Thursday, August 30, 2007

I will be working in West Asia for two weeks

I will be working abroad for the next couple of weeks and will probably be pretty busy and constrained by limited connectivity. I probably will not post much. Sorry!

John Daly

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

UNESCO Americas Youth Forum

Young People and the
Dialog among Civilizations, Cultures and Peoples

From 9 to 15 September 2007, young people from 36 countries from North, Central and South America will meet in Mexico City and Acapulco to share experiences, consolidate their enthusiasm and propose new initiatives to tackle the regional youth issues.

This Forum will bring together young delegates from each participating country (nominated by the country’s National Commission for UNESCO and National Youth Council), facilitators and experts on the issues to be discussed, and observers from a wide range of youth NGOs and networks.

It is being co-organixed by UNESCO and the Mexican National Commission for UNESCO, in cooperation with the Estate of Guerrero (Youth Secretary and Secretary for Rural Development), the Mexican Institute of Youth and two NGOs, on behalf of the government of Mexico.

Through workshops, plenary sessions and meetings, the young leaders are to have the opportunity to discuss new strategies to promote cooperation amongst youth networks in the Americas, to strengthen youth participation in the regional community by engaging UNESCO and its partners, to develop tangible projects for the empowerment of young people in society, and to prepare for the upcoming 2007 UNESCO Youth Forum.

The Americas Youth Forum is part of the series of Regional UNESCO Youth Forums, focused on the theme of "Young People and the Dialog among Civilizations, Cultures and Peoples", which is to form the basis of discussion for the UNESCO Youth Forum, to be held on 12 and 13 October 2007 in the Paris Headquarters.

Apparently it is not all work!


There are science programs spread across the entire spectrum of United Nations agencies, from UNESCO to the agencies specialized in health, food and agriculture, and industry, to regional economic commissions, to the councils, to highly specialized agencies. It is hard for even very experienced workers in international science and technology to understand their various programs and roles, and to keep them in mind. This interesting 17 page report is a primer to the overall system, and UNESCO's place therein.

The Importance of Science

Koïchiro Matsuura

Last year UNESCO and the UN University cosponsored a meeting on the theme of Science and Technology in the Era of Globalization. At the meeting, Koïchiro Matsuura, UNESCO's Director General, made a major address. As part of that address he said:
The commitment to “globalization with a human face” is a strategic priority for the Organization, and directs all our major programmes. Our prime concern is to render globalization more just by empowering people to escape exclusion and discrimination, and by empowering countries to become equal actors in the global arena.

Science and technology are key to such empowerment. They are, to begin with, central to enhancing access to knowledge, an essential commodity in today’s world. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have revolutionalized the role of knowledge in our societies, making the availability of information – and the ability to employ such information effectively – an increasingly critical determinant of economic growth and sustainable development. UNESCO is committed to promoting equal access to these new technologies and to providing information for all. The Organization also works to ensure that individuals and societies can make use of such information to preserve and improve their way of life. Policies to provide universal quality education, to promote respect for cultural and linguistic diversity, and to secure freedom of expression are all crucial in helping to bridge the digital and knowledge divides.

Science and technology also have a central role to play in overcoming many of the other social and economic inequities that act as barriers to empowerment. Our success in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce child mortality, improve maternal health, ensure environmental sustainability and combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other major diseases – our success in all these areas will require focused science and technology policies. It will also require concerted efforts to strengthen developing country capacity to lead and manage scientific research and development.

The Internet and Foreign Affairs

The fall meeting of the National Academies' Computer Science and Telecommunications Board will feature two speakers exploring the Internet and foreign affairs:
  • Jarret M. Brachman, Director of Research, Combating Terrorism Center, U.S. Military Academy and
  • Ambassador David A. Gross, U.S. Coordinator for International Communications and Information Policy, U.S. Department of State.
The talks will start at 3 pm with coffee available at 2:30. A reception will follow the speakers at 5 pm.

October 2, 2007

The Keck Center of the National Academies
Room 100
500 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C.

The organizers request that those planning to attend register in advance.

Click here to view the meeting announcement.

UNESCO's communication and information program has been stimulating the expansion of access to the Internet in developing nations, emphasizing access by the poor. It has been even more active in efforts to assure that there was content on the Internet and its World Wide Web that served the needs of poor people and poor nations. UNESCO was one of the two United Nations sponsors of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Thus U.S. policy towards UNESCO is an important element in our overall foreign policy towards the Internet, cyberspace, and the development of the information society.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What does the U.S. owe to developing nations?

