Wednesday, April 28, 2010

UNESCO club hosts commission

Source: Nicholas C. Stern, The Frederick News Post, April 28, 2010

The UNESCO Center for Peace and Hood College hosted the April meeting of the Maryland Governor's Commission on African Affairs at Hood's Marx Center Tuesday night.

The commission was created to address the need for state agencies to respond effectively to the needs and concerns of Maryland's African citizens, according to a UNESCO Center for Peace statement.

According to Guy Djoken, executive director for UNESCO Center for Peace, the African community in Frederick County has grown significantly over the past decade, though he could not cite specific numbers.

Djoken said immigrants from Ghana, Ethiopia, Liberia, Cameroon, Congo, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire and The Gambia, among others, live in the county.

Israeli FM thanks Clinton on UNESCO action

Israel’s foreign minister thanked Hillary Rodham Clinton for removing items critical of Israel from UNESCO’s agenda.

The United States’ “strong and consistent position,” Avigdor Lieberman wrote in an April 25 letter to the U.S. secretary of state, “prevented the introduction of five anti-Israel resolutions initiated by the Arab group” of states in the U.N. agency.

Meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

Liz Kanick, the Executive Director of the National Commission, has just confirmed that the public sessions of the meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will be held on May 26 and 27. The announcement will soon appear in the Federal Register.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Janis Karklins -- the new ADG for UNESCO's CI Program

The new Assistant Director-General for UNESCO’s Communication and Information Sector will be Janis Karklins of Latvia. Currently Latvian Ambassador to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, after an initial career in industry, Mr Karklins became the Permanent Representative of his country at the United Nations in Geneva. As a diplomat, he was closely involved in the preparation of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and played a key role in its negotiations on internet governance. In 2006, Mr Karklins was elected president of the Government Advisory Committee of ICANN (Internet Corporation of assigned Names and Numbers), which plays a pivotal role in information society issues.

Background interview of Janis Karklins

Janis Karkins on how the Internet is improving our lives

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mónica González Mujica to receive UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize 2010

The Chilean journalist, Mónica González Mujica, a heroine of the struggle against dictatorship in her country, has been named laureate of the 2010 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.

“Throughout her professional life, Mónica González Mujica has shown courage in shining the light on the dark side of Chile,” said the President of the jury, Joe Thloloe, Press Ombudsman of the Press Council of South Africa. “She has embodied the very spirit of the Award. She has been jailed, tortured, hauled before the courts but has remained steadfast.”

“Ms González is now ploughing her experience back to the younger generation through her work at the Center of Journalism and Investigation and her workshops on investigative journalism in various countries,” added Mr Thloloe.

An Exercise on UNESCO Governance

Irina Bokova, the new UNESCO Director General

Yesterday we had a classroom exercise in the GWU graduate seminar on UNESCO focusing on the election of the UNESCO Director General last year. The seminar has focused on the history of UNESCO and UNESCO's programs to this point, while the exercise focused on UNESCO governance.

By UNESCO governance I mean
  • its legislative bodies, the General Conference and its Executive Board with representatives of its member nations,
  • the Director General which the legislative bodies elect, and
  • the Director General's senior staff who are contracted and are not under the International Civil Service.
Fortuitously, the nine members of her senior staff were announced this week.

The students in the seminar are all Masters level students from the George Washington University International Education Program. While most are employed or have been employed, they do not have experience either with upper management or with the the political bodies that determine policy for intergovernmental organizations.

Thus the purpose of the exercise is to help students to understand not only the formal operation of the governance structures to set policy and direct operations, but also the way that the processes of governance affect the organization. For example, when UNESCO was created 65 years ago, the Executive Board was composed of individuals chosen for their personal excellence and their commitment to the purposes and program of UNESCO; some decades ago the UNESCO Constitution was changed and the Board was thereafter composed of the Permanent Representatives to UNESCO of those nations elected to serve on the Board. This change significantly affects the processes of the Board, its choice of Director General, and thus the Organization as a whole.

Describing the process by which Irina Bokova was elected Director General of UNESCO not only shows by example how the legislative processes work in UNESCO (and how governments use diplomacy to influence the choice of a Director General), but also help the students to understand what kind of person is likely to be elected to the post.

