Courtesy Reuters

Yardstick for Unesco

NO ONE who has followed closely the development of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization can fail to catch the sense of promise and latent strength which this agency communicates. But it is no less true that UNESCO's work is at an extreme pitch of confusion. Its projects are indescribably multifarious. There are several hundred of them (no one can say how many), some of first importance, some absurd -- a conglomeration defying summary. The program seems a huge catchall of internationalist schemes, chosen or rejected for no reason which is comprehensible even to most delegates at UNESCO conferences, let alone to the general public.

In many quarters the agency is beginning to pay the most severe penalty which can be exacted from a public body -- it is not being taken seriously. Nor can this be written off merely as evidence of "anti-intellectualism" by the press and the public; some of the other specialized agencies of the United Nations formulate their programs in terms much more abstruse without provoking such a response. A not unfriendly commentator recently dismissed UNESCO with the good humored verdict: "that organization in search of a purpose." The regularity with which supporters of the agency, at conferences and in committees, begin their deliberations by addressing themselves to the very question of what it is supposed to be doing, suggests that the remark all too accurately locates the point at which UNESCO now finds itself after about three years' work.

The easiest explanation for the confusion into which the agency has fallen, and the one most often advanced, is "poor administration." It is true that the form of the budget leaves much to be desired. The $2,000,000 allocation for General Administration seems an undigested lump, and recommendations for a "program budget" make out a good case for change. Moreover, the division of UNESCO's activities into the general fields of Natural and Social Science, Philosophy and the Humanities, Education, and so on, more or less arbitrarily adopted

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