Saturday, July 30, 2005

UNESCO, International Law and Internet Governance

The UN Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) has completed its Report for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

UNESCO in turn has issued a Position Statement on Internet Governance. The preamble to that Statement reads:

The Internet is a major opportunity to improve free flow of information and ideas throughout the world. Internet governance mechanisms should be based on the principle of “openness”, encompassing interoperability, freedom of expression in Knowledge Societies and measures to resist any attempt to censor content. There should be no changes in Internet governance mechanisms that impede the free flow of information and ideas on the Internet. The effect of these mechanisms should be to enable greater use of the Internet by citizens with diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

The WGIG report makes a number of recommendations to address Internet-related issues. Among these are three that I believe to be of special relevance to UNESCO:

23. Intellectual property rights (IPR)

Application of intellectual property rights to cyberspace.

• While there is agreement on the need for balance between the rights of holders and the rights of users, there are different views on the precise nature of the balance that will be most beneficial to all stakeholders, and whether the current IPR system is adequate to address the new issues posed by cyberspace. On the one hand, intellectual property rights holders are concerned about the high number of infringements, such as digital piracy, and the technologies developed to circumvent protective measures to prevent such infringements; on the other hand, users are concerned about market oligopolies, the impediments to access and use of digital content and the perceived unbalanced nature of current IPR rules.

81. Freedom of expression

• Ensure that all measures taken in relation to the Internet, in particular those on grounds of security or to fight crime, do not lead to violations of human rights principles.

85. Multilingualism

(a) Domain names:

• Ensuring bottom-up and inclusive development of a transparent policy for the introduction of multilingual domain names.

• Strengthening the participation and coordination of all Governments and all stakeholders in the governance process. This is required to push forward the development and implementation of multilingual domain name solutions, including multilingual e-mail addresses and key word lookup.

• Strengthening cooperation between IETF and IDN registries,[15] thus creating a sound international environment for the further development of technical standards and action plan for global deployment.

(b) Content:

• More effort should be put into developing content development tools to facilitate the creation of multilingual content.

• Governments, the private sector and civil society are encouraged to promote and create more content in local languages to be posted on the Internet.

Intellectual Property Rights

UNESCO has a lead role among UN agencies in the field of copyrights, and would seem to be a logical entity to take an expanded role in copyright aspects of Internet governance.

UNESCOÂ’s set of copyright tools includes its Network of Copyright Chairs in universities in a number of developing countries and countries in transition, UNESCO publications, including the e-Copyright Bulletin, now in five languages, the Collection of national copyright laws, the studies of copyright issues carried out in the framework of the administration of the Universal Copyright Convention and the Guide to the Collective Administration of AuthorsÂ’ Rights, a useful tool for the development of collecting societies.

A number of Conventions administered by UNESCO set the current international legal framework for copyright issues:
- Multilateral Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation of Copyright Royalties, with model bilateral agreement and additional Protocol.
Madrid, 13 December 1979
- Convention relating to the Distribution of Programme-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite
Brussels, 21 May 1974
- Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms against Unauthorized Duplication of their Phonograms
Geneva, 29 October 1971
- Universal Copyright Convention as revised at Paris on 24 July 1971, with Appendix Declaration relating to Article XVII and Resolution concerning Article XI
Paris, 24 July 1971
- International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations
Rome, 26 October 1961
- Convention concerning the Exchange of Official Publications and Government Documents between States
Paris, 3 December 1958
- Convention concerning the International Exchange of Publications
Paris, 3 December 1958
- Universal Copyright Convention, with Appendix Declaration relating to Articles XVII and Resolution concerning Article XI
Geneva, 6 September 1952
- Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials, with Annexes A to E and Protocol annexed
Florence, 17 June 1950
- Agreement For Facilitating the International Circulation of Visual and Auditory Materials of an Educational, Scientific and Cultural character with Protocol of Signature and model form of certificate provided for in Article IV of the above-mentioned Agreement
Beirut, 10 December 1948

Within the framework of the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity, UNESCO is working on the theme of Copyright, Piracy and Cultural Industries, and is currently developing new initiatives and projects in order to fight against piracy.

Freedom of Expression and UNESCO

UNESCO has a long standing program on Freedom of Expression. Indeed, UNESCO held a conference on Freedom of Expression in Cyberspace in 2002, in its headquarters, as part of the preparation for WSIS. The report of that meeting is now online.

Important international understandings form the basis for this program. Article 19 of the Univesal Declaration of Human Rights states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

The Constitution of UNESCO also designates its functions with regard to Freedom of Expression. UNESCO's first given purpose is:

Collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image.

The UNESCO website affirms that "Since the adoption of the New Communication Strategy by the General Conference in 1989, UNESCO has contributed to a wider recognition and public awareness of the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of information as a fundamental human right......The Organization has also continuously provided assistance to media organizations in setting up legal statutes to ensure independent flow of information, editorial independence, financial autonomy and safety of media professionals."

