Thursday, August 23, 2012

The United States and UNESCO: An Anecdotal History

The United States played a key role in the founding of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). During its history, Americans have played important roles in defining programs for UNESCO: examples are Philip Coombs in the foundation of the International Institute for Educational Planning (1960s), Roger Revelle in the creation of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (1960s), Raymond Dasmann in the creation of the Man in the Biosphere Program (1960s and 70s), Russell Train in the creation of the World Heritage program (1970s), and James Billington in the creation of the World Digital Library (2000s). Yet the United States withdrew from UNESCO in 1984, almost crippling the organization in the process. It rejoined UNESCO in 2003 and has remained (but is currently withholding its financial contributions to the Organization).

U.S. participation has depended on the climate of the Cold War, on the heat of the North-South debate, and on the perception of U.S. interests in the War on Terror. That participation has been the subject of debate within the United States -- a portion of the culture wars in which conservatives have often expressed opposition to and progressives support for UNESCO. Generally, there has been more support for UNESCO in Democratic administrations and less in Republican administrations.

Prehistory: After World War I, the League of Nations was created, a forerunner of the United Nations. Despite political refusal of the U.S. Government to join the League, the U.S. civil sector turned special attention to cultural issues in world affairs, primarily in education and science.

The League’s International Cooperation Committees (ICCs) in every country included a U.S. privately-organized and funded ICC, located at Columbia University, which enlisted giants of intellect among its members. World War II cut off this activity.

Included in the League was the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation, which included such leading intellectuals of the day as Henri Bergson, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Thomas Mann, Paul Valéry, Salvador de Madariaga and Béla Bartok. The secretariat of the Committee, the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (IIIC) was established in Paris.

The International Bureau for Education (IBE) was organized is Switzerland with the participation of several governments. It also functioned in the inter-war years, The United States and Britain did not participate in but France and other European nations did, and the IBE formed one of the bases for UNESCO.  Both the IIIC and the IBE were incorporated in UNESCO at its founding.

Planning for UNESCO During the War Years: In London exile, a Committee of Allied Ministers of Education (CAME) began meeting in 1940 to plan for the reconstruction of education systems when the war ended. The Department of State’s Sumner Welles sent a delegation in May 1944 to participate in the CAME deliberations; the delegation was headed by William Fulbright, then a Congressman who would later become Senator from Arkansas in 1945, the creator of the Fulbright Fellowships program. He was assisted by Archibald MacLeish, an intellectual who had lived in France and spoke fluent French, who during his life was a lawyer, poet, playwright, Librarian of Congress, and Assistant Secretary of State. (Macleish won three Pulitzer Prizes, a Tony and an Academy Award.)

The Allied Ministers elected Rhodes Scholar Fulbright to the chair; he and his delegation promptly expanded the discussion to the post-war rebuilding of education, not only in Europe but everywhere. The Preparatory Commission for the program of UNESCO received reports from committees dealing with education, social science, natural science, mass media, libraries, museums, the fine arts, and letters and philosophy. Joseph Needham (U.K.) saw the initiative as a vehicle for his hopes to create an intergovernmental organization to help build scientific capabilities worldwide, and started to build support for the S to be added to UNESCO.

William Benton should also be mentioned in this history. He had been a founder of the Benton and Bowles advertizing agency, a pioneering enterprise in the use of media. He was also publisher of the Encyclopedia Britannica, who was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in 1945 and served in that post until 1947. One must assume that he was influential in assuring that UNESCO would include a focus on Communication. Benton went on to be a United States Senator and later Ambassador to UNESCO (1963-1968).

The United States had unprecedented influence at this time. President Roosevelt had given high priority to the establishment of international organizations replacing the League of Nations -- organizations that would seek to prevent future world wars. World War I had resulted in some 15 million deaths and World War II perhaps an additional 70 million. Many nations were decimated by the war, their economies in ruins. Alone among the great powers, the United States had emerged from World War II with its farms and factories in full operating order; it has been estimated that the United States was producing half of the world’s goods and services at the time. Moreover, the United States had played a key part among the Allies in winning World War II, providing both its logistic support and millions of troops.

