Sunday, August 21, 2005

"Games People Play - For Peace"

Israel21c full article

"Working toward intercultural understanding and world peace may seem like serious business, but to Tamar Meshulam, it's a game.

"Not just any game, however, - a large, beautifully designed prize-winning game.

"A unique project that Meshulam designed and built, entitled 'Master Peace' won first place at the recent UNESCO Design contest in Japan, which has been held annually every five years in order to encourage young designers to develop creations that contribute to society and help to change the world for the better.

"The contest, which carried a $10,000 prize, included more than 700 entrants from around the world, with a different theme each year. This year's theme was interpersonal communication, with the title 'Love/Why?'"

UNESCO launches Web site for Iraqi journalists

International Journalists Network Article:

"Iraqi journalists can turn to a new Web site for up-to-date information on media and human rights as they cover democratic developments in the country.

"UNESCO's Towards Democracy in Iraq site includes information on several themes in the context of independent media, including elections, human rights and training. The site is available in Arabic, English and French.

"Towards Democracy also features regularly updated materials -- in English, Arabic, and Kurdish -- on covering the elections in Iraq. "

UNESCO Signs Agreement with Alcatel Space to Enhance Scientific Cooperation in South-east Europe

UNESCO release in full:

"UNESCO recently signed an agreement to participate in the �Space for Science� project funded by the European Space Agency and implemented by Alcatel Space.

"The project is a continuation of the European Space Agency �MediaSpace� project in which UNESCO also participates as a user group.

"The Space for Science project utilizes a research framework in satellite technologies to provide scientific institutes of South-East Europe with satellite communication and information services as a mean of cooperation with scientific communities in the European Union and worldwide. "

Monday, August 15, 2005

Director-General condemns killing of U.S. reporter Steven Vincent in Basra and calls for improved safety: UNESCO-CI (3.01b)

UNESCO's full statement(3.01b):

"UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura today condemned the killing in Basra, in southern Iraq, of Steven Vincent, a freelance reporter from the U.S.A., on August 2. He also urged that greater priority be given to improve the safety of journalists in the country.

"'I condemn the murder of Steven Vincent,' the Director-General said, 'and I denounce the cowardice and brutality of his killers who also injured Nour Weidi, Mr Vincent's Iraqi translator. Such acts only contribute to prolong the suffering of the people of Iraq. There can be no ethical or religious justification for the killing of brave individuals who take enormous risks to keep Iraq and the world informed. Attacking them,' Mr Matsuura added, 'is tantamount to attacking democracy and rule of law, in other words, to attacking the people of Iraq themselves. I call on all those in position of authority in the country to give due priority to improving the safety of media professionals who have paid an unacceptable toll in the exercise of their profession in Iraq.'"

UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme discussed in Oslo

UNESCO's full press release:

"The Memory of the World Programme will be the theme of the 'UNESCO Open Forum' at the World Library and Information Congress that the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) organizes from 14 to 18 August in Norway's capital Oslo.

"The UNESCO Open Forum on Memory of the World on 14 August will include presentations on regional activities of the Memory of the World Programme focusing on:
- Timbuktu Manuscripts,
- Slave Trade Archives project,
- Memory of the World in Asia and the Pacific, and
- UNESCO/Jikji Prize."

Towards Democracy in Iraq website launched by UNESCO

UNESCO full news release:

"In the context of the undergoing constitutional process in Iraq, UNESCO launches a new website dedicated to the media and human rights. It offers relevant and easily accessible information and key publications on these issues.

"2005/2006 is a key period for development and democratization in Iraq, framed by the elections that took place in January 2005 and the target to adopt a new Constitution by the end of this year. The constitutional process requires professional independent media that can provide reliable and credible information as well as a platform for debate and dialogue. UNESCO has developed various programmes that seek to strengthen human rights and democracy by building local capacities. "

Sunday, August 14, 2005

African migration: Home, sweet home -- for some full article (Subscription required.)

