AND CULTURAL ORGANIZATION
ORIGINS AND BACKGROUND
The Constitution of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was adopted by the London Conference in November 1945, and entered into effect in November 1946 when 20 states had deposited instruments of acceptance. Fifty years on the organization instituted a period of celebration of its anniversary, spanning from 16 November 1995, commemorating the date when the constitution was adopted, to 4 November 1996, the anniversary of UNESCOs coming into existence.
UNESCOs constitution, drafted at the end of World War II, says that since wars begin in the minds of the men, it is in the minds of the men that the defences of peace must be constructed. The organizations main objective--fundamentally an ethical one--was and still is to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture in order to further rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion by the Charter of the United Nations. According to Article I of its constitution, UNESCOs main functions are to collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of people through all means of mass communications, give fresh impulse to popular education and the spread of culture, maintain and/or increase and diffuse knowledge and encourage the teaching and understanding of science.
UNESCOs main governing bodies are the General Conference, Executive Board and secretariat.
The General Conference, made up of representatives of the 187 Member States, meets every two years to set the organizations policies and work. It takes decisions on programmes submitted to it by the Executive Board and approves the budget for their execution.
The Executive Board is made up of 58 Member States elected by the General Conference. It meets twice a year and supervises the execution of UNESCOs programmes.
The secretariat, which implements the programmes, consists of a Director-General and a staff of 2,406 (end of 1998) representing more than 154 nationalities, both at headquarters in Paris and in 69 field offices and five liaison offices.
A number of permanent commissions and committees exist to assist the board in its functions and to associate educational, scientific and cultural circles and key national institutions with the organizations work. They can provide information, carry out projects, publish works, ensure participation in international programmes and organize conferences, and promote UNESCOs ideals.
UNESCOs budget is established biennially within the overall framework of six-year medium-term strategic plans. The current budget covers 1998-1999, and the current medium-term strategy the years 1996-2001. The budget for 1998-1999 was US$544,367,250.
UNESCOs activities are carried out where relevant in full cooperation with sister agencies, funds and programmes in the UN system. They are divided into four major programme areas: education; the natural, social and human sciences; culture; and communications, as well as covering a number of cross-disciplinary areas such as environment, population and development, culture of peace, and action in favour of priority target groups such as women, youth, Africa and least developed countries.
Towards Lifelong Education
The main thrust of UNESCOs action in education is the promotion of education for all throughout a persons lifetime. The activities seek to support Member States endeavours to rethink the nature and purposes of education in light of the worldwide change occurring on the eve of the third millennium, and to undertake the necessary and appropriate reforms of educational aims, content, structures and methods. Drawing inspiration from the work of various meetings and reflections, the proposed activities emphasize developing flexible and diversified forms of education and training at all levels to reach the unreached and include the excluded. These are notably women and girls; those who have no access to, or are under-served by, educational opportunities; as well as those who are seeking a second-chance opportunity to learn or upgrade skills. Throughout the education programme, emphasis is placed on improving the quality, relevance and usefulness of education and training provided.
The Basic Education for All programme focuses on the expansion and diversification of the provision of basic education to reach the largest number of potential learners, especially girls and women and certain particularly-disadvantaged groups. This includes literacy and adult education for women, as well as guidance and counselling for school-age girls.
The Reform of Education in the Perspective of Lifelong Learning programme promotes the renovation and reform of education at all levels in the perspective of lifelong education: secondary education, technical and vocational education, teacher education and higher education.
A major event during this biennium was publication and distribution of the report of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century entitled Learning: the Treasure Within. The commission, chaired by Jacques Delors, engaged in wide-ranging reflection on challenges and opportunities for education in the coming years and published its findings in early 1996. Since that time the report has been published in nearly 20 language editions and has been the subject of extensive debate.
Special attention is given to enhancing the contribution of higher education to societal development and to further expansion of the University Twinning (UNITWIN) project and UNESCO Chairs Programme as an effective means for wider transfer and sharing of knowledge across the world.
UNESCO has been endeavouring for many years to set up a comprehensive system of training and education for human rights and intercultural understanding, covering all educational levels. Fresh emphasis is placed on creating a culture of peace, and to this effect educational exchanges and other cooperative ventures are supported and initiated. The main partners in this undertaking are the networks of Associated Schools and Universities and the UNESCO chairs for peace and human rights.
There are over 5,000 UNESCO Associated Schools in 159 countries pursuing new teaching and learning methods in one or more of the four main themes of study: UN and world concerns, intercultural learning, human rights and democracy, and environment. Whenever possible, successful results attained by Associated Schools are to be incorporated into mainstream educational systems for the benefit of all.
Particular attention is being given to needs of the least developed countries as their progress depends critically upon education of their populations. There is also a need to provide the emerging states of Eastern Europe and Central Asia with technical support and access to information useful to them in rebuilding their educational systems. UNESCO is also increasingly called upon to assist in the education of refugees in all regions of the world. While education meets only one of the many needs of refugees, it interjects an element of normalcy and hope into lives shattered by disaster.
Today, as it was in 1945, UNESCO is deeply engaged in the task of assisting and supporting Member States in building education systems capable of meeting the requirements of a world in constant, accelerating and often tumultuous change.
To this end, the organization wishes to increasingly underline the fact that the foundations of education include not only formal educational systems but also informal and non-formal education. It also emphasizes that any approach to education should be geared to full development of the individual throughout life. For young women and men to cope with changes taking place in the world and to face them peacefully, they need to acquire new and different tools--tools that overcome social fragmentation and help them to develop their qualities as citizens in a changing world.
