Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Public Interest in UNESCO

Asian sites win UNESCO world heritage status
Inquirer.net - Jul 8 2008   
2,500 languages threatened with extinction: UNESCO
Times of India - Feb 19 2009   
UNESCO launches World Digital Library
Deutsche Welle - Apr 21 2009   
UNESCO strips Dresden of World Heritage site title
Vancouver Sun - Jun 25 2009   
Bulgarian diplomat wins UNESCO race
Philadelphia Inquirer - Sep 22 2009   
UNESCO adds 7 sites to World Heritage List
Ynetnews - Aug 1 2010

The graph is from Google Trends. The top graph indicates that the number of search requests on Google for the term UNESCO has gone down since 2004. Three of the recent peaks in interest correspond to specific news related to UNESCO's World Heritage program, one to the launch of the World Digital Library (an initiative led by the United States Library of Congress), one to a UNESCO report on the threatened disappearance of many endangered minority languages, and one to the election of the Director General of the Organization.

The bottom graph indicates that the number of news articles recognized by Google about UNESCO has shown an increasing trend over the period from 2004.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Donate to UNESCO to help it help Pakistan Recover from the Floods

I quote extensively from the New York Times article today on the flood in Pakistan:
The destruction could set Pakistan back many years, if not decades, further weaken its feeble civilian administration and add to the burdens on its military.......

The flooding, which began with the arrival of the annual monsoons late last month, has by now affected about one-fifth of the country — nearly 62,000 square miles — or an area larger than England, according to the United Nations.

At the worst points, the inundation extends for scores of miles beyond the banks of the overflowing Indus River and its tributaries, said Cmdr. Iqbal Zahid, a Pakistani Navy battalion commander in charge of rescue operations in Sindh Province.

“You have to highlight that the infrastructure all the way from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa to Sindh is ruined,” Commander Zahid said, referring to Pakistan’s northernmost and southernmost provinces. “It will take years to rebuild.”

Nearly 20 million people have been significantly affected, about the population of New York State, the United Nations said. The number in urgent need is now about eight million and expected to rise. More than half of them are without shelter.
UNESCO has a very limited budget, but with more money it could respond to:

  • help Pakistan's school system help Pakistan's kids deal with the trauma caused by the floods;
  • help Pakistan to plan to rebuild the schools it has lost;
  • help Pakistan protect its World Heritage sites and cultural heritage from the damage of the floods;
  • help Pakistan improve its hydrology and prepare to prevent such damaging floods in the future;
  • help Pakistan improve its disaster warning systems.
UNESCO has established a website to allow you to make donations to assist it in these efforts.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

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

“By its decision to proclaim 23 August each year as the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition, UNESCO sought to pay tribute to the tireless struggle of the slaves for their freedom.

The uprising that took place on the island of Santo Domingo (today Haiti and the Dominican Republic) during the night of 22 to 23 August 1791 shook the slave system radically and irreversibly and provided the impetus for the process which would eventually lead to the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade.”
Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, 23 August 2002

Dirac Medallists 2010

Italian physicist Nicola Cabibbo (left above, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy) and Indian-American physicist Ennackal Chandy George Sudarshan (right above, University of Texas, Austin, Texas, USA) have been awarded ICTP's Dirac Medal and Prize for 2010. 

The award recognizes their fundamental contributions to the understanding of weak interactions and other aspects of theoretical physics. The weak interaction is one of the four fundamental forces of nature, along with strong interaction, electromagnetism, and gravity. It is crucial to the structure of our universe, as it, among other things, causes the fusion that makes the sun burn. Read more...

Founded in 1964 by Abdus Salam (Nobel Laureate), the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) operates under a tripartite agreement among the Italian Government and two United Nations Agencies, UNESCO and IAEA. Its mission is to foster advanced studies and research, especially in developing countries. While the name of the Center reflects its beginnings, its activities today encompass most areas of physical sciences including applications.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Is the UNESCO Underwater Heritage Convention Well Considered?

Following up a New Orleans conference in February 2010, eight scientists (six from the United States) have published a report titled "Underwater Cultural Heritage & UNESCO in New Orleans: An Introduction". The Underwater Cultural Heritage Convention was approved by the UNESCO General Conference in November of 2001, and went into force for ratifying states in January 2009. To date 32 nations have ratified the Convention, not including the United States of America. (Nor have France, Germany, Japan, Russia, Sweden nor the United Kingdom among many other non-ratifiers.)

The report is quite critical of aspects of the Convention, as is demonstrated by this excerpt:
For now, a feeling remains in many heritage and scientific circles that sections of the Convention are an unenforceable set of Utopian rules and regulations compiled by legal teams who incorporated minimal fundamental input from archaeologists. If the initiative is compared to terrestrial archaeology, where countries would react with outrage to any supposition that they need to be centrally supervized so intimately from abroad, many marine archaeologists with decades of experience and contribution are highly concerned about why they are suddenly being forcefully re-educated in their core competencies.

Science & Technology Policy Asian Network Newsletter

The UNESCO Office Jakarta and the Regional Bureau for Science in Asia and the Pacific, which is also in Jakarta, publish the Science and Technology Policy Asian Network (STEPAN) newsletter. Here are the last three issues:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

UNESCO Report on Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park Calls for Additional Protections

"Efforts by the governments of British Columbia, Montana, and the United Statesseemingly have removed mining-related threats to Glacier National Park andWaterton Lakes National Park. But an international team of scientists believes both Canada and the United States must work harder to protect the resources of the International Peace Park.
"Though the field team's final report to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's World Heritage Committee presented in July in Brazil did not differ in tone from some of the tidbits that leaked out following the field team's visit to the two parks last September, its formal presentation put on record the team's concerns over the long-term health of the two national parks."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

UNESCO contributes to the fifth Internet Governance Forum

The 5th meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be held in Vilnius, Lithuania, from 14 to 17 September 2010. It will focus on the following issues: managing critical Internet resources, security, openness and privacy, access and diversity, Internet governance for development, taking stock of Internet governance and the way forward, and cloud computing.

During the four-day Forum UNESCO will provide various spaces for inclusive discussion on the Organization’s key contribution to the Internet Governance debate. In particular, UNESCO will organize two workshops:
Privacy and Social Networking (16 September)  This workshop will bring together worldwide stakeholders and take a broader approach to examine the interaction between privacy protection, freedom of expression and security.
Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression: The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet (14 September) This event is a follow-up to a well attended discussion on Internet Censorship and Filtering by the participants of IGF 2009 in Sharm el Sheikh. UNESCO will take this opportunity to release an in-depth analysis entitled Freedom of Connection – Freedom of Expression: The Changing Legal and Regulatory Ecology Shaping the Internet. This report, conducted by the Oxford Internet Institute, builds upon previous discussions and provides a panorama of observations and useful exploration of the subject.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

A World of Science (July–September 2010)

Contents Volume 8 n°3
A World of Science  (July–September  2010)
IN FOCUS 2. A bleak outlook for biodiversity?
12 ‘IPCC for nature’ gets green light 
12 Thirteen new biosphere reserves 
13 A 4D system for improving conservation of Calakmul 
14 50 years of ocean studies
15 Why Vineet Soni is bent on saving the guggul plant
17 Tracking plant diversity in a changing world 
21 Mapping the oceans to save the seas
24 Diary 
24 New releases
Direct link A World of Science Vol. 8 n° 3 (document PDF) 
See also ARCHIVES for A World of Science