Multilingualism and UNESCO

UNESCO held two meetings directly pertinent to this topic in preparation for WSIS:

- Multilingualism for Cultural Diversity and Participation of All in Cyberspace(6-7 May 2005, Bamako, Mali)

- Cultural Diversity in Knowledge Societies
(17-19 May 2005, St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)

The reports of these meetings are available online.

The concern for multilingualism relates to UNESCO's larger interest in Cultural Diversity, as expressed in the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. UNESCO is currently working towards a Convention on the Protection of the Diversity of Cultural Contents and Artistic Expressions.

UNESCO also is responsible for international cultural conventions that help establish an international legal framework for some of the broader aspects of Internet governance including multilingualism and endangered languages:
- Convention For the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage
Paris, 17 October 2003
- Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property
Paris, 14 November 1970

UNESCO, Participation and Capacity Building

The WGIG report also calls for efforts to promote "meaningful participation in global policy development" by and "capacity-building" for developing nations. UNESCO is well placed to assist in these efforts. This is especially true since the United States representative presented a draft decision for the Creation of a Cross-Sectoral Program in Technical Capacity Building which was accepted by the last meeting of UNESCO's Executive Board, and is likely to be accepted by UNESCO's General Conference later this year. Capacity building for Internet governance, as well as for the larger issues in entry into the Information Society might well form an important part of this new initiative.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Kristen Silverberg Nominated to be Assistant Secretary of State (International Organization Affairs)

University of Texas announcement

"Silverberg currently serves as Deputy Assistant to the President and Advisor to the Chief of Staff in the White House, where she helps coordinate the development of Administration policy. She previously served as Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. Until October 2003, she served as Senior Advisor to Ambassador L. Paul Bremer in Baghdad, Iraq. Before her service in Iraq, she served as Special Assistant to the President in the Office of the Chief of Staff.

"Before joining the Bush administration, Silverberg was a policy advisor on the 2000 presidential campaign in Austin. She earlier practiced law at Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C. She also served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Judge David Sentelle. Silverberg received her bachelor’s degree from Harvard."

U.S. Seeks Membership on UNESCO Committees and Councils

US Mission to UNESCO

The United States was recently elected to the Executive Council of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO.

It is currently a candidate for the following UNESCO council and committee:

The Intergovernmental Council of the International Hydrological Programme (IHP),
elections to be held during the 33rd session of the General Conference of UNESCO in October 2005; and,
The World Heritage Committee (WHC),
elections to be held during the General Assembly of States Parties to the Convention in October 2005.

WARINTEK - Multipurpose Community Telecenters for Sustainable Human Development

UNESCO Description of the initiative:

"Since August 2000, the Ministry for Research and Technology (RISTEK) develops and promotes an National Program called WARINTEK.

"WARINTEK is Multipurpose Community Telecenters (MCTs) model in Indonesia as an access Community center, as well as a media for distance education, tele-learning, and face to face community education.

"WARINTEK is developed as an alternative for integrated approach for multisectoral activities for urban/rural development including SMEs (Small Medium Enterprises) development as well as for education. Its activities are primarily directed toward the development and strengthening the collaboration among member such as Universities/Open University, private sectors, SMEs, Co-operations, Schools, R&D institutions and local governments.

"UNESCO/ASTINFO Bangkok, RISTEK and the Local Government in South Sumatra, enter a joint partnership to establish WARINTEK in South Sumatra Province as an access community center. "

Experts meet in Australia to design global ocean-related hazards early warning system

The NewsAhead Agency article:

"PERTH, AUSTRALIA. 3-5 Aug 2005. The Perth meeting begins work on developing a coordinated global all-hazards early warning system, as resolved by the 23rd Assembly of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) meeting in Paris in June. The early focus is on tsunami warning coordination.

"At the Paris meeting the IOC Assembly formally launched the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS), announcing a resolution to create an Intergovernmental Coordination Group (ICG/IOTWS) to oversee development."

Universal Basic and Secondary Education

American Academy of Arts and Sciences Project website:

"What would it take to ensure that every child in the world, from age 6 to 16, receives an education of good quality? How important is universal education compared to other development objectives such as health, nutrition, income, and physical security? Would a concerted effort to provide universal education help reduce birth rates in countries where rapid population growth impedes economic development, damages the environment, and depresses living standards?

"These are some of the questions that are being addressed in a major Academy project, Universal Basic and Secondary Education (UBASE), led by Joel Cohen (Rockefeller and Columbia Universities) and David Bloom (Harvard School of Public Health). The project is assembling teams of scholars and practitioners from a wide variety of fields to begin the preliminary study of the rationale, means, and consequences of providing universal education. Participants will offer informed but fresh perspectives on the magnitude of the challenge, the opportunity costs, and the potential benefits of such an ambitious undertaking."

