UNESCO Current Affairs

Audrey Azoulay elected as Director General of UNESCO

Former French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay (45) was elected as new Director General of UNESCO – the UN’s education, science and culture agency. With this, she becomes first Jewish Director of UNESCO.

Azoulay defeated Qatar’s Hamad bin Abdulaziz al-Kawari in the final 30-28 vote after she won a runoff with a third finalist from Egypt. She will succeed outgoing Director-General Irina Bokova of Bulgaria.

Audrey Azoulay

Azoulay was born on 4 August 1972 in Paris to a Moroccan Jewish family from Essaouira. She is the daughter of Andre Azoulay, an adviser to king Mohammed VI of Morocco.  She had earned master’s degree in management sciences from Paris Dauphine University in 1994 and master’s degree in business administration from Lancaster University. She also studied at Sciences Po and École nationale d’administration (ENA). She was France’s Minister of Culture from February 2016 to May 2017.

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US withdraws from UNESCO accusing it for anti-Israel bias

The United States has announced its withdrawal from Paris-based United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), UN’s cultural agency accusing the body of anti-Israel bias. Besides US, Israel has also decided to pull out of UNESCO. US withdrawal will take effect on December 31, 2018. Until then, it will remain a full member. US has announced to establish an observer mission to replace its representation at UNESCO.

Background

USA and UNESCO were at loggerheads since 2011, after UNESCO had admitted Palestinian territories to the organization as an independent member-state called Palestine. UNESCO was first UN agency to recognise and admit Palestine as full member. The recognition was against US policy in Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

This was against US’s law which cut off its funding for any organization that recognizes independent Palestine. The US had previously paid for 22% ($80 million) of UNESCO’s annual budget. UNESCO in 2013, had suspended US voting rights in its core decision-making bodies after US missed several rounds of payments to UNESCO.

United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

UNESCO is UN organization that helps preserve historical and cultural sites worldwide. It is special multi-country agency, formed in 1945 and based in France. It promotes literacy and sex education as well as improving gender equality in countries around the world. It is also known for recognising world heritage sites and work to preserve cultural and heritage sites such as ancient ruins, villages and temples, and historic sites.

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