Frenchwoman Audrey Azoulay re-elected as head of UNESCO, education and environment made priorities

France’s Audrey Azoulay was re-elected on Tuesday by a very large majority for four years at the helm of Unesco, a second term that aims to focus especially on environmental education and preservation.

“My sincere congratulations on behalf of all the Member States on your re-election,” said Santiago Irazabal Mourao, Brazil’s Permanent Ambassador to Unesco, who is chairing the meeting of the General Conference in Paris, the institution’s headquarters. November 24th.

Elected in 2017, Ms. Azoulay was the only candidate for this new term and got 155 votes for 165 voters (9 against, one abstention).

“First of all, I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for this confidence, which was so clearly expressed,” said the Director-General, who was applauded in the Chamber of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. the culture.

Audrey Azoulay was elected in November 2017, after being Minister of Culture in the government of Socialist President François Hollande. It is traditional for CEOs to serve multiple terms.

To this end, high goals have been set with a “new social contract for education”, “encourage research on learning” and “encourage dialogue with the educational community”, because “education raises awareness about the fragile beauty of nature “.

– ‘New contract for the planet’ –

Audrey Azoulay has also hoped for a “new contract for the planet”, which will involve “doubling the area of ​​Unesco-protected territories by 2030” with the aim of “protecting 30% of the earth’s surface”.

“Unesco has a unique contribution to make (…) by forging a new form of environmental ethics,” he said. It will then be a matter of “combining nature protection and sustainable employment”, or even building “a new water diplomacy”.

“We must commit ourselves as humanity, through the Commonwealth of Nations, around these common goods of which we have custody here at Unesco,” he said. “and the” very “expressed” very early “support for his person, a sign of” mutual trust “within a previously very divided institution, which he helped to calm down during his first term.

Ms. Azoulay’s re-election seems to enshrine the depoliticization strategy of the institution she has wanted since her election.

Audrey Azoulay had taken office in a deteriorating context, mainly due to the departure of the United States and Israel – coinciding with her election. Both countries accused the institution of pro-Palestinian bias, in a context of frontal questioning of multilateralism by the Trump administration.

– “Reducing political tensions” –

“It is necessary to reduce the political tensions that for too long have hindered Unesco’s action when they tend to instrumentalize” to allow the organization to focus “on its mandate and not get lost in a discussion to which it contributed little “, he commented during a brief press conference.

A dialogue is under way with these two countries to rejoin UNESCO. “It’s a complex process, but the dialogue is very positive,” he added, stressing “the new US administration’s commitment to multilateralism.”

Unesco has been involved in a number of landmark projects in recent years, including the reconstruction of Mosul, aid to Lebanon’s heritage following the explosion in the port of Beirut, and actions in favor of education during the pandemic.

Under the first term of its Director-General, it also saw a 3% increase in its Member States’ compulsory contributions and a 50% increase in its voluntary contributions, a success depending on its environment.

Mrs. Azoulay, the second woman to lead Unesco, is the only French woman to lead a major United Nations organization.

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