How to Read the Blog

This blog can now be seen to serve as a documentation of the recent election for the post of Director General of UNESCO. For that purpose it might best be read in the following order:

The Background
Biographical Information on the Candidates

Coverage of the Campaign (prior to the first vote of the Executive Board)
Coverage During the Voting by the Executive Board
The Election in the UNESCO General Conference
Post Election Materials

The voting in the Executive Board was, as expected, the defining element of the election. Prior to that voting most of the press coverage was framed around the candidacy of Farouk Hosny -- his leadership position in the race and the likely challengers. Perhaps as a result of that framing, several key forces aligned against his candidacy. Arrayed against Hosny were several candidates, the strongest of whom appeared to be two Permanent Delegates to UNESCO (Bokova and Marciulionyte) and an European Union Commissioner (Ferrero-Waldner). The only candidate from the Americas (Baki) appeared as a dark horse who was rumored to have the support of the United States delegation. Candidates tended all to have visible presence on the Internet, campaign brochures, and hospitality suites at key events. Several of the candidates spent time traveling to UNESCO member nation capitols to promote their candidacies, most importantly the eventual winner, Irina Bokova. The strong support of top officials from their home governments was important for several candidates, suggesting that there was some important behind the scenes electioneering going on.

Ultimately, it appears that the negative campaign opposing Hosny was effective. There was little public discussion of the negative aspects of other candidacies until they became serious challengers to Hosny. Ultimately, it appears that Hosny could not expand his lead to a majority of the delegates to the Executive Board and a majority finally coalesced around his principal opponent, Bokova.

The General Conference did not unanimously support the recommendation of the Executive Board, but did so by a large majority.

Ultimately, the Organization selected its first woman Director General and the first from Group 2 -- the former Communist nations. In doing so, it rejected the bid of the candidate of the Arab nations who would have been the second Muslim and the second person from Group 5 and the African nations.

Of course, it is important that all the leading candidates were multilingual, with experience in high level government posts, and counted significant diplomatic experience in their backgrounds. None was a globally recognized leader in education, science nor communications. Indeed, the only scientist in the field got few votes and dropped out early. Hosny, as long term Minister of Culture of Egypt, was the only candidate with major credentials in management of one of UNESCO's key sectors.

Normalization Politics on the Nile

Ursula Lindsey, a Cairo based reporter, published this article in Middle East Report describing the boycott of Israel by Egyptian intellectuals and defining that as a context for Farouk Hosny's opposition to cultural normalization with Israel during his decades as Minister of Culture of Egypt, and the brouhaha in Egypt when in running for Director General of UNESCO he appeared to some Egyptians to be wavering on that opposition.

The article describes also the opposition that arose against Minister Hosny's UNESCO candidacy, led by Jewish intellectuals (but by no means limited to them), based on his history of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel remarks.

It does not deal with the opposition to the candidacy based on other factors, and as such is not a complete documentation of the UNESCO election bit of Minister Hosny. Reporter Lindsey does however make a strong case for rethinking Egyptian tactics in support of the Palestinian cause, especially in the more effective targeting of the boycott.


"Yo ya me he convertido en un símbolo"

Fuente: ANTONIO JIMÉNEZ BARCA, El Pais (Espana), 05/11/2009

Dice estar decidida a impulsar la institución, un tanto paquidérmica y adormecida. "Tenemos que convertir la Unesco en una suerte de conciencia de la humanidad. Nuestra labor es fortalecer el humanismo, la dignidad, el diálogo. Es mi ambición". ¿Y qué papel desempeña en eso el director general? "Yo ya me he convertido en un símbolo", dice sin petulancia.

Ama la música, toca el piano, le gusta la arqueología y cuando era estudiante le apasionaban las novelas de ciencia-ficción con trasfondo moral: Ray Bradbury, Stanislaw Lem... Ahora ya no. Para leer en su casa, se olvida de ese futuro al que alude constantemente, y se sumerge en los libros de historia.


"Media flurry demonizes Egyptian culture minister"

Source: HAZEL HEYER, eTurboNews (eTN), October 26, 2009

"Egyptian reviews and numerous opinions have been expressed in newspapers throughout Egypt about the recent defeat of Culture Minister Farouk Hosni. His defeat happened in the last round of the elections for UNESCO’s director-general post. Diverse opinions - contradictory or complementary – flood the press from the assumption of a conspiracy orchestrated by the so-called American axis of evil, as they call him, to the idea of a missed opportunity to develop the Arab-West dialogue.

