Wednesday, September 21, 2011

UNESCO Panel Takes High-Level Look at Helping Development

ScienceInsider reports on the first meeting of the UNESCO High Level Science Panel: 

Science and sustainable development were the buzz words at the first meeting of a new advisory panel to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at the end of last week. The charge to the High Panel on Science for Development is to identify trends in science and technology and to help UNESCO sharpen the focus of its work in promoting sustainable development, according to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, who addressed the meeting. The brief is broad, as the panel has been asked to include in its discussions all the organization's work in the natural sciences, humanities, and engineering, as well as find links between science and culture, education, and communications and look for new partners in the private sector, civil society, and academia.
Among the challenges on the table are to pinpoint the best ways of harnessing science and technology for local economic development, incorporating indigenous knowledge systems into the global scientific base, wiping out disparities in access to resources, and preventing brain drain from developing countries. The panel is also to define UNESCO's role in promoting international cooperation in areas such as climate change and the climatic impact of the oceans, Bokova said at the meeting. Sustainable development "requires holistic approaches that cross disciplinary and policy domains and make the most of synergies between them," she said. "Better understanding is the first step to anticipating developments and designing better public policy."
The panel, which will meet here twice a year, is made up of 24 scientists and academics drawn from a multitude of scientific disciplines and from all regions of the world. Members include Susan Avery, director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; José Sarukhán Kermez, national coordinator of Mexico's National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity; Ahmadou Lamine N'Diaye, president of the African Academy of Science; Gong Ke, president of Nankai University; and Rolf Heuer, director general of CERN. But group deliberately has no chairperson, at least for the moment. "This is the way U.N. high panels usually work, Gretchen Kalonji, UNESCO assistant director-general for science told ScienceInsider. "But we may well change our methods of working as time goes by."
Read more.... 

African biotech centre to target food security, disease

The Nigerian government is about to sign an agreement with UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) for an international biotechnology centre that should begin operations in 2012.

Food safety, tropical disease research and the conservation of bioresources are all areas that it is hoped the centre will strengthen, not just in Nigeria but, through collaborations and training, across the whole of Africa.

The International Centre for Biotechnology, whose buildings are already near completion, is to be hosted by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and will be a Category 2 institution, under the auspices of UNESCO.

Read more in SciDev.Net....

UNESCO Chief at 2011 Clinton Global Initiative

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova is to attend "Conversations on Courage" at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative. Read more....

Today is the International Day of Peace

 The United Nations' (UN) International Day of Peace is celebrated on September 21 each year to recognize the efforts of those who have worked hard to end conflict and promote peace. The International Day of Peace is also a day of ceasefire – personal or political.

Read UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova'a:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Democracy and Renewal in the Arab World: UNESCO in support of transitions to democracy

 In the light of current changes in the Arab world, UNESCO organized a high level round-table on the theme "Democracy and Renewal in the Arab World: UNESCO in support of transitions to democracy" in Paris on 21 June 2011. About 20 internationally renowned personalities participated in a dynamic and interactive debate.

Distinguished American Scientists at UNESCO Meet

On 15 and 16 September 2011, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova hosted the first meeting of UNESCO’s High Panel on Science and Development at UNESCO Headquarters. The meeting brings together personalities who make up the Panel, including two distinguished American scientists:
  • Dr. Susan Avery, the President and Director of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Dr. Ahmed Hassan Zewail, the Nobel Laureate chemist -- and Egyptian American -- who holds the Linus Pauling Chair in Chemistry and Physics at the California Institute of Technology.
UNESCO has a long history focussing on capacity-building in the natural and social sciences, particularly in the developing world, and on mobilizing international communities to collaborate around scientific challenges that cannot be addressed by any one nation alone. UNESCO's broader goals include the use of science for poverty reduction, for sustainable development and for building a culture of peace. 

UNESCO needs to lead an in-depth reflection on how the international community can cooperate more effectively to address these issues.

This is a priority for UNESCO’s Member States, who have requested the Director-General to propose new strategies and initiatives that can strengthen our efforts in science, technology and innovation. This High-Level Panel is a response to their expectation.

