So where’s Phil English these days?

The former Erie-based 3rd District congressman who lost a bid for re-election will be serving as an unpaid adviser to the State Department on the United Nations.

His appointed job is to look at research and then provide input to the State Department on scientific, educational, cultural and communication issues pending before the United Nations.

“This is an opportunity for me to use some of the perspectives I developed when I was in Congress and even before that,” English said. “I hope to give a useful perspective to Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton.”

In concrete terms, one project English will get involved with is the World Heritage Site Program, which calls attention to sites of international significance and tries to get global support in protecting them, he said.

As an example, he said the program recently supported the preservation of George Washington’s traditional home in Mount Vernon.

While the program is sometimes viewed as a United Nations “power grab,” English said that’s not the case. Calling upon international attention can help protect endangered cultural resources.

English pointed out the Taliban’s 2001 dynamiting of two Buddhist statues, both over 1,000 years old. He called them “a huge cultural asset from a different age,” which were destroyed “simply because (the Taliban’s) ideology didn’t allow for religious symbols from other religions.”

As part of the cultural task force, English hopes to encourage the State Department to put its clout behind the World Heritage Site Program and protect key sites and pieces of art globally.

The position is unpaid and the budget slight, but English said it’s a serious advisory role and he’s pleased to be back in the saddle. He serves a three-year term.

“When I left Congress, I felt this was a good time for me to move on,” English said. “Whether or not I’m involved in public service full-time, I’d like to be able to use my experience on something like this that really matters.”

Recommended for you