In the context of renewal or reconstruction of educational systems, UNESCOs Educational Buildings Programme is engaged in preparing reconstruction plans and assisting in the development of appropriate national norms and standards for educational spaces and equipment.
In natural disaster-prone countries, the programme has for many years assisted Member States in designing safe and secure school buildings including the development of prototypes and design guidelines, and the publication and dissemination of research results conducted in these areas.
Natural, Social and Human Sciences
UNESCOs activities under the Sciences in the Service of Development programme aim to support and foster its Member States endeavours in higher education, advanced training and research in the natural sciences, as well in the application of these sciences to development. At the same time, it attaches great importance to integrated and transdisciplinary approaches in its programmes. Activities in natural sciences focus on the advancement, sharing and transfer of scientific and technological knowledge. UNESCO also continues to enhance human resources development and capacity building through fellowships, grants, workshops, seminars and training tools. UNESCO also assists upon request, at national level, Member States in policy making and planning in the field of science and technology, and by organizing training programmes in these fields.
UNESCO assumes administrative responsibility for the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), which it operates, together with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in Trieste (Italy) with the generous support of the government of Italy. ICTP provides research opportunities and advanced training in physics and applied mathematics to scientists from developing countries. In collaboration with Iowa State University of Science and Technology, UNESCO also supports the International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics (IITAP) in Ames, Iowa (United States), for organization of training and research for the benefit of scientists from developing countries.
UNESCO organizes training and research programmes in the basic sciences including mathematics, physics, chemistry, biological sciences and biotechnology and related interdisciplinary fields such as cell and molecular biology, molecular genetics, neurobiology, and plant, aquatic and microbial biotechnologies. In this regard, UNESCO strengthens cooperation through networks such as the Biotechnology Action Council (BAC), Microbial Resources Centres (MIRCENs), Molecular and Cell Biology Network (MCBN), and the Physics Action Council (PAC). Five Biotechnology Education and Training Centres (BETCENs) have also been established.
Since 1993, UNESCO has been particularly active in the fight against AIDS. In close cooperation with the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention, a network of research centres throughout the world is being established. At the international level, UNESCO is one of the co-sponsors of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).
UNESCO cooperates closely with the International Council for Science (ICSU) in strengthening science and technology in developing countries, promotion of international cooperation in research in basic sciences, and global change research programmes and observation systems as well as promotion of information sharing and cross-disciplinary partnerships. In this regard, UNESCO collaborates closely with the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) and sponsors science prizes. It publishes the World Science Report, a biennial account of the state of science and technology around the world for decision makers, science policy makers and science watchers (the third World Science Report was published in 1998). A wider use of electronic communication is encouraged to enhance global access to scientific information. A special project on Women, Science and Technology aims to improve the access of women to scientific and technological education and careers.
UNESCO is continuing to work intensively on the promotion of solar and other renewable energies. The World Solar Summit, held in Zimbabwe in 1996, launched the World Solar Programme (1996-2005). It is to be implemented in cooperation with other UN agencies, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and other partners including the industrial sector. UNESCO serves as the secretariat for the programme and has also been designated lead agency for the Global Renewable Energy Education and Training Programme.
UNESCO is taking action to expand the use of renewable energies to improve living conditions in rural and remote areas, particularly for women, by providing basic domestic needs (solar villages, water pumps and cookers). Through its University-Industry-Science Programme (UNISPAR), UNESCO is seeking to adapt engineering education and research to industrial needs of developing countries and countries with economies in transition, and to promote the commercialization of research results. UNESCO chairs to be sponsored by industry in industrialized countries are being established at various technical universities in developing countries.
The programmes of UNESCO in environmental sciences are aligned with the recommendations and results of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). Activities are being pursued regarding earth sciences, terrestrial ecosystems, oceans, freshwater, and marine and terrestrial resources. These programmes are being reoriented as a result of UNCED+5, held in New York in June 1997.
Research and training activities within the earth sciences, earth system management and natural hazards programmes have focused on promoting resources development, environmental protection and land-use planning, including waste disposal and natural disaster reduction. The International Geological Correlation Programme (IGCP), networking in more than 150 countries, contributes to comparative studies in earth sciences including the history of the earth and its geological heritage. Geoscientific programmes have resulted in the production of thematic geological maps, postgraduate training, application of remote sensing and geodata handling. Guidelines and other awareness-building materials on disaster prevention, preparedness and mitigation are also prepared.
Under the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, emphasis is given to reinforcing the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, which totals 337 sites in 85 countries. The sites collectively aim to reconcile the conservation of biodiversity, the quest for social and economic development, and associated cultural values. The Man and the Biosphere Programme also promotes an interdisciplinary approach to solve land use problems through research and training, covering topics such as arid land crops, sacred sites, coastal regions, Sahel-Sahara Observatories and Tropical Soils Biology and Fertility. Many of these activities involve other partner organizations, as is the case of the Diversitas programme on biodiversity, the Echotechnie programme aimed at future decision makers, the People and Plants project on ethnobiology, and the project on South-South Co-operation in the Humid Tropics.