Note the publications from the project:

- The Consequences of Global Educational Expansion: Social Science Perspectives

- Education for all: an unfinished revolution

A recent press release from the project states that not only is Universal Primary Education financially possible in the foreseeable future, but so too is Universal Secondary Education.

With a Push From UNESCO, Water Reveals Its Secrets

New York Times article (Registration required, but free/)

"Today, more than a billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Polluted water contributes, each year, to the death of about 15 million children under age 5. By midcentury, between two billion and seven billion people will face water shortages.

"New nuclear techniques are helping developing countries better use water resources. 'No region will be spared from the impact of this crisis,' Koichiro Matsuura, director general of Unesco, recently warned. 'Water supplies are falling while the demand is dramatically growing.'........

"Using the tools of isotope hydrology, scientists can discover the age, origins, size, flow and fate of a water source. And that information, in turn, can guide sound water-use policy, letting water engineers better map underground aquifers, conserve supplies and control pollution.........

"A little money goes a long way. Each year, the isotope hydrology program spends only about $2 million on research and $5 million to aid developing states. Still, that is enough to finance 84 projects in more than 50 countries, including Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Morocco and Senegal."

Monday, July 25, 2005

UNESCO - Knowledge Hub for the Asia Pacific

UNESCO - Knowledge Hub for the Asia Pacific

This website provides knowledge resources from UNESCO for the Asia-Pacific region.

UNESCO: U.S. Rules Could Muffle Scientific Voices

Science magazine news article -- Bhattacharjee 309 (5734): 544a -- Science (Subscription required.)

"The U.S. government has issued new rules on interactions between U.S. citizens and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that some scientific organizations fear could limit access to the international scientific and cultural body by U.S. experts. But U.S. officials say the changes are intended simply to keep the government in the loop."

“Academics Across Borders”

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has announced the anticipated launch of its new “Academics Across Borders” program in November 2005. This project is aimed at reducing the high-level training and research gap between industrial and developing countries. The program will seek to identify volunteer academics from industrially developed nations and match them with targeted higher education needs in developing and transitional nations. Expatriate academics, in particular, are encouraged to return to their countries of origin to assist in strengthening universities and research institutions. UNESCO is currently developing a database of distinguished academics and researchers from developing countries in the fields of medicine, engineering and natural sciences, and computer sciences who may be willing to return to their home countries to participate in the program. US-based individuals interested in volunteering should email the Department of State, while potential volunteers based in other countries should contact Winsome Gordon.

Public Diplomacy Chief-Designate Seeks Dialogue and Advocacy report:

"In reaching out to publics around the world, the United States is seeking both a dialogue with other cultures and faiths and the opportunity to create “the connections and conditions that allow people to make up their own minds,” says Karen Hughes, President Bush’s choice for under secretary of state for public diplomacy."

eNRICH Putting ICT's in the hands of the poor.

eNRICH website:

"A generic and yet easily customizable browser that acts as a gateway to a community's own world of knowledge, communication and empowerment. It enables communities to quickly and efficiently build their own gateway website, enriched with their own local content and connected to knowledge sources and services that are tailored according to their own information and communication needs."

Open eNRICH is an open source software tool being developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) of the Indian government as part of a collaborative programme between the Open Knowledge Network, NIC and UNESCO.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Greenstone Digital Library Software

Greenstone Digital Library Software homepage

"Greenstone is a suite of software for building and distributing digital library collections. It provides a new way of organizing information and publishing it on the Internet or on CD-ROM. Greenstone is produced by the New Zealand Digital Library Project at the University of Waikato, and developed and distributed in cooperation with UNESCO and the Human Info NGO. It is open-source, multilingual software, issued under the terms of the GNU General Public License."

"African digital library survey:"

UNESCO Press Release 21-07-2005.

A survey has been launched of the technical and other problems faced by African institutions and information professionals in creating digital libraries; The survey is intended to inform a feasibility study on the establishment of a Greenstone Support Organization for Africa. The open source Greenstone Digital Library software suite for creating digital Libraries can contribute to the achievement of national and international dissemination of information in civil society and institutions in the fields of education, science and culture.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

UNESCO's Ethics Program

UNESCO Ethics homepage

UNESCO has had an ethics program for many years. The program includes several cross-cutting activities: the Ethics Education Program (EEP), the Global Ethics Observatory (GEO) and the Ethics around the World series of rotating conferences.

There is a specific program on the Ethics of Science and Technology, with its World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST). Among it activities are:

- the Avicenna Prize for Ethics in Science;

- Ethics of Outer Space

- Ethics of the Environment

- Code of Conduct for Scientists

There are a number of online publications on the website, and information on the current and recent research undertaken by COMEST. These include comments the U.S. President's Council on Bioethics' report on the regulation of reproductive technologies.

Of particular interest is the work on the Ethics of Nanotechnology. The website includes a number of background papers, as well as a report of a recent COMEST meeting on the topic. "A workplan for nanotechnology and ethics is about to be finalized. In July 2005, an expert group will be established to examine the ethical issues in relation to nanotechnology and to explore potential areas for international concerted action."