The panel is to provide UNESCO with guidelines for the development of working strategies to promote sustainable development and advance the fight for the eradication of poverty. The High Panel will meet twice a year with the objective of identifying current challenges in the social and natural sciences so as to help UNESCO fine-tune its actions. New partnerships with the private sector, civil society and academia are also to be examined.

Global Chemistry Experiment Webcast

Thursday 9/22, 1 pm - 2 pm EDT

Students around the world are invited to join the American Chemical Society (ACS) and NASA in celebrating the International Year of Chemistry (IYC 2011) through a live webcast on NASA’s Digital Learning Network on Thursday, 22 September 2011.
During the webcast, ACS and NASA scientists will conduct one of the Global Chemistry Experiments and discuss water purification on Earth and in space. Teachers and students can log on NASA’s Digital Learning Network on 22 September at 5 - 6 pm GMT (noon till 1 pm Central Time) to participate.
Related links:

Saturday, September 17, 2011

UNESCO History

UNESCO was born on 16 November 1945. UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO'S mission and activities. Go to "Introducing UNESCO: what we are"

Inter-Agency meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity

A United Nations Inter-Agency meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity took place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 13 and 14 September 2011. 
The event brought together representatives of UN system organizations and provided them with a forum in which to consult with other invited international and regional institutions, professional organizations and NGOs, with a view to formulating a comprehensive, coherent and action-oriented plan of action to address the issue of safety of journalists and the impunity of perpetrators of assaults against journalists.
Over the last ten years, more than 500 journalists and media workers have been killed worldwide, and many more were wounded or injured while carrying out their professional responsibilities. The great majority of casualties were not international war correspondents, but local journalists working in their own countries, mostly in peacetime, and covering local stories. In most of these cases, impunity precludes the way of justice, and if this trend prevails, journalists will remain easy targets.

Professor Jan Servaes appointed UNESCO Chair

The Massachusetts Daily Collegian reports that Jan Servaes has been appointed UNESCO Chair (in Communication for Sustainable Social Change). Dr. Servaes is on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he hosts the show “Encounters” and where he started the Communication for Sustainable Social Change research center on campus. He is an editor of the Telematics and Informatics journal as well as editor of several books.

I quote from the article:  

Serveas, who has a long history with UNESCO, first applied for the position in the spring of 2009. He received a recommendation from Sen. John Kerry (D – Mass.). His application was screened in the United States, then at the head offices of UNESCO in Paris, France. Afterwards, UNESCO and UMass negotiated the details of the contract, a process which was slowed by changes in administrative positions.

By being a UNESCO chair, Servaes hopes to create more opportunities for his students to study communications at the international level by giving them access to more conferences as well as grant money.
“I have always had these kinds of international connections … [but] I hope it will gradually open more doors and bring more support to the university,” said Servaes.
Congratulations to Dr. Servaes!  

You can read more about the UNESCO Chairs/UNITWIN Networks in general and in the United States:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Plaza de Mayo Grandmothers receive UNESCO Peace Prize

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo (Argentina) receive the 2010 Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize at UNESCO Headquarters on 14 September, in the presence of the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, President of Côte d'Ivoire Alassane Dramane Ouattara and several other Heads of State or Government.*

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tenth European Geoparks Conference

The conference will be hosted close to Oslo, by the Gea Norvegica Geopark, the first Scandinavian member of the European Geoparks Network. It will cover communication, management, education and research, tourism and collaboration between Geoparks.

This conference is organized in a Geopark in northern Europe but many participants are expected also from elsewhere (such as Brazil, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Uruguay, USA), ready to exchange ideas on Geoparks with the 43 European members of the Global Geoparks Network (GGN). The discussions on the complex work of Geoparks will address many different subjects, and offer a holistic view of nature and society which is reflected in the Geoparks' activities, and embedded in local culture and tradition.

UNESCO is supporting the Geoparks initiatives in 26 countries, which come from all continents and has, to date, 78 members. The GGN Bureau, in charge of the evaluation of 15 Geopark candidates, will hold its meeting in the framework of this conference and announce new members.

