Sunday, August 31, 2008

Editorial: The MIRCENs


Starting in 1975, and in partnership with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), UNESCO established 34 Microbial Resources Centres (MIRCENS) worldwide.These were in a number of categories:
  • The Biological Nitrogen Fixation MIRCENs, which focused on the improvement of soil organisms which can reduce the need for fertilizers;
  • The Culture Collection MIRCENS, which linked repositories of microbial cultures worldwide, providing a key scientific resource;
  • The Biotechnology MiRCENs, serving to apply revolutionary techniques such as genetic engineering to development problems, and to help develop that capacity in developing nations themselves;
  • The Aquaculture and Marine Biotechnology MIRCENs, focusing on a key area of molecular biology which is underrepresented in the commecial sector and in developing nations generally;
  • The Bioinformatics MIRCENs, which introduce for developing nations and practitioners a new and exploding area of science.
UNESCO supported the Network with complementary services. The United States played an important role in the MIRCEN network, especially through the American Society for Microbiology which obtained a grant to enable American scientists to provide professional training and advice to the MIRCEN Centers in developing nations.

Rita Colwell, a member of the Board of Directors of Americans for UNESCO who also served as the MIRCENs chair for many years, informs me that MIRCEN was an exceptionally successful story. It was organized within UNESCO by the late Edgar DaSilva under the direction of Sid Passman, another long-time member of the Board of Americans for UNESCO, when he headed the Division of Natural Sciences at UNESCO. He too followed the program closely, and believed it to be successful. I too had contact with the program, when directing the Office of Research in USAID, which funded microbial research projects, in some cases in MIRCEN Centers.

Unfortunately, in this decade the MIRCEN program was canceled by UNESCO. The cancellation was a result of a shortage of funds available for the Science programs of UNESCO, a continuing problem which has become ever more severe as UNESCO's resources have failed to keep up with the needs created by the burgeoning global scientific community. To some degree the gap has been filled by the networks of the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, but there remains a great need for the research and capacity building in molecular biology if the promise in the field is to be realized in developing nations. Apparently a non-governmental organization was created to maintain the network, but it seems no longer to be in existence (at least its website is no longer functioning).

We have all come to recognize that the unseen microbial world must be understood and mastered if we are to conquer infectious disease, and these diseases still are the major health problem of much of the world. It is no less true (albeit less widely understood) that such mastery will contribute mightily to the improvement of agriculture and to sustaining a livable environment, and will even yield important industrial benefits. We are fortunate to live at a time in which advances in science are leading to revolutionary improvements in biological technology. UNESCO could and should play a key role in bringing the benefits of this science and technology to developing nations. The MIRCEN program provided a vehicle for UNESCO's leadership in this field, but no longer is available for that purpose. What a shame!

John Daly
(The opinions expressed in this posting are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of Americans for UNESCO.)

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Increase in R&D Intensity

This graph is from a very nice Fact Sheet produced by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics titled A Global Perspective on Research & Development. It shows the changes in portion of Gross Domestic Product devoted to research that countries have made between 1996 and 2005. Each country is represented by a labeled point. The countries falling above the upper line in the graph have significantly increased their spending on research and development relative to their total economic product (and almost all of them also increased their GDPs). Only a few countries fall below the lower line, having significantly reduced the portion of GDP devoted to research and development. In short, the graph provides an interesting demonstration of the increasing belief in science and technology among a wide range of nations. Moreover, since richer countries tend to be those with the higher portion of GDP devoted to research and development, the graph shows an increase worldwide in research and development.

The fact sheet illustrates the important role of UNESCO in documenting the global status of science, and the graph above illustrates the thoughtful and innovative way in which UNESCO presents its conclusions to the world.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Background: UNESCO and Governance of the New Invisible College

In her book, The New Invisible College: Science for Development, Caroline Wagner describes the growth of global science and within that growth the more rapid growth of international collaboration among scientists. Today science is truly a global enterprise, more so than might have been imagined when UNESCO was founded more than six decades ago. Indeed, the world's expenditure on science is greater than the national income of all but a handful of countries.

