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MOST Newsletter No. 4/5
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MOST Newsletter
No. 4/5 - October 1995
also available in
French and in Spanish

Table of contents

Beijing Declaration calls Nations to Action

Women's Rights are Human Rights
(point 14 of the Beijing Declaration)

Poverty of women got the first rank on the list of the 12 critical areas of concern of the Platform for Action at the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing (4-15 September 1995). The 150 page official document points out that, amongst more than a billion people in the world living in unacceptable conditions of poverty, over 70% are women.

The document states that one of the major causes of poverty is the uncertain global economic climate, and economic restructuring. As UNESCO has been advocating for decades, development is now recognized as a comprehensive process that goes far beyond mere questions of economic growth, which is an engine and not an end in itself. Development is first and foremost social, intimately linked to peace, human rights, democratic governance, environment and also culture and life styles of people.

To help women to combat poverty, the Platform has requested all governments to review and modify macro-economic and social policies towards the full and equal participation of women. All governments are to incorporate a gender impact analysis of their policies and programmes. Therefore, in the framework of UNESCO´s MOST Programme, evolving conceptual approaches and practical methodologies for incorporating gender perspectives into all aspects of social and economic policy-making, including structural adjustment plans, is an important concern. Furthermore suitable statistical means to recognize and make visible the full extent of the work of women and all their contributions to the national economy should be devised.

Another important issue is to sensitize Governments to commit themselves to establish the goal of gender balance in governmental bodies and committees, as well as in public administrative entities and in all governmental and public administration positions.

The Platform says that the human rights of women and girls are inalienable, indivisible and integral part of universal human rights. Hence, urgent action should be taken to prevent and to eliminate all forms of violence against women, violence which is exacerbated by social pressures and often a consequence of the lack of adequate legislation. In this field especially, media can have a great impact.

Moreover, promoting women's contribution to fostering a culture of peace, involving their participation in the evaluation of the impact of armed conflict on women and children has been stressed.

Major emphasis also is placed on the explicit recognition and reaffirmation of the right of all women to control all aspects of their health and fertility: conditions which are basic to their empowerment.

Stressing that education is a basic human right and an essential in achieving equality, development and peace, the Platform demands equal access to education and to encouraging non-discriminatory education and training for girls and boys, including vocational training, in science and technology.

To safeguard the role of women as producers, reproducers and conservationists, and in promoting environmentally friendly, sustainable development policies, the influence of women is regarded as paramount.

In tackling these challenges and implementing the Platform of Action, UNESCO has a vital role to play.

Francine Fournier,
Assistant Director General for Social and Human Sciences, UNESCO



The second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT II), will take place in Istanbul, Turkey, from 3 to 14 June 1996. This " City Summit " will concentrate on the future of cities, since, twenty years after the Vancouver conference (HABITAT I), the urban population is now the majority on the world scale. Within this context solidarity and citizenship must replace social exclusion and marginalization by integrating fringe populations and territories in crisis, particularly by strengthening citizens actions.

Istanbul: the site of Habitat II

UNESCO's contribution aims at highlighting the variety of actions for solidarity and the daily combat against exclusion. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas, experience, discussions and reflection on new forms of solidarity required by society, around three areas:

  • To assert solidarity: centred on measures for economic and social integration, a pedagogy with new ways to achieve solidarity will have to be developed.
  • Compare national and local experience: emphasis will be put on ways of establishing partnerships and participation so that lessons can be drawn and new measures to support policies for the solidarity initiatives can be identified.
  • Compare international initiatives: the objective will be to identify the keystones of the synergy of international initiatives with national and local policies.

The contribution made by the Organization to the City Summit will include:

  1. A meeting of experts entitled " Towards the city of solidarity and citizenship " (11-12 October 1995);
  2. A public round table with the internationally known French periodical Urbanisme (11 October 1995);
  3. A special issue of the International Journal of Social Sciences (February 1996, no. 147) entitled " Cities of the future: managing social transformations ";
  4. A special issue of the UNESCO Courier (May 1996);
  5. A round table during the HABITAT II, in Istanbul, on " Democracy and Citizenship in the city of the twenty-first century ";
  6. Exhibition on " Inner-city revitalisation " (Lisbon, Spring 1996);
  7. A series of videos on the " Wisdom of traditional cities ", at HABITAT II, in Istanbul.

