TOPIC: WOMEN

Mass Tourism: Bad for Culture but Good for Women?

FLORENCE, Italy — This month, Italy’s tourism season kicks into high gear. Florence, which receives more than 16 million tourists a year, is one of many cities to be marred by mass travel. In the famously picturesque Piazza della Signoria, groups plod through the cobblestoned square, shepherded by flag-waving guides. Vendors peddle selfie-sticks in broken … Read more

Sudan, the Enigma

KHARTOUM, Sudan — Arriving at the Khartoum airport near midnight, as I did a few weeks before the American presidential election, one is struck by the lineup of aircraft parked near the terminal. There is not a single Western airline among them, though one sees several from across the Arab world and parts of Africa. … Read more

Failing Public Schools Spur Global Boom in Private Education

Chinese Children

While governments bask in data showing that the development goal of universal access to primary education has largely been achieved, attention is turning to what that really means in the classroom. Educators and human-rights advocates question whether acceptable standards are being met in many schools, as evidence mounts of the proliferation of private education in … Read more

Another First for Candidates for UN Secretary-General? Tweeting

This is not your grandfather’s election cycle. Will this be the year a woman is elected to one of the highest political positions in the world? What’s up with the surprise candidate gaining unexpected momentum? Can any candidate truly blend the need for the best-qualified administration with gender parity? It is unequivocal that this year’s … Read more

BOOKS

What Can Save Unesco? Advice From an Insider

Founded in 1946 with noble goals, namely “to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the nations through education, science and culture,” the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) has in fact achieved considerable progress, above all in assisting its member nations in providing quality basic education for children, youth and … Read more

Saving Scholars Who Become Victimized in the Middle East

Khalid al-Asaad, an internationally recognized Syrian scholar of antiquities, was beheaded by ISIS on Aug. 18 for refusing to disclose the location of archeological treasures apparently removed for safekeeping from Palmyra, one of the Middle East’s most important archeological landmarks and a Unesco World Heritage Site in Syria. This latest tragedy inflicted by ISIS highlights the … Read more

A Peruvian Paradise, Sensitive to El Niño and Other Climate Effects

ICA, Peru — Located in the Pisco Province of the southern Ica region of Peru, the Paracas National Reserve is a Unesco World Heritage Site because of its rare natural diversity. Rich in marine life and wildlife, its unique ecosystem is one of the most biologically productive on the planet. Encompassing the Atacama Desert, the Pacific … Read more

Eastern Europe Presses Its Claim to the Secretary-General’s Office  

In 70 years of United Nations history, Eastern Europe has been the only regional group in the organization that has never filled the position of secretary-general. Western Europe has had three secretaries-general; Asia and Africa, two each; and Latin America and the Caribbean, one. The 23 nations of the Eastern European region, determined to win … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

Netanyahu’s Scorched-Earth Campaign Destroys US Plea for Bilateralism

Benjamin Netanyahu’s desperate 11th-hour election strategy has left in tatters the main United States argument for aggressively protecting Israeli interests in the Middle East peace process, a development that will most likely weaken the Obama administration’s already strained fervor for shielding Israel in international diplomatic battles. A new dynamic will surely surface in the United … Read more

Caribbean Nations Preserve a Complicated Heritage

DORADO, Puerto Rico — When Europeans first invaded the Caribbean beginning in the late-15th century — more by chance than by design — devastation soon followed. Local populations were decimated by diseases from another world, and native people’s doomed attempts to repel the fearsome strangers met with only more death. Within two centuries, the slave trade … Read more

The Noose Tightens on Money Flows to Jihadists in Iraq and Syria

The Russian-sponsored resolution to fight more precisely the financing of the Islamic jihadists who control swaths of Iraq and Syria passed unanimously in the United Nations Security Council recently, expressing the entire council’s dread, at least for now, of the two main protagonists terrorizing the region — Islamic State (ISIS) and Al Nusra Front. “We’re … Read more

Favela Girls Pirouette Out of Poverty in Brazil

FORTALEZA, Brazil — Bom Jardim, home to some 200,000 people, is one of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods in this city. Located at the southwestern tip of the metropolis, with long streets laid in a grid, the signs of poverty appear everywhere: cracked cement or none at all, half-built houses and other makeshift architecture … Read more

Islamists Systematically Destroying World Heritage Sites in Syria and Iraq

Beyond the horrific executions, the deadly assaults on Christian and Yazidi communities and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people fleeing towns to avoid their terror, fighters of the Islamic State movement sweeping through Syria and Iraq are deliberately demolishing or damaging ancient historical sites in some of the world’s oldest towns and cities. … Read more

Saving Timbuktu’s Manuscripts, One Ancient Page at a Time

Technicians working for Savama, digitizing the manuscripts.

BAMAKO, Mali — The deliberate burning of thousands of ancient manuscripts by the Islamic jihadists who seized Timbuktu and other parts of northern Mali in 2012 dealt an emotional blow to the culture and scholars there and far beyond. To add insult to injury, some of the manuscripts, which were destroyed in the Ahmed Baba … Read more

Millions of Children Remain Out of School, Many of Them Girls

Positive trends in education have been achieved in 17 countries, where out-of-school populations, one-quarter of the global total, have been reduced by nearly 90 percent since 2000, says a new report from Unesco. But with progress comes a sobering reality: the goal of universal primary education by 2015 will not be reached. Millions of children … Read more

It’s Time to Pay Teachers Better, Unesco Emphasizes

Teacher and class in Niger.

What can be done to educate the 250 million children, mostly in South Asia, West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, who lack basic reading and math skills by the time they reach adulthood? The answer to this global learning crisis, a new United Nations report says, is that governments must spend more money to provide quality education … Read more

The US, as Predicted, Loses a Valuable Vote at Unesco

Irina Bokova of Unesco

As predicted by PassBlue, the United States has lost its voting rights in Unesco, since it stopped paying its dues almost exactly two years ago because of a Congressional ban on support for any UN agency that gives full membership to the Palestinians. Unesco suspended American voting rights on Nov. 8, as well as those … Read more

The US Could Soon Lose Its Voting Ability at Unesco

Monticello, a Unesco World Heritage Site

The United States may be ineligible to vote in Unesco’s November elections to choose members of the agency’s executive board and the next director-general, among other major matters, because the US stopped paying its dues as a member in October 2011. Unesco, formally called the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is known for its … Read more

For UN Member Nations, ‘Vulnerability Is a Global Phenomenon’

Hassan Rouhani

The annual United Nations debate of the 68th General Assembly got off to a contentious start on Sept. 24 with pointedly worded but divergent speeches by Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, and Barack Obama, the president of the United States. The two countries traditionally kick off the annual debate, held every September in New York for … Read more

WORLDVIEWS

From Students, a Plea to Strengthen Unesco

A 13th-century Islamic manuscript in Mali

After witnessing devastation to cultural heritage sites during World War II, Unesco took it upon itself to protect such structures during conflict based on the idea that “damage to cultural property” means damage to the cultural heritage of everyone. So far, Unesco has largely failed at this goal. The Taliban in Afghanistan blew up ancient … Read more

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