According to the National Science Foundation, the number of scientific journal articles increased by 2.3 percent per year between 1995 and 2005. From 1988 to 2008, the share of publications with authors from multiple institutions grew from 40 to 61 percent. In the same time, the portion of publications with authors from institutions in more than one nation increased from eight to 20 percent.

In the final chapter of her book, Caroline considers the governance of this new invisible college of collaborating scientists building a grand edifice of knowledge. In this context governance is:
The use of institutions, structures of authority and collaboration to allocate resources and coordinate or control activity in in the society of science to achieve desired ends.
Her discussion raises an important issue. How can a self-organizing international network of many millions of scientists be governed? Indeed, at issue is whether such a network -- of people who have been trained to think independently, who come from many cultures and who live in many nations -- can be governed at all. Yet clearly mankind will benefit from the appropriate allocation of scientific resources and coordination of scientific activity to advance knowledge and understanding of the world, including the applied science to help us live better.
The term "invisible college" was coined by the Robert Boyle, the 17th century savant, to describe the informal group of scientists who were exchanging information and views, and which included such other luminaries as Robert Hooke and Christopher Wren, a group that was later to form the nucleus of the Royal Society. The term was later used by Derek de Solla Price, the great historian of science, to describe the informal networks of scientists that have formed in the information age to similarly exchange information. The term is now widely used. In Caroline Wagner's hands the term refers to "an invisible college of researchers who collaborate not because they are told to but because they want to, who work together not because they share a laboratory or even a discipline but because they can offer each other complementary insight, knowledge, or skills."
I believe that not only is governance of the invisible college possible, but that the evolution of governance institutions is well under way. The various aspects of that governance are addressed in the following paragraphs, which emphasize the role of UNESCO in that evolutionary process.

UNESCO's Central Role in Global Science

The UNESCO Institute for Statistics plays a central role in the global system of information on the scientific enterprise. It not only collects and publishes comparative information on the scientific resources of the nations of the world, UNESCO advises countries on how to collect such information in ways to assure comparability among nations. The UNESCO Science Report, the flagship publication of the science programs of UNESCO, provides an overview of the world's science, complemented by other supporting publications.

The World Science Conference, held in 1999, was one of a series of UNESCO sponsored conferences, held within the framework of a more extensive conferences of the United Nations system, that served to catalyze global attention on science and build consensus among nations on the importance of science and on directions for the further development of science. In the more recent World Summit on the Information Society, cosponsored by UNESCO and the International Telecommunications Union, UNESCO helped bring the participants to the realization that the development of science is central to the development of knowledge societies.

While other decentralized agencies of the United Nations system have important scientific interests (e.g. WHO and biomedical sciences, FAO and agricultural sciences), it is UNESCO that leads in these efforts to provide information on the global invisible college and to convene leaders to discuss its state, future and priorities.

The U.S. Perspective

The U.S. share of total world scientific article output fell between 1995 and 2005, from 34 to 29 percent. We see many nations, such as China, India, Russia and Brazil overcoming their historical poverty through rapid economic growth, and as their wealth increases they are rapidly building their scientific capacities. Those trends will no doubt continue to increase the amount of scientific knowledge that will be developed abroad. United States science policy already must deal with the acquisition of scientific knowledge created abroad, and that emphasis must increase in the future. It also is increasingly in our national interest to take measures to help assure that the international creation of scientific knowledge and understanding continues and that the global scientific system deals with issues that are important to us.