News from Projects

The APMRN - Migration and population research

In their meeting of June 1995, the MOST Scientific Steering Committee approved a project proposal for an Asia Pacific Migration Research Network. The central focus of this project is the long-term role of migration and increased ethno-cultural diversity as major factors in the social transformation of the societies of the Asia-Pacific Region. The aim is to build an international research network which will carry out interdisciplinary research on social and political aspects of international migration and growing ethno-cultural diversity in the region. The work will be carried out by partner institutions or networks in Thailand, Indonesia, Fiji, Singapore, PDR China, Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Japan, and Australia, which is the co-ordinating country. The project will build research capabilities, develop empirical knowledge, further theoretical and methodological work in the social sciences and provide broadly-based and reliable information and options for policy-makers and immigration authorities at the national and international levels. The network should achieve long-term sustainability after the initial five-year period.

This project has four stages which will carry it from years 1995 to 2000. The following activities have begun during Stage 1.

  • Stage 1: Preparatory & Network Building: International Workshop of all participating bodies, to plan the Network, establish a detailed workplan; Information on the project and development of co-operative relations with national governments, appropriate international organisations, NGO's community organisations; Exploration of international and national funding sources for future work, start of E-mail network, World Wide Web page and APMRN Newsletter; A review of literature and an annotated bibliography for each country; An Issues Paper, on urgent policy and research issue in each country.

  • Stage 2 will run from around 1 October 1996 to 31 December 1997 and will focus on Capacity Building and Review of Knowledge.

  • Stage 3, from 1 Jan. 1998-31 Dec. 1999 will undertake Empirical Survey Research and

  • Stage 4, from 1 Jan. 2000 to 31 Dec. 2000 will focus on the comparative analyses of results and policy development.
Throughout the project, researchers will consult with policy-makers in all the countries, and provide input to policy making-processes. With UNESCO-MOST, the network will also begin an Asian Migration and Ethnic Relations Working Papers Series, training activities for migration researchers and research users at various participating institutions, and development of degree courses for migration researchers.

During the Global Diversity Conference held in Sydney in April 1995, Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating expressed belief in the need for international co-operation in matters of cultural interaction and the effects this will have on states and nations in the future. The final statement, adopted by the participants, mentioned the MOST Programme as one of the vehicles for the follow-up of the Conference. The APMRN will contribute to deepening our understanding on such issues.

Sustainable Cities - Research Project

A Colloquium on Socially Sustainable Cities, organized jointly by the Montreal Inter-University Group Villes et développement and the Centre for Urban and Community Studies of the University of Toronto, will take place in Toronto and Montreal from 15 to 18 October 1995. This meeting is financed by the MOST programme, the Canadian Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and the Quebec Ministry of Cultural Communities and Immigration. Researchers from cities in both developing and developed countries will discuss the project design and plan of action of this MOST project which will involve some 10-12 cities, a large-scale international research project that will seek to identify indicators and policies that would assist cities to achieve sustainable social development, particularly in the area of the following six themes: urban land and housing; social infrastructure and public services; social and cultural policies; urban transport and accessibility; employment and economic revitalization; governance. More detailed our information in the next issue.

The City Words Research Project (PIR-Villes-CNRS)

Designed and co-ordinated by the Pir-Villes network, " city words " is a comparative study of the linguistic concepts used in city registers. During its first phase of work a

system of 'markers' was devised that lead to a choice of eight families of words to be used in the design of a survey in a later phase of the project: generic names of the city; administrative divisions; parts of urban terrains; types of construction; open corridors and spaces; displacements; buildings and places structuring urban space; urban interventions and transformations (renovation, rehousing, etc.).

Three themes have been chosen for a seminar to be held in October 1995:

1. Scholarly and everyday language: the various languages recorded, including vernacular use as well as scholarly and technical lexicons and especially urban, administrative or policy texts.

2. Changes and transformations in the use of language: through transfers and contacts with other cultures, inventions, adaptations, and the consequences of bilingualism and translation among development specialists.

3. Language reform: voluntary interventions, state interventions, language academies, academic societies or professional organisations on city words.
Jean-Charles Depaule & Francis Godard (Pir-Villes)


Agricultural Production and Industrialisation:
A Comparative Historical Analysis of Development Patterns of Argentina, Bolivia, Viet Nam, Thailand, Algeria, Benin, Madagascar, and Turkey

HOST Network
(See " Economies et Sociétés, No. 6, 1995, Presses universitaires de Grenoble).

This publication is the first comprehensive volume of results springing from work of the History and Observation of Social Transformations (HOST) network. The authors reconsider existing economic and social theories of change that have influenced 3 decades of development strategies in countries of the South. Rejecting blanket approaches to development paradigms that make no explicit reference to concrete situations or to specific contexts, this volume deepens our knowledge of the long-term effects of development and of those economic social and cultural variables which help explain its success or failure.