"Not long after Minister Farouk Hosni lost the last round of the elections for UNESCO’s top position, the gates of media hell flung wide open. The press in Egypt reflected on the subject from different points of view. Under the headline, 'Collusion,' al-Musawwar of September 23, 2009 wrote, Hosni lost with honor and Washington lost its own. The Al-Musawwar ascribed his failure to the conspiracy of the 'American axis of evil; Germany, Japan and Israel.'”

Read "Egyptian minister declares 'culture war' on Israel"


UNESCO General Conference: Irina Bokova sworn in as Director-General

The 35th session of UNESCO’s General Conference, which ended on Friday, was marked by the election of Irina Bokova as Director-General of the Organization and the adoption of the new programme and budget for 2010 and 2011. Two ministerial round tables, focused respectively on education and the oceans, a ministerial Forum and the launch of the “World Report, Investing in Cultural Diversity and Intercultural Dialogue,” were among the highlights of the 35th session.

Egypt's Post Election Action in Berlin

Berlin’s war-ruined Neues Museum opens last week after 70 years, rebuilt from rubble left by World War II bombing as a home for Queen Nefertiti’s bust and the city’s Egyptian and prehistory collections. (See the article on Bloomberg.com.) Zahi Hawass, Egypt's chief archaeologist has announced that his country wants either evidence that the bust was obtained legally a century ago, or in the absence of such proof, the return of the world famous object itself.

Last week, the Louvre returned five objects to Egypt that it had purchased between 2000 and 2003. The objects, discovered in a tomb near Luxor in 1980, had been the object of demands for their return in the past without success, but recently the Egyptian government had suspended relations with the Louvre and suspended its excavations at Saqqara. (See the article from Al Ahram Weekly.)

The New York Times now reports:
It didn’t go unnoticed in Paris, Berlin or Cairo that Mr. Hawass pressed his case about Nefertiti and suspended the excavations by the Louvre just after his country’s culture minister, Farouk Hosny, bitterly lost a bid to become director general of the United Nations’ cultural agency, Unesco. The post went late last month to a Bulgarian diplomat instead........

In any case, days after the Unesco decision, Mr. Hawass went after France and Germany. When questioned about the timing, he insisted there was no connection, saying he had asked the French to return the artifacts two months earlier. But that was when Mr. Hosny’s campaign had already started to fall apart.


Dream for the future

“It is my dream to nurture relations of perfect synergy between the Director-General and Member States, so as to move together towards the creation of societies that are more just and prosperous, based on knowledge, tolerance and equal opportunity for all, thanks to education, science, culture and access to information. I shall be guided in my work by my concept of a new humanism for the 21st century.”
Irina Bokova, the newly elected Director General of UNESCO


"Play politics with Unesco and you defeat its mission"

In a world plagued by environmental, economic, military and political calamities, it is wrong to deal with culture, education and science as mere pieces on a square-checkered political chessboard. Co-operation in scientific and cultural pursuits are the stepping stones for realizing harmony and unity between nations and create a platform for universal dialogue and co-operation. This must be Unesco’s mandate.


I am on vacation and may not be posting for a couple of weeks.

The Executive Board has done its work, and the General Conference will consider the recommendation in Octover. I am on vacation, and will not post until I return, I do expect to post on the General Conference.


Bokova Elected

The UNESCO website has confirmed that Irina Bokova has won the Executive Board election to be Director General of UNESCO.

I have three independent unofficial reports from reliable sources that Irina Bokova received 31 votes to 27 votes for Farouk Hosny in the fifth round of voting for the position of UNESCO Director General. Having received the majority of votes from the 58 members of the Executive Board, her name will be forwarded to the General Conference.


Charge: Farouk Hosny Helped Hijackers of Achille Lauro Escape

The New York Times yesterday reported:
Elaph.com, an Arabic-language Web site, published Saturday what it said were private admissions by Mr. Hosny that when he was the Egyptian cultural attaché in Rome, he helped to organize the escape from Italy in 1985 of the hijackers of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro. In that episode, a retired American Jewish tourist in a wheelchair was shot and pushed into the sea, horrifying much of the world.