The Founding of UNESCO: While the United Nations was established to deal with political issues, including the Security Council, and the Breton Woods organizations to deal with economic issues, the decision was made to create UNESCO to deal with intellectual issues. In the phrase of Archibald MacLeish, “since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that we must begin to build the defenses of peace.” Thus UNESCO was charged with a broad charter to work through education, science, culture and communications to build those defenses.

In November 1945, representatives of 37 countries signed UNESCO’s constitution, and the organization came into operation in November 1946 following ratification by 20 signatories. Back home, newly elected Senator Fulbright enlisted bipartisan support for two Senate Resolutions (1944, 1945) – one pledging to support a multilateral educational agency for the world. The idea succeeded because of the bipartisan leadership of Fulbright and “Mr. Conservative,” Ohioan Robert A.Taft.

In the preparation for UNESCO, in spite of the difficulties in the war years, nine major meetings were held around the United States to acquaint American leaders with the idea of UNESCO and to seek the advice and consent of the public for the ideas. The Congress passed authorizing legislation for the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, calling for up to 100 members, with a unique element that three-fifths of the members would be nominated by non-governmental organizations (and appointed by the Secretary of State). The NatCom was to advise the Government on UNESCO policy, to represent U.S. educational, scientific and cultural leaders in UNESCO deliberations, and to link UNESCO programs with the U.S. intellectual communities. Initially headed by Milton Eisenhower, university president and brother of General (soon to be President) Eisenhower, the NatCom had a very distinguished membership. Milfton Eisenhower also served as a member of the UNESCO Executive Board in 1947.

Controversial Beginnings: The organization has been controversial. The United States denied efforts to make it the vehicle for post-war aid to Europe, preferring to program reconstruction aid bilaterally through the Marshall Plan. There were fundamental cultural differences between Anglo-Saxon and European continental approaches to education and culture.

Julian Huxley
The first Director General of UNESCO was Julian Huxley. The Grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, an agnostic known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his defense of the theory of evolution, Julian Huxley was a zoologist distinguished for his synthesis of Darwinian evolutionary theory with genetics. He had a close association with the British secular humanist movement and was known for his left wing political views. A member of a distinguished family, including his brother, novelist Aldus Huxley, and his half brother, Nobel Laureate biologist Andrew Huxley, Julian had headed the London Zoo and served on a commission seeking sites for universities to be created in British Africa.. Later he served as President of the British Eugenics Society and was a founding member of the World Wildlife Fund. Few people would have been more likely to draw the opposition of the conservative side of the American culture wars, and his term of office was limited to two years (rather than six) at the initiative of the United States.

Joseph Needham, the first Assistant Director of UNESCO in charge of its natural science program, was perhaps equally likely to draw American conservative fire. He was a distinguished biochemist who left his post at Cambridge University to serve as the head of the Sino-British Scientific Cooperation Office in China during World War II. Needham served in UNESCO until 1948, returning to Cambridge where he embarked on an encyclopedic study of the history of science and technology in China, a study that radically revised Western understanding of that history. Needham was also well known for his leadership in British nudism, lived in a ménage a trios with his wife and Chinese former graduate student. He was closely associated with the Chinese Communist government, and had been involved in studies which charged American use of biological warfare against the Communists in both World War II and the Korean War.

Alliances in the Cold War

The Cold War: At the founding of UNESCO, there were disputes between the Soviet Union and the United States about membership. Eventually negotiation achieved a settlement in which Argentina (whose membership was supported by the United States and opposed by the USSR) was admitted to UNESCO membership, and the Government of Poland in exile (whose membership was also supported by the United States and opposed by the USSR) was denied membership.