Self-directed development is increasingly prevalent in a world where interdependence continues to reveal daily the frailty of models of endogenous growth or of economies turned inward upon

Global models predicated on the demands of globalization advocate a Utopian and socially disastrous balancing act with respect to structural adjustment policies or deliberately protectionist designs. Sectoral and step-by-step models highlight the dynamics of a particular economic sector likely to trigger progress in an efficacious linking of trade and job creation. Regional or subregional models lay emphasis on the coherence to be maintained in respect to particular areas. Financial and monetary models insist less on the dichotomies between the productive and the monetary spheres and more often focus on the need to harness the volatility of the latter so as to create wealth. Too few of these models incorporate the long term perspective or the diversity of cultures.

The eight papers presented in this issue provide the first base for an overall assessment of particular growth patterns. They endeavour first to determine the main components of growth patterns in general and of the changing relations between agriculture and industry within a long time-frame. Moving beyond the national setting, they also assess the extent to which these patterns are independent of, or dependent on, international contexts and globalization. Finally, they attempt to identify the link - very often disregarded in development theories - between economic development and social development.

Patterns of growth: the relations between agriculture and industry

The first objective of the papers presented in this issue is to distinguish the characteristics of growth patterns over a sufficiently long period so as to be able to comprehend the salient features of the contemporary situation. In Thailand as in Argentina, in Bolivia as in Viet Nam, the state of the relations between agriculture and industry profoundly marks the transformation of social systems.

For nearly a century and a half, growth in Thailand (A. Mounier, K. Kaewthep, V. Charoenloet - Forms and phases of Thai industrialisation in a historical perspective) has been marked by the affirmation of a strong national identity untouched by colonisation and by an incontestable nationalism favouring authoritarian rulers, whether military or monarchic. In spite of the Kingdom's marked openness to the outside world since the 1930s and the unequivocal emergence in recent years of a development based on external trade, the public authorities still demonstrate a desire to maintain a pattern of growth in which agriculture continues to play a dual role, namely, as a formidable reservoir of labour, which accounts for the development of salaried employment, and as a means of ensuring the permanence of models of social organization inherited from peasant traditions. The contribution of agriculture to national growth cannot therefore be reduced to its sole capacity to increase production or productivity.

By describing national growth patterns over nearly two centuries, Jorge Schvartzer (J. Schvartzer - Paradoxes of Argentine (under) development) shows, for his part, how the country is still marked by landed property structures that are chiefly based on the latifundia and are export-oriented. While Argentina sets great store on its rural culture, its relatively early industrial development, largely induced by growth in exportable production, was founded on a salaried immigrant labour force. That being so, there have been no major social transformations or the countryside. Industrial and urban development has thus not been a transition from a rural to an urban society, but rather the city has become joined to the countryside through immigration. From the outset, Argentine industry tended to function with an expensive labour force with little development of the techniques and financial resources needed to replace this labour force by machines. The chaotic industrialisation of the country bears the mark of this sectoral disintegration. If, in some periods of its history, Argentine industry seems to have 'taken off', the constant opposition of agricultural interests based on the exploitation of the resources of the pampas has brought the development of the manufacturing sector back to more modest proportions.

With very different beginnings, growth patterns in Bolivia and Viet Nam illustrate the effects of the separation of agriculture and industry. Julio Prudencio and José Antonio Pérez (J. Prudencio and J.A. Pérez - Bolivia: patterns of growth (1870-1994) show how the growing difficulties met - notably from the 1970s onwards - on foreign markets by the mining sector have jeopardised the survival of agriculture, which was closely linked to it. The agricultural sector, mainly in the hands of the peasantry, has seen its ties with the mining industry severed and its capacity to become integrated in the financial system radically reduced. The colonization of Amazonian lands, aimed especially at relieving over-crowding in Andean agriculture, has favoured the development of a food industry. Export-oriented, it also enters into competition with peasant agriculture on the high Andean plateaux. Deprived of outlets, the latter has turned towards drug production and has increasingly migrated towards the urban centres. The North-South development axis, built around the mining and latifundium economy, has been replaced by a new East-West axis formed by the tenuous thread of agri-food exports and imports of consumer goods for the affluent urban classes.

In Viet Nam the influence of the colonial regime, combined with the international conflicts that have been waged successively on its soil for nearly 50 years, has profoundly disturbed relations between agriculture and industry. Broken up, rearranged and pieced together again, the national territory bears the mark of these divisions. As Bui Huy Khoat notes (Bui Huy Khoat - The main characteristics of the socio-economic development of Viet Nam from the mid-nineteenth century to the present), today's society has inherited an economic, social and political structure shaped more by war than by socialist principles of organization and economic strategy. The current open-doors and reform policies are resulting in a more rapid transition in the south than in the north. High population growth, the reconstitution of the peasant economy and the privatisation of the economy seem to be going hand in hand with the influx of foreign capital. These developments may help to produce a pattern of growth very similar to that followed by other countries in the area. But this fast transition may also undermine the basic principles of socialist organization and contribute to the rapid destruction of an agriculture which has been mobilised and exposed all too soon to the constraints of crash industrialisation and internationalisation.

