral forum in which key issues can be discussed by representatives of many nations.
  • It can provide a venue for discussions of the ethics of climate change and the responsibilities of nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to ameliorate the damages done by global warming.
  • It continues to be the place in which countries discuss and monitor global progress on education.
  • It not only has catalyzed a number of global networks tackling critical scientific problems, but it provides an umbrella under which nations (even nations with fundamental disagreements among themselves) can collaborate on mutually beneficial scientific projects.
  • It provides a forum in which countries can work to develop a global culture of peace, and provides fora for discussion to help bridge the gaps between U.S. and Islamic culture and between Christian and Islamic religions. It can help protect world heritage while promoting cultural changes needed to enhance economic development.
  • It provides a useful emphasis on the development of knowledge societies to balance the increasing global interest in development of information societies.
The United States participated fully in the creation of UNESCO after World War II, modifying its Constitution in ways designed to make it a better instrument in achieving the goal of building teh defenses of peace in the minds of men. The United States reentered UNESCO in 2003 based on a consensus that the perceived problems of the organization that led to our withdrawal had been overcome and that membership in the organization would advance U.S. global interests. This history would itself justify full participation in UNESCO's efforts. More importantly, the more fully the U.S. educational, scientific and cultural communities participate in UNESCO, the more fully UNESCO will meet our expectations and achieve that which we hope for it to achieve.

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

Meeting of the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO met yesterday. Francesco Bandarin, current director of the World Heritage Center and Assistant Director General designate for Culture opened the meeting with a most informative overview of the new developments in UNESCO.

Discussions in the meeting focuses on next week's meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO and the expectations of the Board for the future of the National Commission. The National Commission has been relatively inactive since it was reestablished and the consensus of the the Board is that it should be reorganized and rechartered to become more active in the future.

The Board also discussed the future of the UNESCO seminar that Board members have given at George Washington University in each of the last four Spring semesters. The course appears to be well received by students and to be a useful means of developing a cadre of young people knowledgeable about UNESCO. It was agreed that it should be continued and a small group was appointed to study ways and means of doing so.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

13th Annual US/ICOMOS International Symposium

Economic Benefits, Social Opportunities, and Challenges of Supporting Cultural Heritage for Sustainable Development

20-22 May, 2010
Washington, DC

The 13th Annual US/ICOMOS International Symposium, organized in partnership with the World Bank and co-sponsored by the Italian Trust Fund for Cultural Heritage and the National Park Service, will focus on the increasingly complex relationships between cultural heritage and the world’s market economies. It will look at real world problems and practical solutions through formal presentations, round tables and group discussions. More....

The International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) is an association of professionals that currently brings together approximately 9500 members throughout the world. ICOMOS serves as an advisory body to the UNESCO World Heritage Center, providing peer review and other advisory services related to the World Heritage list.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

UNESCO helps save Waterton Glacier from Mining

Source: "UNESCO sites to be saved and savored," The Boston Globe, Kari Bodnarchuk, May 16, 2010.

"A pristine section of land stretching from northern Montana into British Columbia, Canada, contains stunning mountain ranges, prairies, tundra, and lakes. It has endangered trout, the highest concentration of grizzly bears in the United States, and water quality that ranks among the best in the world. Gold exploration, coal-bed methane drilling, or construction of a coal mine might have irreversibly damaged this fragile environment.

"This land, known as the Waterton Glacier International Peace Park, is on the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Heritage List, a designation currently held by 890 natural and cultural sites worldwide because of their “outstanding universal value.’’ In February, British Columbia and Montana signed an agreement stating that no mining will be allowed in the region.

“'All of the values that make this park of international significance would have been threatened,' says Stephen Morris, chief of the Office of International Affairs at the US National Park Service. 'The World Heritage designation of Waterton Glacier definitely played a role in helping to protect the park from this mining development.’"

UNESCO Strategic Program Objective Evaluations Completed 2008-2010

Member states of UNESCO are currently formulating suggestions as to the priorities for the next biennium. UNESCO has suggested that thes evaluations of accomplishments under UNESCO's strategic program objectives may provide valuable information for that purpose. Those evaluations are:

UNESCO Program Priorities

UNESCO is in the process of defining priorities for the next biennial budget and plan of action. It will do so within the priorities defined in the Medium Term Strategy 2008-2013. Those priorities are summarized in the chart reproduced above.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Irina Bokova's message for World Expo 2010 in Shanghai -12 May 2010

World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

21 May

The Day provides us with an opportunity to deepen our understanding of the values of cultural diversity and to learn to “live together” better. UNESCO continues to promote greater awareness of the crucial relationship between culture and development and the important role of information and communication technologies in this relationship.

