Monday, December 15, 2003


Americans for UNESCO is a national, non-governmental organization for Americans interested in UNESCO. It is relatively new, having succeeded “Americans for the Universality of UNESCO” with the reentry of the United States into the decentralized organization within the United Nations family. It’s new website should become an increasingly useful source of information about UNESCO, and about US participation in the organization.

The U.S. sent a very high level delegation to attend the General Conference of UNESCO in October. The reception was apparently very warm. UNESCO’s five main priorities are: basic education for all; freshwater resources and ecosystems; the ethics of science and technology; promoting cultural diversity and international dialogue; and universal access to information especially information in the public domain. Its General Conference adopted a program and budget for UNESCO of US$ 610 million for the 2004-2005 biennium. The session also adopted several standard-setting instruments: the International Convention on the Preservation of the Intangible Cultural Heritage; a Declaration Concerning the Intentional Destruction of Cultural Heritage; the International Declaration on Human Genetic Data; Recommendation on the Promotion and Use of Multilingualism and Universal Access to Cyberspace; and the Charter on the Preservation of the Digital Heritage.

A report of the October Conference of UNESCO is available on the Americans for UNESCO website.

UNESCO is in many ways the leading agency in the United Nations for issues related to Knowledge for Development. It is the lead agency for Education in the system, and in many ways is the lead agency in terms of information and communications technology for development. It clearly has taken the lead in basic scientific information within the UN system, although of course other agencies focus on science relevant to their own charters (e.g. WHO and the health sciences, FAO and the agricultural sciences). Thus it is great that the U.S. has rejoined.

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