National growth and external constraints

Unlike the global historical analyses appearing in the first part of this volume, the second part centres on the present economic situation and development strategies adopted by Algeria, Turkey, Benin and Madagascar.

The picture drawn by H. Aït Amara (H. Aït Amara - The course of long-term economic growth in Algeria) of the present Algerian economic situation shows the failure of an agriculture-based development model which was already proving critically defective in the 1930s. He also shows that this failure led independent Algeria to try to replace it by a model founded on industrialisation through the stepping up of oil revenue and the creation of expanding demand. Benefiting between 1967 and 1984 from sustained investment generated by oil exports and external loans, this process would however never have been able to become 'self-supporting'. The drop in the price of oil products and the increasing debt burden now attest to the limits of this choice. In the 1980s, external constraints contributed to internal destabilisation. They revealed the main flaws in a model which could not hold its own in the face of international competition exacerbated by the world-wide economic crisis. Domestically, the dependence of the economy on capital goods and intermediate goods highlighted the shortage or unwillingness of national capital to finance the creation of productive infrastructure, the low rate of input-output flows and the difficulties of a peasant economy incapable of playing a part in replenishing cities. The process of industrialisation now seems to be seriously questioned, especially since Algeria never really freed itself from its economic and political dependence.

S. Kançal (S. Kançal - Turkey's long journey to the 'Wealth of Nations') shows how the effects of the 1929 economic crisis forced modern Turkey to adopt a particular development model. Heralded in the 1920s by institutional and cultural reforms, 'accelerated State capitalism' may be seen as one of the first examples of a growth strategy oriented towards the domestic market and involving import-substitution industrialisation, a mixed economy with a large public enterprise sector and State control of the economy. Maintained until the 1980s, the power of the State was hardly weakened in the Second World War and indeed, from the 1960s on, it was bolstered by military intervention. The Kemalist philosophy of the mobilisation of society under the leadership of the State, in order to make up for lost time, was reaffirmed. It was only in the 1980s that external constraints seemed to oblige Turkey to change course. Under pressure from the IMF and OECD, a new economic programme was established with the aim of reducing direct State intervention in the economy and gradually leaving resource distribution under the sway of market mechanisms. After nearly 50 years of autonomy, has not Turkey simply been overtaken by international constraints? In its role as a promoter of the market economy, the Turkish State is revealing its limitations in the face of a new and undeniable upsurge of interdependence and globalization.

The two exploratory notes prepared in the form of a first outline survey by the teams from Benin (Agricultural production or international trade) and Madagascar (Residues of tradition in the economic crisis of Madagascar) raise the problem of the specificity of growth patterns in very different terms. Benin, a country with many ethnic groups, and porous borders, has never really been turned in upon itself. Its extreme permeability has led it, at certain moments in its history, to profit from world instabilities to the point of sometimes neglecting the development of its own productive activities. Despite its agricultural traditions and its commercial skill in benefiting from international or cross-border trade, it has proved incapable of building its own industrial infrastructure. Because of this stance, it has so far avoided traditional patterns of economic development while experiencing incontestable material growth.

On the other hand, the recent economic difficulties besetting economic growth in Madagascar and reducing the island to a state of extreme poverty reveal the vitality of an informal economy operating with other objectives and purposes than the standard economy. The object of the Malagasy team's initial analysis is to describe these realities which are often obscured in periods of strong growth. Focusing on the present period, this working paper is more concerned with the scale assumed by the parallel economy than with its origins and development. Modifying the balance between town and country, affecting price formation, spreading to wherever more formalised systems have failed, the informal economy appears to be not so much a global alternative to development models as a rediscovery of the modus operandi characteristic of pre-industrial economies.

Coton spinning in Benin

In spite of the wealth of observations contained in these two guidance papers on Benin and Madagascar, analysis of the specific periods and patterns of economic growth in Africa remains a challenge yet to be met by the research network. Future work will show, in particular, how domestic growth is linked to international growth; how it has benefited from it or, more often, been adversely affected by it; how it has absorbed or suffered from the backlash to economic crises and downturns world-wide; how external dependence has jeopardised national development efforts or policies; and, finally, how ethnic and cultural identity has sometimes offered a haven in the midst of international upheaval.