The International Hydrological Programme (IHP) encompasses a programme consisting of eight themes within three main clusters. Cluster 1 (resource process and management studies) involves four themes: global hydrological and biogeochemical processes, ecohydrological processes in the superficial zone, groundwater resources at risk and strategies for water resources management in emergency and conflicting situations. Cluster 2 (regional studies) concentrates on: integrated water resource management in arid and semi-arid zones, humid tropics hydrology and water management and integrated urban water management. Cluster 3 is concerned with training and is entitled Transfer of Knowledge, Information and Technology.
The transdisciplinary initiative on Environment and Development in Coastal Regions and in Small Islands (CSI) aims at achieving environmentally sound, socially equitable and culturally appropriate development in these areas. Involving expertise in natural and social sciences, culture, education and communication, CSI focuses on integrated management for sustainable development in, for example, the following key domains: freshwater resources, the mitigation of coastline instability, biological diversity, and maintaining and managing coastal ecosystem productivity.
The activities of UNESCOs Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) include research to assess and reduce scientific uncertainties in oceans and coastal areas; development of the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), jointly with WMO, UNEP and ICSU; setting-up of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network; implementation of the Harmful Algal Blooms programme; assessment of marine pollution problems; strengthening early warning systems; continued cooperation with the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) in preparation of global and regional bathymetric and geological/geophysical maps of the ocean floor; and strengthening capacity building activities in marine sciences management, services, data exchange and observations, and ensuring the use of the scientific results in addressing such issues. IOC was deeply involved in preparations for and celebration of the 1998 International Year of the Ocean.
In connection with the social and human sciences, programmes in the field of social science research and policy have a dual role. On one hand they encourage interdisciplinary communication between the different social sciences, as well as between researchers of different countries and regions of the globe. On the other hand, they initiate action programmes in which the social sciences form a major element. In both cases, avenues are provided for follow-up to major world conferences such as the 1995 World Summit for Social Development, the 1996 Habitat II, and the 1996 Year for the Eradication of Poverty and ensuing decade.
Principal instruments for encouraging communication are the International Social Science Journal, appearing quarterly in six languages, the new series of World Social Science Reports, whose first volume appeared in 1999, and the Social Science Clearing House and Documentation Centre.
The central action programme of the division is Management of Social Transformations (MOST), which seeks to put information resources and advances in knowledge at the disposal of policy makers in certain priority areas. These include population and migration, human settlements, poverty and exclusion, social cohesion and integration in multicultural societies, and the participation of citizens and grassroots movements in development.
For the Department of Peace, Human Rights, Democracy and Tolerance, priority is attached to promotion of peace, human rights, democracy and tolerance, and elimination of all forms of discrimination. Progress in this field is encouraged through education and training, awareness-raising activities, promotion of national and regional educational policies, plans and programmes, and elaboration of manuals, textbooks and teaching aids and their dissemination in various languages. Activities designed to promote knowledge and adherence to the values of human rights, democracy, peace, tolerance and mutual understanding are based upon the Plan of Action of the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2005), in whose implementation UNESCO plays a special role. A worldwide network of UNESCO chairs in Human Rights, Democracy and Peace, Tolerance and International Understanding is being developed to establish academic cooperation as well as help reinforce capacities for education and research, especially in countries in transition toward democracy. International cooperation is strengthened through the organization of annual meetings of directors of human rights research and training institutions. Achievements in education for human rights, democracy and peace are encouraged by awarding the UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education. Close cooperation is maintained with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as with other inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations.
UNESCO served as lead agency for the 1995 United Nations Year for Tolerance, and the Sector of Social and Human Sciences is currently engaged in follow-up through education and intergovernmental and public outreach initiatives to promote intercultural and interethnic tolerance and pluralism. Following the United Nations Year for Tolerance, four networks for tolerance and non-violence were created in the Mediterranean/Black Sea, Asia/Pacific, Africa and Latin America regions. These networks aim to facilitate contacts and exchange of information between educators, social workers, researchers and policy makers concerning experiences in promoting the ideals of tolerance and non-violent behaviour.
Research on the situation of todays young people is encouraged, and assistance is given to Member States for the formulation of youth policies. Special attention is also given to promote participation of young people in the issues concerning them (for example, environmental protection, urban problems and citizenship).
UNESCO actively contributed to the preparation and holding of the Third World Youth Forum, held in Braga (Portugal) from 2-7 August 1998. It sponsored participants from developing countries, attended all the working groups meetings, published a daily newsletter and ran a radio studio where more than 100 participants were interviewed. In evaluation and follow-up meetings to the Braga Forum, UNESCO committed itself to continued close cooperation with youth NGOs for implementation of the Braga Youth Action Plan and the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, adopted by the United Nations in 1995.
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The Constitution of UNESCO, by affirming in its preamble that peace must be foundedYupon the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind, entrusted the organization with an ethical mission.
This mission explains the importance UNESCO gives to the promotion of ethical reflection throughout the world. Since the early 1970s, UNESCO has been one of the main promoters, at the international level, of a transdisciplinary and multicultural debate on ethical implications of scientific progress.
Bioethics: The Role of UNESCO
Bioethics is the basis of an ever-growing debate that transcends borders, since the concerns it expresses inevitably take on an international dimension. It is part of UNESCOs universal and transcultural role to involve all countries in this debate.
In 1993 Federico Mayor, then Director-General of UNESCO, created the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO (IBC). The committee, presently chaired by Ryiuichi Ida (Japan), aims to respond to major concerns raised by progress made in the life and health sciences, particularly genetics and biotechnology.
