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SHSviews 14
UNESCO Social and Human Sciences Sector Magazine
Dossier: International Migration / Bioethics in Latin America / Interview: Monique Ilboudo – September-November 2006 (English | Français | Русский)
SHSviews 14 Collective intelligence in action

Ethics, racism, poverty, human security, international migration, etc., SHSviews regularly delves into all these topics, and issue no. 14 is no exception. There is an assessment of UNESCO’s contribution to the fight against poverty (pages 8 to 12); a dossier on international migration (pages 16 to 26); and a presentation of the Organization’s programme for social development.

Why UNESCO, and why, within the Organization, the Sector for Social and Human Sciences? What is their niche, their added value, their distinctive contribution? The questions may sometimes be asked maliciously, but they are in fact unavoidable, positive and fruitful.

Only by answering these questions can a precise meaning be given to the strategic concern to ensure the contribution of policy-oriented research to human rights-focused understanding and management of social transformations. The concern is all the more crucial, and all the more delicate, that, even within the extensive scope of UNESCO competence, there are hardly any areas that do not fall within the purview of the social and human sciences.

The fundamentally cross-cutting nature of the social and human sciences can give rise to symmetrical temptations to handle everything or to leave everything to others. Hence the need to establish, rigorously, the role of moderator, facilitator, interface.

Intersectorality within UNESCO, the place of UNESCO within the United Nations system, the role of international organizations within the international system: at each of these levels the issue arises of balancing complexity of thought with efficiency in action.

International migration, which is covered by the dossier of this issue of SHSviews, is a case in point. Migration can be understood only as a “total” phenomenon, which touches the economy, work, demographics, culture, development and geopolitics, and operates at the level of whole continents. Yet no one has the practical capacity or legal mandate to deal with its full complexity. It is thus crucial that every action, however small-scale, should be set within an overall perspective that reflects the collective intelligence of all actors.

Emphasizing the rights of migrants by no means exhausts the issue of migration as it concerns the social and human sciences. It is, however, an angle that enables SHS to make its distinctive contribution to the action of the United Nations, while supporting overall consistency. For the best way to scale back the complexity of migration – and thereby make it impossible to manage –is to consider migrants solely as labour power, or as victims of persecution, or the bearers of cultural difference… or as potential criminals. In fact, there is only one respect in which migrants are “all the same”: as the bearers of the rights that serve to define their social participation.

Without comprehensive intelligence, interventions by the many competent actors encourages fragmentation, duplication and inefficiency. Conversely, it is when the most complex phenomena are best understood that the multiplicity of contributions can give rise to synergy. This balance is precisely what gives the social and human sciences their two-fold legitimacy.

Pierre Sané
Assistant Director-General
for Social and Human Sciences

UNESCO Moscow Office and bioethics
Bioethics and Human Rights – exemplary campaign in Latin America
Ethics education: training and teaching
Two Pan-African conferences on bioethics

Human Rights
Cities against racism – 4 regional coalitions before 2007
2nd Human Rights Forum in Nantes

The fight against extreme poverty – an intersectoral challenge for UNESCO
INTERVIEW – Monique Ilboudo: "poverty is disregard for human rights", also available in HTML format

Human Sciences
World Philosophy Day 2006
Modernity and the historian’s perspective
Portuguese-speaking world: new link-up for the human sciences
Rio and Paris on the “Paths to Dignity”

Social Transformations
DOSSIER – A new era for international migration
A programme of Forums to help social development
First Regional Forum of Ministers of South Asian States
World Urban Forum 3 a success
Urban research – a seminar to interpret new trends

Just Published
Urban policies and the right to the city – a reference work on the Net
Back to the city centre
In poor districts some words hurt
International Social Science Journal
Le feu domestiqué : Usages et pratiques dans l’architecture mondiale
Africa and the 21st century


Click here to download SHSviews in PDF format.
Author(s) UNESCO - Sector for Social and Human Sciences
Periodical Name SHSviews
Publication date 2006-09
Publisher UNESCO
Publication Location Paris
Number of pages 32 p.

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