The San Francisco Chronicle published comments from a number of people who were responding to an article from a couple of Peace Corps Volunteers in Kenya. The PCVs said, as most of us concluded in the Peace Corps, that poor people have to change if they want to escape poverty. They said:
we were there to share our skills. Kenya - Africa - needs modern skills far more than it needs Western cash.
The Volunteers also wrote:
Education is the key, and the Kenyans know it. In 2002, the government agreed to provide free primary schooling for all. Secondary schools, however, charge a fee, often beyond the reach of many students, even when the family pulls together to send them. This is indeed one area where Western donations can do the most good, because it gives young people hope.
The folk who responded to the Chronicle gave a full spectrum of replies:
Tina Martin, San Francisco
Considering that the United States makes up less than 5 percent of the world population but uses more than 25 percent of the world's resources, I think it owes developing nations the chance to benefit from what they have before we liberate them from it.

Marcy Orosco, Guerneville
Nothing. Let's start with the United States first.

Bill Krumbein, Santa Rosa
We owe them fairness. We owe them a level playing field. Expecting them to play in the same league as our economic standards is impossible. We need to stop taking advantage of them.

Mike Haworth, Vallejo
It's not a matter of owing, it's more a matter of redemption. We need to redeem ourselves in the eyes of the world. Thanks to the current administration, the term "Ugly American" has been revived and multiplied a hundred times over. Repairing the damage will take decades, and every opportunity to do so should be acted upon immediately -- and we will, just as soon as all our resources stop funding this unwinnable war.
The website also generated a number of online comments.

UNESCO is deeply involved in the efforts to help Kenya and all of Africa to help itself. It is the lead agency in the global effort to provide Education for All. It is also the key agency in the United Nations system seeking to promote culturally sensitive approaches to the changes that poor people and poor nations must make to climb out of the poverty trap.

Leave us a comment (see below). What do you think America owes to developing nations? Do you think UNESCO is a good way to pay some of that debt?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

UNESCO Venice Newsletter - Issue N°1 2007 (April-June)

The UNESCO Venice Newsletter is a quarterly newsletter published in English by the UNESCO Office Venice - UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe (BRESCE). In this firt issue, UNESCO Venice Newsletter features articles on actions and project activities in South East Europe (SEE).


- Integration of Natural & Cultural Heritage Conservation
- Events in the region
- New Director for the Office in Venice


- EuroMAB 2007: a Strategic Positioning of MAB in Europe
- World Heritage & Cooperation with SEE Member States
- Training & Capacity Building in SEE
- New Tool for Promotion of Romanian Cultural Heritage

- Michael Millward (former Director a.i.)

International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

John Kamara - Amistad's deckhand and native of Sierra Leone triumphantly showing the Sierra Leonean colors while the Freedom Schooner sails into Albert Dock in Liverpool.
Photo courtesy of Albert Novelli via Amistad America

23 August 2007
The International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition

Since 1998, UNESCO has been reminding the international community of the importance of commemorating 23 August, International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition. This date not only commemorates the historic night in 1791 when the slaves of Santo Domingo rose up to break their chains and launch the insurrection that eventually led to the Haitian revolution, it also serves to pay tribute to all those who worked collectively and individually to trigger the irreversible process of the abolition of the slave trade and slavery throughout the world. This commitment and the strategies of action used that were conducted to fight the inhumane system of slavery were to have a considerable impact on the human rights movement.

Beyond the act of commemoration, this international Day aims at eliciting reflection on a tragic past that may be distant but whose repercussions continue to fuel injustice and exclusion today. This reflection on the barbarity our society is capable of unleashing with a clear conscience is all the more necessary, salutary even, as millions of men, women and children still today suffer the horrors of new forms of slavery. This is how the remembrance of past tragedies serves to enlighten us about present-day tragedies of exploitation and dehumanization.

Message from Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO
The Voyage of the Amistad

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice honored the launch of the Freedom Schooner Amistad at a ceremony earlier this year. One passage read,
It is important to remember the struggles of the past as we work to transform the future. I very much have in mind our own history as I work to promote freedom and fundamental human rights around the world.
The Amistad is making a fourteen-month transatlantic, international journey retracing the historic triangular trade in honor of the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade Route. The vessel left the port of New Haven, Connecticut on June 21 to a fanfare attended by hundreds. The ship is a near-replica of the historic 19th Century schooner La Amistad. The crew of this expedition will include college students who will be using information communication technologies to report back to classrooms of the travels from port to port.

The Secretary Rice message added,
“This schooner is about to embark on a new journey. This time, the Amistad sails the Atlantic as a symbol of freedom. Her voyage will highlight education, tolerance, and freedom for all mankind.”
The United Kingdom's Minister of Culture and the UN Ambassador from Sierra Leone also participated in the launching; large events are planned for the ships arrivals in Liverpool, England and Freetown, Sierra Leone later this year.

