EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Khattab - Egypt does not use money to win



Sun, 08 Oct 2017 - 05:23 GMT


Sun, 08 Oct 2017 - 05:23 GMT

Moushira Khattab -REUTERS

Moushira Khattab -REUTERS

CAIRO - 8 October 2017: Starting tomorrow in the French Capital, Paris, at 5 p.m. France time, the first round of the new director-general's election for UNESCO will be launched, in which seven candidates are competing, headed by Ambassador Moushira Khattab, the nominee from Egypt and the African continent.

Ambassador Moushira Khattab, the nominee from Egypt and Africa to the post of UNESCO director-general, stressed that the organization was paying a heavy price as a result of politicization at a time when it’s considered one of the United Nations agencies most concerned with education, science and heritage.

She said in a special interview to Egypt Today from Paris that the world is suffering from extremism, terrorism, and UNESCO alone can defeat them because terrorism cannot be eliminated by weapons, but through education alone.

How will the electoral process be conducted to select the new director-general of UNESCO?

The elections will be conducted in five rounds. In the first, the second, the third and the fourth, the competition is open among seven candidates, while the fifth round expected on Friday, will be trapped among the top voted candidates from the fourth round. In the end, the winner must obtain 30 votes from those of the 58 Members of the Executive Office of UNESCO. There is no rule forcing any candidate to withdraw from the elections, because withdrawal is optional. Any candidate who is estimated to have some reason not to complete the electoral process is entitled to withdraw in the round he/she chooses.

How do you see your chances of winning the election?

Honestly speaking, in all the interviews I've had, either at UNESCO or abroad, I always hear the phrase that I gave the best performance in oral interviews from members of the Executive Office. I have the strongest experience and achievements on the ground that I have not achieved alone, but with international partners that have documented these achievements. This has made us the three strongest candidates almost unanimously, and we are competing with honor, on the basis of efficiency and merit. We do not use any other weapons, whether in terms of Egypt, whose history, civilization, and culture I represent, or the candidate him/herself.

Are you afraid of the challenges facing you in the elections, especially since one candidate, the Qatari candidate, is always using the ‘money weapon?’

I don't like to use the word “afraid,” because we worked so hard and our preparations were of the highest level, which was evident in the oral interviews with the members of the Executive Office, which aired and was watched by everyone. They saw firsthand the performance of all the candidates, and the curricula vitae of the candidates available on UNESCO’s website, as well as, seeing every candidate. We have entered this race and are ready for it with efficiency and merit, so fear is ungrounded.

Has the ‘money weapon’ method been accounted for?

The money weapon has never been the policy of Egypt, and we will never resort to it, but we compete with nations for what an organization like UNESCO needs of expertise, because at the time in which the world expects UNESCO to be the first line of defense for humanity, the organization is constrained by many problems such as those of low confidence, and the severe reduction in financial resources.

This is reflected in the mental state and general feeling within the organization, so UNESCO today needs leadership with experience that is not only slogans. Currently, UNESCO needs to create greater confidence, because the process of politicizing the organization has resulted in it losing some circumvention from states; as politics tend to have goals and maneuvers.

UNESCO represents the conscience of humanity, as it works on education, culture, the protection of heritage, freedom of expression and the means of communication and protection of the environment, all of which are humanitarian issues with noble messages. For instance, the formulation of an educational policy, curriculum and capacity-building for teachers and their training is stronger and more important than school construction, which highlights the role of UNESCO.

The UNESCO is embroiled in fighting terrorism, extremism, and the recruitment of certain groups when it has a dangerous and important role to fulfill. We find UNESCO constrained by problems that prevent it from performing the message in the form hoped for on the large scale expected of it.

This is the challenge facing UNESCO today, so I say there is no time for experimentation, but we need a strong and focused leadership that has a clear vision in leading the organization in this situation. A leadership able to focus on the areas of UNESCO's work, and able to prevent it from deviating towards politics



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