UNESCO, like other agencies of the United Nations system, became a venue for Cold War activity. The Soviet Union did not become a member state until 1954 in a deal that allowed satellite nations of the Ukraine and Belarus also join. In 1952–54 Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia temporarily withdrew from the Organization. From 1954 until the fall of the USSR in 1991, the United States continued to confront USSR Communist ideology in UNESCO for a with American democratic-free market ideology.

During the McCarthy era, the United States government put pressure on UNESCO to fire U.S. citizens suspected of Communist leanings. Luther Evans, the American former Librarian of Congress who served as UNESCO Director General from 1953 to 1958, was forced to let go from the Organization seven Americans charged with Communist sympathies. (John W. Taylor became Deputy Director-General of UNESCO in 1950 and was appointed acting Director General upon the resignation of Jaime Torres Bodet in 1952. Evans had served on the Executive Board from 1949 to 1953.)

The first person to be designated U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO was Athelstan Spilhaus who served as the U.S. representative to the UNESCO Executive Board from 1954 to 1958. Born in South Africa, a U.S. citizen after 1946, Spilhaus was a distinguished scientist who worked in meteorology, oceanography and cartography and an inventor. He is estimated to have reached 12 million people a week with his comic strip providing education on scientific matters, and was the father of the Sea Grant program creating centers of excellence in oceanography in American universities. Thus he continued the sequence of distinguished Americans involved in UNESCO.

North South Issues: Later UNESCO became a venue for North-South controversy. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, UNESCO membership began to expand rapidly with newly independent countries. Membership continues to expand, with consequent changes in the worldview and program priorities of UNESCO members.

In UNESCO, as in the United Nations system as a whole, governance is based on one-nation, one-vote, while contributions are assessed by a formula based on the Gross Domestic Product of the member state. Thus China with its huge population has the same voting power as a small island nation, and the United States, paying 22 percent of UNESCO’s assessed budget has the same voting power as a member state paying almost no assessed contribution. The budget of UNESCO continued to grow over several decades, and so too grew the U.S. assessed contributions, while the influence of the United States in the General Conference and Executive Board fell. There was obvious consternation in the U.S. Government over these trends.
Myrna Loy

Howland H. Sargeant is the only U.S. citizen to serve as the Chairman of UNESCO's General Conference, in 1961. A former Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and President of Radio Liberty, Sargeant brought his wife, actress Myrna Loy with him to Paris -- no doubt as a major aid in gaining the attention of the other delegates.

The Constitution of UNESCO gives great power to the Director General. Of the first six Directors General, two were from the United States and three were from Western Europe. The sixth was from Mexico, distinguished for the literacy program that he headed when Minister of Education in that country, and elected when the General Conference met in Mexico in 1947. In 1974, Amadou M’Bow from Senegal became Director General. This proved to be a culture shock for the American government and the American Ambassador to UNESCO, Jean Gerard (a political appointee who had received her law degree four years before her appointment as Ambassador). Some describe a cultural divide between the French educated M’Bow and American diplomats, others describe concerns over the transparency and efficiency of his administration of the Organization.

In the 1970s, there was a move of developing nations at the United Nations in support of a New International Economic Order. While many nations had achieved political freedom, many nations were still mired in an economic system in which they exported raw materials to metropolitan countries at low prices and imported products and services from those metropolitan countries at high prices; political freedom had not come with economic prosperity and poverty was endemic. The concern for a new order expanded to include proposals for a New International Information Order; countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America were getting their news from AP/UPI, Reuters and AFP which paid little attention to their events or views.

Sean MacBride
UNESCO appointed a high-level committee headed by Sean MacBride to study communications, focusing not only on the concerns of the developing nations but also on the changes in the media that were appearing on the horizon. MacBride, an Irish lawyer and politician who was a founding member of Amnesty International, had received the Nobel Peace for his work for human rights. His name is associated with the MacBride Principles for international firms doing business in Northern Ireland. The son of a father who was executed for his part in the Irish Easter Uprising and a mother who was a famous Irish nationalist, MacBride was early in his career the Chief of Staff for the Irish Republican Army.
The report of the committee, now widely known as the MacBride Report, has been increasingly well regarded in the decades since it was issued, but it was rejected by the developing country representatives to UNESCO who substituted their own report for discussion in a UNESCO General Conference. The debate was controversial, and was widely covered (negatively) by the international press.