Towards a comparative approach to social development

By characterising development phases according to the historical periods and the social contexts specific to each country, two key ideas are exposed. The first concerns the connection between economic processes and other complex ones involving social structures, institutions, values and symbols. The second is that social transformations do not obey universal laws, as is all too often assumed by economic theories, but are specific to each society, even if societies have influenced one another in the course of modern history. Side by side comparisons of the observations recorded in each survey of historical trajectories and national economic transitions, allow furthering analysis of the relations between economic development and social transformations. The premises for this comparative approach are well-illustrated by Thailand's apparent success and Argentina's failure in industrialisation.

Argentina is a large agricultural country with landed property structures chiefly based on the latifundia, and export-oriented towards Europe. It is a country that sets great store by its rural culture. In Argentina, the pace of urban activity and urban development alike is conditioned by agriculture. The big landowners monopolise political power and have managed to subject the economy to agricultural interests. Originally, industrial development was largely founded on the expansion of the agri-food industry and the processing and marketing of farm produce. It has proved necessary to have recourse to immigrant labour. This has not been followed by major social transformations in the countryside. Industrial and urban development has then consisted not in a transition from a rural society to an urban one, but in the joining of the city to the countryside through immigration.

The urban proletariat arriving from Europe organised itself according to its own values, with union structures, wage claims and patterns of consumption characteristic of the societies from which it sprang. The national industry in its start-up phase had to rely on manpower at a time when labour costs were high and not enough had been done to develop the techniques and financial resources required to replace it by machines. The 1929 crisis dealt a fatal blow to industrial growth under the combined effect of the agricultural crisis, the development of protectionism and the growing power of the labour movement. The rise of nationalism and the alliance between the interests of industry and labour against agricultural interests gave momentum to the populist movement which promoted an import-substitution policy. The initial successes scored by industry are also to be credited to the development of exports, particularly during the war period and immediately after the war. But the import-substitution policy met with growing opposition from agricultural free traders and projectionist industrialists. Having only a limited domestic market, Argentina plunged into an economic, moral and political crisis in the 1960s from which it was not to emerge for nearly 20 years when, by a surprising reversal of history, it rediscovered the virtues of growth based on agricultural exports. In recent years privatisation and savage deregulation have made the recovery process extremely unstable and uncertain. Argentina has not proved capable of marrying agriculture and industry. Because of this, every so often it experiences difficulties arising from one or other of these activities.

Vanilla production in Madagascar

Thailand is also a large agricultural country but one whose landed property structures reflect a peasant economy. An independent country, it exports agricultural produce to neighbouring countries. Chinese labour is used for construction of the industrial infrastructure and railways. The Chinese are salaried workers but they are also gradually taking up domestic trade in agricultural produce. Industrialisation was ushered in by the State following the 1929 crisis. The 1932 political revolution (constitutional monarchy) contributed to the rise of nationalism and brought the army to power. The ruling and middle classes agreed upon an industrial development strategy financed by agriculture in the form of import substitution. Private initiative gradually supplanted public initiative in the 1960s. The development of a salaried class, much later than in Argentina and linked to rural migration, occurred on a significant scale. Foreign capital and a strong American presence connected with the Viet Nam war accelerated the industrialisation process. Fuelled by the war, industry which mainly produced consumer goods, soon came up against the limits of the domestic market.

Urbanisation proceeded apace, especially in Bangkok, which has a monopoly not only of public sector but also private sector employment due in particular to transfers of industrial plant. Thai industry benefited from globalization without losing the particular advantages of its relationship with its own agriculture. Salaries remained low since the workers, drawn from the countryside, did not manage to organize themselves because of the often seasonal nature of their employment. The context was also marked by Buddhist culture, which avoids conflict, and social relations based on clientelism. Trade union movements were eliminated with the help of military force. Some redistribution of productivity gains in the form of wages gradually enabled the labour force to free itself from exclusively rural ties. Agriculture with the redeployment of agri-food exports remains, however, the main employment sector with a considerable increase in diversification. Exporting industries are tending to transfer their plant to rural areas. Those that operate according to a wage relationship closer to Fordist principles tend to stay in Bangkok's high industrial growth zone and its surroundings. Already though, and at the same time, Thai capital is being invested in China and Viet Nam where there are greatly expanding markets and an industrious and cheap labour force.