The issue of the governance of international scientific systems appears often to be misunderstood. It need not imply a loss of national sovereignty over domestic issues. The first intergovernmental organizations, created in the 19th century were the International Telecommunications Union and the International Postal Union, and they simply recognized that if people wanted to send telegrams or letters between nations, there needed to be agreements among the nations involved as to how those communications were to be handled. Similarly, to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, the nations of the Americas, with U.S. leadership created the Pan American Health Organization to improve the cooperation and coordination among national public health programs. We are familiar with these systems, and find them no threat to our liberty and indeed supportive of our interests.
Structural complexities and the intrinsic dynamism of science and technology pose challenges to policy makers, but they seem almost manageable compared to the challenges posed by extrinsic forces. Among these are globalization and the impact of global economic development on the environment.
John Marburger, President Bush's Science Advisor
OECD High Level Meeting of the Committee for Science and Technology Policy

March 2008
Indeed, science has been called self-governing in that the scientific community invokes its own internal mechanisms in voluntary associations to prevent scientific fraud and plagiarism. So too, over the last half century, Americans have lead in the institutionalization of mechanisms in UNESCO to promote collaboration and coordination of international scientific efforts, with important benefits to the American scientific as well as the world scientific enterprise, and indeed important social and economic benefits to the United States as well as other nations.

National Governmental Policies

Quite reasonably Caroline Wagner in her book focuses considerable attention on governments and their role in governance of the global scientific system. Governments are major funders of fundamental science, and science to produce knowledge as a public good. They govern science within their borders. More to the point, as mentioned above, national governments have not delegated sovereignty over their domestic science to international or intergovernmental bodies.

Caroline makes a very pertinent observation that all countries must now recognize that it is often not only more efficient but also more practical to obtain scientific information that they need from abroad than from domestic sources. That information can be obtained from the public domain or by collaborations between homeland and foreign scientists. She recognizes that nations must build their internal scientific capacity and support their scientists in their work, but that domestic concern must be matched by an international orientation as well.

Thus all nations must build their science policies around the acquisition of scientific information from abroad and the facilitation of international collaboration by its scientists.

U.S. international science policy must also be seen as closely linked to our soft diplomacy and our development assistance policy. We are still by far the world's strongest scientific power, and the use of our science capacity to train scientists from other countries and to help them build their scientific capacity is greatly appreciated by those other countries. Moreover, by helping others, we can help establish the linkages between U.S. and foreign scientists that will be so important in the future.

The Private Sector

The rise of multinational companies in an increasingly global economy raises significant issues of the role of corporations in international science. They fund a great deal of science, and indeed carry out a great deal of research within their corporate structures. Increasingly the multinationals are moving their research activities from country to country, seeking lower costs, high quality, or access to national markets. There seems little alternative than to allow the corporations to make their own science strategies under the discipline of the market, although national governments can and do regulate research activities of corporations doing business within their borders, and offer incentives and sanctions intended to assure corporate science is done within their countries and in support of their economic and other needs. Perhaps more importantly, governments survey the research portfolio of the private, for profit sector to detect public goods which require public intervention. Interestingly, UNESCO is establishing partnerships with some of the leading research companies in the world, and thus is indirectly and subtlely

Civil society plays a smaller role in international science, but foundations have been quite important and it may well be that it is increasingly so. U.S. experience is that foundations and non-governmental organizations provide an important complement to government funding of non-commercial science. The government's role has been to establish rules that make donations to such organizations tax deductable, and regulate to ensure that civil society organizations use their resources to promote charitable causes.

Civil society includes the scientific professional societies, and UNESCO has always been closely linked to the International Council for Science, the umbrella organization for the group of international scientific unions. These member supported organizations not only play a key role in the governance of the invisible college, but also through their journals play the central role in the diffusion of new scientific knowledge; their archives are the first repository of the body of this knowledge.

Institutions to Promote Trust

The institutionalization of systems of international collaboration require there to be trust among the collaborators. A small but significant effort that establishes that trust is the effort of organizations such as UNESCO and the European Union to establish standard setting conventions that assure that educational credentials are comparable among participating nations. Indeed, the higher education sector is in part self regulating as accreditation institutions are widely used to assure the quality asserted by university degrees.

