UNESCO Pledges To Support France In Saving, Restoring Notre-Dame Cathedral

Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. RANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP


The United Nations’ cultural agency said Monday that it “stood at France’s side to save and restore” Notre-Dame cathedral, “a priceless heritage” which erupted in flames earlier in the afternoon.

Audrey Azoulay, secretary general of UNESCO, said the agency was monitoring the effort to put out the blaze, which consumed the iconic church’s spire as flames spread across the roof.

READ ALSO: Fire Guts Notre Dame Cathedral In Paris

Notre-Dame was added to UNESCO’s world heritage list in 1991, Azoulay added in a tweet.


UNESCO Adds Reggae Music To Global Cultural Heritage List

Reggae music, whose calm, lilting grooves found international fame thanks to artists like Bob Marley, on Thursday won a spot on the United Nations’ list of global cultural treasures.

UNESCO, the world body’s cultural and scientific agency, added the genre that originated in Jamaica to its collection of “intangible cultural heritage” deemed worthy of protection and promotion.

Reggae music’s “contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual,” UNESCO said.

The musical style joined a list of cultural traditions that includes the horsemanship of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, a Mongolian camel-coaxing ritual and Czech puppetry, and more than 300 other traditional practices that range from boat-building, pilgrimages and cooking.

Reggae emerged in the late 1960s out of Jamaica’s ska and rocksteady genres, also drawing influence from American jazz and blues.

The style quickly became popular in the United States as well as in Britain, where many Jamaican immigrants had moved in the post-WWII years.

It was often championed as a music of the oppressed, with lyrics addressing sociopolitical issues, imprisonment and inequality.

Reggae also became associated with Rastafarianism, which deified the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie and promoted the sacramental use of ganja, or marijuana.

The 1968 single “Do the Reggay” by Toots and the Maytals was the first popular song to use the name, and Marley and his group the Wailers produced classic hits such as “No Woman, No Cry” and “Stir It Up.”

Jamaica applied for reggae’s inclusion on the list this year at a meeting of the UN agency on the island of Mauritius, where 40 proposals were under consideration.

“Reggae is uniquely Jamaican,” said Olivia Grange, the Caribbean island nation’s culture minister, before the vote.

“It is a music that we have created that has penetrated all corners of the world.”


UNESCO Lists Korean Buddhist Temples As World Heritage Sites

This undated handout photo released by UNESCO on June 30, 2018 via Yonhap shows the Seonamsa temple in South Jeolla province. Handout / YONHAP / UNESCO / AFP


Seven ancient Korean mountain temples, which typify the way Buddhism in the country has merged with indigenous beliefs and styles, were listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites on Saturday.

The seven mountain temples — Seonamsa, Daeheungsa, Beopjusa, Magoksa, Tongdosa, Bongjeongsa, Buseoksa — were all established during the Three Kingdoms period that lasted until the 7th century AD.

UNESCO made the announcement at a meeting in the Bahraini capital Manama.

“These mountain monasteries are sacred places, which have survived as living centres of faith and daily religious practice to the present,” UNESCO said in a press statement.

Buddhism was imported to the Korean peninsula in the fourth century and accepted by the ancient kingdoms of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla, establishing it as the national religion for more than 1,000 years.

During the religion’s heyday in the fifth and sixth centuries many houses of worship were built under strong state patronage, accelerating the importation of Buddhist culture, architecture and style.

Over time elements of traditional Korean beliefs merged into the religion, forming the Tong Buddhist doctrine, meaning consolidation or integration, and temple architectural layouts followed suit.

Buildings were constructed in supposedly auspicious locations and many temples set up in hilly areas, in line with the traditional Korean reverence for mountains and the Zen focus on meditation in a calm environment.

Temples were built on high positions protected by hills and commanding an open view over other mountains.

A typical mountain temple has a long winding entrance path up the slope, buildings laid out in a square with an inner courtyard in the middle.

The most important hall is on the highest level at the back, and halls for meditation, everyday living areas for monks, and a pavilion form the other three sides.

But Buddhism’s influence began to wane after the Chosun dynasty, which took over in the 14th century, adopted Confucianism as its ideology and launched an extensive and enduring crackdown on the religion.