The IBC is the only body within the United Nations system to carry out ethical reflection on research in biology and genetics and their applications. The body, interdisciplinary and multicultural in nature, is presently composed of 36 members. They are prominent figures from all over the world who serve in their personal capacity and come from a wide range of professional backgrounds--not only scientists but also educators, historians, jurists, philosophers, social anthropologists and sociologists.
In accordance with its statutes, the IBC shall
promote reflection on the ethical and legal issues raised by research in
the life sciences and their applications, as well as encourage the
exchange of ideas and information, particularly through education. It shall encourage
action to heighten awareness among the general public, specialized groups
and public and private decision-makers involved in bioethics.
It also shall co-operate with the international governmental and
non-governmental organizations concerned by the issues raised in the field
of bioethics as well as with the national and regional bioethics
committees and similar bodies.
Since its establishment the IBC has held five sessions. During these, the committee has examined thematic reports on specific issues of research in genetics and biotechnology.
Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights
Following finalization of a draft declaration on the human genome by a committee of governmental experts in July 1997, the General Conference of UNESCO adopted, unanimously and by acclamation, the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights on 11 November 1997.
The declaration is a landmark instrument--the first in the field of genetics within the United Nations system. It aims above all to protect human rights from possible infringements arising from certain applications of research on the human genome. Although it does not have binding force, the declaration represents a moral commitment of all Member States of UNESCO to adhere to a coherent set of ethical principles in the field of genetics.
It should be noted that the 53rd session of the United Nations General
Assembly adopted Resolution A/RES/53/152 on Human Rights and the Human
Genome on 9 December 1998, in which it endorses
the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights.
The World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and
As its 29th session in October-November 1997, the General Conference of UNESCO approved establishment by the Director-General of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST). On 12 January 1998, the Director-General named Vidgνs Finnbogadσttir, former Head of State of the Republic of Iceland, as chairperson of COMEST.
The creation of this body reflects the increasing importance of ethical reflection in light of the cultural and social effects of the rapid development of scientific knowledge and technology, which is necessary for the future development of humanity.
In accordance with its statutes, the commission is:
-- to be an intellectual forum for the exchange of ideas and experience;
-- to detect on that basis the early signs of risk situations;
-- to perform the role of adviser to decision-makers in this respect and, lastly;
to promote dialogue between scientific communities, decision makers
and the public at large.
In carrying out its mandate, the commission will make every effort to ensure that attention is paid to signs indicating risk situations. The commission will apply the utmost flexibility to its working methods, and will establish dialogue between scientific communities, intellectuals, public and private decision makers and citizens.
COMEST is composed of 18 members including eminent independent personalities in the field of science, professional engineering, law, philosophy, culture, religion and politics--taking account of geographical distribution--who serve in their personal capacity. Moreover, the presidents of UNESCOs five intergovernmental scientific programmes (IOC, MAB, MOST, IGCP and IHP), of the International Bioethics Committee and the Intergovernmental Committee, and those of the International Council of Philosophy and Human Sciences (ICPHS), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), the International Council for Science and the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs are invited to participate in the work of the commission.
The government of Norway hosted the first session of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology in Oslo (Norway) from 28-30 April 1999.
UNESCOs cultural work--campaigns to rescue the temples of Philae and Abu Simbel in Upper Egypt, save Venice (Italy) from water damage and decay, and rebuild the 1,000-year old Buddhist temples at Borobudur in Indonesia--is well known to the public.
For UNESCO, however, culture is regarded as a multidimensional affair which cannot be confined to fine arts and humanities, but also includes ways of thinking, behaviour patterns, value systems and beliefs. As a result, the programme in the area of culture has two thrusts: preservation of heritage and promotion of living culture.
Heritage, according to UNESCOs broadened concept, encompasses all physical and intangible expressions of the different cultures of the world (cultural heritage) and natural artifacts (natural heritage). They are protected in a number of ways: normative instruments such as international conventions and recommendations; operations to restore and recover imperiled works of art; research and training into new conservation techniques; reinforced activities relating to the preservation, collection, revitalization and dissemination of the intangible cultural heritage, with priority accorded to traditional performing arts, oral traditions and endangered languages; and encouraging formulation of policies on the use of national languages. UNESCO also provides information exchange, cooperation with regional and international organizations, and technical assistance to Member States on request.
Campaigns include one to save the historical city of Sanaa (Yemen), the archaeological site of Tyre in Lebanon, and the oldest city in the world, Mohenjodaro (Pakistan), which has just been accomplished. UNESCO projects highlight its interdisciplinary approach. By December 1998, 156 countries had ratified the 1972 Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, which aims to preserve such outstanding sites and monuments as the Great Wall of China, Kilimanjaro National Park and the Tower of London, among 582 cultural and natural sites on the World Heritage List (as of 1998). To monitor the condition of these sites, promote the convention and mobilize both willpower and funding, UNESCO has set up The World Heritage Center at its Paris headquarters.
In the field of intangible heritage, UNESCO launched a project entitled The Red Book on Endangered Languages. It carries out activities such as regional seminars, training courses on terminology, and production of publications; aids Member States in devising strategies for safeguarding, revitalizing and disseminating intangible heritage; sets up networks of specialized institutions and organizes the training of specialists; and enhances awareness of the wealth of traditional and popular cultures through production and promotion of the UNESCO Collection of Traditional Music, begun in collaboration with the International Music Council (IMC). The collection, which has 80 titles in compact discs, exists in three series: Music and Musicians of the World, Anthology of Traditional Music, and Traditional Music of Today.