"While 70,000 South Africans are thought to have left the country in 1989-92, the estimated number ballooned to over 166,000 in 1998-2001. Some 1.4m South Africans are thought to be living in Britain alone. According to official statistics, over 16,000 highly-skilled South Africans emigrated between 1994 and 2001, but the real numbers are probably three to four times higher. Close to half of the South Africans living in rich countries have higher-education degrees.........

"The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Geneva reckons that the global stock of international migrants more than doubled in 30 years to 175m in 2000 and the African continent probably has the most mobile population in the world......

"the departure of doctors and nurses, for instance, is hitting the region hard. The British Medical Journal has reported that 23,000 of them leave Africa every year. According to some estimates, 10% of hospital doctors in Canada are South Africans, while the countries whose nurses got the most British work permits in 2001 were South Africa and Zimbabwe. The IOM says that more Ethiopian doctors are practising in Chicago than in Ethiopia........

"An increasing number of diaspora networks, such as the South African Network of Skills Abroad or the IOM's Migration for Development in Africa, are trying to foster research and exchange programmes or even business links between those who have left and those who have stayed........

"Many African expatriates also send money back to their families. The amount is a lot higher than the $4 billion officially recorded in 2002, as cash often travels in suitcases or through informal channels. For small countries, such as Cape Verde and Lesotho, remittances make up 12.5% and 26% of GDP, respectively.

"In a regional powerhouse like South Africa, the migration door swings both ways. The number of foreign students enrolled in South African universities, most of whom are from other African countries, is reckoned to have grown from 12,600 in 1994 to 35,000 in 2001. South Africa has also signed agreements with several countries, including Cuba and Germany, to lure doctors to South Africa for a specific period. New immigration rules, in force since last month, are supposed to make it easier for educated foreigners to move south, while staunching the inflow of illegal migrants; some 2m Zimbabweans are now said to be in South Africa."

Saturday, August 13, 2005

"U.S. science research may lose place on cutting edge"

Full article

I quote below more extensively than usual, this very well stated argument by Sharon Begley, The Wall Street Journal via the Pittsburg Post, August 12, 2005:

"According to the National Science Foundation, the U.S. share of scientific and engineering papers (a measure of how much knowledge researchers are generating) has been on a steady decline. From almost 40 percent in 1988, the U.S. share had fallen to 30 percent by 2001 (the last year for which the count is in), and is likely even lower now. That reflects, in particular, the rising scientific output of China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.
As recently as 1995, the U.S. was the top producer of scientific knowledge, with about 200,000 papers. Since then, Western Europe has sprinted past, producing almost 230,000 papers in 2001. The U.S. was stalled at 200,000. Asia graduates more science and engineering Ph.D.s than the U.S. does; Europe graduates 50 percent more.

"Unless you treat science the way the media do Olympics, with country-by-country medal counts obscuring the inspiring achievements, it's not obvious why the U.S.'s fall from dominance should cause concern, at least for patients. Ill Americans benefit from the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, invented in a lab in Belgium. The extract that formed the basis for the cholesterol-lowering drug Mevacor emerged from a lab in Spain. Americans don't need a passport to benefit from either.

"That more smart people around the world are making more discoveries 'portends well for the future of all humankind,' Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, argued in an editorial in Science.............

"It's one thing to lose pre-eminence, it's quite another to lose eminence, and that's where the U.S. is heading.

"Americans are rightfully proud of the research we do, but this is not the only place really great science is being done these days," says Evan Snyder of the Burnham Institute, La Jolla, Calif., a leader in stem-cell research. "Countries that never had a tradition of cutting-edge biomedical research now have an entree as a result of U.S. (stem-cell) policy. Americans are at a disadvantage in not having the opportunity to develop the technical know-how."

"One sign of how besieged he and others feel: Lab space financed with private or state money for studies that can't be legally done with federal money is called a 'safe haven.'

"Allowing a minority opinion to stifle research is only one symptom of politics undermining science. Some appointees to federal scientific advisory panels have been chosen for their ideology rather than their expertise; staffers with no research credentials alter the scientific (not only the policy) content of reports on climate change. Politicians' attacks on the science of evolution continue, even though "intelligent design" may make a fascinating lesson for a philosophy class, but is not biology.

