From Intergovernmental to Global: UNESCO's Response to Globalization

December 2006
Instituto de Políticas y Bienes Públicos (IPP) CSIC, Working Paper. 2006-16

Vincenzo Pavone

Whilst there is an ever-growing literature on the economic and political aspects of ‘globalization’, at present there are few studies analyzing how intergovernmental organizations have reacted to this phenomenon. This article aims to fill this gap by analyzing the response to globalization of UNESCO, one of the least studied organizations of the UN constellation. Addressing the global orientation of some of the current programs, this article shows how a recent re-evaluation of scientific humanism – the main philosophical framework contributing to the creation of UNESCO – has influenced both UNESCO’s self-understanding and its understanding of globalization. Scientific humanism is a philosophical utopia that couples the advance of scientific knowledge with the diffusion of a common philosophical framework and promotes a universal system of education in order to establish a global community. Based on the philosophical appeal of a culture of peace based on science, humanism and human rights, UNESCO's representation of globalization represents an intriguing example of how our global future may be conceived and, to some extent, realized.