The programme reflects two major fields of action. The first is devoted to preservation and enhancement of cultural and natural heritage. The second field, creativity and cultural industries, concentrates on contemporary cultural activities. These are promotion of creative expression; publishing; national book development policies; and the reading habit and other cultural industries. In 1998-1999, UNESCO launched a special project entitled Workshops for Grass-Roots Creativity Designed for Young People From Less Privileged Environments. The project, which is designed to promote the ideals of a culture of peace, carries out activities such as workshops, training courses, aids to social and cultural institutions for developing programme communities, as well as support to governmental projects that aim to develop the creativity of young people living in social institutions, such as prisons or hospitals.
Besides this attempt to promote creativity in non-formal education, international research is being launched to promote best practices of teaching the arts at all school levels (these practices are available on Internet). People and the community as a whole look upon art as an essential part of everyday life, and schools must adapt their curricula to this need.
In cooperation with specialized NGOs, such as the World Crafts Council (WCC), a major international programme for crafts development and promotion of young designers is being carried out. The programme includes training workshops, exhibitions, and the UNESCO Crafts Prize awarded at regional level and the Design 21 award for designers.
The programme also concentrates on improvement of the protection of authors of literary, scientific and artistic works and of performers, both at national level and internationally. This includes: providing for legal and technical assistance in elaboration and revision of national laws; training of specialists; establishment of infrastructures; introduction and development of teaching of copyright and neighbouring rights at the university level; information services; examination of the impact of electronic communication on the creation and dissemination of works and contributions protected by copyright and neighbouring rights; and promotion of application of the international instrument in this field. UNESCO activities in the field of copyright in 1998-1999 were concentrated mainly on promoting creation at universities of specialized chairs on copyright or intellectual property in general, as well as UNESCO chairs on the same subject and inter-university cooperation in the teaching of copyright under the UNITWIN Programme.
Young peoples participation in World Heritage preservation and promotions was encouraged and fostered by activities such as World Heritage Youth Fora, development of educational materials, and organization, jointly with youth NGOs, of workcamps and training in restoration methods. Young people were also the main beneficiaries of arts and crafts training programmes and the main actors of a special project entitled Intercultural Dialogue in Everyday Life in Africa.
The UNESCO Collection of Representative Works, created in 1948, comprises more than 1,000 titles translated from some 70 different languages. In 1996-1997, the collection gave priority to texts derived from oral tradition and from women authors, as well as little-known works from Eastern and Central Europe.
The history of civilizations shows that it was through the movement of people, ideas, spiritual values and material goods that cultures and specific identities were forged and took root. This concept of movement was adopted by UNESCO as the basis for a series of projects to study past interactions and influences between peoples and their implications for the world today. Most notable among these was the ten-year Integral Study of the Silk Roads project (1988-1997), which has not only shed light on our common cultural heritage and stimulated further scientific research, but has also revived interest in re-opening these historic routes, notably for cultural tourism. Certain long-term academic activities launched during the Silk Roads project have been prolonged within the framework of a new project entitled East-West Intercultural Dialogue in Central Asia. Other projects are: the Slave Route which, barbaric as it was, strangely came to be instrumental in laying the foundations of a new civilization in the Americas and Caribbean; the Iron Road in Africa, which served as a link between different cultures of Africa; and the inter-religious programme on Spiritual Convergence and Intercultural Dialogue, which comprises the two projects Roads of Faith and the Al-Andalus Routes, the meeting-point between Europe and countries of the Maghreb and sub-Saharan Africa.
These fields of action come under the aegis of the all-embracing World Decade for Cultural Development (1988-1997), through which UNESCO aimed to increase and enhance recognition of the cultural and environmental dimensions of development in its programmes and projects. The decade also helped define national strategies and options to develop human resources and strengthen national research and training capabilities in future-oriented studies in order to better anticipate social, economic and cultural changes and their impact on development.
Our Creative Diversity, the report of the World Commission on Culture and Development presented to the UN General Assembly and UNESCOs General Conference in 1995, stressed that culture can no longer remain at the margin of policy making. The report highlighted our shared responsibility to bring culture into the heart of human development strategies. In order to address this complex and multi-faceted policy challenge, UNESCO convened an Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development, held in Stockholm (Sweden) on 30 March-2 April 1998. The action plan adopted at the conference made several practical policy recommendations to Member States and the Director-General of UNESCO. A new Cultural Policies for Development Unit has been established in UNESCO to carry out follow-up work to the conference and ensure that recommendations of the Stockholm Conference are implemented in the spirit envisaged by the World Commission on Culture and Development.
Under follow-up to the Plan of Action of the International Decade of the Worlds Indigenous People (1994-2004), action in favour of indigenous populations has been carried out aimed at enhancing the capacities of indigenous peoples, safeguarding their traditional knowledge and promoting their contemporary literature.
Following recommendations of the World Commission on Culture and Development, UNESCO publishes every two years the World Culture Report. The publication surveys trends in culture and development, monitors events affecting the state of cultures worldwide, constructs quantitative cultural indicators, highlights good cultural practices and policies, and analyzes specific themes of general importance accompanied by policy suggestions.
Communication, Information and Informatics
This major programme is designed to encourage the free flow of ideas by word and image and help reinforce communication, information and informatics capacities in developing countries. Its major innovation is extension of the free-flow principle to all forms of information contributing to the progress of societies, coupled with a comprehensive approach to challenges posed by the converging communication, information and informatics technologies.