Meeting of High Panel on Science for Development

Renowned scientists, decision-makers and intellectuals from all over the world make up UNESCO’s High Panel on Science for Development, which will hold its first meeting at the Organization’s Headquarters on 15 and 16 September. Its role is to identify current challenges in the social and natural sciences so as to help UNESCO fine-tune its response.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, will open the meeting of the High Panel whose members include Indira Samarasekera, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Alberta (Canada), José Sarukhán Kermez, National Coordinator of Mexico’s National Commission for Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO); Ahmadou Lamine N’Diaye, President of the African Academy of Science; Gong Ke, President of the University of Nankai (China); and Partha Dasgupta, Professor of Economics, Cambridge University (UK).
During the first day of the meeting, the experts will discuss trends in the sciences and the role of UNESCO in the present environment. On the following morning, the Permanent Delegations of UNESCO’s Member States will meet the members of the High Panel during two sessions entitled: “Mobilizing international science to address pressing interdisciplinary challenges facing our societies,” and “Models for capacity building in science, technology and innovation.”. This session, moderated par Jose Mariano Gago, former Minister of Science (Portugal), will be open to the public.
The High Panel will meet twice a year. Its members include 28 personalities who have achieved eminence in their field of expertise. The 15 and 16 September meeting at UNESCO will bring together 17 of these experts. In a world of science that is in constant flux, they will provide UNESCO with guidelines for the development of working strategies to promote sustainable development and advance the fight for the eradication of poverty. New partnerships with the private sector, civil society and academe are also to be examined.

UNESCO should protest attacks on journalists in Egypt

A CNN report titled "Angry crowd turns on journalists reporting embassy attack in Egypt" describes how a reporter, Dina Amer, was mobbed and trampled in Cairo last weekend. It went on to describe how CNN producer Mohamed Fadel Fahmy was also mobbed and trampled as he tried to protect Amer, and how other CNN reporters were unable to effect a rescue for some time. When Fahmy was able finally to carry Amer to a nearby car occupied by other reporters, and PBS reporter Margaret Warner began to drive away, the car was stoned by the mob. 
Other Egyptian journalists told CNN they were also attacked Saturday while trying to report near the Israeli embassy. 
Ahmed Aleiba, a correspondent with Egyptian state television, said he was pursued by civilians and soldiers. 
"I had to run because obviously they were targeting journalists," Aleiba said in a phone call with CNN. "They attacked two other TV crews."
The article goes on to recount other, earlier occasions in which reporters were attacked by Egyptian demonstrators over the past year.

I would strongly recommend that UNESCO express its concern for the safety of journalists covering the events in the Middle East and North Africa, and condemn the acts of mobs in threatening and/or attacking these journalists.

John Daly
The opinion expressed in this post is that of the author and does not necessarily reflect that of Americans for UNESCO.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Spirit of UNESCO

Students have a hell of time grasping the spirit of UNESCO, the vital principle animating not only the formal organization but also the huge community of people and organizations that choose to affiliate with UNESCO in order to advance its mission. UNESCO’s founders told us in the UNESCO Constitution that UNESCO was about building structures in the minds of men, about changing the zeitgeist that had led to two world wars and the holocaust. UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova restates that objective, writing that UNESCO must work towards “a new humanism for the 21st century” – that is a vision shared by many peoples, drawing strength from their diversity, forming their common intentions and their mutual will to pursue peace and understanding. The mindset that UNESCO seeks is one that values objective truth, that is informed by the best of human culture, that understands peace not only an end to be desired but as something that must be worked for, that values communication as an end in itself. And thus the problem. How are we to understand such a shared vision; how is the zeitgeist to be changed? 