The Freedom Schooner Amistad sailed into Liverpool on Sunday with the UK's former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott at the helm. It's arrived at Albert Dock was timed to launch a week of events leading up to the opening of Liverpool's new International Slavery Museum on 23rd August.

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO has a webpage dedicated to the 200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Route.

UNESCO Commemorates The Slave Trade and its Abolition

While the notion of a “duty to remember” was in large part developed in the aftermath of the Second World War, the tragedy of the slave trade and slavery has only recently entered the international debate, raising specific ethical and socio-political issues in the societies concerned. UNESCO's Slave Route Project endeavors to enhance mutual understanding among peoples by creating a dynamic process to help develop new forms of citizenship, respect for cultural diversity, intercultural dialog and the fight against prejudice and racism.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The International Day for Peace

Peace Day 2007

More than 3500 events in 200 countries:

UNESCO Prize for Peace Education

Established in 1980, the aim of the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education is to promote all forms of action designed to ‘construct the defences of peace in the minds of men’ by rewarding a particularly outstanding example of activity designed to alert public opinion and mobilize the conscience of humanity in the cause of peace, in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the United Nations Charter.

Past laureates include:
  • 1986 Professor Paulo Freire (Brazil).
  • 1990 Ms Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Guatemala)
  • 1991 Ms Ruth Leger Sivard (United States)
  • 1992 Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
  • 2001 Honourable Mention: Ms Betty Reardon (United States of America)
Sri Lankan judge Christopher Gregory Weeramantry wins UNESCO Prize for Peace Education

Sri Lankan judge Christopher Gregory Weeramantry will be awarded the $40,000 UNESCO Prize for Peace Education on 21 September at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on the occasion of the International
Day of Peace.

The UNESCO Center for Peace in Frederick Maryland will hold its

2007 International Day For Peace Dinner

Date: Friday, September 21st, 2007 from 6:00 - 8:30 PM.
Location: Gateway-Crossing on 40 Elgin Blvd Hagerstown, MD 21740


Dr. Elizabeth Morgan, Superintendent of Washington County Public Schools will be providing the opening speech during which she will address “the Role of Education in Peace Initiatives”.

Dr. Raymond E. Wanner, currently is senior adviser on UNESCO issues to the United Nations Foundation and Chair of the Governing Board of UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning. He will talk about “US engagement with UNESCO: 1945-2007″

Monday, August 20, 2007

"Warming Will Exacerbate Global Water Conflicts"

Source: "A Future of Downpours and Droughts",
The Washington Post
, August 20, 2007.

Read the full article by Doug Struck, The Washington Post, August 20, 2007.

As global warming heats the planet......The climate will be wetter in some places, drier in others. Changing weather patterns will leave millions of people without dependable supplies of water for drinking, irrigation and power, a growing stack of studies conclude.....

Stephen Schneider, editor of the journal Climatic Change and a lead author for the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), pours himself a cup of tea and says the future is clear.

"As the air gets warmer, there will be more water in the atmosphere. That's settled science," he said. But where, and when, it comes down is the big uncertainty.

"You are going to intensify the hydrologic cycle. Where the atmosphere is configured to have high pressure and droughts, global warming will mean long, dry periods. Where the atmosphere is configured to be wet, you will get more rain, more gully washers.

"Global warming will intensify drought," he says. "And it will intensify floods."

According to the IPCC, that means a drying out of areas such as southern Europe, the Mideast, North Africa, South Australia, Patagonia and the U.S. Southwest.

These will not be small droughts. Richard Seager, a senior researcher at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, looked at 19 computer models of the future under current global warming trends. He found remarkable consistency: Sometime before 2050, the models predicted, the Southwest will be gripped in a dry spell akin to the Great Dust Bowl drought that lasted through most of the 1930s.....Seager predicts that drought will prompt dislocations similar to those of the Dust Bowl. "It will certainly cause movements of people. For example, as Mexico dries out, there will be migration from rural areas to cities and then the U.S.," he said. "There is an emerging situation of climate refugees."

Global warming threatens water supplies in other ways. Much of the world's fresh water is in glaciers atop mountains. They act as mammoth storehouses. In wet or cold seasons, the glaciers grow with snow. In dry and hot seasons, the edges slowly melt, gently feeding streams and rivers. Farms below are dependent on that meltwater; huge cities have grown up on the belief the mountains will always give them drinking water; hydroelectric dams rely on the flow to generate power......

The potential for conflict is more than theoretical. Turkey, Syria and Iraq bristle over the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt trade threats over the Nile. The United Nations has said water scarcity is behind the bloody wars in Sudan's Darfur region. In Somalia, drought has spawned warlords and armies.