Top priorities in the area of communication include support for press freedom and independence and pluralism of the media, reflection on their educational and cultural dimensions, and efforts to reduce violence on the screen. The declarations and plans of action adopted by the regional seminars on independence and pluralism of the media, already held for Africa (Windhoek, 1991), Asia and the Pacific (Almaty, 1992), Latin America and the Caribbean (Santiago de Chile, 1994), the Arab States (Sanaa, 1996), and Europe (Sofia, 1997), are being implemented in collaboration with professional media organizations. Furthermore, World Press Freedom Day, initiated by UNESCO in commemoration of the Windhoek Declaration, is celebrated every year on 3 May. A major event of these celebrations is the award of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize, established in 1997.
UNESCO supports the International Freedom of Expression Exchange Network (IFEX), which brings together more than 600 members committed to protecting press freedom and the safety of journalists in over 110 countries. The network of UNESCO Chairs in Communication (ORBICOM), which counts nine chairs in Canada, Europe and Latin America, provides an enlarged framework for cooperation among media practitioners, researchers and industries. As part of UN peacebuilding efforts, UNESCO supports independent media that provide non-partisan information in conflict areas and thus contribute to the moral survival of affected populations and reconciliation.
The main operational arm of UNESCOs communication strategy and a major funding channel is the International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC), which focuses on strengthening news agencies, media training, community media and endogenous audiovisual production in developing countries. Since 1992, IPDC has given priority to projects in favour of independent and pluralist media. The programme, which is governed by a council of 39 Member States, meets annually to consider project proposals and allocate some US$5 million in funds.
As the main organizer of the International Symposium on Women and the Media: Access to Expression and Decision-Making, held in Toronto (Canada) in 1995, UNESCO is also involved in promotion of gender equality and gender issues in the area of communications.
A new network entitled Globjournet was recently created, which seeks to bring together training institutions, centres, associations, networks and related organizations in order to contribute to training journalists and uphold freedom of expression.
The General Information Programme (PGI) pursues efforts to promote international cooperation in the fields of libraries, archives and documentation, with emphasis on appropriate policies, methodologies and tools for information management including UNESCOs own software packages CDS/ISIS and IDAMS.
The Memory of the World Programme aims at safeguarding the recorded memory of humanity, with a number of pilot projects under way in different countries. Furthermore, UNESCO organizes international aid campaigns in this field, such as the programme for restoration of the National and University Library of Bosnia and Hercegovina. PGIs enlarged mandate also covers trends in information technologies, as well as legal and ethical aspects of electronic information. Another project involves revival of the Library of Alexandria. This wonder of the ancient world, built by the Ptolemies, is said to have contained over 500,000 papyrus rolls cross-referenced by subject and author.
UNESCO is developing an Infoyouth Network--an information and communication network for exchange of data and experiences in the youth field--intended to assist Member States in their effort to elaborate and implement coherent and adequate youth programmes and policies.
UNESCO also supports development of computer networking and training of informatics specialists, particularly through its Intergovernmental Informatics Programme (IIP). IIPs planning and implementation is guided by its Intergovernmental Committee, which meets every two years. Its bureau meets annually to consider submitted projects and allocate some US$1.5 million in raised funds. Among IIPs priorities are computer networks, training in informatics, software development and research, informatics policies and modernization of public administration. UNESCO-sponsored regional informatics networks--RINAF (Africa), RINAS (Arab States), RINSCA and RINSEAP (Asia/Pacific) and RINEE (Eastern Europe)--serve as test grounds for effective networking options including links to the Internet.
The interdisciplinary issue of new information and communication technologies is particularly addressed through the informal INFOethics Congress and a series of regional symposia on Telematics for Development. These have been held in Africa (1995), the Arab states (1997) and Latin America and the Caribbean (1999). Furthermore, a number of pilot telematics projects are under way, as is preparation of several studies and reports on the trends and impacts of these technologies in UNESCOs fields of competence. An example of such projects is the Women on the Net project, run by UNESCO and The Society for International Development.
The UNESCO Web Prize was created in 1998 to highlight contemporary cultural, artistic and technological trends. In the first year, 170 projects from 31 countries were received. UNESCO also publishes the World Communication and Information Report describing major trends and examining specific issues.
In order to obtain a greater multiplier effect for UNESCOs actions in the area of women and gender equality, a UNESCO Collective Consultation with NGOs working on women, girls and gender equality was created in 1997. Responsibility for the UNESCO/NGO Collective Consultation, which meets three times a year, lies with the Unit for the Promotion of the Status of Women and Gender Equality.
In its medium-term strategy for 1996-2001, UNESCO has renewed its commitment to contribute to peace, democracy and development. It has initiated a transdisciplinary project entitled Towards a Culture of Peace. This project implicates all sectors in the support for, and establishment of, a global culture of peace.
The principal objectives of the transdisciplinary project are to: provide coordination of all sectors in effective peacebuilding and reconstruction efforts; develop national culture of peace programmes, which facilitate the processes of peace and democratization through participation, consultation and dialogue; and establish a strong information and networking system to provide support to these and other UNESCO activities.
The UNESCO-sponsored Culture of Peace Programme has now been officially endorsed by the UN General Assembly, which has declared the Year 2000 as International Year for the Culture of Peace and adopted a declaration and programme of action thereupon.