More importantly, science is somewhat self regulating. Professional journals and peer review provide systems to prevent scientific fraud and to warrant the quality of scientific work while disseminating scientific information in the public domain. Most important, the scientific process which promotes independent replication of scientific results provides a means for preventing errors from creeping onto the corpus of scientific knowledge.

The UN decentralized agencies also play an important, albeit little recognized role in building trust in the scientific community. For example, the World Health Organization establishes peer review mechanisms using the results of biomedical research to establish guidelines for medical practice which are widely accepted in developing nations.

UNESCO has an important role in such trust building. For example, its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission provides a mechanism which establishes trust among the states whose waters are traversed by research ships on their voyages; its International Hydrological Program similarly provides a trusted agent for cross border hydrological studies. UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves provides a mechanism by which countries can commit to cooperation in the operation of this global network and the research to establish means for sustainable preservation of biodiversity.

The UNESCO Chairs and Program and its Twinning and Networking Program "was conceived as a way to advance research, training and program development in higher education by building university networks and encouraging inter-university cooperation through transfer of knowledge across borders." The keystone universities in these programs are vetted through a careful selection program in both the National Commissions of UNESCO and the UNESCO Secretariat and governing bodies, thereby assuring that they are worthy of trust. Since the programs inception in 1992, more than 350 chairs and networks have been established in the sciences, and the program continues.

In other cases bilateral or multilateral agreements are created, such as for the financing of megaprojects that are cooperatively financed by several nations, and which offer facilities to be used by multinational networks of collaborators. Two of the landmark examples of internationally funded scientific centers are direct outcomes of UNESCO's efforts: CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) and the ICTP (the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics).

The Ethical Conduct of Science

Not only are scientists supposed to be honest about the work that they do and the results that they produce, they must act ethically in their treatment of human subjects, in their treatment of animals that are involved in their research, and in the containment of risks that their research might cause the public or the environment. While many decentralized United Nations agencies work to assure ethical conduct of science within their spheres of influence, UNESCO has a central role through its Bioethics Program and its World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) and its Conference series: Ethics around the World

Financing of Global Science as a Public Good

The International Agricultural Research Centers are perhaps a prototyical network that meets a global need, and requires funding from a consortium of donors. The network, governed by the Consortium for International Agricultural Research with its scientific advisory bodies, is essentially a club of funding bodies -- governments and foundations. The IARCs serve a global purpose in the maintenance of seed banks protecting the biodiversity of mankind's major crop species, making it available as a public good. They also are the keystone in a network of national agricultural research and extension services, providing improved varieties to be adapted to local conditions by national bodies, and increasingly interacting with global private sector seed and agricultural chemistry industries. The system in part was created in response to the fact that poor, developing nations did not have the keystone agricultural research capacity that was needed to fight hunger, promote rural development, and prevent famines. The international agricultural research system has been regarded as the most fully articulated such system, but its recent lack of funding indicate the remaining inadequacy of that form of international scientific governance.

While other initiatives involving multinational support for centers of research excellence have been introduced their success is mixed. CERN, a facility for nuclear research in Europe, financed by a club of rich nations, has been successful over decades, and counts such successes as the invention of the World Wide Web. So too, the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (IDDRB) has been in operation for decades and can point to many accomplishments, including Oral Rehydration Therapy. But the Central American system of regional research and development centers has had continued difficulties raising support among its member states.

UNESCO has created a decentralized group of Centers and Institutes in education and the sciences. In some cases it provides core funding from its assessed budgets, matched by voluntary contributions for the funding of these organizations. In others, it simply provides an organizational umbrella and legitimization for a Center which is financed by member nations. Proposals to add an organization to this group are carefully evaluated, and are accepted only after recommendation by UNESCO's Executive Board and a vote by its General Conference. Thus UNESCO does not accept responsibility for the success of such an organization lightly. On the other hand, the on-the-record support for such an organization by the community of 193 member states of UNESCO provides it great credibility.

