Audrey Azoulay of France, Director-General-elect of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (March 2017). UN Photo/Manuel Elias Audrey Azoulay of France, Director-General-elect of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (March 2017). UN Photo/Manuel Elias

Audrey Azoulay formally appointed new UNESCO chief

Sat, Nov. 11, 2017
CAIRO – 11 November 2017: Former French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay was officially appointed as the 11th director general of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on Friday for a four-year term. Azoulay is the second women to occupy this position.

The new French Director General is expected to take office on November 15, replacing outgoing Director General Irina Bokova.

“I now think of all the people I met in recent months, or had met in my various professional capacities, who have great expectations from UNESCO,” Azoulay said at the UNESCO general conference, which endorsed her October 13 nomination by the agency’s executive board.

She added, “I think of UNESCO’s mandate, which is strikingly modern. I think of all of you who are aware of the difficulties of the organization, but who know that it is irreplaceable, that it is essential in facing current global challenges, and who aspire to the unity and serenity necessary to let it exercise its mandate to the best effect.”

The new director general is expected to set priorities for the organization’s World Heritage program that protects cultural sites and traditions. She announced that she will work to restore the international standing of UNESCO, which has been mired in financial woes since the U.S. withdrew its sizeable funding in 2011. It’s also reeling from last month’s decision by the Trump administration to pull out of UNESCO because of its alleged anti-Israel bias.

Audrey Azoulay was born in 1972. She graduated from the Ecole National d’Administration and the Paris Institut d’études politiques. She holds a masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Lancaster (U.K.).

The new UNESCO chief occupied several high level positions in France, including minister of culture and communication from February 2016 to May 2017. Also she served as a rapporteur to France’s public auditing authority, the Cour des comptes, and as a European Commission legislative expert on issues of culture and the media.

Moreover, she served France’s National Cinema Center (CNC), first as deputy audiovisual director, then as director of financial and legal affairs, and finally as deputy director-general.

On Wednesday, Egypt was re-elected as a member of the executive council of UNESCO. Out of 184 states eligible to vote in UNESCO’s general conference, 141 countries voted for Egypt. After winning the vote, Egypt will reserve its seat on UNESCO’s executive council for another four years, ending in 2021.

UNESCO is the United Nations organization responsible for coordinating international cooperation in education, science, culture and communication. The organization’s theme is “Building peace in the minds of men and women”, and the themes that fall under its mandate include education in the twenty-first century, fostering free expression, protecting cultural heritage and stewardship of the planet’s oceans.
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