French woman Audrey Azoulay re-elected as head of UNESCO, setting education and environment as priority

French woman Audrey Azoulay re-elected as head of UNESCO, setting education and environment as priority

Frenchman Audrey Azoulay was re-elected with a huge majority on Tuesday as head of UNESCO for four years, a second term that she seeks to focus exclusively on education and the protection of the environment.

Santiago Irazabal Maurao, Brazil’s Permanent Ambassador to UNESCO, who presided over the general conference at the institution’s headquarters in Paris until 24 November, declared: “My heartfelt congratulations on behalf of all Member States on your re-election.”

Elected in 2017, Ms Azoulay was the only candidate for this new mandate and received 155 votes to 165 voters (against 9, one absentee).

Responding to applause at the Hemicycle of the United Nations Agency for Education, Science and Culture, the Director-General said, “I would like to first of all say thank you from the bottom of my heart for clearly expressing this confidence “.

Audrey Azoulay was elected in November 2017 after being Minister of Culture in the government of Socialist President Fran├žois Hollande. It is customary for Director Generals to fulfill a number of conditions.

To this end, it posted high goals with “new social contracts for education”, “by encouraging research on learning” and “promoting dialogue with the academic community”, as “education by raising awareness of the delicate beauty of nature”. enhances”.

– ‘New contract for the planet’ –

Audrey Azoulay also hoped for “a new contract for the planet”, which would include “doubling the size of UNESCO-protected areas by 2030” to “protect 30% of the Earth’s surface”.

“UNESCO has a unique contribution in creating (…) a new form of environmental ethics,” he said. It would then be a question of “the combination of conservation of nature and sustainable employment”, or even the creation of “a new water diplomacy”.

“We must engage, as humanity, through the community of nations, around these common goods that we have here at UNESCO”, said its director-general, who underscored the “unity” and “support from around the world”. expressed. too early” for his person, a sign of “mutual trust” in the once very divided institution, which he helped to please during his first term.

Ms Azoulay’s re-election appears to set off a strategy to politicize the institution she wanted from her election.

Audrey Azoulay took office in a poor context, notably due to the departure of the United States and Israel – coinciding with her election. Against the backdrop of the question posed by the Trump administration to multilateralism, both countries alleged a pro-Palestinian bias.

– ‘Reduce political tension’ –

“It was necessary to reduce the political tensions that had hindered UNESCO’s actions for too long when they headed towards instrumentalisation” so as not to allow the organization to “focus on its mandate and get lost in an open discussion.” which she brought very little.” He made the remarks during a brief press conference.

Talks are going on with these two countries so that they can join UNESCO again. “It is a complex process, but the dialogue is very positive”, he said, emphasizing the “new US administration’s commitment to multilateralism”.

In recent years UNESCO has participated in a number of symbolic projects, such as the reconstruction of Mosul, aid to Lebanese heritage after the explosion of the port of Beirut, and action in favor of education during the pandemic.

Under the first term of its Director-General, it saw a 3% increase in the mandatory contributions of its member states and a 50% increase in their voluntary contributions, which was a success according to the Entourage.

Ms Azoulay, the second woman to head UNESCO, is the only French woman to head a major UN organization.

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