UNESCO Meeting Sends Clear Message: Keep the Internet Free and Open

Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer delivers remarks at the WSIS+10 Ministerial Panel in Paris, France, February 25, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: David Killion serves as U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO.

The Internet is so much a part of our lives these days it can come as a surprise to learn how much Internet freedom is at threat around the world. Fortunately, Internet freedom received a major boost at UNESCO last week, thanks to the efforts of the United States and other likeminded participants at the first review meeting of the “World Summit on Information Society” (WSIS), called WSIS+10.

As U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO, I joined Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs Esther Brimmer to lead the U.S. delegation at UNESCO’s WSIS+10. This review meeting brought together governments, private companies, civil society groups and individual experts to discuss a whole range of Internet-related issues, from cyber-security to e-learning, and press freedom to e-business. The United States… more »

Nomination of Poverty Point State Historic Site to UNESCO World Heritage List

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 17, 2013

The United States is pleased to announce the nomination of Poverty Point State Historic Site and National Monument in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana for inclusion on the World Heritage List. This unique site features a vast, integrated complex of earthen monuments constructed more than 3,000 years ago by a vanished people who lived in the Lower Mississippi Valley. The nomination of Poverty Point will be considered for inscription by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in the summer of 2014. If approved by the Committee, this will be the first designated World Heritage Site in the United States since 2010, and would join the 21 sites in the U.S. already inscribed on the World Heritage List.

The UNESCO World Heritage List recognizes the most significant cultural and natural sites on the planet, and designation brings with it significant international attention and increased tourism. The United States was the prime architect of the World Heritage Convention, an international treaty created to promote conservation and preservation of important natural and cultural sites. There are currently 962 designated sites around the world, including such iconic places as the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal, Stonehenge, and the Grand Canyon. The World Heritage Convention, and U.S. leadership on matters related to natural and cultural preservation, is an invaluable multilateral tool to promote appreciation of important sites, protect endangered treasures, and support local economies through tourism.

Educating the Workforce of the Future

View of UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France, Sept. 19, 2009. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Paul Kruchoski serves as the Senior Education Officer in the Bureau of International Organization Affairs at the Department of State.

On May 13-16, I joined Assistant Secretary of Education Brenda Dann-Messier at the Third International Congress on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), hosted by UNESCO and the government of China. Over the course of four days, we heard from participants around the world about how important technical and vocational education is and what it can do to change people’s lives and transform economies.

Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong said that technical and vocational education is a key part of creating green development and supporting emerging and high-tech industries. As new industries emerge, we will need to prepare the global… more »

Why We Should Open SESAME

An object of the exhibition,

About the Author: Ambassador David T. Killion serves as U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO.

Next week I am going to a meeting in Switzerland for SESAME, which I happen to think is the most exciting and revolutionary scientific undertaking that practically nobody outside of the scientific community has ever heard of.

What is it and why do I think it is so radical and so important?

The first question is easy.

SESAME actually stands for ‘Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East’ and will be the region’s first major multi-country scientific research center. It’s being developed under the auspices of UNESCO and is scheduled to open fully in Jordan in 2015. When it is completed, SESAME will be the Middle East’s only source of so-called “high intensity synchrotron X-rays,” key building blocks for research into biology,… more »

Free The Press: Supporting Journalists Under Duress

Television crew works as monsoon clouds loom over Arabian Sea in Mumbai, June 20, 2005. [AP File]

About the Author: Tom Melia serves as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor.

On May 3, people worldwide will observe World Press Freedom Day, a UNESCO initiative.  They will gather in cities and towns, through workshops and seminars, to join in celebrating the universal right of free expression first enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights more than six decades ago.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of addressing the importance of free expression and a free press at the National Endowment for Democracy. I emphasized that a free press is the bedrock of a free, healthy and energetic society. It allows citizens to hold informed opinions, make informed decisions and lead informed lives. It keeps public officials accountable, provides outlets for healthy… more »

Celebrating International Jazz Day

Louis Armstrong, atop camel, enchants the ancient sphinx and pyramids at Giza, near Cairo, Egypt January 28, 1961. His wife Lucille, lower left, records the scene on film as the camel perks its ears in appreciation of the unusual concert. The Armstrongs are on a U.S. State Department sponsored Goodwill Tour of Africa and the Middle East. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: David Killion serves as U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO.

Back in the United States my colleagues at the State Department have long recognizedthe power of jazz as a means of connecting people. More than 50 years ago, the Department launched a landmark jazz diplomacy effort featuring American musical legend Dizzy Gillespie. Ever since then, jazz has been a continuing feature of U.S. cultural engagement programs. (See some great old photos here.)

Well, I am very proud to announce the latest chapter in the State Department’s “jazz diplomacy” program kicks… more »

UNESCO’s Role in Advancing and Promoting Peace
Ambassador David T. Killion, U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO, speaks with students about UNESCO's role in advancing and promoting peace, at the Montgomery Community College Takoma Park Campus in Maryland, in celebration of their International Peace Week on September 14, 2011. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: David Killion serves as the U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO in Paris, France.

On my most recent trip to the States, I had the pleasure of speaking to students and faculty on two campuses at Montgomery Community College in celebration of their International Peace Week. Montgomery College, with campuses in Takoma Park, Rockville, and Germantown, Maryland, serves nearly 60,000 students from more than 170 countries. It is certainly one of the most diverse community colleges in the nation —practically a mini-United Nations. I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with students about UNESCO’s role in advancing and promoting peace.

Through UNESCO’s cultural development programs, which strengthen cultural understanding through preservation and development activities, UNESCO is able to help promote pride in cultural heritage and respect of other cultures. The United States is a strong supporter of UNESCO, including these efforts.

The students… more »

UNESCO Youth Forum Finalists Announced
Screenshot of UNESCO Youth Forum YouTube videos, July 7, 2011. [State Department Image]

About the Author: Dr. Esther Brimmer serves as the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs

It’s not quite American Idol, but we think we have a pretty good contest heating up here at the State Department.

Every other year, before the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) holds its General Conference, the organization also hosts a youth forum, where delegates from around the world identify common concerns and shared experiences. The delegates, all of whom are under 24 years old, then deliver their suggestions directly to the UNESCO General Conference.

It is a unique opportunity for young people… more »

UNESCO Now Available on iTunes University
UNESCO collaborates with iTunes University, June 2011. [(©UNESCO/Ania Freindorf photo]

About the Author: Ambassador David T. Killion serves as U.S. Permanent Representative to UNESCO.

As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization, I’ve discovered that one of UNESCO’s biggest secrets is the extent to which American companies are keen to collaborate with this 193-member state organization. Since I’ve arrived, I’ve been impressed by the number of U.S. companies who have come knocking on our door, looking for introductions and support to pitch innovative forms of collaboration to UNESCO. This goes beyond good corporate citizenship; many companies see the value in UNESCO’s name recognition and reach, which they believe can help as they seek to enter new markets.

One of those companies was Apple, who came to see us last fall about a proposed collaboration between its widely… more »