Given the developing economic importance of industrial applications of nanotechnology, the leadership of the United States in the field, and the scare tactics that have already appeared in the brief history of nanotechnology, this effort would appear worthy of close attention by the United States.

The Ethics program also includes a component on Bioethics. A Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights has been drafted, and is to be submitted for approval to the next meetings of the Executive Board and General Conference of UNESCO.

The draft contains many important and appropriate statements on bioethics. I would note that the drafting committee was composed of three distinguished lawyers, a professor of Philosophy, a professor of Education and a professor of Medical Ethics. There were no scientists on the committee with experience in the management of ethical issues. The declaration is heavily oriented toward medical ethics, a topic one might have expected to be more in the domain of the World Health Organization than of UNESCO. The draft Declaration does not seem to address (except in the most general terms): cloning, genomics, proteomics, genetic modification of plants and animals, ethical treatment of animals involved in research (laboratory animals, livestock, nor wild animals), containment of human, animal or plant pathogens, containment of pests and invasive species, biodiversity, nor protection of the environment from risks imposed by research. It seems silent on the balance of risks and potential benefits from bioresearch.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Science, Engineering and Technology Initiative for Africa

UNESCO has created a new flagship program, The International Basic Sciences Program (IBSP), that is to "reinforce intergovernmental co-operation in strengthening national capacities in the basic and engineering sciences and science education through major region-specific actions involving a network of national, regional and international centers of excellence in the basic sciences." The program was suggested by the government of the United States, and accepted by the members of UNESCO.

The G8 countries, including the United States, have agreed to double assistance to Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is a priority region for UNESCO. It now seems a good time for the United States to get behind a major initiative to build African capacity in the basic science and engineering, especially by building African capacity in science and engineering education at the tertiary level. UNESCO, even with its limited resources, could play a significant part in building such capacity, and U.S. public and private organizations could enter into formal and informal partnerships with UNESCO for this purpose.

What might such a program look like?

The UNESCO Chairs/UNITWIN Networks program would be an important element, supporting the improvement of science and engineering education in Africa. The existing network includes both natural and social sciences, as well as communications technologies. USAID might easily support greater twinning of U.S. universities with African universities, in support of the UNITWIN program, through its University Partnership Program and its collaboration with the network of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

The U.S. Telecommunications Training Institute might be used more to train African university faculty. The Institute serves as a broker between firms and government agencies offering free placements in its courses, and developing country professionals seeking such short-course training. The travel and living costs for the students have in many cases been supported by grants from donor agencies. Indeed, the program might be extended to other fields of science and engineering. Similarly, the infoDev-Motorola Fellowship program might be used as a model; in that program, Fellowships were awarded to faculty from developing countries to spend time at Motorola University, where they collaborated with its faculty to develop new curricula in wireless technology. There have also been programs in which research scientists and engineers from developing countries have served in firms abroad under exchange programs, in which their contribution to the host institution merited their pay, and only transportation costs needed to be subsidized. The beneficiaries of these programs returned to their home countries with professional linkages that lasted a lifetime, as well as with skills of applied research that benefited their professional functions.

It would seem useful to build on UNESCO's existing cooperation in science and technology The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)

Such a program might also build on UNESCO's offices in Africa, such as its International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa and its Office in Nairobi, Kenya (originally founded as its "Regional Center for Science and Technology" in Africa). The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics, founded by UNESCO collaboratively with the Government of Italy and IAEA should also be involved.

UNESCO's science policy program could be expanded and extended in Africa, helping to build governmental science and engineering policy capacity. Its linkages with the Third World Academy of Sciences and the African Academy of sciences could be mobilized and utilized to improve the overall program. Efforts to strengthen African governmental science policy efforts might be coordinated with the National Academies of Science Initiative to Develop African Science Academies funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I would like to see USAID and/or foundations fund professional societies, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Society of Civil Engineers to build the capacity of their counterpart professional organizations in Africa, including their capacity to participate in science and technology policy.

UNESCO's natural science programs are especially strong in environmental fields. Its International Hydrological Program, International Oceanographic Commission program, Man and the Biosphere Program, and Basic and Engineering Science Program might all be encouraged to increase support for capacity building in their respective fields in Africa. The U.S. National Committees associated with some of these programs could be encouraged to stimulate U.S. organizations to collaborate with such an initiatives. USAID similarly could encourage collaboration between its programs in Africa and those of UNESCO.

UNESCO programs in the Social and Human Sciences seem especially pertinent to Africa's needs, including the Poverty Eradication and Social Transformation programs. UNESCO might be encouraged to extend their capacity building efforts in Africa. USAID especially, has a heavy emphasis on building democracy, and might collaborate in this field with UNESCO.

UNESCO actively recruits partners for its work, including partners from the private sector. Especially noteworthy are agreements UNESCO signed with Microsoft and Intel last year to support the use of ICT in education.