Donor Assistance for Building Scientific Capacity

The International Financial Institutions, the United Nations programs and decentralized agencies, and bilateral donors all have programs to support the creation of scientific capacity in developing nations, and of the capacity to govern science in those nations. UNESCO's Basic and Engineering Science Program and its Science Policy and Sustainable Development Program are especially important in this respect. UNESCO also has a number of regional offices for science, and a strong emphasis on building scientific capacity in Africa in support of the NEPAD program defined by African leaders themselves.

The coordination of the portfolio of donor efforts are sometimes accomplished by donor coordinating bodies, and sometimes by interlocking directorates as the governments of the bilateral donors and the major recipients govern the intergovernmental organizations. All of these bodies, however, benefit from the statistics and information that UNESCO has helped to develop internationally.

Final Comment

As the global Invisible College is growing and evolving, so too are the institutional infrastructure providing the resources it needs to thrive, the trust among its participants needed to enable their collaboration, and the prioritization for the allocation of resources and attention, as well as the distribution of its results.

World spending on R&D is more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year, and if one considers other scientific and technological activities that funding must be well over a trillion dollars a year. Millions of scientists working in nearly 200 nations are involved in the system. A century ago international science was not not nearly of this scale. The change is like that of a village growing into a metropolis. Not surprisingly one must count the time for the evolution of the international governance institutions supporting this expanded system in decades (centuries?) rather than in years. Expanding the metaphor, we do not yet understand how to build an adequate institutional infrastructure for the megacities that are appearing around the world, even though there have been large cities from which to learn for centuries. There is no model for the governance of a huge global network of collaborating scientists, and it should not be surprising that we are seeing institutional gaps and institutional failures. Still, as the discussion above has demonstrated, the system is working fairly well and much has been done, with UNESCO in a central role in the governance of the global invisible college!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Academies of Sciences and the Transition to Knowledge Societies

In 2007, Academies of Sciences from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe (ESEE) took part in a Conference on “Global Science and National Policies: the Role of Academies”. The Conference was organized by UNESCO (Venice and Moscow Offices) and the International Council for Science (ICSU) and it was hosted by the Academy of Sciences of Moldova at its headquarters in Chisinau.

Click here to read the conference report
(PDF format)

This report and the conference that it summarizes illustrate the role of UNESCO in helping build the new science policy institutions required by the transition countries. While it is almost two decades since the fall of Communism, the transition from the dysfunctional institutions created under Communism and a more effective system suited to free market economies and democratic governments will take much longer.

The effort also illustrates the partnership with the International Council of Science, the umbrella organization for the network of international scientific professional organizations--a partnership that has lasted for decades.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The International Day of Peace

The United Nations' International Day of Peace - marked every year on September 21 - is a global holiday when individuals, communities, nations and governments highlight efforts to end conflict and promote peace.

We the World, a non-governmental organization, provides a website with more than 700 associated events celebrating peace efforts during an eleven day period from September 11 to September 21, in support of the United Nations event.

“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men

that the defences of peace must be constructed.”

The UNESCO Constitution

UNESCO was created in the aftermath of World War II as an integral part of the United Nations peace keeping system. UNESCO's function was the long-term effort to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men through the promotion of education, science and culture. The promotion of peace has always been central to its program.

Promotion of the Culture of Peace is one of UNESCO's special themes, cross cutting all of its sectoral programs. Among its actions are a number of prizes recognizing efforts to promote peace:

This prize, awarded biennially, supports activities designed to increase awareness and mobilize consciences in the cause of peace.
The Prize, established in 1989, is intended to honor living individuals, and active public or private bodies or institutions that have made a significant contribution to promoting, seeking, safeguarding or maintaining peace.
The UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize pays tribute to the initiatives of municipalities which have succeeded in strengthening social cohesion, improving living conditions in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and developing genuine urban harmony.
The International Peace Commission, which grew out ot the Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize process, held its first meeting in UNESCO Headquarters, hosted by the Secretary General. The International Commission for Peace Research also grew out of the Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize.

