Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

French candidate picked as next UNESCO chief

French candidate picked as next UNESCO chief

Azoulay will now face off against Qatar's Hamad Al-Kawari in a vote due to be held at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT). Azoulay's father is Moroccan and was an influential adviser to Moroccan kings, so she does have a connection to the Arab world. She grew up in Morocco and France.

In March of this year, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre wrote an open letter to German Ambassador Michael Worbs, chair of the UNESCO Executive Board, to criticize the organization for accepting al-Kawari's candidacy.

Qatar's candidate for the post of Director-General of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) HE Dr Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kuwari has qualified for the final round of election, which will be held by Unesco's s Executive Council at its headquarters in Paris on Friday.

The US announcement this week that it's quitting UNESCO rocked the multi-day election and heightened concerns about the agency's funding and future direction.

Arab states had argued that the job of director-general of the 195-member organization should go to one of them for the first time, but regional tensions complicated the task.

Arab states have been divided between backers of oil-rich Qatar and its poorer rival Egypt, which is part of a Saudi-led coalition that has been blockading Qatar since June over its alleged support for radical Islamists and ties to Iran. "As a response to these difficulties, France has chosen not to leave but at the contrary to invest more. because we believe in multilateralism".

China and Lebanon withdrew earlier from the race after the third round.


The results of the fourth round of the UNESCO election were 22 votes for Qatar, 18 for Egypt and 18 for France, which required a runoff.

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova of Bulgaria on May 14, 2015.

The new director will set priorities for the organization best known for its World Heritage program to protect cultural sites and traditions.

The decision will not go into effect until December 2018 and there is some speculation that the U.S. could change its mind if UNSCO ends its politicized behavior and takes steps to reform the organization.

Washington returned to the fold in 2002, seeing UNESCO as a vehicle for combatting extremism in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Arab countries have long wanted to lead UNESCO.

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