Given the unique spirit of UNESCO, it is not surprising that that it is a unique enterprise, perhaps more a movement than an organization. At one level UNESCO is, of course, a decentralized intergovernmental organization within the United Nations system, the repository of a collection of international declarations, resolutions and conventions. It is historically the descendant of the Bureau for International Education and the Intellectual Bureau of the League of Nations. Uniquely, UNESCO’s constitution calls for member states to create national commissions for UNESCO involving the intellectual communities (educators, scientists, cultural leaders and knowledge workers) both to advise their governments on UNESCO and to link their national communities with the work of UNESCO and with the intellectual communities of other nations. Finally, the UNESCO spirit has imbued schools, clubs, cultural and natural sites of world importance, bioreserves, geoparks, university chairs and many others to affiliate with UNESCO and independently work to carry out its mission.
(S)ince wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed;…. 
(I)gnorance of each other’s ways and lives has been a common cause, throughout the history of mankind, of that suspicion and mistrust between the peoples of the world through which their differences have all too often broken into war;… 
(T)he great and terrible war which has now ended was a war made possible by the denial of the democratic principles of the dignity, equality and mutual respect of men, and by the propagation, in their place, through ignorance and prejudice, of the doctrine of the inequality of men and races;…….. 
For these reasons, the States Parties to this Constitution, believing in full and equal opportunities for education for all, in the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth, and in the free exchange of ideas and knowledge, are agreed and determined to develop and to increase the means of communication between their peoples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each other’s lives; 
In consequence whereof they do hereby create the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization for the purpose of advancing, through the educational and scientific and cultural relations of the peoples of the world, the objectives of international peace and of the common welfare of mankind for which the United Nations Organization was established and which its Charter proclaims. 
From the Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO
UNESCO can be, and often is seen as a bureaucratic organization with a couple of thousand international civil servants, mostly located in the Organization’s Paris headquarters, with a budget of some $600 million per year.

There is another, complementary way of understanding UNESCO, and that is as a place where ideas are generated and elaborated to be widely disseminated by the networks that affiliate with UNESCO. Perhaps the most important phrase in the Preamble to the UNESCO Constitution, quoted above, is that “it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.” Those defenses are built idea by idea, as a rampart is built brick by brick.

UNESCO, of course, is identified as a place for ideas about peace. It emphasizes intercultural dialog and interreligious dialog. As directed in its Constitution, UNESCO focuses on education, natural, social and human sciences, culture and communications as vehicles for the  promotion of peace and the common welfare of mankind.

The obvious way in which UNESCO disseminates ideas is through publications. There have been more than 10,000 UNESCO publications since it was founded and the Organization adds perhaps another 100 per year. It publishes journals and newsletters. Among its important recent publications were Towards knowledge societies: UNESCO world report, The World Social Science Report 2010, UNESCO Science Report and the first UNESCO international engineering report, “Engineering: Issues and Challenges for Development”. In the last decade UNESCO has also been increasingly effective disseminating information via the Internet.

In the following sections I will show some samples of how the spirit of UNESCO is embodied in action.

UNESCO Conventions

Consider the role of UNESCO in promulgating international conventions.

International Conventions are subject to ratification, acceptance or accession by States. They define rules with which the States undertake to comply.

UNESCO provides a venue in which representatives of its member states may negotiate the terms of these international treaties. However, it has no power to enforce the terms of conventions. Rather, nations that choose to ratify a UNESCO convention also undertake to establish the laws and regulations to assure that their obligations under that convention are met. Examples of UNESCO conventions are:
·       Education: Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region. This convention is the basis for the harmonization of higher education in Europe, a process which is helping bridge historic differences among the peoples of Europe.
·       Natural Science: Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat. The so called RAMSAR network established under this convention includes 1951 wetlands in 160 countries.
·       Social and Human Sciences: International Convention against Doping in Sport, which went into effect just before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
·       Culture: Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (under which a network of 938 World Heritage sites has evolved) and the Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property (which has enabled ratifying states to regulate the illicit traffic in art and archaeological artifacts).
·       Communications: Convention relating to the Distribution of Program-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite.
·       Other: Convention concerning the International Exchange of Publications which encourages and facilitates the exchange of publications between both governmental bodies and non profit, non-governmental institutions of an educational, scientific and technical, or cultural nature.

25 conventions have been negotiated in UNESCO’s venue and placed in its repository. Perhaps surprisingly, in some cases the secretariats developed in support of the convention are not located within UNESCO.

