Unesco round table

By EDRi · November 21, 2005

In the UNESCO high-level round table ‘Shaping the Future through
Knowledge’ on Thursday 18 November 2005 director-general Koïchiro Matsuura
presented the four main pillars of knowledge societies: respect for human
rights, especially for freedom of speech, universal access to information,
respect for cultural and linguistic diversity and quality education for
all. Those pillars have been described in detail in the recently launched
UNESCO report ‘Towards knowledge societies’. The report was prepared in
three earlier conferences organised by Unesco in 2005, described in
EDRI-gram 3.3 and 3.10.

The panel members were asked to reflect on the 4 mission goals. Improving
universal access to education turned out to be the most prominent concern
of the panel. Also the attempts to safeguard indigenous knowledge and the
preservation of small languages were highlighted as important goals. This
could only be achieved in a situation of solidarity.

MIT professor Nicholas Negroponte elevated the discussion with a
provocative statement that the world is heading towards a one language
society. In his opinion language is about communication and not about
preservation. This was not his personal wishful thinking, he said, but his
expectation of unavoidable logic. This opinion met with severe criticism
and concern. Major event of the round table however was Negropontes
presentation of his project to create a one hundred dollar laptop for
every child in developing countries. This technological innovation should
bring down financial barriers and was applauded loudly.

Unesco report ‘Towards knowledge societies’ (04.11.2005)

Report about UNESCO conference St. Petersburg (24.05.2005)

Two Unesco conferences on internet and human rights (09.02.2005)

MIT FAQ about the 100 dollar computer (October 2005)

(Contribution by Jos de Haan, member of the Dutch Unesco delegation)