"'This anti-scientism couldn't be more damaging to young people contemplating devoting their life to research,' says neuroscientist Ira Black, whose own stem-cell institute in New Jersey has been stalled by political red tape. 'The sense of opportunity that was always predominant in the U.S. now lies elsewhere.."

4th UNESCO Youth Forum

"The 4th edition of the UNESCO Youth Forum of the 33rd UNESCO General Conference, will be highly visible and is an opportunity for young people to express and exchange their ideas, make their voice heard and ensure their views are integrated in to UNESCO's programmes and policies.

"This year's theme will be 'Young People and the Dialogue among Civilisations, Cultures and Peoples - Ideas for action in education, the sciences, culture and communication'. In the field of science, dialogue-oriented initiatives focus on the link to sustainable development, the promotion of the natural and social sciences as a means for social transformation and increased networking and cooperation."

Friday, August 12, 2005

UNESCO Draft program's and Budget, 2006-2007

The 33rd session of the General Conference will take place from 3 to 21 October at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (France). The General Conference takes place every other year, and is the top governance body for UNESCO. The full budget is published and available for review now. It is a PDF file, and is 3.55 MB in length (448 pages.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

World conference for the UNESCO Clubs movement

The Times & The Sunday Times (Malta) full article

About 300 representatives from 120 countries participated in a recent conference of the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs Associations. The UNESCO Clubs movement has developed hand-in-hand with UNESCO since the establishment of the first club in Sendai, Japan, on July 19, 1947.

"According to the results of the survey recently conducted by UNESCO, there are more than 3,600 UNESCO clubs, which are engaged in a range of activities in the fields of its competence in 89 member states. Over 1,400 clubs are to be found in the Asia-Pacific Region, 1,200 in Africa, over 600 in Europe and North American, 250 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and over 70 in the Arab States."

The Director General of UNESCO, Mr Koichiro Matsuura, addressed the meeting. He is quoted as saying, "The UNESCO Clubs movement must be one of UNESCO's most important partners in civil society, the UNESCO Clubs are a distinctive, indeed unique, asset within the UN system. This reflects the fact that, at meetings of our governing bodies over the years, member states have reaffirmed their interest in and support for this movement........I see potential roles of UNESCO clubs, complementary to those of governments, non-governmental organisations and other civil society organisations at national, regional and international levels, as crucial in achieving the goals of the decade, and this is just one example."

In 2004, UNESCO's formal associate relations with the world Federation of UNESCO clubs was suspended, on an interim basis, due to a number of reasons. Since that time, an Ad Hoc Committee for the renewal of WFUCA has been working to re-examine WFUCA's rationale and to identify its best way forward. The article states that a possible solution was reached that the World Federation of UNESCO Clubs might again resume to function within the scope of its creation.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Arab Water Council Formed, Expecting Aid from UNESCO.

Egypt Today - Full Story:

"If issues concerning water scarcity, quality and management are not properly addressed, Egypt will be confronted with a major food and water crisis by the year 2025, Abu Zeid says.

"Limited water resources have been a problem since 1959, but until now we have been able to cope with the situation. The exponential population growth we have witnessed during the past two decades has, however, made the situation critical. We will not be able to meet the increased demand unless we tap into new resources and change our consumption patterns, he adds..........

"Where is it all going to come from? No one seems to know, but Abu Zeid, arguably one of the most active ministers in Cabinet, cant be accused of taking matters lightly. He has recently launched a number of initiatives including water conservation projects, public education and awareness campaigns, and water research programs. On the regional level, he has been actively courting both the African Nile Basin countries and (more recently) our Arab neighbors, trying to spark a dialogue on the regions water resources problem.

"Some Nile Basin countries, meanwhile, are rattling their diplomatic sabers, claiming Egypt already takes too much of the Niles precious water. A revision of the colonial 1929 and 1959 agreements, they claim, is absolutely in order.

"The result: Access to fresh water has quickly become one of the nations top national security issues.

"Sixty-seven percent of the total fresh water resources in the Arab world come from outside the region, says Abu Zeid, touching on the very issue analysts say should be sounding alarm bells in Egypts National Security Council. Pundits are predicting that while wars are now being influenced by and fought over oil, nations will fight over water in the not terribly distant future.........