Among activities within the Culture of Peace in Action programme, UNESCO will continue to support projects facilitating inter-cultural, inter-ethnic and inter-community dialogue, both at regional and sub-regional levels. In this framework projects such as Culture in the Neighborhood, which was initiated during the World Decade for Cultural Development, have been developed to twin African and European cultural experiences. Other regions are to be involved in the near future.
Mobilization of new partners has been a key factor for the promotion of democracy, of citizens participation, and thus of a culture of peace. Cities, through their mayors, have been encouraged to promote the concept of urban centres as meeting-places of nationalities, cultures, beliefs and conviviality, instead of rejection and exclusion. Toward this end every two years the UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize awards five cities, one from each region, which have succeeded in strengthening social solidarity, improving living conditions in troubled neighbourhoods and developing genuine urban harmony. Networks among these municipalities and data banks on innovations have been established at regional and international levels.
In the context of the international year, a major collective partnership agreement has been signed with all NGOs maintaining official relations with UNESCO.
In May 1998, UNESCO redefined and strengthened its activities in favour of youth. A Youth Co-ordination Unit was created to ensure, with the support of internal and external advisory committees, that young people participate in the planning, implementation and evaluation of all UNESCO programmes.
UNESCO: International Publisher
Books are key instruments in fostering international public awareness about UNESCOs major activities in education, human rights, women, the environment, sustainable development, cultural issues and peace.
With more than 10,000 titles to its credit--as well as translations into 80 languages--UNESCO publications reflect the full range and variety of the organizations concerns, from architecture to zoology, from anthologies to vegetation maps. Some 160 titles are added to the sales catalogue each year, with all publications revenue used to help implement the organizations programmes. UNESCO Publishings current catalogue lists over 1,000 titles (books, CD-ROMs, periodicals and scientific maps) in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic. These are issued under its own imprint or co-published.
Pursuing its efforts to reach the largest audience possible, UNESCO Publishing is extending online publishing to new frontiers. All new titles will shortly be available free of charge online for a period of time in PDF format. Online secure payment arrangements will thereafter allow visitors to the website immediate access to electronic versions, or the possibility of ordering the traditional printed editions.
A network of national distributors maintains UNESCOs presence in a great number of countries. Also, co-publication and translation of its books in partnership with commercial publishers ensures distribution of printed editions to a large international audience.
UNESCO Publishings editorial policy reflects its concern regarding key world issues. Ongoing series such as Challenges and Cultures of Peace respond to this trend. The Spanish-language series Letra grande is addressed to often-neglected readers: the poor, new literates and the visually handicapped. For young readers, the World Heritage series is a best seller with over 1.3 million copies sold in English, French and Spanish. The Silk and Spice Routes series, another editorial success, was translated into some 15 languages.
UNESCO World Reports, covering the main concerns of the organization, assure biennial, authoritative global coverage of education, science, culture, communication/information and social sciences in the main official languages of UNESCO.
Large-scale international projects, associating prestigious specialists from different countries, have resulted in major works such as The General History of Africa in eight volumes. The English edition was completed in 1993 and the French and Arabic editions in 1999. Translations in some ten other languages including Spanish, Chinese and Swahili are under way. Another ambitious project is a revised edition of History of Humanity in seven volumes; the first three have already been published. The first four of the six volumes of History of Civilizations of Central Asia have already been published; the two remaining volumes are foreseen for the year 2000. One volume of the History of the Caribbean has already been released, and a History of Latin America is in preparation.
UNESCOs scientific maps are the result of international cooperation with prestigious cartographic institutions to issue climatic, geological, hydrogeological, tectonic, mineralogical, metallogenic, vegetation and soil maps. These are listed in UNESCO Publishings Catalogue of Scientific Maps and Atlases.
Among UNESCOs specialized journals, Museum International is a world reference on museology, Prospects is an international forum of ideas on comparative education, and Copyright Bulletin provides information on developments and new challenges facing copyright today. Nature and Resources is devoted to environmental issues, and the International Social Science Journal reviews new trends in the social and human sciences. The World Heritage Review, the most recent quarterly aimed at the public at large, was launched in 1996 and is co-published in English, French and Spanish.
Electronic publishing was introduced several years ago, and several important UNESCO databases are available on CD-ROM. Thus the Index Translationum, with over a million entries, lists all translated books in more than 100 countries from 1979 to the present.
UNESCO Databases includes bibliographic data on all UNESCO documents and publications; education; museums, monuments and sites; preventive education against AIDS; and 10,000 social science institutions. The UNESCO Thesaurus contains 7,000 terms and the IBE Thesaurus contains 4,000 terms. The World Biodiversity Database series, available in English only, provides an overview of different aspects of the marine environment and its living creatures. UNESCO 1945-1995: An Ideal on the Move recalls the history of the organization from its very beginnings. The CD-ROMs Les villes du patrimoine, Angkor and Serinde offer rich multimedia materials on outstanding sites.
Through the UNESCO Collection of Representative Works readers have been able to become acquainted with Nobel Prize laureates Yasunari Kawabata, Vicente Aleixandre, Ivo Andrich, George Seferis and Halldor K. Laxness; their works were almost unknown outside their own countries before being translated by UNESCO. Over 1,000 other printed works from about 100 countries have been published to date, including works by Henry Bergson, Ernest Hemingway, Rabindranath Tagore and Naguib Mahfuz, as well as ancient texts by anonymous authors, epic poems, legends, plays, essays, literary criticism and short stories.