The nature of land structures and the historical development of the wage-earning labour force, particular to each country, seem to be among the main factors that explain difficulties in some countries and successful transitions in others. These factors are already in evidence in this comparative outline which links economic development and social development. A long-term analysis of them confirms that economic development is not a linear or irreversible phenomenon. It also shows that the landed property structures and the nature of the wage relationship are closely linked to the early phases of the transition and that their interaction can lead just as much to success as to failure. The emergence of a world-wide system of accumulation, which dissociates places of production and places of consumption, causes international trade to be of the utmost importance in national systems of accumulation. It tends to fracture the relations between agriculture and industry and, by accelerating the monetarization of the reproduction of the labour force, to eliminate forms of organization and solidarity specific to each culture, region and nation.
NA & The HOST Network

Upcoming publications:

    Just published:

" From Social Exclusion to Social Cohesion : a policy agenda " by Sophie Bessis.
MOST Policy Paper No. 2 (translated from french)

" Multiculturalism : A Policy Response to Diversity " by Christine Inglis.
MOST Policy Paper No. 3

    Recent work:

" Searching for New Development Strategies : The Challenges of the Social Summit " by Ignacy Sachs.
MOST Policy Paper No. 1 Cities of the Future: Managing Social Transformations

Blackwell Publishers, 108
Cowley Road Oxford OX4 1JF, England

    For all publications, contact the MOST Secretariat


News from National Commissions for UNESCO and MOST Liaison Committees:

The National Commissions for UNESCO of the five Nordic countries held their annual meeting in Imatra, Finland on August 21-24, 1995.

At the meeting, the Nordic National Commissions agreed on a redistribution of the division of work between themselves in respect of co-ordination concerning the different sectors of UNESCO's activities. The Commissions decided that Finland will have the co-ordination responsibility for social sciences and human rights as from the beginning of 1996.

A Nordic meeting concerning the MOST Programme will be organised in Finland in January 1996. It is foreseen that the participants in the meeting will represent the national MOST-liaison committees or MOST-working groups as well as representatives of the relevant research councils, development research organisations and researchers active in the three theme areas of MOST.

The Austrian Federal Ministry for Science and Research, together with the Austrian UNESCO Commission has designated " The Interdisciplinary Centre for Comparative Research in the Social Sciences (ICCR) as the nodal agency for the MOST Programme and Dr. Ronald J. Pohoryles and Prof. Uwe Schubert as co-presidents of the Austrian Liaison Committee.

Countries with MOST Liaison Committees:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Benin, Burundi, Canada, Columbia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Iceland, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Belarus, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia, Vietnam, Zaire

Recent Meetings

Scientific Steering Committee
28 June - 3 July 1995

Intergovernmental Council
3-7 July 1995

The 5-day deliberations of the 33 Member States primarily highlighted concern over the funding situation of the MOST Programme, and more generally of the social science Sector within UNESCO. The Council brainstormed strategies for MOST to obtain the finances necessary to sustain its activities. One hurdle to overcome is that the comparative and international structure of MOST Projects tends to propel them outside the framework of existing governmental and institutional structures which focus primarily on funding of national projects. Exceptions to this rule are few and far between, one example being the European Community. Regional Development Banks are another potential source of funds for international projects. The UNESCO National Commissions and Liaison Committees are co-operating with the Secretariat in finding inter-institutional arrangements. The report of the meeting includes 15 recommendations which will be considered by the UNESCO General Conference in October 1995.

Thematic Meeting on " Coping Locally and Regionally with economic, technological and environmental transformations"
11-12 September, Paris

The French National Commission for UNESCO, in collaboration with the French Ministry of Education and the " Maison des Sciences de l'Homme " organised a brainstorming session in Paris from 11-12 September. The conference related to the third major MOST theme and focused on the articulation between the local-global and the policy implications of globalisation.

Participants discussed the differing positive and negative impacts of globalisation on the rural and urban populations of countries. Structural Adjustment policies and their effects on the rural poor were presented through a case study of India : changes in the labour market, price increases, access to services, absorption of small farmers by larger conglomerates (i.e. in the Pendjab District in India, 1200 hectares of tomatoes are already cultivated by farmers linked by contract to Pepsi Cola, Le Monde Diplomatique, September 1995), privatisation, transfer payments, protection of natural resources as a public good were among the points raised in a discussion on the role of the State in shielding the poor during the adjustment process- a process implemented precisely to reduce state intervention. The shaping of local global interfaces through networks was illustrated by a case study of Angola. The networks described as major players in this relationship are as follows: The formal networks of the State, humanitarian aid networks based on administrative and religious channels, pastoral networks which have an economic and cultural function, the informal networks and the parallel networks possessing enormous financial power and heavily involved in the criminalization of the economy. The importance of a development model which contains cultural characteristics and is not based on pure Cartesian logic was underscored through an assessment of the history of the development of Madagascar. What emerged from the discussion was the idea that respect of cultural roots will permit each country to identify its own problems and adopt appropriate development policies. Other national and regional case studies were reference in the discussion of the decriminalisation of the economy and the activities of the Mafia; decentralisation and the strengthening of local governments; the extent to which local authorities are concerned with international co-operation; the role of civil society as actors in policy formulation; the importance of visual, written and oral media, the actual legitimisation and pertinence of globalization and its concepts; and the role of public authorities and public power. This debate, moving back and forth between case studies from illustrations of how local communities cope with global processes to more general theoretical issues on globalization proved to be an important contribution to the third programme area of MOST. The final report of this meeting is available from the MOST Secretariat.

