Global News

French candidate picked as next UNESCO chief

French candidate picked as next UNESCO chief

On Wednesday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told Egypt Today that Qatar was using its considerable financial muscle to to win votes on the executive board. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said al-Kawari "is unqualified to lead an institution whose mission is to strengthen ties between nations, promote dialog and understanding among diverse cultures and religions and protect the heritage of all peoples throughout the world".

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.

Declining to reveal why China withdrew its candidate Qian Tang, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing here that China backs UNESCO in selecting a director general qualified according to the United Nations body's rules and regulations and meets the expectations of all its members.

Azoulay's late entry into the leadership race in March annoyed many UNESCO member states who thought that since France hosts the Paris-based agency it shouldn't field a candidate. "We believe in universal values".

Questions have been raised about both remaining candidates.

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.

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The voting process itself has been highly politicized.

UNESCO's general assembly will have to sign off on the board's pick.

Egyptian candidate Moushira Khattab was among three finalists for the position, but was eliminated in a runoff with France's Audrey Azoulay on Friday.

The U.S. stopped funding UNESCO after it voted to include Palestine as a member state in 2011, but the State Department has maintained a UNESCO office and sought to weigh in on policy behind the scenes.

Haley also criticized UNESCO for "keeping Syrian dictator Bashar Assad on a UNESCO human rights committee even after his murderous crackdown on peaceful protesters".


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