The nine candidates for UNESCO Chief
and the Chair of the Executive Board

The election has been termed especially contentious, but I suspect that there have been other occasions in which the election of the Director General has also been vigorously contested, such as that won by Luther Evans or that in which Amadou M'Bow finally declined to run for a third term.

What was different about this election was that it was held in the Internet age. It was possible to quickly obtain reports on the election for all parts of the world and it was even possible to search for reports in languages one does not speak and quickly obtain acceptable translations of the reports found via the Internet.

Utilizing these aids I was able to create a website on the election some months before the Executive Board met and to add material to the website on a continuing basis during the critical period. Surprisingly, a number of people stepped up to help me in that effort and indeed people working for various candidates also began to correspond with me. I assigned students the website as a resource for the class exercise.

The naming of the nine senior staff members (Deputy Director and eight Assistant Directors General) provided an opportunity to discuss the problems not only in finding experts to lead the various program and administrative units within the Organization, but also to achieve geographic and gender balance, a team that can work together well with each other and the Director General, and to satisfy the Ambassadors from the key member nations and the various UNESCO constituencies.

If you are interested in obtaining the Power Point presentation for the class exercise, the educational objectives for the exercise and other related materials, please send an email request to:

The Executive Board in session.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

UNESCO Chief Announces Her New Senior Staff

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova has announced the new members of her senior staff:
  • Deputy Director General: Getachew Engida
  • Assistant Director General for the Education Sector: Qian Tang
  • Assistant Director General for the Natural Science Sector: Gretchen Kalonji
  • Assistant Director General for the Social and Human Sciences Sector: Maria del Pilar Alvarez-Laso
  • Assistant Director General for the Culture Sector: Francesco Bandarin
  • Assistant Director General for the Communications and Information Sector: Janis Karklins
  • Assistant Director General for the Sector for External Relations and Cooperation: Eric Falt
  • Assistant Director General for the Administration Sector: Khadija Ribes
  • Assistant Director General for the UNESCO’s Africa Department: Lalla Aïcha Ben Barka
The new staff members are expected to take office on July 1, 2010.

Dr. Gretchen Kalonji is an American who has had a distinguished career at the University of California system, the University of Washington and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. At the University of California since 2005, she was responsible for university wide international strategy development. The UC announcement of her appointment stated:
At UW, she has led a campus-wide effort to integrate collaborative international research activities into curricular pathways of students, across the disciplines and from freshmen to doctoral level. This initiative, entitled UW Worldwide, has been honored with multiple grants and awards, both in the United States and in partner regions. Over the past 10 years, Kalonji has been the principal or co-principal investigator on more than $19 million dollars of related grants.

Professor Kalonji’s work, both in materials science and in educational transformation, has been recognized by numerous awards and honors, including: the Presidential Young Investigator Award; the George E. Westinghouse Award from the American Society for Engineering Education; the Leadership Award from the International Network for Engineering Education and Research, and the National Science Foundation’s Director’s Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, the highest honor offered by the NSF. Professor Kalonji has held visiting faculty appointments at numerous universities and institutes around the world, including the Max Planck Institute (Germany), the University of Paris (France), Tohoku University (Japan), and Sichuan University and Tsinghua University (China). She serves on numerous national and international advisory boards and committees, particularly for projects and organizations focusing on innovations in education, equity and access in higher education, and international science and engineering. Prof. Kalonji has been called upon to give more than 115 invited lectures in institutions around the world.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A World of Science (April–June 2010)

Contents Vol. 8 No 2

2. Eight predictions for 21st century conservation

10 Women laureates battle parasites and disease
10 UNESCO comes to Haiti’s aid
11 Biodiversity target will not be met in 2010
12 Post-2010 targets must recognize key biodiversity areas
12 Afghanistan launches plan for higher education
13 First
karez restored in Iraq
14 Iraq joins Avicenna Virtual Campus
14 The Scarlet Knight arrives in Spain

15 David Hills on what industry can learn from nature

17 Fisheries in a cod climate
20 All you ever wanted to know about biodiversity...

24 Diary
24 New releases

Download the issue (PDF)

Science Projects in the UNESCO Participation Program

The UNESCO Participation Program provides direct assistance to initiatives undertaken by Member States, in line with the priorities that they themselves determine, in the Organization’s fields of competence. These projects are financed by an allocation of the Regular Programme that is separate from the allocations assigned to the Program Sectors.