Already, the World Health Organization says, 1 billion people lack access to potable water. In northern China, retreating glaciers and shrinking wetlands that feed the Yangtze River prompted researchers to warn that water supplies for hundreds of millions of people may be at risk.

Editorial Comment: UNESCO has always sought to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men, for it is there that wars are created. UNESCO, since its creation has been the lead agency in the United Nations system for the natural sciences. It has in recent years focused its natural science programs very strongly on water. Sixty years ago, very few people would have seen the connection between peace and hydrology, but today that connection is clear to the foresighted. If we do not deal with the water problems on a global scale, I believe we will see conflict on a global scale. People will fight for water, and if they migrate for water that too will cause conflict. Thus UNESCO's natural science programs that clarify the distribution of water and the ways in which water can be conserved and better utilized are increasingly important, and increasingly a tool to preserve the peace. JAD

Sunday, August 19, 2007

"Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities for Science and Technology"

The UNU/UNESCO International Conference on
"Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities for Science and Technology"
was held 23-24 August 2006, Pacifico, Yokohama

Globalization - the increasing cross-border movements of goods, money, information, ideas, and people, and the concomitant growing interdependency of people and institutions around the world - creates both opportunities and challenges for scientific and technological innovation. Globalization processes are driven by science and technology (particularly new information and communication technologies), but at the same time these processes are shaping the ways in which scientific knowledge and new technologies are produced.

This conference provided a forum for discussing harnessing scientific and technological progress to promote social and economic progress. Day One was a public symposium in which eminent experts discussed how globalization is changing science and technology, and vice-versa, and the opportunities that these changes offer. Day Two was a workshop with parallel working group discussions on the various aspects in which science and technology link with, and contribute to, peace and sustainable development.

UNESCO Supports Iraqi Scientific and Cultural Institutions

The Director General of UNESCO has submitted a report on the UNESCO's programs in Iraq in preparation for the next meeting of UNESCO's Executive Board. He reports on progress achieved by UNESCO in contributing to ongoing reconstruction and development efforts by the United Nations in Iraq since June 2006. He states in introducing the report:
The period of reporting was characterized by a highly volatile security situation despite stepped-up security measures. Escalating sectarian violence, as well as violence targeting journalists, artists, academics, teachers and students were of particular concern to UNESCO. On 13 June 2007, a second bombing at the Al-Askari Shrine in Samarra destroyed two 36-metre high minarets. The first bombing, which occurred in February 2006, had destroyed the golden dome of the shrine and sparked inter-sectarian violence throughout the country. The second bombing is stirring fears for renewed inter-community tensions, including further attacks on religious sites and monuments. The phenomenon of targeted violence affecting professionals and academics continued, with over 830 documented murders of university academics, medical doctors, journalists, media workers, lawyers, as well as teachers and students. Through advocacy, research and the development of professional support and solidarity networks, UNESCO sought to raise continuous attention on this matter within the international community.

The number of displaced populations both internally and to neighboring countries have reached unprecedented levels. According to reports by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), an estimated 1.9 million persons are now internally displaced and 2 million have left Iraq temporarily for neighbouring countries. This situation creates important humanitarian needs as large population groups suffer from problems of access to basic services. Of particular concern to UNESCO is the continued access to education for displaced schoolchildren, as well as the conditions and status of Iraqi teachers and academics who have left the country.
With regard to science, the report states:
UNESCO continued its active participation in the United Nations Country Team for Iraq’s Cluster A on “Agriculture, Food Security, Environment and Natural Resources Management”, playing a leading role in capacity-building on water resources management and on environment issues in close coordination with UNEP.

In the field of water management, assistance focused on enhancing technical capacities of water experts and strengthening institutional capacities in integrated water resources management, both through the UNDG Trust Fund project described below and in the context of the Organization’s regular programme activities. The project “Capacity-building of water institutions in Iraq” ($3.2 million, funded through the UNDG Trust Fund), was fully completed at the end of 2006. The project involved the participation of some 300 Iraqi water experts in a variety of capacity-building activities: 18 training courses, six workshops, one study tour and several meetings and conferences were organized, involving a wide range of participation from high-level government officials to postgraduate students. In the same context, a United Nations joint water conference was held in May 2007 in Amman with the attendance of several Iraqi ministers, GoI officials, parliamentarians and academia, to discuss long-term development of water-related issues in a concerted manner. Also, water sampling and laboratory equipments as well as 350 titles of technical books and academic journals were provided to the Ministry of Water Resources. The Ministry’s training centre for water experts was also equipped with necessary instruments and facilities. Within the project’s scope, another major achievement was the reactivation of the Iraqi National IHP Committee, now led by the Ministry of Water Resources, as a focal point for UNESCO’s water activities. In the process of implementation, UNESCO’s global water network has been fully utilized for the organization of training in UNESCO-IHE, and in the Regional Centre for Training and Water Studies (RCTWS) in Egypt in cooperation with the PC-CP programme.