Anne-Marie Laulan and Georges Poussin, National French Commission for UNESCO

Forthcoming Meetings

MOST Regional meeting for Africa
UN Centre Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya
28-30 September 1995

This African regional meeting will provide a forum for concerned African scholars to deliberate on pertinent issues in the three thematic areas of the programme and to formulate possible research proposals for consideration by UNESCO.

Multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies: In Africa, like in other regions of the world the forces of democratisation and popular participation offer alternative mechanisms of both countering autocratic tendencies and strengthening and consolidating the institutions of civil society. What role can African social scientists play in the understanding of the State and its institutions? How can they strengthen their partnerships with agents of civil society in order to create more informed debate on contemporary issues? How can they contribute to the empowerment, strengthening and consolidation of the institutions of civil society?

Cities: Traditionally, cities have been hubs of development and innovation. But cities are also the centre of political and economic control and the locus of major social, economic, educational, cultural and environmental problems which render their management increasingly difficult especially in the developing countries. The process of urbanisation in Africa has created new and demanding problems of governance. African social scientists and others are faced with the challenge of providing fresh perspectives on how society can make cities more faithful arenas of sustainable social transformations.

Local-Global interfaces: Technology and markets have developed into global forces with dynamics of their own. The way people live determines the nature of lifestyles and consumption patterns, hence the sustainability of a particular society and of other societies - economically, politically, socially. Value systems need to change if lifestyles are to change. The World Summit for Social Development strongly advocated that achievement of the goal of sustainable development through the realisation of the potential of local communities. How can changes in lifestyles be ensured both in the South and the North. What role can African scientists play in brining about such changes in their own countries?

Women in the Informal Sector
Nairobi, Kenya 25-27 September 1995

There is a growing concern in the international community that women comprise an increasing number of the poor in all regions (the so-called “feminisation” of poverty). This trend brings into question the impact of the many development interventions that have been implemented in different countries in both urban and rural settings in recent years in favour of women in situations of poverty.

In the less industrial countries, measures to uplift the condition of women in poverty have been geared particularly to employment and income generation in small-scale enterprises and so-called "informal sector activities". Ancillary efforts have been aimed at creating a supportive environment in favour of poor women (providing entrepreneurial training, credit and access to markets, a legal framework to facilitate entrepreneurship and to increase the competitiveness of small enterprises). In the wake of the UN Conference on Women in Beijing (September 1995) and after the recent Social Summit in Copenhagen (March 19995), a whole range of questions remain about official commitment and the impact of interventions in favour of poor women particularly engaged in precarious informal-sector activities.

This UNESCO meeting will bring together selected experts from Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. In examining the effectiveness of programmes targeted at poor women, a common set of general questions will be addressed in order to provide an international comparative framework:

The presentations and deliberations on “women in the informal sector” will attempt to throw new light on the one basic question which continues to face scholars and decision-makers with respect to designing programmes in favour of poor women: to what extent are so-called “income-generating activities” actually successful in raising incomes and the living conditions of the intended beneficiaries? Closely related to this question is the concern about the nature and efficacy of the training provided to women to consolidate their entrepreneurial and managerial skills. UNESCO is particularly interested in learning how social science research and analysis can further contribute to more informed debate on these policy questions, especially in the context of increasing globalisation and the changing nature of work as it affects poor women in the developing world.

The Intergovernmental Council of MOST:

* the term of the countries marked by an asterisk will come to an end and they will be replaced by new members, to be elected by the General Conference of UNESCO at its 28th session (25 October-11 November 1995)

Algeria*, Argentina*, Bangladesh*, Brazil*, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Chile, China, Colombia*, Costa Rica, Egypt*, France, Germany, Ghana*, Republic of Guinea*, India, Italy*, Japan, Madagascar, Mexico, Netherlands*, Pakistan*, Philippines*, Poland, Russian Federation*, Sweden*, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Yemen, Zambia*, Zimbabwe.

