Published: Dim, Octobre 15, 2017
Financer | By Gilbert Hennequin

New Secretary-General of UNESCO: 'The organization needs to change'

New Secretary-General of UNESCO: 'The organization needs to change'

Now the decision must be supported by the 195 UNESCO member states on 10 November.

UNESCO Member States presented nine candidates for the position: Polad Bülbüloglu (Azerbaijan), Qian Tang (China), Moushira Khattab (Egypt), Audrey Azoulay (France), Juan Alfonso Fuentes Soria (Guatemala), Saleh Al-Hasnawi (Iraq), Vera El-Khoury Lacoeuilhe (Lebanon), Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari (Qatar), Pham Sanh Chau (Viet Nam).

During the five rounds of the elections, Dr al-Kuwari was able to win the confidence of many countries which underscored Qatar's international standing and the suitability of its candidate.

In a statement on Saturday, Qatar's foreign ministry said the results of the Qatari candidate "have reflected its good reputation and distinguished stature" in the world.

He accused Unesco of ignoring Judaism's ancient connection to the city, which includes the crypt where its matriarchs and patriarchs are buried.

Azoulay argued before the vote that she would strive to "restore" Unesco's credibility and efficiency by focusing on its core missions.

Most of its activities are uncontroversial, but when it comes to, say, resolutions about how religious sites should be run in Jerusalem, every word is studied for accusations of bias.

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The 45-year-old, a former minister under President Francois Hollande, has the political background, and knows the cultural and communications' sectors well having dedicated much of her career to them.

Bickering between Qatar and Egypt underscored divisions in the Arab world linked to a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar that has split the Persian Gulf region. Egypt was actually counting on its candidate being the first Arab, first African and first Muslim woman to ever head UNESCO - you cannot get more politically correct than that.

The United States is meant to provide a fifth of Unesco's funding, but had already been withholding that since 2011 when the body admitted Palestine as a full member. She also worked for the European commission as legal expert in the fields of culture and communication.

Washington returned to the fold in 2002, seeing UNESCO as a vehicle for combating extremism in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks. His lead in the vote irked several countries including Israel. The administration, which has repeatedly criticized United Nations agencies over the past months, cited anti-Israel bias and mounting arrears to explain the decision.

Israel itself announced shortly afterwards that it would follow suit. She acknowledged that the U.S. departure, coupled with that of Israel, is "a blow to the organization".

Held at the headquarters of the organisation in Paris, the election to pick the 11th director of the UN body was keenly fought by the candidates.

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