A New UNESCO Publication

The book Water and Peace for the People will be launched on 11 September at 6 p.m. at UNESCO Headquarters.
What if the countries in the Middle East had no choice but to get along in order to share the region’s meagre water resources? This is the starting premise of Jon Martin Trondalen’s book “Water and Peace for the People”, which will be launched on 11 September at UNESCO.

In an international climate of tension, conflicts related to water in the Middle East are more than ever in deadlock. “Water and Peace for the People”, released by UNESCO Publishing, offers a practical guide that suggests concrete ways to resolve these crises.

© Jon Martin Trondalen
Culvert for an irrigation from the
Euphrates River, South of Bagdad

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mondialogo School Contest Finalists

Reuters reports:
50 schools at the final of the Mondialogo School Contest in Beijing - among them U.S. students from Allison Park (Pennsylvania), Lewisburg (West Virginia) and Land O'Lakes (Wisconsin)
The three U.S. finalists are the A. W. Beattie Career Center, the Greenbrier East and the Conserve School.

The contest, initiated by Daimler and UNESCO in 2003, seeks to encourage dialog between school students of different cultural origins, by rewarding the best work on international and intercontinental joint projects: examples include musical works, plays, collages, photographic documentation, sculptures or Internet pages. Through the intercultural project work, school students are intended to develop understanding, tolerance and respect for people with different cultures, religions, languages and origins. This year 2,740 school teams with a total of 36,000 school students between the ages of 14 and 18 from 144 countries took part.

UNESCO's Programs for Children in Need

You can contribute to UNESCO's Programs for Children in Need!

Click here to learn how!

UNESCO created the Program for the Education of Children in Need in 1992 to offer a future to vulnerable children through education. Since its creation, over US$33 million has been raised in private funds and these have been fully and directly invested into immediate support for over 332 projects in 92 countries worldwide.
Street children
According to UN sources there are up to 150 million street children in the world today. Chased from home by violence, drug and alcohol abuse, the death of a parent, family breakdown, war, natural disaster or simply socio-economic collapse, many destitute children are forced to eke out a living on the streets, scavenging, begging, hawking in the slums and polluted cities of the developing world.
Children victims of war and natural disasters
Over the last decade alone, armed conflict has claimed the lives of over 2 million children. Another six million have been left wounded or disabled for life. One million have become orphans. It is estimated today that more than 300,000 children have been enrolled in militia groups and armies and been forced to carry a gun. Half of those they kill are other children. Whether it is in Afghanistan, Iraq or in conflict-ridden areas of Africa, UNESCO has played a vital role in providing education and relief. The first to suffer from a lack of sanitation, infrastructure and order after a catastrophe are the most vulnerable: children. Outbreaks of disease following natural disasters hit children the hardest. UNESCO’s Program for the Education of Children in Need seeks to be on hand to offer relief and reconstruction expertise.
Children with special needs
Despite governments signing up to many a convention and seemingly supporting international guidelines on children with special needs, prejudices and exclusion still form part of everyday life for many children with special needs around the world. Since 1992, ther projects for children with special needs have been carried out in the following countries: Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cuba, Egypt, India, PDR Lao, Mexico, Morocco, Russia, Uganda, Vietnam.
Working children
Child labor is probably the single biggest obstacle to giving every child an education. The International Labor Office estimates the number of working children, aged 5 to 17, to be around 250 million. Many of these children come from impoverished rural families who have to employ every member to survive; others still work in dire situations of systematic exploitation in sweatshops and factories. Exposed to hazardous materials, working in servitude, many of these young laborers die an early death. The most destructive of child ‘work’ is prostitution. Around 2 million children fall within this area of employment worldwide. In Asia alone, perhaps more than 1 million minors, of both sexes, work in bars and brothels. Before long they are caught up in the deadly cycle of substance abuse and HIV infection.
For an overview of current UNESCO projects for children in need, select a region from the list below:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Conversation With Nina V. Fedoroff