In 1973, the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO added some star power as Shirley Temple joined the Commission. Long after her career as a child actress, having already served as a U.S. representative to the United Nations, Shirley Temple Black was conversant with both multialteral diplomacy and the arts.

Representatives of the conservative Heritage Foundation had long advocated U.S. withdrawal from UNESCO. They gathered strength from a number of factions, including some concerned with the impact of UNESCO on U.S. education, others concerned with threats they perceived to U.S. sovereignty, and still others concerned with the political tone of UNESCO debates. They also developed a collegial relationship with conservatives in Margaret Thatcher's United Kingdom.

In 1983, conservative forces in the United States used the controversy over the New International Information Order as well as concern for the efficiency of UNESCO to successfully lobby for U.S. withdrawal, and the U.K. and Singapore followed suit the following year. UNESCO, losing a third of its budget, managed to survive and moved steadily forward, but more slowly and without U.S. leadership.  U.S. NGOs, especially in science, ignored the withdrawal and maintained close relations, but American political leadership for most areas of UNESCO cooperation was paralyzed.

Israel-Arab Debates: The state of Israel came into being with the support of the United States and by a vote in the United Nations. With the creation of Israel, came the prototypical UNESCO problem. There have been three wars between Israel and its Arab neighbors, and the conflict has simmered for decades in the failure of the parties to find a solution recognizing the rights of Palestinians and Israelis as they view those rights. Points of conflict have included the intangible heritage of peoples, world heritage sites, importantly those in Jerusalem, the history of peoples, the ways in which children are taught in schools about the conflict, and the control of natural resources. Debates on the conflict have taken place in academia and the media. UNESCO’s efforts to promote a culture of peace, dialog among civilizations and dialog among religions all come to play.

Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Syria have been members of UNESCO since 1946, Israel since 1949 and Jordan since 1950, so the Arab-Israeli situation has been on the UNESCO agenda since the inception of the organization. (The Palestinian people have an observer status.) As the number of member states of UNESCO has increased, the Arab nations have added supporters from Africa and Asia in the UNESCO forums. The United States has been a continuing ally, sometimes in a small minority, of Israel in those forums. In general, the debate in UNESCO has been reasoned, and the parties amenable to finding solutions that were not destructive to the Organization and helpful to the parties. Yet the Arab-Israeli controversy has been a continuing preoccupation of the U.S. delegations to UNESCO.

Palestine was admitted as a member state of UNESCO in 2011,. When the Palestine Liberation Organization first proposed admission two decades before, the U.S. Congress put a "poison pill" into law calling for the United States Government to withhold its contributions to UNESCO were Palestine to become a member. In spite of the provision and after a contentious debate, the General Conference in an unusual split vote, did admit Palestine. Currently, contributions are being withheld.

While out of UNESCO: Although the United States was not a member of UNESCO between 1984 and 2003, U.S.-UNESCO relations did continue. There was a small State Department monitoring group, and many agencies of the U.S. Government continued in touch with the relevant UNESCO programs. Similarly, many U.S. non-governmental organizations continued to have strong interest in and  linkages with UNESCO. The State Department legal staff concluded that those UNESCO international conventions and agreements that the United States had ratified remained in effect, and they continued to be implemented.

Americans for the Universality of UNESCO was active during this entire period. Jack Fobes, an American who had been the Deputy Director General of UNESCO and later the head of the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, organized AUU with the dual purpose of advocating the return of the United States to UNESCO and of providing a source for information on and experience with UNESCO when it should be needed. AAU has since been renamed Americans for UNESCO, and continues in operation.