Steady progress was also achieved on the trans-boundary water issues on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, through training, meetings and one joint seminar attended by government officials from Turkey, Syria and Iraq to discuss regional cooperation. Another joint workshop on international water resources modelling was also organized in cooperation with the US Department of Energy. These activities are expected to have a positive impact on ongoing diplomatic negotiations among the three countries. Following a trilateral meeting in May 2007, UNESCO received a request from the Iraqi authorities to further facilitate this negotiation process, through technical assistance and capacity-building activities.

A new project, based on an interdisciplinary approach on water and culture, on
“Rehabilitation and conservation of Kahrez systems in northern governorates” ($1.6 million, under the UNDG Iraq Trust Fund) was initiated. “Kahrez” is the Kurdish local name of the ancient water conveyance system which has had an important role in supplying drinking and irrigation water throughout history, but which has been neglected in the last decades, leaving the historical structure damaged and unusable in the longer term. The project aims at cleaning and rehabilitating selected Kahrez systems in Kurdistan governorates, thus creating local short-term employment opportunities, as well as updating knowledge and expertise in conservation and maintenance of these ancient hydraulic systems for long-term local water management. The project also aims at integrating the Iraqi authorities within UNESCO’s extensive network in this field, such as the International Centre for Qanat and Historical Hydraulic Structures (ICQHS) in Iran, which is an implementing partner of this project.

In the field of Ecological and earth sciences, some activities have been implemented in collaboration with the UNESCO Cairo and Amman Offices aimed at reviving the Iraqi National IGCP Committee. In this context, Iraqi scientists were invited to the regional IGCP meeting in September 2006 in Damascus, which resulted in the submission of a joint proposal on transboundary groundwater management to the IGCP Secretariat together with Jordan, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. A research paper on combating desertification is also under development by the Desert Research Centre of Anbar University.

The Iraqi National MAB Committee as well as the World Heritage National Sub-Committee for Natural Heritage have also been restructured, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment. A representative of the Iraqi Ministry of Environment attended the fifth Arab MAB coordination meeting in June 2006 and was selected as member of the bureau for the coming two years. In addition, UNESCO, in collaboration with UNEP, FAO and UNDP, is developing joint project proposals for the inscription of the Iraqi Marshlands of Mesopotamia, one of the most important ecosystems in the Middle East, on the World Heritage List and the biosphere reserve site, so as to ensure its sustainable development. One of these proposals was recently submitted by the UNCT for Iraq for funding to the “Environment and Climate Change” window of the Spanish MDG Fund.

In the field of basic engineering sciences, the Iraqi authorities are in the process of applying for membership to the SESAME project. To this end, UNESCO planned an activity to strengthen their capacity to participate in SESAME during 2007. Finally, a UNESCO/ISESCO international workshop on “micro-science experiment” for Iraqi experts will also be organized in October 2007, in Amman.
With regard to communications and information programs, the report states:
Iraqi journalists continue to pay a high price for the exercise of freedom of expression and the toll of journalists killed in Iraq continues to mount. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has documented that since March 2003, 145 journalists and media support staff, mainly locals, were killed in Iraq and that numerous abductions, harassment, violent assaults and arrests took place, making it by far the deadliest conflict for the press. This issue has been at the heart of a UNESCO-led awareness-raising campaign on press freedom and safety of journalists culminated with the World Press Freedom Day celebrations. Under the patronage of the Higher Media Council (HMC) in Jordan, representatives from local and international press freedom organizations discussed the legal status of media professionals in conflict zones and the current levels of impunity with regard to crimes committed against journalists. In addition, the NGO Media in Cooperation and Transition (MICT), in joint collaboration with UNESCO, produced interviews and features on the current situation of Iraqi journalists, which were provided free of charge to radio stations all over Iraq.

In the context of the constitutional review process in Iraq and the United Nations inter-agency project for strengthening the constitutional process and good governance, UNESCO is continuing to promote the development of a legal framework conducive to independent and pluralistic media and to assist in securing freedom of expression throughout the review of the current constitution. To this extent, UNESCO Headquarters co-hosted the International Conference on Media Development in Iraq in January 2007, in cooperation with the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC), thanks to the financial support from Japanese Funds-in-Trust and the European Commission. The participants included 200 Iraqi delegates, among which journalists, members of the Iraqi parliament and government officials as well as representatives of international NGOs and many donors. The Conference highlighted the need for international support and advocacy for freedom of expression and access to information, by reinforcing independent regulation of the communications sector in Iraq and by abolishing legal provisions restricting the exercise of independent journalism. It was recommended that the CMC should continue to function as an independent body with exclusive authority to license public media broadcasters and regulate their work.

