Unit Twelve: International Organizations
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
I was interested to see that this organization has a 3 tier model for its operations which include: Society, Members and Profession. It's the Society Pillar that I find most interesting particularly since I have recently been doing research for another class which advocates using libraries as an information warehouse for community services. So I was pleased to that IFLA also advocates this (on a larger scale of course). I was also happy to see that many parts of the site are available in multiple languages.
I was also interested in the World Summit on the Information Society. IFLA's participation in the World Summit included articles/speeches on Using Libraries to help bridge the digital divide:
Christine Deschamps, President of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) called for the forthcoming UN World Summit on the Information Society to recognise that libraries had a key role in tackling the growing "digital divide".
She pleaded that world leaders should avoid ‘re-inventing the wheel’. Instead they should concentrate investment in the existing library network. "A relatively modest investment in technology, training and content would work wonders in making information and knowledge available to the information poor", she said.
I agree that there is no sense in reinventing the wheel - existing infrastructure and resources should be used. This also addresses the role and place of the library in the future since many people wonder if its usefulness will fade with so much information being available online. I say NO. Let libraries evolve WITH the technology, not in spite of it.
International Organization for Standardization
I, for one, am glad that this somewhat invisible organization exists. While I hate to be regulated, if there were no standards, nothing would work. What if you had to buy a new cable for every connection for every computer? Suppose your new computer did not have a slot for your printer? It really does make our lives easier to have these standards even if we only notice their absence and rarely their presence.
Despite the fact that I had been previously made aware that the ISO has standards on non-technical items like wine glasses, I was incredibly surprised to see that they plan to release a new standard in 2008 on Social Responsibility. They intend to clearly define what it means for a company to be Socially Responsible. I wonder what impact this will have on the oil industry and others that can negatively impact the environment? Apparently there will be no certification from the ISO to prove that your company is 'socially responsible' but I'd be willing to bet that companies that meet the guidelines will advertise as such to gain good PR if nothing else.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
Building peace in the minds of men? Could there be a more daunting task? While I applaud their efforts, my first assumption has to be that whatever they are doing it's not working - just look at the state of the world. That's not to say that they aren't doing great things - they are. They are aiming at the "eradication of poverty, especially extreme poverty; and the contribution of information and communication technologies to education, science, culture and information and the construction of a knowledge society." All noble goals.
Since I know someone who is leaving today to go to the Sudan to help eradicate guinea worm, I decided to look and see what programs UNESCO has in Sudan. It seems they've had a lot of success in the area of heritage preservation. They have also made strides in education despite the violent climate there. Overall, I think this is a great organization that does good things but, unfortunately, I don't think they will ever reach their goal of 'building peace in the minds of men.'
World Intellectual Property Organization
This agency, part of the UN, is an organization "which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest." Intellectual Property can be a confusing topic and this website is a tremendous help in deciphering just what is intellectual property as well as other issues surrounding it, such as geographical indication (Roquefort cheese from Roquefort, France).
I was surprised to find an extensive section of the site dedicated to women. I was not that surprised, however, to learn that the US does not have many female inventors. According to this website of country rankings the US lags behind in many important areas, such as:
- Gender Equality (#17)
- Gay Rights (the US got off to good start here but we've moving backwards)
- Obesity (30+%)
- the Environment (#33)
- Quality of Life (surprisingly the US didn't make the top 10 here)
The above link gives the Wikipedia article about the European Union. This link, however, gives more specific information particularly for those living and working within it. I particularly liked the section that explains the rights of citizens, workers, travelers, etc. I found this to be very helpful since I have not traveled to Europe since the European Union came into being. Every possible question I could have about entry and passage between countries, etc was all explained in plain English for me. Since this site is available in many languages (I presume every official language spoken in all EU countries) it would also be useful for EU citizens to learn the new rules as well. Sites such as this are almost mandatory when making changes of this magnitude so that everyone can stay informed of how the new system works.
While not exactly an organization, Geneva Conventions are, of course, a world standard (or at least ratified in 194 countries). I found this site to be of particular interest since I don't think I've ever read the actual conventions but only had a (more than vague) idea of what they contained. Article 3 is of particular interest in today's political climate. It seems fairly straight forward to me that the US has been consistently violating this article for the past several years. I don't find it vague at all although Pres. Bush seems to. IF you don't feel like reading through all the legalese of the actual Conventions, the Society of Professional Journalists have made an online quick reference guide.
Maybe a little odd for this week's topics but... I thought some POW movies might be in order...
The Bridge on River Kwai
The Great Escape
...and on a lighter note, this old TV show always made me laugh..
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