|Photo courtesy of Laura Engel|
The United States National Commission for UNESCO met on Monday, November 28th at George Washington University.
Education (Paul Kruchoski)
Secretary Clinton visits UNESCO – In May, Secretary Clinton visited Paris for the launch of the UNESCO Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education. The initiative brought together governments, foundations, and corporations to raise over $5 million for UNESCO’s work to strengthen education for women around the globe. This was the first visit to UNESCO by a U.S. Secretary of State.
Teaching Respect for All and Holocaust Education – In October, the United States announced two new extra-budgetary contributions to UNESCO education programs. The first will revive UNESCO’s work from the mid-1990s on using education to build respect in multiethnic and multicultural societies. The project – a partnership between the United States and Brazil – will offer new curricula and tools for educators. We plan to officially launch the program in early 2012. The second contribution will provide $250,000 to expand UNESCO’s Holocaust Education program, which provides educational resources on how to understand the underlying social factors that led up to the Holocaust and how individuals can help prevent mass atrocities in their own societies.
UNESCO helps to Lead ECOSOC Ministerial – UNESCO helped to shape the discussion leading up to and during the UN Economic and Social Council Ministerial in July. This year’s ministerial session focused on the internationally agreed development goals in education, including the Education for All Goals.
UNESCO Youth Forum – On the eve of the General Conference, UNESCO hosted its 7th Youth Forum. This year, we piloted a new process for selecting the U.S. youth representatives. The process offered options for YouTube video submissions and drew heavily upon social media to spread the word. It also engaged youth in the selection of the finalists. Our two final reps – Blair Brettschneider and Andrew Leon Hanna – were outstanding. You can read their thoughts on the Forum here and here.
UNESCO Nat Com Youth Working Group hosts event in NYC – This fall, the National Commission, the State Department, and USAID co-hosted an event entitled “Youth Driving Change: Global Youth & Civic Engagement” in New York. The event, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, brought together Under Secretary of State Maria Otero and prominent youth voices from around the world to discuss how youth are shaping transformations around the world. The event was the first activity organized by our National Commission Youth Working Group. You can watch archival video of the event here.
Social and Human Science (Marlese Durr)
As of October 31, 2011 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Social and Human Science sector has undergone re-organization. The focus of the sector continues to emphasize and promote human rights research; advances education in human rights; leads the action in the fight against all forms of discrimination at the national, regional, and international levels; fosters cooperation among all sectors and networks; promotes democracy and further reflects on new forms and combating violence; while encouraging human rights research with its partners.
Highlighting that using the idea that UNESCO Stands for Human Rights, the work within Major Program III on Social and Human Sciences will be conducted through the following streams:
· Human Rights and Social Inclusion
· Human Rights, Democracy, Youth and Social innovation
· Human Rights and Global Environmental Change
· Human Rights and Bioethics
Natural Sciences & Engineering (Jana Hall)
- L’Oreal Science Awards
- Malta Conference
- New Organization
- Obiang Prize
- Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC)
- International Hydrological Program (IHP)
- Biodiversity/Man and the Biosphere
Communications/Information (Aaron Mitchell)
In the Communication and Information Sector (CI), the latest projects currently underway deal with expanding access to educational and scientific information to developing countries through two initiatives: Open Educational Resources and Open Access to Scientific Research. Both initiatives aim to make publically-funded research and publications available to global audiences at no cost. UNESCO recently launched online platforms designed to expand the availability of these resources online. Additionally, the CI Sector, in partnership with the Commonwealth of Learning and the Hewlett Foundation, is planning a June 2012 international celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Open Educational Resources, which will include an updated declaration of principles and values.
In addition to the above initiatives, the CI Sector continues its work on documentary preservation, press freedom, media development, and technology competency. As the culmination of ongoing programs, the sector recently released the “UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers.” This framework serves as curriculum guidance for secondary and tertiary level educators to develop coursework for increasing literacy, understanding and awareness of technological tools and their applications.
Culture (Mindy Fountain)
40th Anniversary of the World Heritage Convention
The Culture sector is gearing up for the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the World Heritage Convention in 2012. We are working with interagency colleagues on planning and developing U.S. celebrations and would appreciate suggestions and input from the Commissioners.
International Jazz Day
One of the successes of this fall’s General Conference was the adoption of our resolution identifying April 30th as International Jazz Day. The first celebration will be in 2012, and preparations are already underway in conjunction with Goodwill Ambassador to UNESCO Herbie Hancock and the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. More information will circulate as it becomes available.
The International Center for Women Artists (ICWA)
Another success at the General Conference was the approval of the International Center for Women Artists, to be established in Amman, Jordan, as a UNESCO Category II Center. As many of you know this is a project that has received leadership and support from both our Mission to UNESCO as well as members of the U.S. National Commission.
With the UNESCO Category II status now approved, it is hoped that UNESCO will help organize an international design competition for the creation of a new logo for ICWA, which will be paired with the UNESCO logo for all of ICWA's communications in the future.
Commissioner Sheree Wen is working on the formation of a new ICWA Advisory Council to bringing together international business partners to assist with development.
New Director General Elected at recent International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultureal Property (ICCROM) Conference
Stefano de Caro, a highly regarded museum expert with a background in archeology, was just elected by the ICCROM Council as their new Director General. De Caro, an Italian, is based in Naples and has worked on World Heritage issues in the past.
Ongoing work on Cultural Preservation
One program we’d like to highlight for you is the U.S. Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, run out of the Education and Cultural Affairs office at the Department of State. ‘This program has supported more than 700 projects in over 100 countries since its inception in 2001, including more than 100 projects at over 60 World Heritage Sites. The program has expended more than 34 million dollars towards preserving tangible and intangible cultural heritage, such as the restoration of historic buildings, assessment and conservation of museum collections, and documentation of vanishing traditional craft techniques. Especially in the current political climate surrounding UNESCO, this is a great example to use of U.S. engagement with and commitment to cultural preservation around the world. The U.S. continues its commitment to cultural preservation and also remains engaged in work related to the 1970 Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Cultural Property, and of course the 1972 World Heritage Convention.