Statement by the Director-General of UNESCO on Withholding of Funds by the United States

In this time of economic crisis and social transformation, I believe that UNESCO’s vital work to promote global stability and democratic values is in America’s core interests.

The United States is a critical partner in UNESCO’s work. The withholding of U.S. dues and other financial contributions – required by U.S. law – will weaken UNESCO’s effectiveness and undermine its ability to build free and open societies.

U.S. funding helps UNESCO to develop and sustain free and competitive media in Iraq, Tunisia and Egypt. In Afghanistan, U.S. support is helping UNESCO to teach thousands of police officers to read and write.  UNESCO literacy programmes in other areas of conflict give people the critical thinking skills and confidence they need to fight violent extremism. To sustain the democratic spirit of the Arab Spring, UNESCO is training journalists to cover elections objectively.

Across the world, we stand up for each journalist who is attacked or killed, because we are the UN agency with the mandate to protect freedom of expression. In Washington, earlier this year, I awarded the UNESCO Press Freedom Prize to an imprisoned Iranian journalist, Ahmad Zeidabadi.

UNESCO is the only UN Agency with a mandate to promote Holocaust Education worldwide. Using funding provided by the United States and Israel, UNESCO is developing curricula to ensure that the Holocaust is never forgotten. Last February I led a historic visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp with more than 150 political and religious leaders, mostly from Arab and Muslim countries.  I still recall the words of Dr. Mustafa Ceric, Grand Mufti of Bosnia, who said: “We must teach our young people in mosques, churches and synagogues what happened here.”

With U.S. support we put science at the service of people.  UNESCO is leading a global effort to expand an ocean-based tsunami warning system.  In January, this system saved tens of thousands of lives when a tsunami hit Japan.  In the Middle East, UNESCO’s Sesame Programme enables world-class research and builds scientific and cultural bridges between neighbouring countries, including Israel and Egypt.

The U.S. Government recognizes the value of all this work.  To quote the State Department: “U.S. engagement with UNESCO serves a wide range of our national interests on education, science, culture and communications issues…we will work with Congress to ensure that U.S. interests and influence are preserved.”

UNESCO is encouraged that the United States will maintain its membership in the Organization and hopes that a resolution to the funding issue will ultimately be identified. Until that happens, it will be impossible for us to maintain our current level of activity.

The announced withholding of U.S. dues owed for 2011 will immediately affect our ability to deliver programmes in critical areas: achieving universal education, supporting new democracies and fighting extremism.  So I call on the U.S. administration, Congress and the American people to find a way forward and continue support for UNESCO in these turbulent times.

 

Irina Bokova

2 November, 2011

VIDEO: UNESCO Director-General Statement on US funding cut

General Conference admits Palestine as UNESCO Member State

For its membership to take effect*, Palestine must sign and ratify UNESCO’s Constitution which is open for signature in the archives of the Government of the United Kingdom in London.

Palestine’s entry will bring the number of UNESCO’s Member States to 195.

The vote was carried by 107 votes in favour of admission and 14 votes against, with 52 abstentions.

Admission to UNESCO for states that are not members of the United Nations requires a recommendation by the Organization’s Executive Board and a two thirds majority vote in favour by the General Conference of Member States present and voting (abstentions are not considered as votes).

The General Conference consists of the representatives of the States Members of the Organization. It meets every two years, and is attended by Member States and Associate Members, together with observers for non-Member States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Each Member State has one vote, irrespective of its size or the extent of its contribution to the budget.

The General Conference determines the policies and the main lines of work of the Organization. Its duty is to set the programmes and the budget of UNESCO. It also elects the Members of the Executive Board and appoints, every four years, the Director-General.

* c.f UNESCO Constitution, Article XV, on “Entry into force”

The admission of Palestine to UNESCO

Below is the text of the speech made by Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, during the consideration of the item relating to the admission of Palestine as a Member State of UNESCO
Plenary session of the 36th session of the General Conference of UNESCO.
Paris, October 31, 2011

Ladies and Gentlemen,
The admission of a new Member State is a mark of respect and confidence.
This must be an opportunity to strengthen the Organization and not weaken it, a chance for all to commit once again to the values we share and not to be divided.
Let me be frank. As Director-General, it is my responsibility to say that I am concerned by the potential challenges that may arise to the universality and financial stability of the Organization.