Indications of his involvement in the escape of Abu Abbas appear to be widely available in the Arabic literature:
  • http://dostor.org/ar/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=32600&Itemid=58
  • http://www.egyptiantalks.org/invb/?showtopic=52234
  • http://www.almatareed.org/vb/showthread.php?t=409
  • http://www.engineerportsaid.com/2009/01/blog-post_6870.html
  • http://4flying.com/archive/index.php/t-21858.html

Farouk Hosny was the Director of the Egyptian Academy in Rome when he was tapped, two years after the Achille Lauro affair, to become Minister of Culture. According to Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council on Antiquities, while in Rome
Farouk Hosni was not well known by the public, but he was known and respected as a talented artist within the cultural community. Several reporters visited Farouk Hosni in Rome including my friend Mostafa El Nagar and Ahmed Abu Kaf. When they were interviewing Farouk Hosni he confided in them that Atef Sedky wanted him to be Egypt’s minister of culture but he did not want the job. Upon hearing this Abu Kaf said to Mustafa that Farouk Hosni was dreaming and there was no way he could be the minister of culture. Many people wanted to be the minister of culture including famous writers and journalists.

On October 7, 1985, led by Abu Abbas, men representing the Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) took control of the liner off Egypt as she was sailing from Alexandria to Port Said. After being refused permission to dock at Tartus, the hijackers killed disabled American passenger Leon Klinghoffer and then threw him overboard.[1] The ship headed back towards Port Said, and after two days of negotiations, the hijackers agreed to abandon the liner in exchange for safe conduct and were flown towards Tunisia aboard an Egyptian commercial airliner.

United States President Ronald Reagan ordered that the plane be intercepted and directed to land at Naval Air Station Sigonella, a N.A.T.O. base in Sicily, where four hijackers were arrested by the Italians after a disagreement between American and Italian authorities. The other passengers on the plane (possibly including the hijackers' leader, Abu Abbas) were allowed to continue on to their destination, despite protests by the United States. Egypt demanded an apology from the U.S. for forcing the airplane off course. Italy refused extradition of the prisoners to the United States and they were tried in Italy.

The fate of those convicted of the hijacking was varied:
  • Bassam al-Asker was granted parole in 1991. He died on February 21, 2004.
  • Ahmad Marrouf al-Assadi disappeared in 1991 while on parole.
  • Youssef Majed al-Molqi, convicted of killing Leon Klinghoffer [2], was sentenced to 30 years, left the Rebibbia prison in Rome on February 16, 1996, on a 12-day furlough, and fled to Spain, where he was recaptured and extradited back to Italy. On April 29, 2009, Italian officials released him from prison on good behaviour.[4][5] In June 2009, however, al-Molqui's attorney told the Associated Press that the Italian authorities had placed his client in a holding cell and were about to deport him to Syria.[6]
  • Abu Abbas left the jurisdiction of Italy and was convicted in absentia. In 1996, he made an apology for the hijacking and murder, and spoke out in favor of peace talks between Palestinians and Israel; the apology was rejected by the U.S. government and Klinghoffer's family, who insisted he be brought to justice. Abbas was captured in Iraq in 2003 by the U.S. military during its 2003 invasion of Iraq. He died in U.S. custody March 8, 2004.
  • Ibrahim Fatayer Abdelatif was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. He served 20 and three more on parole and on July 7, 2008, he was expelled from an illegal immigrant detention center in Rome. He plans to appeal this arguing that he has nowhere else to go since Lebanon will not allow his return as he was born in a refugee camp and is thus not a Lebanese citizen.


The Fifth and "Final" Round of Voting

Irina Gueorguieva Bokova (Bulgaria) and Farouk Hosny (Egypt) are the two remaining candidates in the election, after a tied vote in the fourth round on 21 September. The fifth and final round is scheduled to take place at 6.30 p.m. on Tuesday 22 September.

According to the New York Times:
If the vote remains tied on Tuesday, the 193-member General Conference will choose a new director general next month, and Mr. Hosny is expected to win in the larger body, where Egypt is thought to have more influence.
Here are some articles following the tie on the 4th round:


4th Round a Tie, Ferrero-Waldner and Baki Withdrew

I just heard from three independent trusted sources in Paris that no one had received a majority in the fourth round of voting, and that the selection will go to a fifth round tomorrow. According to the rules, the voting tomorrow will be between the top two on today's vote.

Voting for the UNESCO Director General
Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3 Round 4
Farouk Hosny 22 23 25 29
Irina Bokova 8 8 13 29
Benita Ferrero-Waldner 7 9 11 0
Ivonne Baki 7 8 9 0
Ina Marciulionyte 3 4 0 0
Alexander Yakovenko 7 3 0 0
Noureini Tidjani-Serpos 2 2 0 0
Sospeter Muhongo 1 1 0 0
Mohammed Bedjaoui 0 0 0 0
Blank 1 0 0 0
Total 58 58 58 58


I heard a rumor that Ivonne Baki has withdrawn from the election for the new Director General of UNESCO. That would leave the voting among three candidates, Farouk Hosny, Irina Bokova and Mohammed Bedjaoui. The last of these three has not received a single vote in the first three rounds and would appear to be a very dark horse.