Assistance under the Participation Programme is provided to Member States or Associate Member States upon requests submitted through National Commissions (requests from individuals cannot be considered). International NGOs may also benefit from assistance under the Participation Program. The domain of assistance is quite broad, as shown by the following examples of successful projects submitted during the 2008-2009 biennium to the Natural Sciences Sector:
  • Establishment of a Seismological Training Center at the Jordan Seismological Observatory
  • Implementation of a solar lighting system for schools (Guinea)
  • Application of satellite remote sensing for integrated management of coastal and marine ecosystems (Mozambique)
  • Institutional strengthening of hydrometeorological services (Bhutan)
  • Establishment of flash flood forecasting and warning system in the Keumya River basin (Democratic Republic of Korea)
  • Promoting Science education in primary schools through the provision of Basic Science Equipment (Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines)
Among other things, assistance under the Participation Programme may comprise the
provision of fellowships and study grants.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

UNESCO Symposium Offered for 4th Time

Students doing presentation on the UNESCO culture program

The seminar on UNESCO offered in the International Education Program of George Washington University is nearing completion. During the semester approximately half of the sessions are led by students who present overviews of the various programs of UNESCO. The other half of the classes are devoted to people with long experience with the Organization describing their experience, focusing on the history of the Organization and the process of representation to UNESCO. In the four semesters the course has been offered, 55 students have developed a detailed comprehensive understanding of UNESCO, and indeed have learned how to study a large complex organization. Click here for a detailed description of the course as it was offered last year.

Students attending to the presentation

The UNESCO-HP Brain Gain Initiative

The migration of highly-skilled people is having a significant impact on higher education and research in developing nations, as universities and research centers have to retain highly-skilled and increasingly mobile professionals in increasingly competitive labour markets.

UNESCO and HP joined forces in 2003 to develop several projects, using innovative technology to create a “brain gain” for regions that are particularly impacted by the exodus of academics and scientists.

In 2009 UNESCO and HP agreed to scale up the initiative to help create a sustainable university e-infrastructure for science, bringing together higher education institutions and research centres in Africa and the Arab States region and allowing them to pursue innovative education projects.

By the end of 2011, this infrastructure could span some 100 higher education institutions in 20 countries provided like-minded corporations and organizations join UNESCO and HP in this initiative.

World Book and Copyright Day

The World Book and Copyright Day, on 23 April, is the occasion to highlight the importance of the fight against piracy to preserve creativity. The World Anti-Piracy Observatory (WAPO), launched in January 2010, is an innovative web-based reference tool that provides detailed information on national anti-piracy measures and policies. In addition, WAPO contains useful information on best practices, capacity-building, awareness-raising, and news pertaining to anti-piracy activities worldwide.

• The World Anti-Piracy Observatory Website:
Online platform for a global exchange of information

• The World Anti-Piracy Observatory Newscorner:
Worldwide news and events

• Collection of National Copyright Laws:
Access to national legislations of UNESCO’s Member States

• The ABC of Copyright (pdf): An overall view of copyright essentials

10 Music Contracts (pdf): Tools for artists and professionals in the music sector

Join the Unesco-L'Oreal fellows international community!

Interns Begin Work at Frederick UNESCO Club

Zsofia Szabo, a Hungarian, and Stephen Perrine, an American, have begun internships at the UNESCO Center for Peace, a UNESCO club in Frederick, Maryland. Read more in the Frederick News Post.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Twelve years of measuring linguistic diversity in the Internet: balance and perspectives

Written by Daniel Pimienta, Daniel Prado and Alvaro Blanco, this publication is an update to the previous UNESCO study on this subject that was issued for the World Summit on the Information Society in 2005.

FUNREDES and Union Latine have designed an original research method to measure linguistic diversity in cyberspace. The aim was to use search engines and a sample of word-concepts to measure the proportionate presence of these concepts in their various linguistic equivalences.