The UNESCO Courier, a monthly magazine published in 36 languages and in braille, deals with themes of universal interest viewed from a variety of cultural standpoints by authors from different countries. UNESCO Sources, published in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese, is distributed free of charge and reports monthly on the organizations main activities.
Since its founding, UNESCO has sought to collaborate with NGOs. Many activities undertaken worldwide in the fields of education, science, culture and communication are carried out by a wide range of NGOs. UNESCO views cooperation with them as vital for the pursuit of its mandate. According to the organization, NGOs are a natural link between governments and peoples and an indispensable part of the design, implementation and monitoring of a range of UNESCO projects and programmes.
Article XI, paragraph 4 of UNESCOs
Constitution defines the basis for cooperation between UNESCO and NGOs as
follows: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization may make suitable arrangements for consultation and
cooperation with non-governmental international organizations concerned
with matters within its competence, and may invite them to undertake
specific tasks. Such cooperation may also include appropriate
participation by representatives of such organizations on advisory
committees set up by the General Conference.
After 35 years (1960-1995) of a previous system of institutional relations with NGOs, the General Conference in 1995 adopted a new set of directives designed to set the organizations cooperation with these vital partners on a fresh and revitalized footing, taking into account developments in international cooperation and NGOs increasingly important role on the world scene. These new arrangements, while providing for the continuation of tight, demanding relationships with a small group of international, professional NGOs that are broadly representative of their field, also introduce a new more flexible set of arrangements. In these UNESCO can cooperate with NGOs under what are termed operational relations, with the purpose of helping UNESCO amplify its concrete action in the field. These new arrangements also make provision for special efforts to increase the involvement of civil and voluntary sector organizations in developing countries and emerging democracies in international cooperation networks. A different set of directives, adopted in 1991, governs UNESCOs relations with foundations.
UNESCO thus establishes relations with NGOs as two main types: formal and operational relations. The relationship is established on the basis of the structure and functioning of the NGO, and the type of cooperation it maintains with UNESCO. It also takes into account UNESCOs primary role as an institution of intellectual cooperation. Formal relations can be established within two distinct categories: consultative and associate relations. The latter is for a small number of umbrella NGOs working very closely with UNESCO in its main fields of competence. The relationship is established for a renewable period of six years, subject to review of the cooperation effectively carried out. Operational relations are designed for a much broader selection of organizations and will be maintained on a more flexible basis, with less focus on administrative and procedural formalities. Relations with non-governmental networks and similar institutions that have broad international outreach are also foreseen. The introduction of the new directives has been accompanied by elaboration of a new set of financial, material and intellectual arrangements for cooperation with NGOs.
In the immediate postwar years and shortly after its founding, UNESCO sponsored the creation of a number of scientific and cultural councils to reinforce cooperation between organizations with similar and complementary goals. These included the International Association of Universities (1950), International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (1948), International Social Science Council (1952), International Theatre Institute (1948), International Council of Philosophy and Humanistic Studies (1949), International Music Council (1948) and International Council on Archives (1948). Most recently, in 1987 UNESCO helped set up the Panafrican Union for Science and Technology and strongly encouraged the creation of Education International (1993) and the recent formation of the International Council for Engineering and Technology (ICET). The founders were two major international engineering NGOs, the World Federation of Engineering Organizations and the International Union of Technical Associations and Organizations, with which UNESCO has long cooperated.
Eligibility criteria for NGOs wishing to establish formal relations are rigorous, and applications from NGOs are carefully examined.
Every three years an International NGO Conference involving NGOs in formal and operational relations is held to discuss programmes as well as issues arising from UNESCO/NGO cooperation. The conference elects a president and an NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee of nine international NGOs. They cooperate with the Director-General in following up appropriate decisions taken at the General Conference, and in preparing the next conference of NGOs. UNESCO provides meeting facilities for the committee and UNESCO staff time.
The NGO-UNESCO Liaison Committee cooperates with the secretariat, notably through collective consultations involving NGOs in a particular sector: literacy, higher education, girls and gender equality, tolerance, human rights, poverty, bioethics, and Habitat II follow-up. This helps UNESCO prepare its programmes and undertake joint projects to further its objectives.
UNESCO also cooperates on an informal basis with other NGOs, which means that overall its links with the NGO community worldwide are extremely broad and reflect its own diverse range of interests and concerns. Some are specialist or learned organizations (involving teachers, scientists, philosophers, writers and lawyers), some are mass organizations (trade unions, cooperatives, womens associations and youth movements), and some are religious organizations.
Responsibility for UNESCO/NGO cooperation lies with the Section of International Non-governmental Organizations and Foundations, which is also secretariat of the NGO Committee of the Executive Board. The section coordinates, where necessary, NGO-related activities of other divisions and programmes and is responsible for overseeing, monitoring and coordinating UNESCOs institutional relations with NGOs, including financial matters. It is also responsible for administering the system and procedures for establishing relations with UNESCO, and for acting as a clearinghouse to ensure distribution of the substantial documentation it receives from NGOs to relevant substantive divisions.
Neda Ferrier, Chief a.i., Section of International Non-governmental Organizations and Foundations, UNESCO, 7 place de Fontenoy, F-75700 Paris, France, telephone +33-1/45 68 18 77, fax +33-1/45 68 56 43, e-mail <email@example.com>, website (www.unesco.org).