A meeting of national committees of the UNESCO Information for All Programme was held in Moscow on December 7–8. A first-ever meeting of the kind, it was great success. The meeting was organized by the Intergovernmental Council for IFAP, the UNESCO Secretariat, the Russian IFAP Committee and its working body – the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre of – with support of the Commission for UNESCO and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.
Taking part in the meeting were the s and representatives of the most active national IFAP committees – of Austria, Chile, China, Cuba, France, Germany, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Lithuania, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Slovakia and Thailand, and of Moldova, whose IFAP Committee is being established. English and Russian were the working languages.
Grigory Ordzhonikidze, Executive Secretary of the Russian Commission for UNESCO, greeted the meeting at its opening session on behalf of Sergei Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia. Ekaterina Chukovskaya, Secretary of State and Deputy Minister of Culture, greeted the meeting on behind of Alexander Avdeyev, Russia’s Minister of Culture.
Karol Jakubowicz, Chair of the Intergovernmental Council for IFAP; Boyan Radoykov, Programme Specialist, Information Society Division, UNESCO Communication and Information Sector; and Evgeny Kuzmin, Chair of the Russian IFAP Committee and President of the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre were moderators of plenary meetings.
The first plenary meeting opened with presentations of the national IFAP committees.
Evgeny Kuzmin made a survey of Russian IFAP Committee work, and Committee members made detailed communications on its basic aspects:
- Vyacheslav Yudin, deputy head, Department of Legal Information, Spetzsvyaz of the Russian Federation – The Establishment of a Network of Legal Information Access Centres in Russia
- Irina Mironova, Vice-President, Codex legal information consortium – The Business World’s Contribution to the Implementation of UNESCO Information for All Programme in Russia
- Nadezhda Zaikova, First Deputy Minister of Culture, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) – The Preservation of Linguistic Diversity and Its Development in Cyberspace: Yakut Experience
- Ekaterina Kudrina, Rector of the Kemerovo State University of Culture and Arts – The Kemerovo State University of Culture and Arts as the Siberian Heart of Implementing UNESCO Information for All Programme
- Natalya Gendina, Director, Research Institute of Information Technologies in the Social Sphere, Kemerovo State University of Culture and Arts – The Research Institute of Information Technologies in the Social Sphere as the Vehicle of IFAP Ideas
- Valery Ponomarev, Vice-Rector of the Kemerovo State University of Culture and Arts – UNESCO Information for All Programme in the Mirror of Arts.
The 2nd plenary meeting discussed national committees’ activities. The gathering pointed out the administrative and institutional specifics of every country, its economic, social and cultural development, and its progress toward the harmonious information society of equal opportunities as decisive influences on the role of national IFAP committees in their countries’ policy of building information society.
The national committees differ in:
- structure and personnel strength;
- closeness to, or distance from the ruling body, institution and/or company under which the committee works;
- organization of activity;
- work methods and principles, amount of funding and finance sources;
- practical priorities;
- integration into the national policy of building information society.
Despite major organizational, administrative, economic and political differences in their work, the national IFAP committees share major challenges – in particular, search of sources for project and expert remuneration funding, enhancing the publicity of the committees and the entire Programme, and extending the information of decision-makers in information, communications, education and culture about IFAP ideas and achievements.
A heated discussion of draft regulations of the IFAP national committees came to the conclusion that it took time, patience and enthusiasm to establish a relevant national committee in any country and make it effective – required efforts were no less for the unique intergovernmental scope and rights of UNESCO Information for All Programme.
In this connection, all participants stressed the importance of stepping up information exchanges about practical achievements, work forms and methods, and available and blueprinted projects. They highly appreciated the Moscow meeting for the opportunity of such exchanges. Many speakers called to make such meetings regular, and appealed to national committees to initiate them on their own. There was also a proposal to establish a network of IFAP national committees.
The meeting participants unanimously recognized the Russian IFAP Committee as the most effective of all.
On the second day, the participants divided in two ad hoc teams for more detailed discussions of the agenda. Divina Frau-Meigs (France) and Srisakdi Charmonmen (Thailand) were moderators, and Verena Metze-Mangold (Germany), Niv Ahituv (Israel) and Ludovit Molnar (Slovakia) speakers.
There was a lively opinion exchange on IFAP in both ad hoc teams and at the final plenary meeting. The discussion concerned the present state of UNESCO Information for All Programme, its place in UNESCO policies and activities, its implementation prospects, enhancement of multilateral partnership on the Programme, its funding, publicity and effectiveness. The meeting also discussed the problems and prospects of implementing the template for national information society policies and strategies. Elaborated under Mr Jakubowicz’s leadership, it is meant to help UNESCO member countries with making a framework of relevant policies.
An official report summarizing the discussions will be submitted to the meeting of the Intergovernmental Council of the UNESCO Information for All Programme in Paris, March 2010.
The cultural programme of the meeting included a concert of Chopin, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Schumann by brilliant pupils of Professor Irina Shubina of the Moscow State Pedagogic University – Irina Levina, Inna Zakharova and Evgenia Sardaryan – all winners of national and international piano contests.
The meeting included a gala reception sponsored by Xerox Russia on behalf of the Russian IFAP Committee.
The Russian IFAP Committee and the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre had prepared a Russian- and English-language information and analytical press kit for the meeting. It covers the implementation of UNESCO Information for All Programme in Russia since 2000, and materials pertaining to the meeting agenda. The Kemerovo State University of Culture and Arts and its Research Institute of Information Technologies in the Social Sphere published the booklet UNESCO Information for All Programme in Siberia in Russian and English for the meeting.
The meeting was accompanied by an exhibition of publications by the Interregional Library Cooperation Centre, the Russian IFAP Committee and their partners.
The meeting demonstrated once again the interest of Russia and UNESCO in closer cooperation on IFAP and other lines.
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The UNESCO flagship Information for All Programme reflects the Organization’s response to socio-cultural, ethical and legal problems, consequences and beneficial opportunities that arise in a stormy process in which information society is emerging worldwide.
The UNESCO Executive Board adopted the 2008–2013 Strategic Plan for IFAP a year ago, with Information for Development, Information Literacy, Information Preservation, Information Ethics and Information Access as top priorities. In his address to the meeting, Alexander Avdeyev, Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, described these priorities as “areas of progress, relying on which UNESCO member countries could move on toward the harmonious information society”.
Russia has been active in implementing UNESCO Information for All Programme ever since its adoption in 2000. The work of the Russian IFAP Committee has earned high appraisals by top national and UNESCO authorities on many occasions. In particular, Mr Koichiro Matsuura, then UNESCO Director General, said in a letter to President Vladimir Putin: “The active and fruitful activity of the Russian Committee of UNESCO Information for All Programme to promote this intergovernmental UNESCO programme in Russia and the neighbouring countries has won international acclaim and deserves every support.”
During his latest visit to Russia, Mr Matsuura said that the Russian Government was rendering exemplary support to UNESCO Information for All Programme, and called other countries to emulate.
The recent 35th session of the UNESCO General Conference elected Russia to the Intergovernmental IFAP Council for a second time, which implies great responsibility.
Many federal and regional agencies have supported the Russian IFAP Committee ever since its inception. Of special notice is assistance by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, under whose aegis the Committee was established in 2000.
For more information about the implementation of UNESCO Information for All Programme in Russia, address website http://www.ifapcom.ru, for the Interregional Centre of Library Cooperation, http://www.mcbs.ru.
First meeting of the national committees of UNESCO Information for All Programme: photo reportage