In parallel, UNESCO has also actively engaged with the United Nations Country Team for Iraq in supporting the constitutional review process by providing technical advice on constitutional guarantees for freedom of expression and access to information in the framework of the IRFFI-funded Constitution II UN Umbrella project. The UNESCO component ($1,047,039) was launched in April 2007 and is focused on reinforcing Iraqi capacity to develop and enforce a regulatory framework conducive to independent and pluralistic media. The project also includes capacity-building activities and support to encourage professional media to participate in the constitutional process and advocate for press freedom. After a three-month international competitive procurement process, UNESCO contracted a consortium lead by the BBC World Service Trust, to provide a $750,000 package of media development services, including assistance with the legal and regulatory framework, facilitation of a code of ethics, media training programmes and public information campaigns.

In the same framework, UNESCO, UNICEF and UNIFEM have collaborated in preparing a
joint commentary paper proposing some amendments to the Iraqi Constitution to be presented to the Constitutional Review Committee, in order to improve constitutional protection for human rights, especially freedom of expression and women and children’s rights in line with recognized international standards. Also, the NGO Media in Cooperation and Transition (MICT), in collaboration with UNESCO, organized specific training workshops on the current situation of Iraqi women, with the aim of their empowerment and enhancement of their social, economic and political conditions by encouraging radio journalists to work on gender-related topics, and increase public awareness on the challenges faced by women in today’s Iraq. MICT selected 30 Iraqi radio journalists and engaged them in a four-week online course designed to develop their skills in gender sensitive journalism. The service consisted of individual one-to-one training courses, a library (with content covering both journalism techniques and women’s issues) and a virtual meeting room that encouraged exchange of ideas, news and information. Reports, features and interviews that were produced as part of the training were distributed free of charge among radio stations all over Iraq.

UNESCO and Creative Content: Radio, TV, New Media

Media and newer information and communications technologies are being used to transform the global information infrastructure, and even poor nations are radically enhancing their national information infrastructures. Globalization is resulting in a flood of information from information rich countries into information poor nations. The media industry and the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) are thus transforming the perceptions and lifestyles of millions of people around the world.

Unfortunately, developing nations and poor people have lagged badly in the creation and sharing of content over these media. But often the information from Europe and the United States does not fit the needs of developing nations very well. For example, health and agricultural conditions in tropical countries are very different than in northern climates. Were developing nations to share more of their knowledge and experience via the media, economic and social progress could be enhanced.

Poor people also are not as well understood as they might be if they provided more information through their national information infrastructures. They might better participate in democratic processes to assure that governments met their needs and demands.

UNESCO, under the direction of its member states, has a broad program to enhance the capabilities of people in poor nations to create and share information with local content relevant to their situations and concerns.

Trainees in an audiovisual training (Bolivia)
Source: © UNESCO, N. Denissova

ICTs for Intercultural Dialog

UNESCO;s project titled "ICTs for Intercultural Dialog: Developing communication capacities of indigenous peoples" (ICT4ID) was approved by UNESCO’s General Conference in 2003 and has been extended to 2007. The project aims at fostering the creation and dissemination of local content that reflects the values, the experience and insights of the world of indigenous peoples’ communities and cultures.

In 2004-2005, ICT4ID launched five pilot projects involving eleven indigenous communities: the Bakoyas, the San and the Himbas in Africa, and the Quechua, Lecos, Tsimanes, Esse Ejjas, Mosetenes, Tacanas, Baures and Aymaras in Latin America.

The main goals of these projects are to encourage the production of indigenous cultural content for the audiovisual and new media by providing training to community members on the use of ICTs for local cultural expression. They also aimed at giving international exposure to locally produced contents.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

UNESCO Good Will Ambassador Tossed Out of Mexican Hotel

I, Rigoberta Menchu: An Indian Woman in Guatemala

Staff at Cancun's five-star Hotel Coral Beach appear to have assumed Rigoberta Manchu was another street vendor or beggar, so without asking questions they ordered her to leave. Rigoberta Menchu of course is a Nobel peace prizewinner, UNESCO goodwill ambassador, Guatemalan presidential candidate and figurehead for indigenous rights.

Source: Rory Carroll, Guardian Latin America correspondent via Free Internet Press, 2007-08-18

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Science in an International and Humanitarian Context"

Read the full article by Lynn Dicks from last December in Science Careers.

