With launch of oral history collection UN sheds light into its past

19 January 2012A collection of more than 200 interviews covering major events in the history of the United Nations was launched today at the world body’s Headquarters in New York, and will be accessible to the public through a website. A collection of more than 200 interviews covering major events in the history of the United Nations was launched today at the world body’s Headquarters in New York, and will be accessible to the public through a website.The UN Library’s Oral History Collection consists of interviews conducted over the course of 25 years with former delegates, UN staff members and journalists, all of whom recounted their experiences on major world events.They also discuss various crises and wars of independence, as well as topics such as apartheid, weapons of mass destruction, and what it was like to work with former Secretaries-General Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali.The audio files and interview transcripts, which were conducted by UN staff and Yale University researchers, also include discussions held during the creation of the UN Charter as well as reflections of staff members who remembered what it was like working at Hunter College before the Headquarters moved permanently to Manhattan’s East Side.The Collection seeks to shed light on the history of the founding of the Organization and its role in conflict resolution since 1945, and to be a useful primary source of information for scholars and the media that spotlights the activities of the UN during turbulent periods in world history. read more

Wreckage found near Haiti too recent to be Columbuss Santa Maria –

“There is now incontestable proof that the wreck is from a much later period,” according to a report from the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The bronze or copper fasteners found on the site, near the Coque Vieille Reef, point to shipbuilding techniques of the late 17th or 18th centuries, when ships were sheathed in copper. The Santa Maria, which ran aground on the night of 24 to 25 December 1492, would have used only iron or wood fasteners. Moreover, in view of contemporary accounts – notably the journal of Christopher Columbus, transcribed by Bartolome de las Casas – the wreck is too far from the shore to be that of the Santa Maria.The report was drafted by UNESCO mission leader Xavier Nieto Prieto, whose team visited Cap-Haitian, north of the island, between 9 and 14 September. He was joined by Tatiana Villega, of UNESCO’s Office in Haiti, Kenrick Demesvar, of the Haitian Ministry of Culture, and Maksaen Denis, of Haiti’s National Bureau of Ethnology.In a letter dated 12 June, Haitian Culture Minister Monique Rocourt asked for the support of the Scientific and Technical Advisory Body of UNESCO’s 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, requesting that a mission of experts be sent to the site.The letter followed an announcement in May that Bill Clifford, an American underwater explorer, had located the wreck of the ‘Santa Maria.’ He first visited the site in 2003 and identified a cannon believed to date from the 15th century. The cannon has since disappeared. UNESCO’s Underwater Heritage Convention, adopted 2001, aims to ensure the safeguarding of underwater heritage and support research and international cooperation in this field. The States – numbering 48 including Haiti – that have ratified it undertake to preserve this heritage, prevent commercial exploitation of sites and fight the illicit trafficking in stolen artefacts. This latest UNESCO report recommends further exploration to find the Santa Maria and to draw an inventory of other major wrecks in the area. It also calls on Haiti to adopt legislative measures to enhance the protection of underwater heritage, notably with regard to the attribution of authorizations for the excavation of underwater archaeological sites, and meet the standards of the Convention. read more