President: Mohammed M. EL GAWHARY (Egypt)
Vice-Presidents:T. DI TELLA (Argentina), N. GENOV (Bulgaria), P. de SENARCLENS (Switzerland), K. TONGDHAMACHART (Thailand), M.A. HERMASSI (Tunisia), D: CHIMANIKIRE (Zimbabwe);
Rapporteur: M ZIOLKOWSKI (Poland)

List of members of the Scientific Steering Committee:

Prof. Elvi-Whittaker, Chairperson (Canada)
Prof. Norbert Lechner, Vice-Chairperson (Chile)
Prof. Narifumi M. Tachimoto, Vice-Chairperson (Japan)
Prof. Yoginder K. Alagh (India)
Prof. Maurice Aymard (France)
Prof. Arnlaug Leira (Norway)
Prof. Antoni Kuklinski (Poland)
Mr. Davinder Lamba (Kenya)
Prof. Licia Valladares (Brazil)

Member ex-officio of the SSC:
Prof. Mohammed M. El-Gawhary,
President of the MOST Intergovernmental Council

MOST Clearing House on Internet

The MOST programme runs an Internet Web-server that can be contacted at the following address: http://www.unesco.org/most.

The server provides up-to-date information on MOST and its related activities, such as the accepted research projects and the regional and thematic meetings.

All documents and publications of MOST in all available language versions are made accessible through this Web server. The Newsletter itself is put on the Internet when it is ready for publication.

The MOST Internet server contains also a wealth of information on other social science institutions, UNESCO programmes and other activities of the United Nations Family.

" Cities: Management of social and environmental transformations "

A MOST/MAB co-operation

The Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme of UNESCO is recognised the world over for the outstanding contributions it has made toward environmental protection and toward deepening understanding of human interaction with nature. (interested readers may obtain the MAB newsletter from the Division of Ecological Sciences). MAB will join forces with MOST to launch a 6 year programme on " Cities: Management of social and environmental transformations ". The first four years (1996-1999) will be used to execute experimental design projects whose impact will then be evaluated during the second phase (2000-2001). The series of projects will contribute to improving policy formulation for urban management, mainly at the level of community and municipal planning.

This programme is based on the notion of translating results of urban research into feasible actions targeted at improving the quality of life in urban and/or fringe urban districts.

Interacting with our environment

The programme is innovative partly because it will associate knowledge on " the urban space " produced by social science research with that derived from the ecological sciences. The pilot actions to be undertaken shall attempt to redress the economic, social and environmental handicaps suffered by the inhabitants of the most deprived towns. For example, in the framework of a local development project, associations of women users could be consulted on selection of sites for installation of fire hydrants. Such an approach formulates the water problem in terms of supply of a natural resource, and also in terms of social community management, economics, and participatory development.

A strategy has been incorporated into the programme for involving grass roots communities and local collectives, other organisations of the United Nations system such as the World Health Organization (in the framework of its programme Healthy Cities), the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Population Fund and the World Bank. In collaboration with these Agencies, training programmes will be devised for municipal officials and district leaders.


This section of the Newsletter is intended to provide a public space for readers to share opinions, comments or views relating to our articles or to share experiences that have bearing on our activities. If you have something to say please send short texts to the Editor of the Newsletter.

MOST Secretariat
E-mail: ssmost@unesco.org

Executive Secretary and Director,
MOST Newsletter:

Ali Kazancigil

Editor, MOST Newsletter
and Multi-cultural and multi-ethnic societies
N. Auriat
E-mail : n.auriat@unesco.org

Genevieve Domenach-Chich (Consultant)

Coping locally and regionally with economic, technological
and environmental phenomena
J. Nkinyangi

Women in Development:
Maria Luisa Nitti

Consultant for UNESCO´s contribution to Habitat II:
Céline Sachs-Jeantet

Clearing House/Capacity Building:
P. de Guchteneire

Requests for MOST Documentation:
Catherine Bauer

Administrative Assistant:
Anne Anderson-Briez

Senior Secretary:
María J. Gutiérrez

Layout and printing: EGOPRIM
Illustrations: Florence Bonjean
Lado Gudiaschwili (Obsternte, 1964, dr.); Atger (Editing); Alain Petit (Agence Top); Robert Frerck (Cosmos); Gerard Sioen (Rapho)

National MOST Liaison Committees and UNESCO National Commissions are invited to submit to the Editor information on national MOST activities for publication in upcoming editions of the Newsletter.

Ministries, NGOs, research councils, research institutions, universities and other UN Agencies working with social science research projects may send information to the Editor for diffusion in this publication.

This publication is distributed to Universities, Research Councils, Development Agencies and UN Agencies world-wide. It appears in English, French and Spanish.

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