Research, undertaken from 1996 to 2008, enabled interesting indicators to be built to measure linguistic diversity. The paper describes the research method and its results, advantages and limitations. It also provides an overview of existing alternative methods and results, for comparison.

The paper concludes with the examination of different perspectives in the field which have in the past been considered to have been characterized by a lack of scientific rigor. This has led to some misinformation about the dominant presence of English on the Web. It is a topic that is only now slowly attracting due attention from international organizations and the academic world.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Competition “10 ideas for tomorrow's Africa” (deadline: 30 April 2010)

Within the framework of the 50th anniversary of African independence, the Social and Human Sciences Sector of UNESCO (SHS) is launching a “Call for Ideas” for prospective proposals in favour of Africa’s development within the next decade.

Among the proposals, which should be submitted before Friday 30 April 2010 at midnight (Paris time), 10 ideas will be selected by an international jury and presented by their author(s) during 10 small-scale conferences to be held at UNESCO Headquarters, in mid-June 2010.

These 10 contributions to the thinking on Africa’s future will also be published in a special issue of SHSviews magazine.

Each proposal is expected to develop one idea which would amplify the positive effects and reduce, or contain, the negative impacts of the major trends observed in Africa on one of the 10 following topics:

Topic 1: Economy and Development (Environment, Food Security, New Information and Communication Technologies…)

Topic 2: Governance, Policy, Institutions, Leadership

Topic 3: Regional Integration, Population, Migration, Urbanization

Topic 4: Cultural Identities (Languages, Religions…)

Topic 5: Youth

Topic 6: Human Rights, Gender and Justice

Topic 7: Diaspora

Topic 8: Peace, Security and Conflict

Topic 9: Health, Education and Social Development

Topic 10: International Relations

Meeting of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO

I have heard unofficially that the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO will meet in Washington, D.C. from May 25th to May 27th, 2010. The meeting should soon be announced on the National Commission website.

The Power of Peace Network Introduction Video

Visit the Power of Peace Network's website. The Power of Peace Network is supported by UNESCO.

Social and Human Sciences at UNESCO: Special Issue 2001-2010 with SHSviews n°27

SHSviews’ first issue of 2010 has just been published in English, French and Spanish, and will also be available in Russian. Covering the news from January-March 2010, SHSviews 27 is accompanied by a special issue covering the strategy of UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences programme for 2001-2011 and looks back over the main results obtained during the past decade.

In the table of contents of the special issue 2001-2010:

2 / UNESCO’s social and human sciences strategy for 2010-2011

3 / Three questions for… Pierre Sané

5 / The ethical challenges of climate change

8 / The Youth Challenge

9 / Strengthening the social research-policy nexus

10 / Promoting human rights and empowering women

12 / SHS: 10 years of action in pictures

CENTRAL POSTER / The UNESCO network in Social and Human Sciences

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Biodiversity Is Our Life

I quote at length from the editorial by Julia Marton-Lefèvre, the director general of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in Science magazine of 5 March 2010.
2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity, in recognition of life on Earth. Eight years ago, more than 190 countries agreed, through the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, to reduce biodiversity loss by 2010. This October, the Convention will meet in Nagoya, Japan, to evaluate progress and agree on new biodiversity targets for the world. Shortly before that, the UN General Assembly will address the biodiversity crisis for the first time.

It is clear from many indices of biodiversity that the world has failed to meet the 2010 target. For example, in its Red List of Threatened Species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature documents the extinction risk of 47,677 species: 17,291 are threatened, including 12% of birds, 21% of mammals, 30% of amphibians, 27% of reef-building corals, and 35% of conifers and cycads. Tracking extinction risk over time through this index reveals even worse news, with dramatic declines in many groups, notably amphibians and corals. The Living Planet Index reveals that populations of wild species have declined by 30% since 1970; mangrove forests have lost a fifth of their area since 1980, and 29% of seagrass beds are gone.