It forced many urban temples to close, leaving only those in remote hills to survive.


Saudi Arabia, Oman Sites Added To UNESCO World Heritage List

Delegations attend the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) 42nd session of the world heritage meetings in the Bahraini capital Manama, on June 29, 2018.  AFP


UNESCO added Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahsa Oasis and Oman’s ancient city of Qalhat to its World Heritage List on Friday, the world cultural body said.

Authorities in Riyadh, as well as Muscat, have put tourism high on their economic agendas as Gulf states look to diversify their oil-dependent economies.

Saudi Arabia’s lush Al-Ahsa oasis is dotted with yet-to-be-excavated archaeological sites and carries traces of human occupation dating back to Neolithic times.

Al-Ahsa “was a commercial centre for the Hajar territory of Bahrain,” reads the Saudi submission to UNESCO.

“Archaeological evidence shows that it exchanged products from southern Arabia and Persia as well as throughout the Arabian Peninsula.”

Riyadh’s tourism drive, backed by reformist young Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has not shied from highlighting pre-Islamic heritage in the conservative Muslim kingdom.

Oman’s Qalhat also dates back to pre-Islamic times.

The port city on Oman’s Indian Ocean coast was once a key hub for trade in goods including Arabian horses to Chinese porcelain, according to the Omani submission.

The case of Qalhat also demonstrates the power women could hold in Arabian society at the time.

“In the 13th century … the governor Ayaz split his presence between Hormuz and Qalhat, which in his absence was ruled by his wife Maryam,” the submission reads.

“She, Bibi Maryam, is said to have built the Great Friday Mosque and a mausoleum for her late husband. She continued ruling after her husband’s death until at least 1319.”

The World Heritage designation is a prestigious one for the Gulf states, looking to make their mark as culturally rich, safe tourist destinations.

The UNESCO gathering in neighbouring Bahrain, however, comes at a sensitive time for the world body as it scrambles for funding following Washington’s withdrawal last year.

US President Donald Trump’s administration pulled out of UNESCO citing its continuing “anti-Israel bias”, six years after the organisation allowed the Palestinians to join.

Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO said Tuesday he was urging his government to reconsider its decision to quit the body, saying it had halted its “anti-Israeli resolutions” over the past year.

Israel To Withdraw From UNESCO Along With U.S.

Israel will withdraw from the UN’s cultural and education body after a United States decision to do the same on accusations of bias against the Jewish state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday.

“The prime minister instructed the foreign ministry to prepare Israel’s withdrawal from the organisation alongside the United States,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Netanyahu “welcomes the decision by President (Donald) Trump to withdraw from UNESCO. This is a courageous and moral decision because UNESCO has become the theatre of the absurd and because instead of preserving history it distorts it.”


Trump UNESCO Pullout Means ‘New Era’ At United Nations – Israel

US President Donald Trump. SAUL LOEB / AFP

Israel’s UN ambassador on Thursday said Washington’s decision to pull out of the world body’s culture and education agency showed there was a “price to pay for discrimination against Israel”.

Ambassador Danny Danon said in a statement the decision marked “a new era” at the United Nations, after the US State Department said the United States had decided to leave UNESCO, in part due to “continuing anti-Israel bias”.

UNESCO, which is best known for producing the list of World Heritage sites that includes the Grand Canyon and other US attractions, has been the scene of diplomatic flare-ups in recent years after Arab countries succeeded in passing a number of resolutions critical of Israel.

Read Also: US Withdraws From UNESCO

In May, Israel was infuriated by a resolution identifying it as “the occupying power” in the disputed city of Jerusalem and calling on it to rescind any move changing the city’s “character and status”.

The text denounced “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem”.

Danon said: “Today’s decision is a turning point for UNESCO. The organisation’s absurd and shameful resolutions against Israel have consequences.”

Washington opposes any move by UN bodies to recognise the Palestinians as a state, believing that this must await a negotiated Middle East peace deal.

US President Donald Trump’s administration is reviewing many of its multilateral commitments, pursuing what he calls an “America First” policy.


US Withdraws From UNESCO

Casualties Mount In Trump's First Eight Months
US President Donald Trump speaks to the National Association of Manufacturers in Washington, DC, September 29, 2017.