Results of the Third Round of Voting

Voting for UNESCO Director General
Candidate Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Farouk Hosny 22 23 25
Irina Bokova 8 8 13
Benita Ferrero-Waldner 7 9 11
Ivonne Baki 7 8 9
Ina Marciulionyte 3 4 0
Alexander Yakovenko 7 3 0
Noureini Tidjani-Serpos 2 2 0
Sospeter Muhongo 1 1 0
Mohammed Bedjaoui 0 0 0
Blank 1 0 0
Total 58 58 58

The fourth round is scheduled for Monday 21 September at 6.30 p.m.


The Nine Original Candidates

From left to right:

  1. Nouréini TIDJANI-SERPOS (Benin)
  2. Farouk HOSNY (Egypt)
  3. Benita FERRERO-WALDNER (Austria)
  4. Ina MARČIULIONYTĖ (Lithuania)
  5. The Chairman of UNESCO’s Executive Board, Ambassador Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï (Benin)
  6. Ivonne JUEZ de A. BAKI (Ecuador)
  7. Mohammed BEDJAOUI (Algeria)
  8. Irina Gueorguieva BOKOVA (Bulgarie)
  9. Alexander Vladimirovich YAKOVENKO (Russian Federation)
  10. Sospeter Mwijarubi MUHONGO (United Republic of Tanzania)


Results of the second round of voting

Farouk Hosny 23

Benita Ferrero-Walder 9

Ivonne Baki 8

Irina Bokova 8

Ina Marciulionyte 4

Alexander Yakovenko 3

Noureini Tidjani-Serpos 2

Sospeter Muhongo 1

Mohammed Bedjaoui 0

As compared with the first round, Ferrero-Waldner gained two votes, Farouk Hosny, Ivonne Baki and Ina Marciulionyte gained one vote each, and Alexander Yakovenko dropped four votes. The was one blank ballot on the first round, and none on the second.

I got this information from three independent sources.

Third ballot tomorrow (Saturday) around 3pm Paris time/9am Washington time.

Press coverage of the second round:


More coverage of the election and the candidates

Starting after the first vote toward the selection of the new Director General of UNESCO I will post links to news articles as I find them. This list extends the previous list which has more than 200 links.

  1. Jewish activists concerned ahead of UNESCO vote
  2. Farouk Hosni ne parvient pas à prendre la tête de l'Unesco au premier tour
  3. Egypt: UN candidate regrets attack on Israel
  4. Anti-Semitism row overshadows UNESCO leader vote
  5. UNESCO : le lynchage abscons de Farouk Abd-El-Aziz Hosni.
  6. Disputa por candidato egipcio remece votación para jefe UNESCO
  7. Rallying support at UNESCO
  8. Egyptian leads race for Unesco post
  9. EU Commissioner Ferro-Waldner out of UNESCO DG race (I have not been able to confirm this story, and I suspect it may be malicious.)
  10. Will book-burning comments block Unesco candidate?
  11. Anti-Semitic remarks cloud Egypt's UNESCO bid
  12. Final stretch at UNESCO
  13. Cairo nominee for Unesco chief stirs controversy
  14. Deutschland will Hosni verhindern
  15. Editorial : Farouk Hosni for UNESCO: A catch 22
  16. UN culture body split over Egyptian
  17. Direction de l'Unesco: la France doit "éclaircir" sa position
  18. French Minister for Foreign Affairs embarrassed by Farouk Hosni's bid on UNESCO (video interview in French)
  19. Unesco undecided on new leader
  20. Russian deputy foreign minister leaves race to lead UNESCO
  21. Россия сняла с выборов своего кандидата на пост главы ЮНЕСКО
  22. Заступник голови МЗС РФ відмовився від боротьби за посаду гендиректора ЮНЕСКО (Ukranian)
  23. Unesco: sarà un censore egiziano il nuovo direttore generale?
  24. Voting for UNESCO chief moves into fourth round
  25. Science sidelined by politics in UNESCO elections
  26. Three contenders remain for top UNESCO post
  27. Candidat à la présidence de l’UNESCO, Farouk Hosni poursuit la censure en Egypte
  28. Egyptian leads race to head Unesco
  29. Direttore generale Unesco: Vernetti,“Il Governo ripensi la propria posizione e non voti l'egiziano Hosni, antisemita ed illiberale”.

