Thursday, 19 October, 2017

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

A view shows the headquarters of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization in Paris US Jewish Groups Express Alarm as Antisemitism-Tainted Qatari Candidate Closes in on UNESCO Chief Post
Melinda Barton | 13 October, 2017, 21:41

Azoulay received 31 votes, compared to 25 for Egyptian human rights activist Moushira Khattab.

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.

Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesman tweeted out a congratulatory note to Azoulay and wished her success in the final election against Kawari that will be held tonight.

The UNESCO vote for its next director general lasts for a maximum of five rounds.

UNESCO's executive board has chosen France's Audrey Azoulay as the Paris-based United Nations agency's new chief, rejecting a candidate from Qatar who was seen as the front-runner a day earlier.

UNESCO has been critical of Tel Aviv in the past, and its decision to nominate the West Bank city of Hebron as a Palestinian world heritage site angered Israel, which wanted its long Jewish history to be recognised. "We believe in universal values".

The book to which Al-Kawari contributed a preface - entitled Jerusalem in the Eyes of the Poets and published by his own Ministry of Culture in 2013 - traffics in classical antisemitic conspiracy theories, claiming that Jews enjoy complete control of the Western media, and that Israel is responsible for the entire range of conflicts and wars in the Middle East.

French media reported that Qatar recently invited several members of the UNESCO executive board on an all-expenses-paid trip to Doha.

The next vote between the French and Egyptian candidates will see who competes with al-Kuwari in the final round to be held later on Friday.

The UNESCO vote comes as Egypt and three other Arab nations continue a months-long boycott of Qatar over allegations that the government funds extremists and has overly warm ties to Iran.

The next leader will have to allay fears over UNESCO's future as the agency faces a withdrawal from both the US and Israel. Bokova expressed "profound regret" at the USA decision and defended UNESCO's reputation. UNESCO says the USA now owes about $550 million in back payments.