An important aspect of these conventions is that UNESCO does not police them. Rather member states negotiate them in the belief that they are in the common interest and it is the member states that create their own laws and regulations to implement the conventions. Thus, the ideas are elaborated by representatives of the member states in the venue provided by UNESCO, with the assistance of the UNESCO Secretariat, expanding and illuminating a fundamental proposition of international cooperation. The member nations then are responsible for deciding whether or not to ratify each convention and for implementing the conventions which they do ratify. Thus it is the governments of the member nations embody the spirit of UNESCO in this case, helping to achieve its mission through their actions.

Education for All

The Birth of the Education for All movement can be traced to the World Conference on Education for All held in Jomtien, Thailand in 1990, and to the World Education Forum held in Dakar, Senegal in 2000. The declarations from these meetings, in which UNESCO was a sponsor, together with the Millennium Development Goals for education set the agenda for a global effort to expand schooling and increase the numbers of children in school.

In addition to helping the global educational community to define a set of EFA educational objectives, UNESCO
  • has provided tools for educators and governments to plan their educational programs,
  •  has helped to establish internationally accepted standards for educational statistics which allow progress to be measured (and to be compared among nations),
  •  has provided venues and support for Ministers of Education and senior educational officials from groups of countries to meet to discuss successes and problems in their efforts to achieve the EFA and MDG educational goals, and
  • has published an annual EFA Monitoring Report.
Again, it has been the global educational community that has elaborated the ideas of education for all and which has implemented programs in countries all over the world to create the institutions to achieve the EFA goals. The role of UNESCO in the process has been catalytic, helping member states to articulate their objectives and to measure progress in their achievement.

Other Networks

Consider also the many networks of organizations which have chosen to affiliate with UNESCO, thereby joining in the effort to disseminate the messages promoted by UNESCO. Among those networks are:
      National Commissions or comparable organizations in the 193 member states
      66 Category II Centers and Institutes supported separately by member states
      The Associated Schools Network, more than 9,000 educational institutions in 180 countries
      University Twinning and UNITWIN Networks including 715 UNESCO Chairs and 69 UNITWIN Networks 
      The UNEVOC Network -- 282 specialized TVET institutions in 167 UNESCO Member States
      ALADIN, the Adult Learning Documentation and Information Network,  with 95 documentation centers in 47 countries
      Community of Practice in Curriculum Development has co-organised and/or participated in a total of 98 workshops, seminars, conferences and symposiums
      University-Industry Partnerships (UNISPAR) – S&T parks in such areas as biotechnology and ICTs, international training workshops and regional networks.
      SESAME (Synchrotron-light for ExperimentalScience and Applications in the MiddleEast) which is supported by a numbe of governments and which involves scientists from those countries in scientific networks
      Microbial Resources Centers (MIRCEN) for international scientific co-operation, microbiological research and biotechnological applications
      5  Biotechnology Education and Training Centres (BETCENs), one in each region, which provide research and training opportunities in plant and marine biotechnology
      The UNESCO’s water family which operates as a global network that works to implement the organization’s strategic goals.
      World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), 580 sites in 114 countries
      The Great Apes Survival  Partnership
      The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) with 61 participating organizations
      The Oceans Observatory System
      The Tsunami Warning Networks
      International Network of Women Philosophers
      The Management of Social Transitions (MOST) program network of national committees
      The Creative Cities Network, 28 cities
      Goodwill Ambassadors, Honorary Ambassador, Special Envoys, Champions and Artists for Peace
      The World Heritage List includes 936 properties
      The Organization of World Heritage Cities, 238 cities in which are located sites included on the UNESCO World Heritage List
      UNAL- UNESCO Network of Associated Libraries, over 500 libraries are members of the Network.
      The Power of Peace Network (PPN)
      348 international NGOs and 20 foundations and similar institutions
      3.800 associations, centers and UNESCO clubs in more than 80 countries
      Private sector partnerships with NHK, L’OREAL, HP, Microsoft, Danone, etc.

Huge numbers of people are involved in these networks voluntarily. Indeed, there are many more people are included in these networks than there are international civil servants in the UNESCO bureaucracy. Some of the international NGOs affiliated with UNESCO represent millions of people, such as the international umbrella organizations for scientific and engineering societies and associations of teachers.