The First Round of Voting

The first round of voting ended a couple of hours ago in Paris. I have had several reports on the totals which are in general agreement/

Farouk Hosny, the Egyptian candidate as expected had most votes, but was far from the majority of 30 needed to be selected.

Irina Bokova (Bulgaria), Alexander Yakovenko (Russia), Ivonne Baki (Ecuador) and Benita Ferrero-Waldner (Austria) were bunched with 7 or 8 votes each.

The remaining candidates (Marciulionyte, Muhongo, Tadjani and Bedjaoui) were far behind.

I understand that there is to be another vote tomorrow.

Recall that the Executive Board has some 60 items on its agenda so the delegates have a great deal to do beside the election of a new Director General.

Remember, that the rules allow the voting to end when any candidate gets a majority on a ballot. If that has not happened by the fourth vote, the voting in the fifth round is limited to the two candidates who received the most votes on the fourth.

Incidentally, this website has had more than 8,000 visits in less than a month.


The Poll

Thanks to all the people who took the time to vote in the poll.

I added a poll to this website to allow people to express their opinions on who should be elected Director General of UNESCO. As I write this, there have been 4650 votes recorded, the vast majority for Ina Marciulionyte (4424 votes).

Four other candidates have enough votes to show up on the graph of results: Ivonne Baki (44 votes), Irina Bokova (28 votes), Benita Ferrero-Waldner (42 votes), and Farouk Hosny (42 votes).

In the first days of the poll, Ivonne Baki took the lead. That lead rapidly deteriorated as the Marciulionyte faction started registering votes.

In interpreting this data you have to recognize that one vote does not represent one person, and the domination of Ms. Marciulionyte is almost certainly the result of her supporters mobilizing more effectively to cast votes. The number of "real votes" is quite small. 70 votes were divided among the other three candidates, with none getting as many as 28 votes.

Mohammed Bedjaoui was not included in the poll as it was thought he had withdrawn from the competition when the poll was created.

I suppose the conclusions that can be drawn are that Ina Marciulionyte's supporters are more effective in using the Internet, and perhaps that support in cyberspace for the other candidates is fairly evenly split.

In another unscientific poll, a Egyptian blogger strongly opposed to the candidacy of Farouk Hosny asked her readers whether Farouk Hosny deserved to win the UNESCO Chair. The results as of this writing are 14 yes, 91 no.


Interviews Were Held Today

Following the rules of the Executive Board of UNESCO, each of the candidates for the post of Director General of UNESCO was interviewed by the Board today. With nine interviews, scheduled for an hour each, it must have been a long day.

After a long debate on Friday and Monday, Mohammed Bedjaoui was included in the interviews. The Algerian, nominated by the Government of Cambodia, had sought to withdraw from the race but his resignation was apparently not accepted. Apparently he made a strong impression on the Board -- not surprisingly due to his impressive career.

The voting is to take place on Thursday, September 17. You may recall that if a candidate does not obtain the majority of votes on any of the first four ballots, then the fifth ballot is to be limited to the top two candidates on the fourth ballot.

We will soon know who will get the nod from the Executive Board, to be recommended to the entire General Conference which meets in October.

While Farouk Hosny, the Egyptian Minister of Culture, continues to claim leadership in the race, others suggest it is still open, with several contenders having a chance for selection.


The Election of the UNESCO Director General

A new Director General is to be elected for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization this year. A total of nine candidatures were received by the Executive Board. They are (in chronological order of reception):
  • - Mr Mohammed BEDJAOUI (Algeria) Candidature proposed by: Cambodia
  • - Mr Farouk HOSNY (Egypt) Candidature proposed by: Egypt, Kowait, Sudan, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Each candidate is to present a brief document with a vision for the future of UNESCO, and the candidates are to be interviewed by the UNESCO Executive Board in September. The Executive Board is to recommend a candidate to the General Conference, which in turn is to elect the new Director General during its meeting in October.

Read more:
Here are some articles reporting on prior elections:
Prior to the formal nominations by the representatives of member nations of UNESCO, there was a process in which various individuals were identified as potential candidates. Several individuals from Arab nations were floated as possible candidates, but eventually withdrawn in favor of Farouk Hosny. There was a considerable controversy in Brazil about two possible Brazilian candidates, neither of whom were finally nominated.