I am worried we may confront a situation that could erode UNESCO as a universal platform for dialogue. I am worried for the stability of its budget.
It is well-known that funding from our largest contributor, the United States, may be jeopardized.
I believe it is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that UNESCO does not suffer unduly as a result.
I am thinking of those thousands of girls and women in Afghanistan, in Africa and around the world, who have learned to read and write, with the help of UNESCO.
I have in mind Khalida, a young Afghan woman from the Paktika Province, enrolled in a UNESCO training course, who said [I quote]:
“My family was hesitant at first about me joining this programme. But I have learned many new techniques and realized that, as an Afghan woman, I can work together with men and service my community.”
Khalida benefits from UNESCO’s work to enhance literacy in Afghanistan.
I am thinking about the illiterate policemen in Kabul, in Kandahar and other cities, who are learning to read and write to better protect their citizens, thanks to us.
I am thinking of the Iraqi education satellite channel that supports learning to Iraqi girls and boys, including refugees and internally displaced persons.
I am thinking of the hundreds of journalists around the world who are at this very moment harassed, killed or imprisoned, because they stand by the truth — UNESCO stands by them and speaks out for them.
I am thinking also about the stolen treasure of Benghazi, Libya, for which UNESCO was first to ring the alarm bell.

I am thinking of the millions of lives that may be saved by the Tsunami warning system we launched in the Indian Ocean on 12 October, in response to the 2004 natural disaster.
At this time, I know these thoughts are also on your mind.
The fabric of our societies can be easily torn and is long to mend. I am saddened by the possible loss of momentum and energy in UNESCO.
I cannot imagine we would let these women and men down.
UNESCO’s work is too important to be jeopardized.

Our Organization was created sixty six years ago to ensure that education, the sciences, culture and communication bring people together and foster a culture of peace.
This is our role as a specialized agency of the United Nations.
We are committed to taking our vital mandate forward. I appeal to you all to upkeep UNESCO’s ability to act.
In welcoming once again Palestine to the UNESCO family, let me state clearly that we need each and every member of this Organization to be fully engaged.

The admission of a new Member State is a mark of respect and confidence.
This must be an opportunity to strengthen the Organization and not weaken it, a
chance for all to commit once again to the values we share and not to be divided.
Let me be frank. As Director-General, it is my responsibility to say that I am
concerned by the potential challenges that may arise to the universality and
financial stability of the Organization.
I am worried we may confront a situation that could erode UNESCO as a universal
platform for dialogue. I am worried for the stability of its budget.
It is well-known that funding from our largest contributor, the United States, may be
jeopardized.
I believe it is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that UNESCO does not
suffer unduly as a result.
DG/2011/147 – Page 3
I am thinking of those thousands of girls and women in Afghanistan, in Africa and around the world, who have learned to read and write, with the help of UNESCO.
I have in mind Khalida, a young Afghan woman from the Paktika Province, enrolled in a UNESCO training course, who said [I quote]:
“My family was hesitant at first about me joining this programme. But I have learned many new techniques and realized that, as an Afghan woman, I can work together with men and service my community.”
Khalida benefits from UNESCO’s work to enhance literacy in Afghanistan.
I am thinking about the illiterate policemen in Kabul, in Kandahar and other cities, who are learning to read and write to better protect their citizens, thanks to us.
I am thinking of the Iraqi education satellite channel that supports learning to Iraqi girls and boys, including refugees and internally displaced persons.
I am thinking of the hundreds of journalists around the world who are at this very moment harassed, killed or imprisoned, because they stand by the truth — UNESCO stands by them and speaks out for them.
I am thinking also about the stolen

UJA Champions for Charity

UJA-Federation of New York is proud to announce its continued participation in Champions for Charity®, an annual holiday shopping benefit that raises funds for more than 70 nonprofit organizations.

 

Thursday, December 1 – Saturday, December 3, 2011

Americana Manhasset
Manhasset, New York

Wheatley Plaza
Greenvale, New York

Designate UJA-Federation of New York as your organization of choice to receive 25 percent of the pretax proceeds.

Register for your Champion Card.

You do not have to be present during the three designated days. Personal shoppers can help those who are out of town, need help with their shopping, or are not able to visit the shopping centers during the benefit. For more information about this complimentary service, please call 1.516.627.2277.

On behalf of the 4.5 million people that UJA-Federation and its network of beneficiary agencies help each year, thank you for making a difference.