Non-governmental funding from the United States should be sought. A first stop might be the African Grantmakers Affinity Group. The Foundation Partnership to Strengthen African Universities, involving the Carnegie, Ford, MacArthur Foundations, has pledged $100 million dollars for that purpose, and would be an important partner. In this respect, The Nelson Mandela Institution for Knowledge Building and the Advancement of Science and Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa might be considered an important partner as it develops "The African Institute of Science and Technology).

I would suggest that a program might seek donations of services, computers, software, and scientific equipment from U.S. firms and government agencies. The engineering community might be tapped, including engineering firms and the Corps of Engineers. USAID's Ocean Freight Reimbursement program funds the transportation costs associated with such donations.

International Financial Institutions such as those of the World Bank Group and the African Development Bank already cooperate with UNESCO, as do many other bilateral donors. Coordination with these donor organizations would be important for a U.S. initiative to build scientific and technological capacity in Africa.

The African Diaspora might be involved. It has been estimated that 30,000 Africans with PhD's work outside Africa, more than half the Africans with such training. The Digital Diaspora Network, has been established by the UN ICT Commission to promote such activities. In Europe, there is a comparable organization, AFFORD (The African Foundation for Development).

Sunday, July 17, 2005

In Memorium: Francesco di Castri

Sid Passman informs me that the following was published yesterday in the Washington Post:

"Francesco di Castri, 74, an ecologist, former deputy director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and former president of the World Science Institute, died July 6 in Nimes, France. No cause of death was reported.

"Dr. di Castri was the founding director of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere Programme, considered one of UNESCO's principal contributions in promoting international cooperation on environmental issues. He also was the director of the French CNRS Centre for Functional and Evolutionary Ecology, worked as a university professor in Santiago, Chile, and became an expert on the moai statues of Easter Island.

"With Michel Batisse, he nurtured the birth and development of the biosphere reserve concept and the designation of the early biosphere reserves.

"A prolific writer with more than 20 books and 350 articles to his credit, Dr. di Castri's work addressed such matters as quantitative soil biology, the convergence of Mediterranean ecosystems and the structure of animal communities from the tropics to Antarctica."

UN to investigate climate threat

Green Consumer Guide.Com article:

"The UNESCO World Heritage Committee (WHC) is to set up a dedicated working group to assess the threat posed by climate change to sensitive locations around the world, it has been announced. The expert team will look at the global warming effects on World Heritage Sites and devise strategic response programmes to combat the issue. The first reports from the group will be in 2006."

World Heritage sites named

BBC NEWS story

"The world's largest and oldest meteorite crater, the Vredefort Dome, in South Africa was added for its scenic and scientific interest.

"Egypt's Wadi al-Hitan, known as Whale Valley, was listed for its amazing fossil remains of now-extinct whales.

"Six other world sites were also announced by Unesco, the UN's cultural body, at its meeting in South Africa."

Friday, July 15, 2005

UNESCO Partnerships

Partnerships: UNESCO website:

"UNESCO cooperates with numerous partners from the private sector: big multinationals or small and medium enterprises, private foundations, professional, administrative or economics associations, philanthropist organisms and individuals. The field of cooperation with the private sector is at present very wide."

Click here to read about various examples of cooperation between the private sector and UNESCO."

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Communication and information for Africa

UNSCO WebWorld In Focus Dossier:

"Communication and information have great potential for human development. Africa being one of the main policy issues of the G8 Gleneagles Summit 2005 (6-8 July 2005), WebWorld's 'In Focus' features UNESCO's recent communication and information activities in Africa with special attention to the free flow of ideas, universal access to information, the expression of pluralism and diversity and access for all to ICT."

Seven Teams from U.S. Universities Were Among Winners of International Engineering Contest for 2005 news story:

This year, DaimlerChrysler and UNESCO presented Mondialogo Engineering Awards to 21 project teams from 28 countries with a total of 300,000 euros in prize money.

"Among the prize-winners are seven teams from U.S. universities -- the highest representation from any country. Each team received an award of approximately $18,000.
-- Colorado School of Mines, Division of Engineering with Universidad
Tecnologica Centroamericana in Honduras; Project title: 'Investigation
of appropriate water and waste management technologies for cities with
developing countries.'
-- Colorado State University, Engineers without Borders and Engines and
Energy Conservation Laboratory, with Tribhuvan University in Nepal;
Project: 'Lighting up the Nepalese Villages.'
-- Lehigh University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
with Negnal Engineering College in India; Project title: 'Providing
Arsenic-free water in remote villages in West Bengal, India.'
-- Michigan Tech University and Sustainable Futures Institute and Nelson
Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and Southern
University and A&M College, with Partido State University in the
Philippines; project: 'Development of appropriate and sustainable
construction materials.'
-- University of Colorado at Boulder, Engineers without Borders, and
University of Wisconsin, Department of Engineering, with University of
Ruhengeri and University of Butare in Rwanda; project: 'Solutions for
Muramba, Rwanda: Rebuilding after a 'Time of Running'.'
-- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Engineers without Borders,
with Orissa University and Janannath Institute of Technology in Russia;
Project title: 'Biodiesel development in rural Russia.'