A note on this website:

This website seeks to make a broad body of information on the election and candidates available to all interested parties. I neither seek nor will I accept financial contributions from any source for its content or upkeep. The website is made possible by the free, public services of Blogger, Google, Google translate and Google alerts. Thanks to those who have suggested published reports that might be of interest to its readers. John Daly

Criteria for Evaluation of Candidates for the Post of Director General of UNESCO

The candidates for the post of Director General should be judged on how well qualified they are to carry out the functions of their important post. It is often useful to define a set of explicit criteria against which those qualifications may be judged. This posting is an attempt to define such criteria. It is assumed without stating that all the candidates nominated by member states are persons of high moral character, physically fit to carry out the arduous duties of the Office.

In its letter to the member states inviting nominations for the Post of Director General, the Executive Board wrote the following:
In facing the challenges of the new millennium, it is important to highlight the personal qualities required for the UNESCO Director-General. The point of departure is that the General Conference, in the interests of all Member States, should appoint the best person for the post who should have the following qualities:
  • leadership and proven administrative and management skills;
  • a strong commitment to all the objectives of the Organization;
  • a visionary and active approach to the role of UNESCO in the community of nations;
  • good knowledge of the United Nations system;
  • commitment to the highest moral and ethical standards;
  • strong communication skills so as to develop effective internal and external communication strategies, vision and objectives for the Organization;
  • empathy and sensitivity to civil society as an important UNESCO constituency by utilizing, as appropriate, the existing structures and in particular the National Commissions for UNESCO."
(Tony Fleming, in his report titled "Improving Global Leadership Selection" has summarized the criteria used by other agencies of the United Nations system.)

While I do not disagree with the general criteria identified by the Board, it seems to me that more specificity might be useful. Here is a complementary list of criteria that might be considered:

General Criteria

Demonstrated effective action for the promotion of peace.

Demonstrated effective action for the promotion and conduct of dialog among diverse cultural groups.

Skills in international diplomacy.

Demonstrated effective action in assisting in social and economic development in an international context.

Organizational Skills

Ability to manage and reform a large complex intergovernmental organization, demonstrated by education and experience.

Ability to interface with and motivate global networks of individuals and organizations, especially the educational, scientific, cultural and other intellectual networks working with UNESCO.

Sectoral Leadership and Management

Education: A strong background in educational management, as might be demonstrated by background as a minister of education or president of a university.

Natural and Social Sciences: A strong background in scientific administration, such as might be demonstrated by background as a minister of science, energy or environment, or direction of a scientific organization such as a research center.

Culture: A strong background in management of cultural institutions, such as might be demonstrated by background as a minister of culture or direction of a cultural organization such as a firm in a cultural industry or a development assistance organization focusing on culture and development.

Communications and Information: A strong background in management of institutions in this field, such as direction of a national library, major newspaper, or media network, or minister of communications and information.


The Director General should be a public intellectual, capable of obtaining and holding the respect of the international intellectual community.

The Director General should understand broad global social and economic processes that are affecting demands for an on educational, scientific, cultural and communications and information systems.

Of course, no individual is likely to score well against all these criteria. Moreover, not all these criteria deserve equal weight in the selection of the Director General. Thus, the core function of UNESCO is to build the defenses of peace in the minds of men, and demonstrated commitment to the promotion of peace would seem to merit great weight in the selection.

The relative importance of the ability to manage UNESCO’s formal organization versus the ability to mobilize the informal networks that UNESCO catalyzes and stakeholder communities that UNESCO serves should be weighed. I would suggest that while bureaucratic management will continue to be important, it is still more important that the next Director General seek to improve the UNESCO’s outreach to this larger community.

Often through the use of such criteria, candidates can be divided into groups such as:
  • Highly qualified.
  • Qualified.
  • Marginally qualified
  • Unqualified.

Comments and suggestions are welcome!

An assessment of the race for the position of Director General

Geographic Considerations
It is generally believed that the position of Director General of UNESCO should not be monopolized by any one nation, or indeed by any region. Most previous Directors General have been from Western Europe or the United States, with one Asian, one Latin American and one African. There is also an unwritten agreement that the top positions within the United Nations system should be distributed among many nations.

It should be noted that UNESCO divides member nations into five groups, each of which chooses a specified number of members of the Executive Board. (Click here to see a report with the current members by group.) Active nominees according to this grouping are:
  • Group 1: one nominee (Benita FERRERO-WALDNER, Austria; 6 previous Directors General),
  • Group 2: three nominees (Irina Gueorguieva BOKOVA. Bulgaria; Ina MARČIULIONYTĖ, Lithuania and Alexander Vladimirovich YAKOVENKO, the Russian Federationl; no previous Directors General)
  • Group 3: one nominee (Ivonne JUEZ de A. BAKI, Ecuador: one previous Director General)
  • Group 4: no nominees (the current Director General)
  • Gruop 5: three nominees (Nouréini TIDJANI-SERPOS, Benin; Farouk HOSNY. Egypt and Sospeter Mwijarubi MUHONGO , Tanzania; one previous Director General)
The voting for Director General is by secret ballot on the basis of one vote per member nation. Developing nations hold the vast majority of the votes. It was thought early in the process of selection that a citizen of an Arab or Islamic nation might have an advantage in this UNESCO election.