Read more:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

US Foundation helps to support China's application for a World Heritage site designation

Frédérique Darragon samples
wood for radiocarbon analysis.

Source: "PROFILE: FRÉDÉRIQUE DARRAGON: Unraveling a Riddle in Plain Sight," Richard Stone, Science, 7 May 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5979, pp. 685 - 687
DOI: 10.1126/science.328.5979.685

"Amateur archaeologist Frédérique Darragon has spent 12 years documenting hundreds of mysterious towers in Southwest China—and winning over skeptical academics." As part of her research, under the auspices of the Unicorn Foundation, a U.S. nonprofit that Darragon founded in 2001 with seed money from cable TV mogul Ted Turner, wood samples from 77 towers—54 in Sichuan and 23 in Tibet—have been radiocarbon-dated by Beta Analytic in Miami, Florida.

"Drawing on Darragon's work, the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China (SACH) is expected to soon nominate dozens of the more imposing structures to UNESCO's World Heritage list as the Diaolou Buildings and Villages of Tibetan and Qiang Ethnic Groups Cultural Landscapes. The towers 'represent an extraordinary heritage and tradition, and deserve to be fully preserved," says Francesco Bandarin, assistant director-general for culture at UNESCO."
Western Sichuan's star-shaped Bamei tower, restoration of which was completed last year, likely was built in the 13th or 14th century.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Education under Attack: Violence against Students, Teachers and Schools in Armed Conflicts

On May 17, the Center for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution will host a discussion of UNESCO’s "Education under Attack 2010" report and of the action taken by the Coalition for Protecting Education from Attack.

The discussion will feature:
  • Brendan O’Malley, author of the UNESCO report;
  • Chris Talbot of Education Above All and chair of the Global Coalition for Protecting Education from Attack;
  • Bede Sheppard of Human Rights Watch; and Major Carroll Connelley of the Lejeune Leadership Institute.
Brookings Fellow Rebecca Winthrop, co-director of the Center on Universal Education, will provide introductory remarks and moderate the discussion.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Powerful, Pro-Israel House Democrat Praises Obama's Strategy of Engagement at the UN

The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman, recently wrote a "Dear Colleague" letter to fellow members of Congress in which he stated:
"(S)ince rejoining UNESCO in 2005, the U.S. has exerted much effort to reform the organization and to ensure that it does not become another venue that unfairly singles out Israel for criticism. In that regard, I was pleased to see the attached letter from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman thanking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for recent U.S. efforts at UNESCO that prevented the adoption of a number of anti-Israel resolutions. Had the U.S. chosen not to engage with UNESCO, we would have been unable to rally the votes to block these anti-Israel resolutions."

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The World Heritage Emblem

Thanks to the commentator on the previous posting, I was able to find the following World Heritage Emblem.

The following is from the World Heritage Center's website on the emblem:
The World Heritage emblem represents the interdependence of the world’s natural and cultural diversity. It is used to identify properties protected by the World Heritage Convention and inscribed on the official World Heritage List, and represents the universal values for which the Convention stands. While the central square symbolizes the results of human skill and inspiration, the circle celebrates the gifts of nature. The emblem is round, like the world, a symbol of global protection for the heritage of all humankind.

Designed by Belgian artist Michel Olyff, it was adopted as the official emblem of the World Heritage Convention in 1978.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A UNESCO World Heritage Flag?

This flag, which I found on the Internet, has "World Heritage" written in Spanish and Norwegian as well as English. I wonder whether it is an authorized flag, or simply one that was created in Scandinavia for specific world heritage sites.

This is the so called Roerich Peace Flag. The Roerich Peace Pact, signed in 1935 by 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere, provided that cultural properties marked by this flag would be protected in times of war much as the Red Cross/Red Crescent flag is used to protect medical facilities in time of war. Is it a precursor to a UNESCO World Heritage flag?

Annual Meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will host its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, May 26, 2010 and Thursday, May 27, 2010 at the Embassy Suites in Washington, D.C. (900 10th Street NW).

The Commission will host a series of informational plenary sessions and subject-specific committee and thematic break-out sessions on Wednesday, May 26. The Commission will meet in plenary session to discuss its final recommendations on Thursday, May 27, 2010, from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.

The meetings will be open to the public, and those who wish to attend should contact the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO (202-663-0026; no later than Wednesday, May 19th for further information about admission, as seating is limited. Requests for reasonable accommodation should also be made before that dat