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Directorate-general of the UNESCO: The French Audrey Azoulay elected

13 October 2017, 09:43 | Taylor George

Directorate-general of the UNESCO: The French Audrey Azoulay elected

Leading candidates for Unesco’s new chief include Qian Tang of China former Egyptian government minister Moushira Khattab and Qatar’s former culture minister Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari

Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari (far right) launching his campaign to become UNESCO director-general at Qatar University in March 2016.

China had nominated Qian, who has been serving as assistant director general of UNESCO since April 2010, to be the agency's head, but made a decision to withdraw after the latest round of voting yesterday, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

UNESCO's executive board on Friday chose former French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay to be the United Nations cultural agency's next leader over a Qatari candidate in an unusually heated race overshadowed by Mideast tensions.

Thirty votes are needed to clinch the nomination to head the Paris-based UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The two went on to say that UNESCO's Executive Board "appears to be squandering the chance to put those ideals and values ahead of base political considerations", and urged members to vote for an alternative candidate.

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The victor must be approved by UNESCO's 195 member states in November, though this is seen as a formality.

Three other candidates remain in the fray - Azerbaijan's Polad Bulbuloglu, Guatemala's Juan Alfonso Fuentes Soria, and Vietnam's Pham Sanh Chau.

Most of the candidates acknowledge the need to reform the 71-year-old organisation whose bloated bureaucracy is accused of inefficiency. "Audrey!" following her victory and said the response to UNESCO's problems was to reform the agency, not to walk away - an understated rebuke of the US and Israel.

The organization is best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions, but also works to improve education for girls, promote understanding of the Holocaust's horrors, defend media freedom and coordinate science about climate change.

On Thursday, just before the final round of votes, the U.S. said it planned to pull out of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization citing among other things its anti-Israel bias. If votes are equal for both, the director general will be chosen through a ballot.



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