The New York Times has published an interview with Nina Fedoroff, science adviser to the secretary of state and to the administrator of the Agency for International Development. I quote:

A. Because science and technology are the drivers of the 21st century’s most successful economies.

There are more than six billion of us, and the problems of a crowded planet are everyone’s: food, water, energy, climate change, environmental degradation. Other nations, even those that have lost respect for our culture and politics, still welcome collaboration on scientific and technological issues.

Monday, August 18, 2008

200th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade

August 23rd is the day marked by UNESCO to commemorate the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.
On March 2, 1807, the U.S. Congress approved an act to abolish the importation of slaves effective January 1, 1808. Thus, this year marks the 200th anniversary of that event.

Here are a number of useful resources available related to the anniversary celebration:

Friday, August 15, 2008

" The fight against doping; More than tactical success"

The International Herald Tribune suggests that the 2005 UNESCO Convention Against Doping in Sport may pay off with fewer abuses in these Olympic Games.
Before the 2005 convention, only members of sports organizations were held accountable or penalized for their actions. Now, all athlete support personnel, including coaches, trainers, managers, team support staff, agents, administrators, officials and medical or paramedical practitioners are open to scrutiny, as are those who manufacture or supply drugs to athletes.

Today, the convention encourages all countries to evenly apply antidoping laws and regulations and ensure the implementation of the World Anti-Doping code by all sports organizations. But while countries have rapidly ratified the convention, they need to move much faster to implement it.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

UNESCO workshop for media on culture, gender and human rights at the International AIDS Conference

On 6 August UNESCO provided a skills building session on The session aimed to strengthen the capacity of those accredited journalists covering the event, to produce accurate, culturally relevant, human rights-based and gender-sensitive HIV and AIDS media coverage which adequately reflects the voices of communities that are most affected. The skills building session was co-facilitated by UNESCO, INTERNEWS and the Global Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS.

United States ratifies International Convention against Doping in Sport

On 4 August, President George Bush signed the instrument of ratification of UNESCO’s International Convention against Doping in Sport, following its approval on 22 July by the US Senate. More than 90 countries have now ratified the Convention.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Rattus Holmes and Felis Watson

As of Monday, visitors to the UNESCO Social and Human Sciences Program website* are able to find the weekly installment of an comic-strip adventure featuring Rattus Holmes and Felis Watson, detective heroes against doping in sport.

Entitled “The Case of the Spoilsports”, the comic strip dramatizes UNESCO’s anti-doping role and explores the importance of the International Convention against Doping in Sport, adopted by UNESCO’s member states in 2005.

In five chapters published weekly, the story the comic strip will trace how twin athletes react differently to the pressures of competitive sport.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Job: Chief of ICT in Education, Science and Culture Section