The United States announced Thursday that it will withdraw from the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization, accusing the body of “anti-Israel bias.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Washington would establish an “observer mission” to replace its representation at the Paris-based agency.

The United States was angered in 2011 when UNESCO members granted Palestine full membership of the body, despite opposition from its ally Israel.

Washington opposes any move by UN bodies to recognize the Palestinians as a state, believing that this must await a negotiated Middle East peace deal.

But US President Donald Trump’s administration is also reviewing many of its multilateral commitments, pursuing what he calls an “America First” foreign policy.

Nauert said the State Department had notified UNESCO’s outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova of their decision earlier Thursday.

“This decision was not taken lightly, and reflects US concerns with mounting arrears at UNESCO, the need for fundamental reform in the organization, and continuing anti-Israel bias at UNESCO,” she said in a statement.

“The United States indicated to the director-general its desire to remain engaged with UNESCO as a non-member observer state in order to contribute US views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms and promoting scientific collaboration and education.”

UNESCO, 30 Nations Partner On Sustainable Environment

UNESCO, 30 Nations Partner On Sustainable Environment

The growing concern about issues arising from climate change on a daily basis across the globe has brought the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and more than 30 countries together for the Fifth General Assembly of Man and Biosphere (MAB).

Representatives from 28 African countries, Germany and Belgium led by the Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences at UNESCO, Dr Flavia Schlegel, converged on the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.

The Fifth MAB Assembly seeks to find solutions to the myriad of environmental problems confronting many African countries, as a result of mismanagement of natural reserves and the consequent catastrophic results on man and the environment.

In her address, Dr Schlegel said UNESCO would take the lead to rehabilitate and strengthen the resilience of the Lake Chad basin systems.

Dr Flavia Schlegel

She said the development would create a transboundary biosphere reserve and world heritage site between Nigeria, Chad, Cameroun, Niger, and the Central African Republic.

The Minister of State for Environment, Mr Ibrahim Jibril, on his part, believes the issues of climate change are real and scary.

He, however, said the Federal Government was fully supporting projects aimed at balancing the conflicting goals of biological diversity conservation, as well as promoting human development while maintaining associated cultural values.

Also addressing a gathering at the end of the weeklong assembly, the Executive Director of Forestry Reserve Institute of Nigeria, Dr. Adeshola Adepoju, said the project was critical to the African continent. as it aligns with the global agenda 2030, sustainable development goals 13 and 15 which relate to conservation, preservation and sustainable use of biosphere.

Adepoju said it aligns with the global agenda 2030; Sustainable Development Goals 13 and 15, which he said relates to conservation, preservation and sustainable use of biosphere.

Other speakers at the meeting are confident that decisions at the Assembly would enhance bio-reserve conservation and management, and also reduce poaching of rare species of plants and animals within reserves in Africa.

UNESCO Adds 21 Sites To World Heritage List

The ancient Iranian city of Yazd, a sacred Japanese island where women are not allowed and Greenland’s sub-arctic farming landscape Kujataa were among the 21 sites included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List at a session in Krakow.

Other sites located in Poland, Russia, French Polynesia, United Kingdom and Germany where added to the list.

An ancient shrine in the occupied West Bank was declared a Palestinian heritage site, prompting Israel to further cut its funding to the United Nations.

UNESCO designated Hebron and the two adjoined shrines at its heart – the Jewish Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Muslim Ibrahimi Mosque – a “Palestinian World Heritage Site in Danger”.

Isreali Ambassador Blasts UNESCO Over Jerusalem Vote

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations cultural heritage body UNESCO on Tuesday blasted the organisation’s involvement in a resolution vote regarding the country’s sole claim to Jerusalem and its Old City, one of the world’s most sacred sites to Jews, Muslims and Christians.

The resolution, a document seen by Reuters TV, said it aimed to “safeguard the cultural heritage of Palestine and the distinctive character of East Jerusalem” and reaffirmed that all legal and administrative decisions taken by Israel concerning the status of the Holy City were “null and void and must be rescinded forthwith”.

The resolution, which is renewed periodically, passed with 22 votes for and 10 against with 23 abstentions and three absentees out of 58 member states.