Reagan administration attitudes towards UNESCO continued quite negative after the withdrawal. In the latter part of the Clinton administration the State Department conducted a review of UNESCO which found significant improvements in its administration. Moreover, UNESCO Directors General Federico Mayor (1987-1999) and Koichiro Matsuura (1999-2009) had been seen as far more acceptable in terms of U.S. interests. It had been thought that the Clinton administration would call for reentry into UNESCO, but that did not happen.

The politics of East-West relations, North-South relations, and Israeli-Arab relations were all tangled in a complex web. The U.S. and the USSR would often be found on different sides of issues, such as those in relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors or the New World Information Order. Each sought allies in UNESCO debates from emerging nations.

Post 9/11: As the George W. Bush administration prepared for the invasion of Iraq after 9/11, the White House was searching for a positive initiative that the President could make in his major address to the United Nations General Assembly; reentry to UNESCO fit the bill. With both an initiative from a President at the height of his popularity and support from Democrats in Congress (notably Tom Lantos), reentry sailed through domestic politics.

Laura Bush
The Bush administration appeared to have an inconsistent approach to UNESCO. First Lady Laura Bush took an active role in the Organization, serving as an Honorary Ambassador for UNESCO, leading an important initiative in support of UNESCO’s literacy programs, and hosting a level meeting; a Laura Bush Travel Fellowship was created to be administered by the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. On the other hand, the reconstituted U.S. National Commission for UNESCO was limited to providing advice to the Bush administration, and then only on request for such advice. The long-standing U.S. Committee for the Man and the Biosphere Program was dissolved. The Bush administration was adamantly opposed to a proposed Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Heritage, casting a lone vote against the Convention and against the funding for the secretariat to administer the convention in the General Conference of 2005. Ambassador Louise Oliver also created a controversial policy that all contact between the UNESCO secretariat and U.S. based organizations were to pass through the State Department, reversing a long established policy of openness. On the other hand, UNESCO proved a valuable ally in promoting educational reforms in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the SESAME project was a valuable initiative establishing scientific linkages between Israel and its Islamic neighbors.
Jill Biden

The Obama administration was involved in the 2009 election, reputedly working behind the scenes to oppose the election of the Egyptian nominee who was on the record as opposed to cultural exchanges with Israel and who stated that he would personally burn any Israeli books found in Egyptian libraries. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Biden, herself an educator, has played a visible role in UNESCO higher education activities. There have been unprecedented reciprocal visits between the UNESCO Director General Bokova and Secretary of StateClinton, Ambassador David Killion has embarked on a move visible program with UNESCO, while the National Commission, which had languished in the latter days of the Bush administration is being revived and its mission expanded. UNESCO continues to play an important role in its fields of competence in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, indirectly supporting U.S. foreign policy interests in those countries. The Obama administration has requested that the law requiring that contributions be withheld from UNESCO (due to its admission of Palestine as a member state) be revised to allow the President to waive the provision if such funding is found to be beneficial to U.S. foreign policy objectives.

The number of Americans on the UNESCO staff, especially in senior positions was reduced in the  period in which the United States was not a member; that number has begun to increase, but the United States still has fewer staff members than its population would justify. Peter Smith, appointed Assistant Director General for the Education Sector shortly after the United States return to the Organization, proved controversial and he resigned from UNESCO in 2007. The second senior appointment of an American to UNESCO, Gretchen Kalonji the Assistant Director General for the Natural Science Sector, appears to be better accepted.

As this is written, the relations between the United States and UNESCO are again on rocky grounds. The United States iz withholding its contributions to the Organization. Some non-governmental organizations militate continuation of that policy. Non-governmental organizations have also militated against UNESCO awarding a science prize named for an African dictator, another topic that has come up in several recent meetings of the Executive Board. Withholding the U.S. 22 contributions to UNESCO has caused the Organization significant financial problems. If withholding continues, the United States will lose its vote in the 2013 General Conference.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova
Concluding Remarks: Today UNESCO has 195 member states and seven associate members, and an annual budget in excess of $500 million (in assessed contributions and extra-budgetary funds). This is a remarkably small and tight budget with which to fulfill its large and expanding mandate. Its staff includes some 2,000 people, about one-third of whom are located in 58 field offices around the world. Unique among U.N. agencies, there is a National Commission linked to UNESCO in each member state, including in the United States. There are UNESCO Centers with more or less direct connections to the organization, and networks of World Heritage Sites, Bioreserves, Geoparks and Wetlands catalyzed by and linked to UNESCO. There are also networks of UNESCO chairs in universities, some 3,700 UNESCO clubs around the world, and 8,000 associated schools.