Duty station; Paris, France
Grade: P-5
Post number: CI-004
Closing date: 4 September 2008
Main responsibilities:
Under the overall authority of the Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information (ADG/CI) and the direct supervision of the Director of Information Society Division, the incumbent is responsible for the planning, implementation and evaluation of the strategy, regular program activities, and extrabudgetary projects of the Section. Working within the frameworks of UNESCO's Medium-Term Strategy (C/4s) and global developments plans, especially the Plan of Action adopted by the World Summit on the Information Society, the incumbent will be responsible for the following duties:
  1. Provide intellectual, strategic and operational leadership of the Section by: (a) driving the preparation of strategies and the biennial programs and budgets; (b) guiding the conceptualizing, designing and implementation phase of the Section’s activities; (c) providing expert advice to internal and external stakeholders; (d) driving the multistakeholder cooperation and outreach of the Section through fostering contacts and joint projects with representatives ofMember States, UNESCO’s Intergovernmental bodies and civil society; (e) establishing and managing private sector partnerships.
  2. Ensure the management of the staff of the Section by: motivating staff and providing mentoring; ensuring appropriate distribution of tasks; monitoring of timely and appropriate implementation of program and projects; establishing internal guidelines and procedures; ensuring quality and timely inputs of the Section to reports; establishing information and knowledge management procedures of the Section; monitoring and evaluating the performance of staff.
  3. Plan and execute regular programme and extra-budgetary activities by: providing strategic advice in the use of ICTs in education, science and culture for Member States; recording and sharing information, knowledge and best practices; planning and executing projects of strategic nature in Member States; providing backstopping support to Advisers for Communication and Information in Field Offices.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The New Issue of SHS Views is Out

The July-September issue of SHS Views is now available online. SHSviews is a quarterly magazine providing information on the work of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the field of social and human sciences.

Read the issue (PDF format)
Go to the SHS Views archive (HTML format)

The NatCom Newsletter is Out

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Update, Volume 4, Issue 1 Winter/Spring 2008 has recently been published.

In This Issue:

Americans Still Underrepresented on UNESCO Staff

These data provided by the State Department indicate that there are still too few Americans on the staff of UNESCO. As a result, Americans have unusual opportunities to join UNESCO, and will enjoy unusual support of their government in efforts to do so.

UNESCO uses a formula to balance staffing from its member nations. According to the formula, a minimum of 46 and maximum of 76 U.S. citizens should work for UNESCO. The targeted date to meet the minimum employee level is 2010. Two important avenues to increase employment of American citizens in UNESCO are:
  1. The Young Professional Program –YPP (for under represented states)
  2. The Associate Expert Program - extrabudgetarily funded

2008 U.S. National Commission for UNESCO Annual Meeting

The minutes of the May meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO have been published online. The summary of the meeting includes those who attended, matters discussed, and conclusions reached.

The minutes are available in PDF format. To view the PDF file, you will need to download, at no cost, the Adobe Acrobat Reader.

-- 07/03/08 Meeting Minutes

Alexander Zemek new Executive Director of the NatCom

Alex Zemek has been officially appointed Executive Director of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

In September 2004, Alexander Zemek began service as Deputy Executive-Director of the National Commission. Before joining the State Department, he worked for the Department of Defense 2002-2004, where he helped with cabinet affairs, with the startup and management of the Defense Business Board, an advisory council of private sector senior executives created by Secretary Rumsfeld, and
with managing and staffing the Department's 63 federal advisory boards and commissions. During his last year in Defense, he served in Iraq with the Coalition Provisional Authority as both Special Assistant to Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III and interim Director of Personnel.

He joined the government after some years in the private sector, where he worked as a securities trader for Heartland Securities Corporation. He also taught high school in his hometown of Tolland, Connecticut.

He holds an honors degree in history from Yale University, where he captained the cross country team, and a graduate certificate in national security studies from the National Defense University. As a photographer, he has held many gallery shows, for example an exhibit in Connecticut highlighting his life in a small village in Kenya in 1998. He maintains his distance running and is an avid traveler who has visited 45 of the 50 US states and 35 foreign countries. He
lives in Arlington, Virginia.

Larry Seaquist's New Website

Larry Seaquist, long time member of the Americans for UNESCO Board of Directors, has created a new website in his quest for reelection to the Washington legislature.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


UNESCO is one of the partners sponsoring OneGeology, the world's largest geological mapping project. The image above by OneGeology is a computer generated view of the earth denuded of all its atmosphere, water, and plants.

OneGeology is an international initiative of the geological surveys of the world and a flagship project of the 'International Year of Planet Earth'. Its aim is to create dynamic geological map data of the world available via the web.