For more information, please contact Felicia Solomon at 1.516.677.1856 or solomonf@ujafedny.org.

 

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UJA-Federation of New York is proud to announce our continued participation in Champions for Charity®, an annual holiday shopping benefit that raises funds for more than 70 nonprofit organizations.

Thursday, December 1 – Saturday, December 3, 2011

Americana Manhasset
Manhasset, New York

Wheatley Plaza
Greenvale, New York

Designate UJA-Federation of New York as your organization of choice to receive 25 percent of the pretax proceeds.

Register for your Champion Card.

You do not have to be present during the three designated days. Personal shoppers can help those who are out of town, need help with their shopping, or are not able to visit the shopping centers during the benefit. For more information about this complimentary service, please call 1.516.627.2277.

On behalf of the 4.5 million people that UJA-Federation and its network of beneficiary agencies help each year, thank you for making a difference.

For more information, please contact Felicia Solomon at 1.516.677.1856 or solomonf@ujafedny.org.


 

Protest ‘Palestine’ UNESCO Membership

To: UNESCO Dir Gen'l Irina Bokova
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42 people have taken part in this action. Please contact advocacy@myjewishtimes.com if you have any questions or concerns.

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Caron Monoxide Warning


WITH THREE-DAY HOLIDAY/SABBATH OBSERVANCES COMING UP, ORTHODOX UNION ISSUES WARNING AGAINST CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING FROM STOVES


The upcoming Jewish holiday season, which includes three 3-day periods in which stoves cannot be turned off, presents risks of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning in homes in which the holidays are observed according to halacha, Jewish law. The holidays occur Thursday and Friday, followed by Shabbat.


The holidays are Rosh Hashanah/Shabbat, September 29-October 1; Sukkot/Shabbat, October 13-15; and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah/ Shabbat , October 20-22. In each case, stoves cannot be turned off from the beginning of the holiday, on Wednesday evening, to the end of Shabbat.

The Orthodox Union’s Safe Homes, Safe Shuls, Safe Schools initiative issues warnings before holidays, such as Passover and Chanukah, when use of fire is part of the tradition. With the three-day observances, the risks of CO poisoning are now the area of concern. As part of the initiative, the OU urges families to replace their smoke/carbon dioxide alarm batteries prior to the holidays.

Examples of these risks occurred in the heavily Orthodox community of Teaneck, NJ during the two-day holiday (Wednesday-Thursday) of Shavuot in June in which 13 people were taken to hospitals Thursday morning with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning from stoves that had been on since Tuesday evening. Fortunately, the injuries were not serious and most of the victims were quickly treated and released.

The Teaneck fire department noted that the risk is intensified because modern houses are better insulated with fewer air leaks than in the past, and that with the air conditioning on, windows are kept closed.


The department has noted “a spike in carbon monoxide calls in the Orthodox community,” according to a reporter for the local newspaper, the Bergen Record.
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and potentially deadly gas. Because of the dangers, authorities in Teaneck met and came up with the following guidelines for carbon monoxide safety:

  • All homes must have working CO detectors. We recommend the electric plug in models with a display and battery backup. A basic unit is adequate however. We recommend at least one on each level.
  • NEVER HESITATE TO CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT IF YOUR ALARM GOES OFF! The fire department will respond quickly to check homes with multi-gas meters and remove the CO.
  • Your house should have the hood above your stove vented to the outside. A hood that vents back into the kitchen will not help reduce CO.
  • An alternate to the stove is an electric hot plate, UL listed, which has no flame, so does not produce CO.
  • An electric crock pot, UL listed, is another alternative, which is insulated and reduces the chance of someone burning themselves.
  • You should have a one foot non-combustible area around the stove and crock pot.
  • NEVER use an extension cord with these devices! They require too many amps and could cause a fire. The above devices should be plugged directly into an outlet.
  • If you must operate a stove, leave a window open near the stove at least one fist (approximately 4 inches), with a second window open at the opposite side of the house. This will allow some cross ventilation and a supply of fresh air.
  • An electric stove with a warming drawer is another solution. This would keep food warm without generating CO.
  • A future solution would be an electric stove that would turn on and off during the Sabbath and holidays as needed. The community is always looking for manufacturers who are willing to work with us.
  • This is not a complete list, only recommendations.
  • The OU recommends that for specific questions, contact a local Orthodox rabbi.