The final decision in fact depends on the qualities of the individual candidates and the support that the sponsoring nations are willing to give each candidate.

The Candidates
Nine candidates were formally nominated prior to the deadline. Four are women, and there has never been a woman Director General of UNESCO. Four were from Europe, two from Sub-Saharan Africa, two from North Africa, and one from Latin America.

A number of individuals from Arab nations were reported to be seeking nomination and support for their candidacy, but at last Farouk Hosny was nominated. Mohammed Bedjaoui of Algeria was nominated by Cambodia, but (reportedly under heavy pressure) has withdrawn his candidacy.

Two Brazilians , UNESCO Deputy Director General Marcio Barbosa and Brazilian Senator Cristovam Buarque were considered for nomination by Brazil, but finally neither was nominated, reportedly due to a decision to support the Egyptian candidate.

The Permanent Representatives of Bulgaria (Irina Bokova) and Lithuania (Ina Marctulionyte) were nominated as had been expected, and have been actively campaigning for the position. Assistant Director General for African Programs, Nouréini Tidjani-Serpos was the only member of the Secretariate to receive a formal nomination, that of his country Benin.

There were four nominations that had not been widely expected, Benita Ferrero-Waldner (an Austrian, and the Commissioner for External Relations of the EC), Alexander Vladimirovich Yajivenko (the Deputy Foreign Minister of the Russian Federation), Ivonne Baki (an Ecuadorian, and the President of the Andean Parliament), and Sospeter Muhongo (a Tanzanian, and Regional Director for Africa of the International Council for Science).

The Campaigns
The only votes that count are those of the representatives of the member states in the governing bodies, and these are usually determined by instructions from their governments. Therefore perhaps the most important aspect of campaigning is done in negotiations between governments, and those negotiations are normally done in secret. In this election, however, there have been a number of news stories that open the process somewhat. Thus we can read the agendas of bi-national diplomatic discussions that include requests for support of a national candidate among other topics. The negotiations between the Egyptian government and those of Israel and France have been the subject of speculation in the press. Russia came up with a unique campaign tactic, offering publicly to increase its contribution to UNESCO from $12 million to $20 million per year if its candidate is chosen.

Candidates themselves have been actively seeking the office by a variety of means. Several attended major meetings supported by UNESCO (World Conference on Higher Education, meeting of the World Heritage Committee). Hospitality suites have been set up in these fora in which candidates can meet permanent representatives to UNESCO from other nations. Several have travelled to meet government officials in key nations. Most have established websites and given interviews with the press discussing their candidacy. Vision statements from most of the candidates have been made available to the public.

There has been quite a bit of press coverage of the election. When Koichiro Matsuura was elected the first time, the Internet was much less developed than it is today. As a result, this year there is much more opportunity for private citizens to be informed about the election and even to express support or opposition to candidates.

The candidacy of Farouk Hosny has proven to be especially controversial, raising vocal opposition from a number of groups, and serious lobbying against his election by a number of member states, as well as strong support from his partisans.. His early lead in the race is reported to have deteriorated. However, he appears to have continued strong support from his government. The government of Israel had at one time opposed his candidacy, but withdrew that opposition. The government of France was at one time announced to be in support of Hosny, but more recently announced that it was not supporting a specific candidate.

Rumors suggest that:
  • the two African candidates have weakened support for the Egyptian candidate among African nations;
  • the support from the Islamic nations for the Egyptian candidate is not as solid as had once been believed.
  • the European nations may be seeking a process by which they can all support a single European candidate.
The Selection Process
The 58 members of the Executive Board will have the opportunity to review the qualification statements for the candidates submitted by their governments, to read the vision statements they themselves have submitted (probably often with the help of their government's UNESCO representatives), and to interview the candidates.

In past elections of new Directors General, the Executive Board did not give a majority to a candidate on the first round of voting, and with eight active candidates it seems quite possible that this time there will be more than one round of voting as well. Thus the process by which members of the Executive Board switch their support from one to another candidate may be important.