"Natarajan Ishwaran, director of the UNESCO Ecology and Earth Sciences division, says that the first UNESCO director-general, the distinguished zoologist Julian Huxley, fought hard to put science on UNESCO's agenda. Today, UNESCO spends one-seventh of its $610 million budget on science and employs about 200 scientists. About half of them are based at the Paris headquarters; the rest work in one of five regional and 51 field offices around the world. The job of these scientists is to co-ordinate international efforts between researchers and the public, the media, and international governments. "We are brokers," says Ishwaran, "between science and everything else."

UNESCO is keen to recruit young scientists, and those hoping to swap research for a career in intergovernmental work will find some opportunities there--provided they are not looking for too much job security."

"UNESCO considers itself a laboratory of ideas, so you have to be able to anticipate new concepts" and get diverse groups of people to develop a shared vision, says UNESCO professional Meriem Bouamrane.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

UNESCO photo study of community access centers

"From access to engagement: community access centers" is the title of a photo publication prepared by UNESCO that captures the exciting developments that are taking place in community access centers.

Community Access Centres take different forms and go by different names: Community Learning Centres; Community Multimedia Centres; ICT Centres; Telecentres; Resource Centres or Community Libraries. But whatever their name, the fundamental idea is the same: to facilitate progress from access to engagement.

Download the photo publication.

Photo from the publication:

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Global Science and National Policies: the Role of Academies

The Conference of the Academies of Sciences of Eastern and South Eastern Europe on the theme “Global Science and National Policies: the Role of Academies” was organized by the UNESCO Office in Venice (BRESCE), the UNESCO Office in Moscow and the International Council for Science (ICSU) . It was hosted by The Academy of Sciences of Moldova in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova from 4 to 5 May 2007.

As a follow-up to the World Conference on Science (Budapest, 1999), UNESCO and ICSU decided in 2005 to take action to strengthen the interactions between the Academies of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe (ESEE) countries and their involvement in international science cooperation. As a first step, a questionnaire was sent out in early 2006 to the concerned Academies to collect information on their activities and organizations, as well as on their aspirations and needs. As a second step, UNESCO and ICSU organized this Conference designed to bring all ESEE Academies together with a view to:
  • review a set of strategic science issues relevant to regional and international cooperation, and the role that the Academies can play thereon;
  • assess the role of the ESEE Academies in the national and regional contexts; and
  • enhance the role of science in society and the building of knowledge societies in ESEE countries.

Science Policy and Sustainable Development

In my opinion, one of the most important and valuable functions of UNESCO is to stimulate science policy improvement in developing nations, and to provide assistance to them in developing science policies in support of their sustainable development programs. A recent example of this work is the master plan to 2020 for science and technology in Mongolia.

The Science and Technology Master Plan of Mongolia for 2007-2020 is published by UNESCO's Beijing Office within UNESCO's Science Policy Studies series.

Together with the Science and Technology Policy Asian Network (STEPAN), UNESCO's Beijing and Jakarta offices assisted the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia in developing the Master Plan. The Ministry then drafted the Plan, which was approved by the Government of Mongolia in January 2007.

Learned Articles About UNESCO

These two articles can be downloaded from JSTOR:

International Organizations as Teachers of Norms: The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cutural Organization and Science Policy

Martha Finnemore
International Organization, Vol. 47, No. 4 (Autumn, 1993), pp. 565-597

Abstract: Most explanations for the creation of new state institutions locate the cause of change in the conditions or characteristics of the states themselves. Some aspect of a state's economic, social, political, or military situation is said to create a functional need for the new bureaucracy which then is taken up by one or more domestic groups who succeed in changing the state apparatus. However, changes in state structure may be prompted not only by changing conditions of individual states but also by socialization and conformance with international norms. In the case of one organizational innovation recently adopted by states across the international system, namely, science policy bureaucracies, indicators of state conditions and functional need for these entities are not correlated with the pattern for their adoption. Instead, adoption was prompted by the activities of an international organization which "taught" states the value of science policy organizations and established the coordination of science as an appropriate, and even a necessary, role for states. This finding lends support to constructivist or reflective theories that treat states as social entities shaped by international social action, as opposed to more conventional treatments of states as autonomous international agents.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization: Report of the Special Committee of Experts on the Definition of UNESCO's Responsibilities in the Field of Population
Studies in Family Planning, Vol. 1, No. 28 (Apr., 1968), pp. 12-15

Our bibliography on UNESCO has lots more materials on the organization.