These networks consist of organizations and people affiliated with UNESCO by their own choice, both helping to define UNESCO’s agenda and advancing it through their voluntary efforts. They are self governed with little or no supervisory, financial nor management input from UNESCO. They are completely decentralized, collaborating with UNESCO only to the degree that they are inspired and motivated by UNESCO’s mission and its leadership. Yet they are an essential means of accomplishing UNESCO’s objectives. They too embody the spirit of UNESCO.


UNESCO often acts in partnership with other organizations. It does so both with other United Nations organizations and programs (e.g. WHO, FAO and the UNDP) and with intergovernmental programs that are not part of the United Nations system (e.g. the European Union and the multilateral development banks). 

It works with many non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Especially important in this respect are the international NGOs in education, natural and social science, engineering, culture, and communications. In many cases UNESCO was instrumental in the creation and/or development of these NGO. (See more on this subject.)

In recent years, partnerships with for-profit organizations in the private sector have also become important. These include 
  • Giants of the computer industry, such as HP and Microsoft, working in education
  • Organizations such as NHK Nokia, Panasonic, Google, the History Network and Google working with the World Heritage Center to spread interest and concern about would heritage sites
  • L'Oreal working to encourage women in science and to provide health education in Africa to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Concluding Remarks

UNESCO’s mission is to promote “full and equal opportunities for education for all”, “the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth”, and “the free exchange of ideas and knowledge”. It is “to increase the means of communication between….peoples and to employ these means for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each other’s lives.” It would be an error either to assume that this mission is carried out primarily by the UNESCO bureaucracy or to underestimate the critical role of those who chose to affiliate with UNESCO without incentives other than enthusiasm for its mission.

Of course, not all the people in organizations in UNESCO networks spend all of their time advancing UNESCO’s agenda, although many may well do so. But even a small amount of effort per person when aggregated over very large numbers of people can add up to a large total. Moreover, many people spend a lot of their time helping to achieve UNESCO's mission.

A problem with this view of UNESCO is that one can not see ideas nor easily track their diffusion. Moreover, it is hard to understand the impact of UNESCO’s staff and budget on the creation of ideas and their diffusion. It is impossible to measure the impact that 100 publications per year has on the world, and more so the impact of 10,000 publications over more than half a century. The countries implementing UNESCO conventions don’t report on the impact of the conventions on their nations, nor do the countries implementing Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals report on the impact that UNESCO has had on their schools and school children. Indeed, the decentralized networks ascribed to UNESCO don’t report on resources, activities nor accomplishments to UNESCO.

To the bureaucratic mentality, the lack of quantitative indicators and formal monitoring systems is an almost insuperable burden. To that mentality, the lack of quantitative indicators of the changes in the minds of men and of the impact of UNESCO on those changes is tantamount to proof that no such changes or impact exists. Clearly that is a false view, and not everything that is important can be measured. The founders of UNESCO were right in their vision that there was a real need to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men, to encourage the unrestricted search for objective truth and to promote the free exchange of ideas and knowledge.

Equally, however, there is a continuing need to encourage the governments of member states and the extended networks attached to UNESCO to devote their serious efforts to helping achieve UNESCO’s mission. Moreover, in the absence of objective measures it is imperative to obtain the judgment of our wisest observers of society to consider the success of UNESCO in safeguarding is spirit and sharing it with others, to consider where and how best to motivate UNESCO’s partners and networks, and how best to allocate UNESCO’s scarce resources to achieve its mission.

Changing ideas in the minds of seven billion people is a big job, and it is a job that does not lend itself to bureaucratic approaches. It is through the efforts of large networks of people devoted to UNESCO’s spirit that progress is being made.

So many new ideas are at first strange and horrible, though ultimately valuable that a very heavy responsibility rests upon those who would prevent their dissemination.
J. B. S. Haldane

Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

The key to every man is his thought.... He can only be reformed by showing him a new idea which commands his own.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Frequency of Words Linked to Key UNESCO Concept in Books Since 1900

Monday, September 12, 2011

MOST: un "Think tank" pour les nations

There is a good video on the Management of Social Transitions (MOST) program of UNESCO, UNESCOs flagship social science program. Rather than using a traditional disciplinary approach *Anthropology, Economics, Political Science, Sociology, etc.) or an area studies approach (Middle Eastern Studies, Asian Studies, etc.), UNESCO has chosen to look at social transitions drawing upon all the social science disciplines.

