Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Palestinians hope for US reserve over UNESCO funds

LONDON (AP) — The Palestinian foreign minister said Wednesday he hopes the United States can be persuaded to reverse its decision to cut funds to UNESCO now that the U.N. agency has voted to give the Palestinians membership.

Riad Malki told The Associated Press in an interview that several countries are lobbying the U.S. over the withdrawal of the funds and that talks are planned between U.S. officials and UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

Following the Oct. 31 vote that made Palestine a member of the Paris-based U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, two U.S. laws kicked in that halted the flow of funds to the agency, forcing it to scale back literacy and development programs it carries out in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the new nation of South Sudan.

The United States contributes $80 million annually in dues — 22 percent of UNESCO's overall budget — and its 2011 contribution was not yet in when the laws took effect, immediately throwing UNESCO into crisis.

Read more, here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cash-strapped French wine town forced to sell off monuments

SAINT EMILION, France (AFP) ― Residents of Saint Emilion, a hugely popular UNESCO World Heritage site in southwest France, were shocked when their mayor sold a medieval monument to pay off debts.

And while the council has defended the controversial sale as a means of raising much-needed cash for the upkeep of historic sites, it has undertaken to rethink the strategy and find alternative means of funding in future.

“Saint Emilion has a very rich medieval heritage but that leaves them with a lot to do and they don’t have the resources,” was how Francois Gondran, the state architect responsible for Bordeaux and Saint Emilion, explained the sale of the 14th century Cordeliers cloister, home to a sparking wine producer.

“What are expensive to maintain are the ramparts, 80 percent of which date from the Middle Ages. They are very expensive to restore and difficult to access. It involves a lot of man-hours.”

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

UNESCO World Heritage Guide App free for one day

The UNESCO General Conference adopted the World Heritage Convention on 16 November 1972. In the 40 years since then, 936 sites have been inscribed on the World Heritage List and 188 countries have committed to preserving this heritage for future generations.

To launch the celebration year, UNESCO is happy to make the following offer:UNESCO World Heritage Guide App free for one day

What can you do with the app?

Use the UNESCO World Heritage app to explore all the World Heritage sites at home or while on your travels, choosing your favourites and marking them off as you visit them.
The app is published by HarperCollins Publishers and developed by Aimer Media in partnership with UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Why Wikipedia Is as Important as the Pyramids

On July 31, 2007, an old Japanese silver mine known as Iwami Ginzan was declared by Unesco to have “outstanding universal value” and added to the World Heritage List alongside Stonehenge and the Pyramids. Local Japanese were bewildered. Abandoned in 1923, the site now consists of little more than a hole in the ground.

Fast-forward four years. At the Wikimedia Conference in March, a German coalition proposed that Wikipedia become the first digital World Heritage site. A petition was drafted, declaring Wikipedia “a masterpiece of human creative genius.” Unesco was not impressed. A spokeswoman suggested that Wikipedia apply for something called the Memory of the World Register.

Never heard of that before? Recent inductees and applicants include the Stockholm City Planning Committee Archives, the Benz patent of 1886, and Autochthonous Ethnic Music of the Caucasus on CD-ROM.

Read the rest of the article, here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Unesco Accepts Palestinians as Full Members

PARIS — Palestine became the 195th full member of Unesco on Monday, as the United Nations organization defied a mandated cutoff of American funds under federal legislation from the 1990s. The vote of Unesco’s full membership was 107 to 14, with 52 abstentions.

Read the whole article, here.