Looking back over its first six decades—two of them without the United States – impressiveachievements can be attributed to UNESCO’s efforts. The prospects of world war with weapons of mass destruction have receded, perhaps in part due to UNESCO’s efforts to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men.

  • In education, consider worldwide progress has been made since 1946 in literacy, in school access and participation rates (Education for All), in science education, in the schooling of women and girls, in the free flow of cultural materials and books, in the upgrading of educational planning and analytic tools, in teacher training, in the growth of school libraries, in continuing education, in “non-formal” education, in the use of education media and information technologies, in improved educational statistics, in standardization of student credentials, and in the greatly increased international perspectives of most universities. 
  • In the natural sciences, UNESCO helped with the creation of the European Nuclear Center (CERN) where the World Wide Web was invented; UNESCO operates the Trieste Institute for Theoretical Physics; UNESCO’s oceanographic and hydrographic programs are mapping the Indian Ocean and building early-warning systems for tsunamis and producing agreements on interconnected water use and management; UNESCO supported the Human Genome Project (1997), the formulation of national science policies, science and technology education, the Man in the Biosphere project (MAB, 1970), and applying science and engineering to socio-cultural change. 
  • In the social sciences, the world has been forced to look more closely at human rights, reliable statistics, and the free flow of information; 130 nations have ascribed to the Convention on Doping in Sports. 
  • In culture, UNESCO’s flagship World Heritage Convention, introduced by the U.S. in 1972 after UNESCO led the celebrated rescue of the Abu Simbel monuments; member states have now voluntarily guaranteed the protection of 890 World Heritage sites around the world. UNESCO has labored for decades on a general history of Africa and on the documentation of Silk Routes between Asia and Europe.  
  • In communications, UNESCO has assisted in the growth of libraries (including the new Biblioteca Alexandria – a modern Alexandria Library) and book production and translations, while monitoring the growth of the Internet. It has become a major worldwide guardian protecting journalists and press freedom, trivializing the fears of 1983. UNESCO is beginning to face the social, educational and economic reasons behind the dangerous Digital Divide, is quietly looking into the intellectual roots of terrorism, and is attacking the idea of “clashing civilizations” through cross-cultural dialogue.
Millions of Americans each year visit sites in the United States and abroad that have been designated as World Heritage sites. American educators, scientists and cultural leaders continue to be involved in UNESCO programs. Networks catalyzed by UNESCO, such as its Associated Schools and University Chairs, include American institutions and individuals. Indeed, UNESCO’s influence extends far into American society.

American foreign policy tends to focus on security and economic issues. Our security these days requires promotion of a culture of peace, a dialog among religions, and understanding among nations – all UNESCO specialties, As Dick Arndt has written, cultural diplomacy is “the first resort” of kings. In that sense, UNESCO is a first resort in building international understanding valuable for both our security and our economy, albeit a resort that is poorly recognized not only by the public but by many American professional diplomats. American foreign policy is increasingly having to deal with what one might consider to be global systems problems, such as environmental degradation, communicable diseases, international migration. Here too, UNESCO is a valuable multilateral tool of our diplomacy

In sum, UNESCO is an enormously complex institution, both in its means and in its ends. No one fully masters all the intricacies of its history, its programs, and its operations, but students find it challenging and rewarding to attempt to do so. The United States was a central and influential player in its creation. Distinguished American intellectuals played an important role in the Organization in its first four decades. However, there were factions in the United States who opposed U.S. membership in the Organization, and those factions succeeded in the atmosphere of the early 1980s in convincing the Reagan administration to withdraw from UNESCO. Factions favorable to UNESCO, in the post 9/11 atmosphere, convinced the Bush administration to rejoin UNESCO. American participation in the Organization involved political officials in the White House and Congress, professional diplomats and government functionaries in many government agencies, leaders of non-governmental and private sector organizations involved in partnerships with UNESCO, and members of America’s educational, scientific, cultural and communications communities.