Israel regards all of Jerusalem, including the predominantly Arab east captured and annexed in 1967 as its “indivisible capital” – a claim not recognised internationally.

The Western Wall is part of the compound revered by Jews as Temple Mount, the site of two biblical Jewish temples and the most sacred site in Judaism. Muslims, who refer to the site as the Noble Sanctuary, regard it as their third holiest place, home to al-Aqsa mosque – a flashpoint of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and the Dome of the Rock shrine.

Under a long-standing arrangement, reflecting religious and political sensitivities and security concerns, Israel bars Jewish prayer at the holy site.

Palestinians want the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip for a future state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Obasanjo Admonishes Nigerian Youths To Do Right Thing At Right Time

Olusegun Obasanjo, PDP, Party, Ali Modu SheriffA former President of Nigeria, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, has asked Nigerian youths to do the right thing at the right time, if they wanted to be good leaders in future.

He gave the admonition on Wednesday at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, at a youth empowerment programme organised by one of the arms of the library, the Centre for Human Security.

The event was organised in conjunction with UNESCO Institute for African Culture and International Understanding and Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers, Nigeria, and it attracted 400 pupils from 16 secondary schools across the South West, such as Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, and Osun among others.

It has the theme “Empowering the youth for a sustainable future”.

Respect Constituted Authority And Law 

The former President, who spoke to the pupils on ‘The Obasanjo 20 golden rules for young leaders in the 21st Century’, was represented at the occasion by a former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Universities Commission, Professor Peter Okebukola.

He enumerated further that for the pupils to become good leaders, they must have respect for constituted authority and rule of law.

Professor Okebukola said: “Other golden rules that will help you to be good leaders are: Always set good examples for others. Be a good team player, accept your mistakes and learn from it. Have respect for time and treat everybody with respect, especially the elders.

“You must embrace philosophy of life and core values that are of high standards, which borders on honesty, loyalty, hard work and obedience. You must be bold, courageous, and firm.

“You must think Nigeria and work for Nigeria’s unity, development and progress, and say ‘we’ instead of ‘I’. Show care for public property. Always remember to say thank you and please and have the fear of God and be prayerful”.

He later spoke to the pupils on the topic: ‘From Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals’, telling them that Nigeria performed woefully on the MDGs.

Professor Okebukola further urged the youth to contribute their own quota in achieving the SDGs, which would lapse in 2030.

While he noted that the workshop was aimed at raising crop of young people that would be responsive to the actualisation of the 17 SDGs, which he pointed out involved living a life that would be beneficial for the generations yet unborn.

The workshop also witnessed sessions on financial education, dangers of drugs abuse and abstinence from youth related health risks.

Nigeria Commits To Reducing Number Of Out-Of-School Children

Nigeria On Out Of School ChildrenThe Federal Government says Nigeria is committed to reducing the number of out of school children by the year 2030.

The declaration follows prediction by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that Nigeria may not achieve the Sustainable Development Goal for education by 2030.

This was revealed in a report launched on Monday in Abuja by the Minister of Education, Mr Adamu Adamu, at a gathering of experts, government officials and other key players in the education sector.

The Global Education Monitoring Report for 2016, prepared by UNESCO, stated that Nigeria might not achieve universal primary education until 2070.

The report examined how countries would achieve the target and also checked the present status of countries on education globally and where they would be by 2030.

The Director at UNESCO’s Abuja Regional Office, Benoit Sossou, called for increased access to quality basic education as a way of addressing the problem.

Mr Adamu, however, reaffirmed that the Federal Government was committed to ensuring Nigeria meets the 2030 target by reducing the number of out of school children.

On his part, the Minister of State for Education, Professor Anthony Anwukiah, also insisted that the 2030 education agenda is achievable with the concerted efforts of all Nigerians.

The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) had in August expressed worry over the number of out of school children in Nigeria.

The Executive Secretary of UBEC, Dr. Hamid Bobboyi, raised the concern at a meeting with Heads of State Universal Basic Commissions across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

He said that increasing the number of children in schools was a priority for the Federal Government, stressing that there was no justification for any child not to be enrolled into the basic education scheme.