This video reviews the history and progress of the MOST program since its creation in 1994, The voice over is in French with English subtitiles. 

Friday, September 09, 2011

SESAME is seeking a new technical director

Position and Grade: Technical Director (D-1)
Duty Station: Allan, Jordan
Issue Date: 6 September 2011
Application Deadline: 31 October 2011
Type/Duration of  Appointment: Fixed term, 3 years with the possibility of renewal
(subject to a probationary period of 1 year)

He/She is appointed by the Council on the recommendation of the General Director. He/She will be in
charge of the construction of a new 3rd generation synchrotron light source, SESAME. He/She will be responsible for the installation and commissioning with beam of the injector part (a Microtron and a Booster) and for the construction, installation and commissioning with beam of a new 2.5 GeV Storage Ring. He/She will lead the technical sector of SESAME, which brings together physicists, engineers and technicians both at the expert level or freshly hired on the specific disciplines of the accelerators. He/She will work in a close collaboration with the Scientific Director for the construction of the beamlines and for the interface between the Machine and the beamlines. He/She will also be responsible for the Front-Ends.

Read more.....

UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors to meet in France

UNESCO’s work and how internationally-renowned personalities can help the Organization meet its objectives will be the subject of the 11th annual meeting of UNESCO’s Goodwill Ambassadors, on 12 September, at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, the French capital.

In a press statement Thursday, UNESCO said the meeting, to be opened by its Director-General, Irina Bokova, would focus on the Organization’s post-conflict and post-disaster activities, the 2011 Education for All Monitoring Report, and a session on the promotion of youth initiatives and civic commitments for peace and dialogue.

Some 25 Goodwill Ambassadors expected to attend the event are Ara Abramian (Russian Federation), Valdas Adamkus (Lithuania), Mehriban Aliyeva (Azerbaijan), Ivonne A-Baki (Ecuador), Pierre Bergé (France), Chantal Biya (Cameroon), Miguel Angel Estrella (Argentina), Vigdis Finnbogadóttir (Iceland), Bahia Hariri (Lebanon), Jean-Michel Jarre (France), Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière (France), Princess Firyal of Jordan, Vitaly Ignatenko (Russian Federation), Omar Zülfü Livaneli (Turkey), Jean Malaurie (France), Kitín Muñoz (Spain), Ute-Henriette Ohoven (Germany), Christina Owen-Jones (Italy), Kim Phuc Phan Thi (Canada – Viet-Nam), Susana Rinaldi (Argentina), Yazid Sabeg (France), Madanjeet Singh (India), Zurab Tsereteli (Russian Federation), Marianna Vardinoyannis (Greece), Forest Whitaker (United States of America).

Forest Whitaker Speaking in support of Obama Candidacy

Inter-Agency meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity

A United Nations Inter-Agency meeting on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity will take place at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on 13 and 14 September 2011 (See provisional program). On Tuesday 13, the meeting will be open to all participants, as well as to the Permanent Delegations and Observers to UNESCO. The session on Wednesday 14 September will be devoted to the preparation of a UN concrete plan of action and will only be open to UN agencies. More.....

Sunday, September 04, 2011

An Account of UNESCO Chief's Visit to Israel

UNESCO Chief Bokova meets with
Israel's President Shimon Peres during her visit.

I quote from a relatively long article in the Jerusalem Post covering the first official visit of UNESCO Director General Bokova to Israel. The visit took place on May 29 and 30, 2011.
Highlighting her organization’s “excellent cooperation” with Israel in a variety of fields including education, culture, science and communications, the director-general of UNESCO said Sunday in Jerusalem that she had been “disappointed” by the process whereby UNESCO’s Executive Board last October passed five resolutions hostile to Israel. 
Irina Bokova, 58, who is making her first visit to Israel, noted, however, that reports that Israel had threatened to suspend all cooperation with UNESCO over the affair were inaccurate and had proved as such. “I was reassured immediately that Israel was by no means considering suspending or limiting relations with UNESCO,” she said. Officials in Jerusalem clarified Sunday that Israel had suspended cooperation with UNESCO only with regard to the five specific issues in the resolutions........