Anonymous said...

The UNESCO history demonstrates the great contributions the USA made since the foundation of UNESCO. It also bear the witness to the fact that the USA dare to withdraw its memebrship or funding when she perceives UNESCO is doing against her national inters. Other countries are more reluctan to do this. Perhaps, the USA's heavy involvement in world affairs and her strong belief that the Country is always right, both of which drives her less tolerant activities of other Member States or UNESCO actions which seem obviously to be agaist the interests or political positions of the USA. This is more true with the conservative politicians and administrations. American general public can nmore actively debate on what is meant by what aAmerican interests are in the changing world. The American National Commision can promote this debate. UNESCO should, in my opinion, should be more actively involved in this process.

Anonymous said...

The USA should never give a penny to UNESCO and should withdraw permanently forever. This power hungry utopian group dominated by the absurd Robert Muller's ridiculous ideas has destroyed Europe. The American general public debates the effects often about how UNESCO plays a dangerous roll in brainwashing our children with sustainability Marxist curriculum influences and the promoting of a one world government without borders. Europe is a mess. Islam can never be toned down like Christianity has been and now the army of Muhammad hacks citizens to death in broad daylight in London. May 23, 2013

John Daly said...

Obviously I disagree with the second anonymous comment. I suspect the writer is much more likely to promote brainwashing of children than is UNESCO, which has always played a role opposing propaganda in text books.

I find the prejudice against Islam expressed by that writer grossly objectionable. S/he ignores atrocities committed by Christians against Muslims, by Buddhists against Muslims and Hindus, by Hindus against Muslims, etc. We all have our prejudiced nuts!

Joanne Tawfilis said...

It seems to me that people who have not seen UNESCO in action out in the field and advocating, taking actions, initiating innovative projects, recognizing accomplishments and fostering education, promoting world heritage and cultural preservation, development and double downing efforts to ensure educational and scientific development efforts throughout the world continue, do not understand the role and the capability of UNESCO throughout the challenges it has faced since it's beginning. I am personally growing weary of all the criticism when there is so much work to be done and so little resources available. It will take all of us, individuals, groups, educational entities, non governmental organizations and more to repair the damage we have done to the earth and to humanity. Because we spend more time criticizing than coming up with positive ideas and actions we can only blame ourselves for building barriers versus taking them down or not constructing them at all; and to if we don't seriously teach our children about life through education, culture and science humanity will succumb to self destruction. If we could set aside greed, quest for power and fame and help one another, we probably wouldn't need a UNESCO. However, until that happens and people lay down their arms and attitudes, money that goes to support UNESCO is worth an investment? As for religion...if that could only stay as religion and a personal choice and stay out of politics all together, then governments could govern people and countries instead of slaughtering their neighbors...and that goes for all religions on all continents since the beginning of time as we know it.
I am glad there is an organization like this where real people who have experienced the suffering of so many out there do on a day to day basis exists. I am really frustrated with how UNESCO's mission continues to be threatened and held at bay because I have witnessed what it has accomplished with such inconsistent support and criticism.

Yes, I am an advocate, and yes, I believe in the organization and am very pleased to do work as a volunteer in support of its mission despite all.

Thank you John Daly for providing this opportunity to speak express our opinions, negative and positive!

John Daly said...

Thank you Joanne. I agree with your major point. I would point out that as improved communications and transportation systems bring us closer and closer together, national governments can't cope with all the problems created by people rubbing up against one another. We need to develop international institutions to help the national governments deal with the new challenges. UNESCO is one of them, and it is experiencing teething problems as might be expected with any new, complex institution.