This biodiversity loss has grim consequences for humanity. According to The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study in 2009, half the welfare of the world's 1.1 billion poorest people flows directly from nature, through benefits including wild harvest, crop pollination, disaster mitigation, clean water provision, and maintenance of traditional cultures. The study estimates the total global annual economic cost of biodiversity loss, where it can be measured, to be between 1.35 and 3.1 trillion U.S. dollars. In addition, destruction of tropical forests (shrinking by 6 million hectares each year) is responsible for nearly a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, driving climate change. Biodiversity loss deprives our descendants of currently unknown but potentially vast benefits. And in the sense that it cuts off humanity from the wonders of nature, the loss ultimately makes us less human.
UNESCO will be observing the International Year of Biodiversity, and its program titled People, Biodiversity and Ecology seeks to create an international network for the study of the natural sciences underlying biodiversity and how people can live in such a way as to conserve biodiversity.

A World of Science (April–June 2010)

Contents Vol. 8 No 2

2. Eight predictions for 21st century conservation

10 Women laureates battle parasites and disease
10 UNESCO comes to Haiti’s aid
11 Biodiversity target will not be met in 2010
12 Post-2010 targets must recognize key biodiversity areas
12 Afghanistan launches plan for higher education
13 First karez restored in Iraq
14 Iraq joins Avicenna Virtual Campus
14 The Scarlet Knight arrives in Spain

15 David Hills on what industry can learn from nature

17 Fisheries in a cod climate
20 All you ever wanted to know about biodiversity...

24 Diary
24 New releases

Monday, April 05, 2010

The WSIS Forum 2010

The ITU, UNESCO, UNCTAD and UNDP are jointly sponsoring the WSIS Forum 2010 scheduled to be held from 10 to 14 of May 2010 at the ITU Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland. This event builds upon the tradition of annual WSIS May meetings, and its new format is the result of open consultations with all WSIS Stakeholders.

The Forum will offer participants a series of diverse interactions, including high-level debates addressing critical issues to the WSIS implementation and follow-up in multi-stakeholder set-ups, WSIS Action Line facilitation meetings, thematic workshops, kick-off meetings for new initiatives and projects, knowledge exchanges facilitating networking among the participants, and others. The forum will provide structured opportunities to network, learn and to participate in multi-stakeholder discussions and consultations on WSIS implementation.

Meeting U.S. National Committee for the IOC

The United States National Committee for the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission met on March 25th. Its recommendations will be passed to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO for consideration and probable transmission to UNESCO. The meeting was informed by a number of recent reports from UNESCO and the IOC:

Remarks of the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO at the February meeting of the Executive Board

Ambassador Killion and
Director-General Bokova

Mr Killion (United States of America) congratulated the Director-General, indicating she was off to a tremendous start, and that her efforts to raise the visibility of the Organization were already bearing fruit. She has proven to be an effective communicator on the world stage. Having accompanied the Director-General for part of her visits in Washington DC, he could report that they had been incredibly successful, and had included the first meeting between a Director-General and a United States Secretary of State since his country re-entered UNESCO. The Secretary of State had expressed a strong desire to work with the Director-General on tackling the problem of education for girls.

The United States of America applauded and supported the Director-General’s efforts to put
UNESCO at the lead of the international effort to preserve Haiti’s patrimony. Mr Killion knew that the Director-General had written to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and others on the subject. The U.S. delegation, however, was concerned about reports recently received that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) had not yet begun to address the issue of preserving Haiti’s cultural heritage. Ambassador Killion asked:
  • What replies had been received to those letters?
  • Was MINUSTAH now firmly committed to saving cultural property in Haiti, and what, specifically, was being done on the ground?

UNESCO Venice Newsletter - Issue N°1 2010 (January-March)

The UNESCO Venice Newsletter is a quarterly newsletter published in English by the UNESCO Office in Venice. This issue of the UNESCO VENICE Newsletter features articles about Science and Culture, UN initiatives and joint programming in the region.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Irina Bokova and Rod Beckstrom at UNESCO Paris

Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, talks to Rod Beckstrom, President and CEO of ICANN. The video was made in Paris on 10 December 2009, when a significant step was taken towards greater linguistic diversity on the Internet when UNESCO signed an agreement with ICANN – the body that assigns online addresses to Internet users – to help put into operation the first multilingual domain names.