Bokova was invited on this visit to deliver the keynote speech at Sunday’s International Women Leaders conference at the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center, an institution with which she said UNESCO has had a long-running relationship. 
She also inaugurated the “UNESCO for Tolerance and Peace Square” in Haifa, in the company of the city’s mayor Yona Yahav. At the ceremony dedicating the square, she praised the mixed Jewish- Arab city as an exemplar of coexistence and dialogue between all population sectors. 
Haifa’s message of “tolerance and peace,” she said, should be disseminated across the Middle East and worldwide. 
Bokova began her trip on Sunday with a meeting with President Shimon Peres, and will on Monday visit and lay a wreath at Yad Vashem and meet with the ministers of education, science and culture and with senior officials at the Foreign Ministry.
Read more...... 

Saturday, September 03, 2011

UNESCO's Memory of the World: The Documents that Define Human History

IFLA 2011 Congress News and Media

Opening Session on the IFLA General Conference
A great deal of news and media was created during the World Library and Information Congress : 77th IFLA General Conference and Assembly in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The next best thing to having been there is to visit the 2011 IFLA Express website to catch up on what took place.

Read an interview with Jānis Kārkliņš, Assistant Director-General of Communication and Information of UNESCO from the IFLA Congress.

Amherst UNESCO University Chair Joins Orbicom

Dr. Jan Servaes of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst was recently designated as our nation's newest UNESCO University Chair in Communication for Sustainable Social Change.

Locations of Chairs in the Orbicom network

Jan Servaes serves as the Director of the Center for Communication and Sustainable Social Change at UMass Amherst and has written extensively on issues related to communication for development and social change.

The center thus joins Orbicom, The International Network of UNESCO Chairs in Communication

a network of 250 associate members and 30 UNESCO chairs in Communications from around the world. Orbicom currently comprises chairs from Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia,  Denmark, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Guatemala, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, South Africa (2), Russia, Spain (3), United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States (2) and Uruguay. Each of these Chairs includes communications leaders from the private and public sectors. This international collaboration of academics, high level corporate decision makers, policy consultants, and media specialists makes the Orbicom Network unique and constitutes a truly multidisciplinary approach to the promotion of communications development. 

A Young American Goes to UNESCO

Yann Gavillot
Yann Gavillot, a Geologist finishing up his PhD work at Oregon State University, was recently awarded a position at UNESCO through the Young Professionals Program.

Through its Young Professionals Program, UNESCO recruits staff from nations under-represented within the UNESCO secretariat.

Congratulations to Yann! The Young Professionals Program is very competitive.  This year UNESCO received more than 500 applications from member states for only 10 open positions. Since national commissions screen applications before forwarding them to UNESCO, even more people may have applied. Success in winning a career job through such a competition is a real testimony to Mr. Gavillot's professional quality.

It is not yet certain whether UNESCO will open up the Young Professionals Program for 2012.

Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship Deadline Extended to 9/26/11

The U.S. National Commission for UNESCO administers the Laura W. Bush Traveling Fellowship. This program helps American students fund traveling research projects aligned with the sectors of UNESCO.

The deadline for the next round of applications is now set for Monday 9/26/11. If you know of any students who might be good candidates for this fellowship, please send them here!

The UNESCO Courier: How Youth Drives Change

The International Year of Youth (August 2010 – August 2011) turned out to be more revolutionary than expected. At the beginning of 2011, young people rose up in Tunisia and then in Egypt, and the movement spread to other countries in the region, also rousing countries in Europe such as Spain.  Elsewhere in the world, youth are mobilizing for a range of causes, as varied as the means they use. Much more involved than we tend to think, young people have decided to take things in hand. And in this issue of the Courier, it is they who are speaking out, expressing their concerns and explaining their actions.
To read this issue please click here (PDF-56 pages)



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