"After years of careful maneuvering, Abu Zeid finally hosted a regional meeting of Arab government officials, water specialists and international donor agencies in Cairo this past April. The result: the launch of the Arab Water Council (AWC)..........

"The 450 or so delegates at the AWCs founding assembly struck a committee with members drawn from all 22 Arab nations to return a final framework agreement and bylaws to the full group within a year.

"Although the AWC will have government officials among its members, we want this organization to deal with society more than anything else, which is why we shied away from the original council of ministers idea in the Arab League, Abu Zeid explains..........

"Funding for the AWC should come largely from the World Bank, UNESCO and the UNDP, as well as Saudi Arabias Islamic Development Bank, which has funded a number of large-scale water projects in Africa and Asia since 1976. But Abu Zeid is adamant that Arab governments kick in as well by earmarking more funds for both projects and water science research."

Friday, August 05, 2005

U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, Newsletter published

U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, Volume 1, Issue 5, June/July 2005:

The contents are:

- Highlights
- U.S. National Commission Annual Meeting
- U.S. Candidacy for World Heritage Committee
- Francesco Bandarin Visit
- International Oceanographic Committee
- Creative Cities -- Santa Fe, New Mexico
- Young Professionals Program
- UNESCO External Relations and Cooperation
- Job Vacancies

Experts suggest provisions on freedom of expression for Iraqi Constitution

UNESCO news release:

"A workshop to facilitate the deliberations on freedom of expression in the context of the preparation of the Iraqi Constitution was organized by UNESCO and ARTICLE 19 in Amman last week.

"The workshop was part of UNESCO's programme in support of media and human rights in Iraq and the development of an Iraqi constitutional text ensuring freedom of expression in line with internationally recognized standards."

Director-General condemns fatal assault on Sierra Leonean newspaper editor Harry Yansaneh:

UNESCO press release:

"The Director-General of UNESCO, Koichiro Matsuura has condemned the killing of Harry Yansaneh, editor of For Di People newspaper, who died on July 28, apparently following an assault on May 10. The Director-General also condemned acts of vandalism against the newspaper."

Special fund for Information for All Programme grows thanks to France

UNESCO press release:

"The Special Fund of the Information for All Programme, UNESCO's unique intergovernmental information society initiative, will receive a contribution of Euros 45,000 from France, as French officials recently announced.
With China last week announcing a contribution of $20,000, France is the second country contributing in a short period to the fund, which is used to finance projects that contribute to universal access to information and knowledge."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Regional conference on governmental public domain information in Russia

UNESCO website for information on the conference:

"The issue of access to governmental public domain Information was discussed by some 150 experts at a conference in Smolensk (Russia) in late June 2005 organized under the auspices of UNESCO�s Information for All Programme.

"The participants of the conference, that was organized by the Smolensk Region Administration and the UNESCO IFAP National Committee of Russia, discussed the collaboration between the Ministry of Culture and Mass Media of Russia and the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade of Russia within the framework of Federal Programme 'Electronic Russia'. The agreement outlines a roadmap of cooperation between the network of 'Community Centers of Socially Significant Information', established by the UNESCO IFAP National Committee of Russia, the Ministry of Culture and Mass Media of Russia, and the network of Public Access Centers, created by the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade of Russia. "

India first head of new tsunami warning system

Yahoo! News article:

"India was selected to take the lead in implementing a tsunami early warning system for Indian Ocean countries after the devastating December waves that killed more than 200,000 people.

"The international warning system, expected to be in place by July 2006, brings together 27 nations and aims to give them enough time to alert their citizens to avoid a catastrophe.

"'We already have a system that is providing warnings. There are already 25 national centres that have been established in the last three months,' said Patricio Bernal, head of the UN's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission."

Monday, August 01, 2005

9th meeting of the IFAP Bureau

UNESCO announcement:

"The ninth meeting of the Bureau of the Intergovernmental Council for the Information for All Programme will be held at UNESCO House, Paris, France, Room IX (Fontenoy building), from 14 to 16 September 2005."