Monday, October 26, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Charles Kenny has an excellent article this month titled "Revolution in a Box" in Foreign Policy magazine. He points out that:
By 2007, there was more than one television set for every four people on the planet, and 1.1 billion households had one. Another 150 million-plus households will be tuned in by 2013.Today television is revolutionizing social behavior in poor countries as it did in the United States and other affluent countries decades ago.
Charles points out further that television can have an important impact in the promotion of peace:
television help solve a problem we've had since before Sumer and Elam battled it out around Basra in 2700 B.C. -- keeping countries from fighting each other? Maybe.Charles also draws attention to the negative impact of a narrow selection of television channels available to the public in poor nations, allowing those channels too often to be dominated by factions that seek to promote their narrow interests via biased broadcasting.
U.S. researchers who study violence on TV battle viciously themselves over whether it translates into more aggressive behavior in real life. But at least from a broader perspective, television might play a role in stemming the global threat of war. It isn't that TV reporting of death and destruction necessarily reduces support for wars already begun -- that's an argument that has raged over conflicts from Vietnam to the Iraq war. It is more that, by fostering a growing global cosmopolitanism, television might make war less attractive to begin with. Indeed, the idea that communications are central to building cross-cultural goodwill is an old one. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels suggested in the 19th century that railways were vital in rapidly cementing the union of the working class: "that union, to attain which the burghers of the Middle Ages, with their miserable highways, required centuries, the modern proletarians, thanks to railways, achieve in a few years," they wrote in The Communist Manifesto. If the Amtraks of the world can have such an impact, surely the Hallmark Channel can do even better.
UNESCO's Communications and Information Program is the lead in the United Nations System dealing with broadcasting, and UNESCO's mission of promoting peace and international understanding also demands that it attend to television as a powerful medium for good. Yet UNESCO does very little to promote responsible television broadcasting, not to promote the dissemination of television infrastructure or the use of television to provide a broad content linked to the needs and interests of poor people in developing nations.
Unfortunately, the United States withdrew from UNESCO in the 1980's and in so doing sent the organization into a financial crisis of major proportions -- a crisis from which the organization has not fully recovered to this day. UNESCO does not have the resources to adequately take advantage of the opportunities offered by the rapid penetration of television into the poor areas of the world.
The discussion in the past degenerated into futile areas of "The New World Information Order" rather than useful discussions of the role of mass media in fighting corruption, promoting peace, and disseminating knowledge. Perhaps now is the time to try again!
“…the time has come for the world to move in a new direction. We must embrace a new era of engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect, and our work must begin now.”
President Barack Obama
The United States is deeply engaged with the United Nations and other international organizations to promote U.S. national interests. While most Americans are familiar with U.S. leadership at the United Nations as part of the Security Council and as a leading voice in support of human rights, economic development, and humanitarian relief, fewer Americans are aware of the many benefits that stem from U.S. engagement with the many technical and specialized international organizations.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Elizabeth Kelley-Kanick has been named the new Executive Director of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. She was formally the Administrative Director in the Office of Senator Hillary Clinton.
The rise in numbers of researchers equates to a 45% increase, from 344 to 499 researchers per million inhabitants in developing countries. During the same period, the number of researchers in developed countries increased by only 8.6% to 4.4 million. In relative terms, this amounts to 3,592 researchers per million inhabitants, still far more than in developing countries.
The information was collected through the third UIS survey on statistics of science and technology (S&T), which is conducted every two years. It focuses on human resources devoted to research and development (R&D), as well as expenditure on R&D. Results of the survey reveal global and regional trends in the allocation of R&D resources.
Between 2002 and 2007, developing countries increased their global share of researchers by 8.1% (from 30.3% to 38.4%). They accounted for 24% of the total gross domestic expenditure on R&D in 2007, which is an increase from 17% of the global share seen in 2002.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
“It is my dream to nurture relations of perfect synergy between the Director-General and Member States, so as to move together towards the creation of societies that are more just and prosperous, based on knowledge, tolerance and equal opportunity for all, thanks to education, science, culture and access to information. I shall be guided in my work by my concept of a new humanism for the 21st century.”
Irina Bokova, the newly elected Director General of UNESCO
Friday, October 16, 2009
The 35th Session of the General Conference today elected Irina Bokova of Bulgaria as the tenth Director-General of UNESCO. The investiture will take place in a ceremony on Friday 23 October 2009, when Irina Bokova will become the first woman to hold the post since the foundation of the Organization in 1945.
Elaine Fuchs, Rebecca C. Lancefield Professor at Rockefeller University, will be the North American recipient of a 2010 L'Oréal-UNESCO Award in the Life Sciences, which recognizes exceptional women scientists. Fuchs is one of five scientists representing five continents who will be honored with the award this year.