International Conference on Energy, Disasters, and Environment (INCEED 2005)

INCEED 2005 website

This conference to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, July 24-30, 2005. The conference will be hosted by the Global Institute for Energy and Environmental Systems (GIEES) of the University of North Carolina. iIt was jointly organized with the International Society of Environmental Geotechnology (ISEG), the Global Alliance for Disaster Reduction (GADR) and UNESCO along with other large national and international organizations.

"The expanded INCEED 2005 Conference is an outgrowth of the regular ISEG conferences which started in 1993 with the continuing objective of applying technical and social science knowledge from a diversity of disciplines to address critical issues in sustainable development. Conferences that have been hosted in North America, Asia, South America and Europe have drawn an average of 500 participants from 50 countries. These conferences are held biennially and rotated among different continents. INCEED 2005 is a special intermediate year conference that has been expanded to include coverage of the plans and programs of UNESCO and GADR as well as other organizations on hazards. Research advances communicated at these events and some consensus positions will be directly put into public policies by agencies in many countries. The ISEG-GADR-UNESCO trio of organizers seeks to continue to promote scientific cooperation among countries, organizations and individuals on the thematic issues of this conference."

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

The Ninth Edition of the Pirelli Internetional Award

UNESCO's Venice Office's Announcement of the Awards:

"After having evaluated more than 1,000 entries, coming from over 50 countries, particularly (around 70%) from universities and educational institutions, the international Jury has assigned the awards, subdivided into the categories: Multimedia Education, the Environment, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and Alice Generation Award.

"The 25,000 Euro-worth Top Pirelli Prize has been awarded to Patrick J. Lynch, Director of the “MedMedia Group” of the School of Medicine of the University of Yale for the project “'NTRODUCTION TO CARDIOTHORACIC IMAGING': it is a broad virtual voyage into the human heart and lungs through anatomy, the pathologies and the techniques for analysis and treatment of illnesses and discomforts that strike these important organs of the human body. The work has also been awarded as the best entry coming from the world of education in the category Multimedia Education.

"Within the same Multimedia Education category, the 15,000 Euro award for the best multimedia product oriented toward the world of education, the project 'MicroArrays MediaBook', that describes the principles of genomics and the technological and scientific effects of these new studies. The work has been produced by 'Media Group' of the University of North Carolina, a team comprised of researchers, programmers and graphic artists coordinated by Walter 'Skip' E. Bollenbacher, who received the award.

"The Environment category has been won by the American company 'EarthTalk Studios', specialized in the production of multimedia tools for schools and education, with “Environmental Science in Practice”, a project commissioned by the renown publishing group, Prentice Hall and dedicated to environmental safekeeping, won an award of 15,000 Euro.

"The ICT Award (20,000 Euro offered by Telecom Italia) was granted to William Sarnaki of the Department of Health of the State of New York for a video-presentation of an innovative technology, the 'Brain-Computer Interfaces For Communication and Control', that uses thecomputer to improve the communication options of people with grave disabilities.

"For the Alice Generation Award, offered by Telecom Italia and reserved to projects by Italian authors, the winners: in the Senior category the 'BANCA DATI AMBIENTALE SULLA LAGUNA DI VENEZIA', a project of the Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti; in the Junior category, reserved for candidates under the age of 21, the elementary school “Don Milani” of Altamura in Bari, Italy for the multimedia work 'THE ENGLISH VOWELSOUNDS FOR KIDS', for the study of the English phonetic language. The two projects have been awarded 15.000 and 10.000 Euro respectively.

"The next event with the Pirelli Award is scheduled for next autumn, featuring the awarding ceremony for the Pirelli Relativity Challenge, the contest dedicated to Albert Einstein that the Pirelli Group has organized for the International Year of Physics and that challenges participants to explain the theory of relativity using multimedia tools in less than five minutes."

UNESCO Chairs/UNITWIN Networks

UNESCO Chairs/UNITWIN Networks website

UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs projects deal with training and research activities and cover all major fields of knowledge within UNESCO’s competence, including Education, Human Rights, Cultural Development, Environment, Basic and Engineering Sciences, and Communication. UNITWIN is the abbreviation for the UNIVERSITY TWINNING and networking scheme. The program includes some 590 established Chairs and interuniversity networks. These projects are located at over 600 institutions in some 121 countries and involve thousands of academics, scholars and graduate students, as well as key partners from civil society and the economic sector. Over the last five years these partners have brought some $30 million US dollars towards UNITWIN projects, a sum six times greater than UNESCO’s own funding.