"UNESCO Challenges Designers to Tackle Social Issues"

Re-written Aesop's Fables
by Hwani Lee

There is a nice article featuring a UNESCO sponsored contest in Design News. I quote:

UNESCO (United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization) and design firm Felissimo recently teamed up to host three international design competitions asking just this question. Open to members of the Design 21: Social Design Network, the Design 21 competitions challenged designers to imagine design with a social conscience that can create positive change in the world.

The initiative drew over 800 entries--from more than 59 countries--addressing social issues in three categories: Heated Issue, ; Child’s Play, ; and ShelterMe, which challenged participants to design a temporary, lightweight, strong and easily deployed emergency shelter.

American designers did well:
  • Heated Issue (which called for an educational campaign to raise awareness of global warming)
    First Prize Re-written Aesop's Fables by Hwani Lee, USA
    DESIGN 21 Award of Excellence
  • Child's Play (which asked participants to create an object inspiring a child to invent his or her own way of playing and interacting)
    DESIGN 21 Award of Excellence
  • Children's Building System by Danielle Pecora, USA
  • ShelterMe (which challenged participants to design a temporary, lightweight, strong and easily deployed emergency shelter)

    First Prize Lightweight Emergency Shelter by Patrick Wharram, USA

    Third Prize and Most Popular Prize Sanctuary by Jonathan Kim, Thomas Herrström, Calle Uggla, Magnus Sparrman, USA

Lightweight Emergency Shelter by pwharram

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The New Issue of the UNESCO Courier is Out

© UNESCO/Stefan Hoeh
Sydney Opera House
From Herders to Architects: Man's Imprint on World Heritage
Six thousand years separate the Sydney Opera House from Twyfelfontein. These two sites just inscribed on the World Heritage List add to its extraordinary richness, which the UNESCO Courier aims to illustrate. Among twenty-two new sites, the Courier focuses on five that reflect the diversity of world heritage down through the ages. (More)

mexico.jpgPeople for the university - the university for the people

World Heritage readings

Editorial: The COM+ Alliance

The Com+ alliance is a partnership of international organizations and communications professionals from diverse sectors committed to using communications to advance a vision of sustainable development that integrates its three pillars: economic, social and environmental. Its partners are:
- British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World Service Trust
- Center for Applied Biodiversity Science/Conservation International (CI)
- Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
- GlobeScan
- The International Federation of Environmental Journalists (IFEJ)
- Inter Press Service (IPS)
- The World Conservation Union (IUCN)
- Reuters Foundation
- Southern Caucus of NGOs for Sustainable Development
- Television Trust for the Environment (TVE)
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
- WThe World Bank
- World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
UNESCO is the lead agency for the United Nations system in communications, focuses strongly on sustainable social and economic development, and especially through its science programs leads in the generation of scientific information on the environment. It seems clear that it should be a member of this consortium, but is not. I strongly recommend that the United States delegation to UNESCO encourage UNESCO to join and participate in COM+.

John Daly
(The opinion expressed is mine alone.)

Should one or more of UNESCO's publications be nominated for the COM+ Communications for Sustainable Development Awards for 2007?

Reporting on sustainable development key issues

COM+, in a joint effort with Inter Press Service (IPS) and the International Federation of Environmental Journalists (IFEJ), is encouraging environmental journalists around the globe to produce in-depth, independent articles on sustainable development key issues, through the initiative: “Bringing Sustainable Development Closer to the People through Mainstream and Civil Society Media Networks”. The articles can be read in English, Spanish and some of them in French and are distributed through the IPS global wire service, COM+ partners, Tierramerica, IFEJ network, Terraviva and Planet's Voice among others.

Check out Green Facts on Health and Environment.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

UNESCO Field Office in New York

UNESCO maintains an office in New York, primarily for liaison with the United Nations organizations headquartered there. However, that small office is staffed by very friendly and helpful personnel with extensive knowledge and understanding of the organization and is a resource for Americans interested in knowing more about UNESCO.

UNESCO Office in New York


Work Phone: 1 (212) 963 59 95

Fax: 1 (212) 963 80 14

Street Address: 2, United Nations Plaza, room 900,
City: New York

The director of that office is Ms Helene-Marie Gosselin.

UNESCO and Non-Governmental Organizations

Since its foundation, UNESCO has given great importance to partnership with civil society organizations, in particular NGOs. The role of civil society representatives is increasingly important in every sector of daily life, and partnership with civil society organizations is becoming indispensable for governmental organizations in pursuing their strategic objectives.

Every six years, UNESCO's secretariat makes a report to the General Conference on the contributions that NGO's have made to UNESCO's operations. A new report has recently been published in preparation for this year's meeting of the General Conference.

UNESCO provides this list of NGO's maintaining official relations with UNESCO that are headquartered in the United States: