Submitted On Behalf Of The Officers
Pierre L.-J. Ritchie, Secretary-General
The Union’s relationship with UNESCO is complex and multi-faceted. It involves direct relationships with UNESCO sectors pertinent to psychology as well as via the International Council of Science (ICSU) and the International Social Science Council (ISSC). For example, IUPsyS Officers meet periodically with senior officials of UNESCO’s Social Science sector. However, under the current UNESCO Framework Agreement governing relations with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), a substantial part of the ongoing work is carried out by ICSU and ISSC. In particular, UNESCO funding of special and research projects has been channelled through ICSU and ISSC.
As a result of the importance of UNESCO’s mandate to the mission of IUPsyS and because of the funding UNESCO has provided to Union special and research projects, the Officers meet periodically with a range of UNESCO officials. In the current biennium as in the 1996-98, this responsibility has been anchored in the President(d’Ydewalle) with active support from the Secretary-General (Ritchie) and the Treasurer (Sabourin). The most recent meetings occurred in April, 2000 in conjunction with this year’s Officers meeting. Typically, these meetings occur at a time when one or more of the Officers is already in Paris or near-by to maximize the cost-effectiveness of such activities.
The accompanying documents convey some sense of UNESCO priorities relevant to the Union. What does not emerge from these documents is that UNESCO itself is undergoing a potentially important transformation. The new Director-General has received a clear and strong mandate from the nation states which govern UNESCO to re-establish budgetary order and greater fiscal control in UNESCO’s administration. It is expected that funding of external projects, such as those of the Union, will bear a disproportionate share of the negative impact of UNESCO’s budgetary restraint, at least in the short-term. Both ICSU and ISSC as well as the Union itself are working vigorously to attenuate the scope of the reductions.
As a result of the current Framework Agreement with NGOs approved by the UNESCO General Conference in 1995, greater weight and importance was accorded umbrella organizations (e.g., ICSU, ISSC) to represent the interest of discipline based NGOs (e.g., IUPsyS). For example, it is the umbrella organizations which have the standing of Consultative Relations. UNESCO has come to recognize that in some instances that previously strong relations with some discipline based organizations have been inadvertently weakened. In the Officers’ 1999 and 2000 attendance at UNESCO, meetings were held with officials of the Division of Organizational Relations. As a result of this and similar representations, UNESCO is proceeding to a ‘re-classification’ of its relationship with some NGOs. Hence, the Union is submitting a new package of information to the Division of Organizational Relations to enable IUPsyS to benefit from this change. The Framework Agreement itself is under review and to be modified in the coming biennium.
Because of the special importance of the UNESCO’s Cultures of Peace initiative, during their April, 2000 consultations, the Officers met with the senior official in the Office of the Director-General responsible for this area as well as with the Director of the Human Rights, Democracy and Tolerance sector of the Social Sciences and the Director of the Unit for Peace and New dimensions of Security. These discussions highlighted the current and potential contribution of psychology. These meetings were facilitated by Diane Bretherton, Chair of the Union’s Committee on the Psychological Study of Peace who is working closely with UNESCO on these matters. It is anticipated that the Union will shortly sign the Manifesto 2000 agreement of the Cultures of Peace programme and consider other projects to contribute to this global initiative.
Details on specific UNESCO funded projects may be found in other reports related to activities sponsored by either ICSU and/or ISSC. Similarly, UNESCO’s 1999 World Science Conference is also reported separately.
It is expected that the coming quadrennium will continue to present challenges for the Union’s relationship with UNESCO. It is already known that at least the current biennium will be a difficult one as budgetary reductions are absorbed. Whether a more profound re-organization will emerge is unknown at this time. It is clear that it remains an important part of the international educational and scientific community. Its policies and procedures continue to have the potential for positive impact on a global scale. Notwithstanding certain disappointments and frustrations for an organization such as IUPsyS in coping with the vast UNESCO bureaucracy, the Union is well served by the modest efforts made to better inform UNESCO directly about our experience and our pertinence. As the entire United Nations system addresses the increasingly important role of civil society, UNESCO over time will likely reflect the outcome of reforms which are only now beginning to receive serious consideration.