The principal beneficiaries of this programme are institutions of higher learning in developing countries and countries in transition. The program began in 1992, and an external evaluation took place in 2000. The evaluation appears to be based on a questionnaire answered by UNESCO staff, and another answered by 24 national commissions for UNESCO. Ths success of the program varied, with developing countries limited by financial problems. Programs appeared to have high relevance and efficiency, and acceptable inpact.

A complete list of the Chairs and Networks is available on the UNESCO website.

UNESCO has published "Procedures for the UNITWIN/UNESCO Chairs Programme: A Practical Guide (2002)".

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Ethics, science and human rights come together

SciDev.Net article:

"UNESCO has issued a draft declaration it says will be the first ever to commit governments to take a position on the ethical and human rights dilemmas raised by modern research.

"'Every culture, even those most critical of technological advances, must develop a response - be it supportive or controlling - to the emergence of new technologies [,,,] To do nothing is to make a decision,' states an accompanying memorandum.

"The draft declaration, released on 24 June, is intended by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) to provide guidance on how to draft laws that regulate ethics and human rights in science."

Scientific community gathering at UNESCO for �Albert Einstein Century� International Conference

UNESCO news release:

Eminent international scientists will meet in a scientific colloquium (in English) from July 18 to 22 at UNESCO Headquarters to participate in the "Albert Einstein Century".

Education Makes News! workshop in Zimbabwe news story:

"Journalists from Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and the host Zimbabwe attended recently a workshop entitled 'Education Makes News!'. The workshop that run concurrently with Zimbabwe�s celebration of the Education for All (EFA) Week familiarized journalists with EFA�s Goals and objectives.

"The workshop also studied the linkages of the concepts of communication and education using the UNESCO produced Education for All media training resource kit, which comes in resource-packed CD-Rom and print versions, the works reporting on education and encouraging wider media coverage of EFA issues and goals."

Nelson Mandela joins the ranks of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors

UNESCO Media services release:

"Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, has been designated UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador by Director-General Koichiro Matsuura, in a ceremony today at the Nelson Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mr Mandela has been awarded the title 'in recognition of his outstanding leadership in the fight against apartheid and racial discrimination, in his country and worldwide; for his dedication to reconciliation between different communities; his unfailing commitment to democracy, equality and learning; his support for all the oppressed of the Earth; and his exemplary contribution to international peace and understanding.'"

Monday, July 11, 2005

G8 Supports Development of Warning Systems for Natural Hazards

State Department release via the Information Warfare Site:

"The leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations have agreed to support the development of early warning systems to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards such as the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami."

The following is quoted from the G9 factsheet:

"We support international efforts to improve global early warning capacity as called for by the UN Secretary General. We believe that responsibility for implementation rests with governments and stakeholders at the local, national, and regional levels with support from other partners. And we see a strong role for co-ordination by the UN at the international level, including through the UNESCO/Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) for tsunami early warning systems."

Sunday, July 10, 2005

ICT and Creativity

Address by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura on the occasion of the opening of the WSIS Contributory Conference on “ICT and Creativity” in June 2005.

"In the shift from the idea of a global information society to the notion of diverse knowledge societies, the role of applications is central. With the added ingredient of creativity, one moves toward the re-imagining of society itself. Through the digitization of personal experience, views and information, ICT and the digital revolution are bringing opportunities for the democratization of creativity, often in minor ways but sometimes, especially in the aggregate, in significant forms. It is important, however, that the very openness and profusion of the Internet do not lead to an undermining of the rightful claims of expertise. A balance is needed and this, I believe, can only be achieved through education and the spread of information literacy."

The Director-General addresses the Permanent Delegations on the WSIS

UNESCO release:

"On 8 July 2005, the Director-General held an information meeting for Permanent Delegations on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to brief them on the preparation of the second phase of the WSIS, which will take place in Tunis from 16 to 18 November 2005. "

Saturday, July 09, 2005

The World Conference on Physics and Sustainable Development

World Conference on Physics and Sustainable Development website

October 31 to November 2, 2005 in Durban, South Africa.

The Conference is to bring representatives of the international physics community together to formulate a plan for tackling some of the large problems facing the world. Contributions of physicists are ongoing and should be celebrated during 2005 -- the World Year of Physics. However, many of these contributions have benefited people in the developed world more than those in the developing world. The World Conference will give the physics community the chance to focus on how it can bring more benefits to the world's poor.

In part, the Conference will be a follow up to the UNESCO-ICSU World Conference on Science, which was held in June 1999 and sought to strengthen the ties between science and society, as well as to the broader United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development that was held in Johannesburg in the summer of 2002.

Friday, July 08, 2005

UNESCO's changing partnership with the private sector

UNESCO New Courier article:

"Once limited to sponsoring, partnerships between the private sector and UNESCO are now becoming more numerous and ambitious. Information and communications technology (ICT) are providing a special opportunity to experiment with a new form of cooperation with business........

"The new cooperation is also key to meeting the Education For All goals. As Mr Abhimanyu Singh, Director of UNESCO’s Division of International Coordination and Monitoring of EFA points out: 'If we are to have a better chance of achieving the EFA goals, then it cannot be done without broadening the partnership to the private sector, globally and in-country.'

"Elizabeth Longworth, Director of UNESCO’s Information Society Division, agrees. 'The digital divide is one of the greatest obstacles to the fulfilment of UNESCO’s key mandate to help create, share, disseminate and preserve knowledge,' she said.

"UNESCO’s growing list of partnerships with ICT companies include Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Alcatel and Hitachi, and range from teacher syllabus programmes to community access centres, science networks and recording cultural heritage. .......

"In recent months, much attention has been focused on two particularly high profile partnerships between UNESCO and the private sector: a Memorandum of Understanding with Intel and a Cooperation Agreement with Microsoft. These represent a new level of strategic engagement with the private sector, taking partnerships beyond the more traditional idea of funding and sponsorship to defining how to meet the needs of developing countries. While these new partnerships have attracted much media attention, not all reactions have been positive. In December 2004, the French newspaper Le Monde cited fears that such agreements were diluting UNESCO’s strong support for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS)."

UNESCO is joining international freedom of expression and media rights mission to Nepal

UNESCO press release:

"From 10 to 16 July, representatives of nine international institutions, including UNESCO, global media associations, freedom of expression advocates and media development organizations, will be visiting Nepal to discuss freedom of expression and media rights issues........

"In addition to UNESCO, the organisations participating in the mission include the World Association of Newspapers, World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, Reporters sans Fronti�res, International Press Institute, International Media Support, International Federation of Journalists, Committee to Protect Journalists and ARTICLE 19."

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Vision Plus 11 opened today in Vienna

UNESCO Announcement:

"'Vision Plus 11: Needs, Trends and Themes for Information Design. Developing Information Design Subject Areas', a UNESCO sponsored international three-day symposium, opens today in Vienna, Austria.

"The conference, organised by the International Institute for Information Design (IIID) and the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA), is a global forum held in English, focussing on the development of information design as a distinct profession and area of expertise. It is part of IIID's initiative to set up a semi-virtual Information Design University. "

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

VIEWPOINT: What eggs will hatch from the Gleneagles nest?

Reuters AlertNet article:

"Sir David King, Britain's chief science advisor, put it this way in an interview with the BBC: 'What we're looking at is...setting up a system where the best scientific understanding of volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis and near-Earth objects striking our planet is pooled together and brought to those international bodies through the appropriate channels.'

"This initiative has the potential for wasteful and confusing duplication. The U.N.'s inter-agency secretariat for coordinating disaster reduction strategy, the ISDR, has working groups that already bring together some of the world's best scientists on some of these hazards, as do many other initiatives through the International Council of Scientific Unions, UNESCO and other organisations. "

Workshops lead to more public information requests in Pakistan

International Journalists' Network Article:

"Thanks in part to training workshops organized by the Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), more and more Pakistani journalists are filing requests for information from their government.

"The PPF and UNESCO report that journalists have filed dozens of access-to-information requests over the past six months. With support from UNESCO's International Program for the Development of Communication, the foundation has organized workshops in seven different communities since December 2004. More than 100 journalists have participated."

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


AzerTAj press release:

"A three-day international seminar entitled �Modern Geodynamics, Georisk and Sustainable Development of the Territories from the Black Sea to the Caspian Region� commenced at the Geology Institute of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences /ANAS/, July 4.

"The event initiated by the Karsluhe University of Heidelberg Academy of Germany and supported by the UNESCO, Exxon Mobile, International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics was attended by scientists and specialists from Azerbaijan, Great Britain, United States of America, France, Russia, Italy, Australia, Georgia and other countries."

Director-General condemns killing of journalist Magomedzarid Varisov

UNESCO-CI Press Release:

"The Director-General of UNESCO, Ko�chiro Matsuura, today condemned the murder of journalist Magomedzarid Varisov, who died of gunshot wounds on June 28 on a street in Makhachkala, Dagestan (Russian Federation)..........

"UNESCO is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to 'further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.' To realize this purpose the Organization is required to 'collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…'”

Sunday, July 03, 2005

UNESCO General Conference - 33rd session

UNESCO General Conference - 33rd session website:

"The 33rd session of the General Conference will take place from 3 to 21 October at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (France). The proposed timetable of work of the session will soon be available on-line. The provisional agenda will be finalized on 25 June 2005 and available before 4 July 2005 "

Saturday, July 02, 2005

US holds onto key internet role

BBC NEWS article:

"The US government has said it intends to maintain its role in overseeing how the internet is run..........

"The US principles, laid out by a senior official come at a time when the United Nations is discussing giving poorer nations a greater say in how the internet is managed."

This decision may influence the ITU-UNESCO sponsored World Summit on the Information Society.