The recommendation of the Executive Board is considered likely to be accepted by the General Conference, and Chairman Yai of the Executive Board is likely to play an important role in managing the election process. It is difficult for an outsider to predict in advance which candidate will eventually emerge as the victor. The nomination of a candidate for Director General of UNESCO is one of 62 items on the crowded agenda of this meeting (September 7 - 23, 2009) of the Executive Board.

A good source for news and views on UNESCO and this election is the UNESCO's Friends Group on LinkedIN.

Coverage of the election and candidates

I recommend Google Translate and/or Babel Fish for online translation of articles from their original language to your language.

This set of links is being updated on a daily basis!

The following list is in order that I found the reference, and is not in chronological order of their publication. The articles I believe to be most influential are in red.
  1. Election of the Director General
  2. Russia promises $20 mln to UNESCO in bid to win top post
  3. Unesco : la honte d’un naufrage annoncé
  4. UNESCO: Shame of a Disaster Foretold
  5. Oppose Farouk Hosni as UNESCO's Director-General Now!
  7. Netanyahu takes flak for support of anti-Israel UNESCO appointment
  8. The Curious Farouk Hosny Affair: The Painter, the Preachers & the Politicians
  9. UNESCO: vive campagne pour le poste de directeur général
  10. EGYPT: Fatwa issued against secular author
  11. Long road to UNESCO (Interview with Farouk Hosny)
  12. Why can't an Arab be more like an Israeli?
  14. No for Farouk Hosni’s Nomination for UNESCO Secretary-General (Arabic, French and English)
  15. La bataille pour l’Unesco
  16. Lettre à Farouk Hosni
  17. Egyptians kick against compatriot in bid for UNESCO job
  18. Unesco, l'ancien ministre algérien Bedjaoui dans la course pour... le Cambodge
  19. Being Farouk Hosny
  21. Egypt to present Faruk Hosni for UNESCO Chief
  22. Egyptian intellectuals question Minister’s eligibility for UNESCO post
  23. Burning Issue
  24. Farouk Hosni: The Politics of Temperment
  25. Egyptian Culture Minister, Imaginary and Fabricated Battles
  26. Global Integrity Report: Egypt Reporters Notebook
  27. Development: UNESCO Race Now Wide Open
  28. Is Farouk Hosni worthy of leading UNESCO?
  29. Why I Worry About Farouk Hosny as Candidate for UNESCO Director General
  30. Enough is Enough: A Rebuttal to the above blog posting (26)
  31. Response to Comments by Omar Massilha made in the above posting (27)
  32. Ferrero-Waldner muss um Unesco- und EU-Job zittern
  33. Egypt intellectuals issue letter against Farouk Hosni's UNESCO bid
  34. Wrong for UNESCO (Farouk Hosny)
  35. Egypt u-turn on publishing Israeli books
  36. Bibi Bails on UNESCO Flap, Angering Wiesel
  37. Was Mubarak Israel versprochen hat
  38. EGYPT: Fatwa issued against secular author
  39. Election DG UNESCO: Le candidat TIDJANI-SERPOS se prononce sur le choix de l'Union Africaine (video)
  40. UNESCO Vacancy a Political Battleground
  41. UNESCO more than just culture, but less than just politics
  42. Ferrero-Waldner kandidiert "with a little help from her friends"
  43. Россия приценивается к посту главы ЮНЕСКО
  44. ЮНЕСКО поможет справиться с проблемой "утечки умов"
  45. Стать гендиректором ЮНЕСКО и спасти Петербург
  46. Глава ЮНЕСКО нанес прощальный визит в Россию
  47. Farouk Hosni In His Own Words
  48. Egypt Denies Restoring Jewish Relics to Boost UNESCO Bid
  49. Sexo e intriga en UNESCO
  50. National committee formed to support Farouk Hosni nomination for UNESCO post (2007)
  51. What's Behind Jewish Synagogue Restauration?
  52. Religious Scholars Slam Farouk Hosny for Anti-Veil Remarks
  53. Farouk Hosni Won't Step Out of His House
  54. UNESCO Candidate Calls for Pan-American Effort to Spur Development
  55. Nouréini Tidjani-Serpos
  56. Elmar Mammadyarov receives Ecuador’s nominee for UNESCO Secretary General Ivonne Juez de A. Baki
  57. Very, Very Lost in Translation
  58. My House is Your House
  59. Egypt Stung by Charges of Neglect of Jewish Site
  60. N’élisez pas Farouk Hosni à la tête de l’UNESCO
  61. The Pen Club Also Opposes Farouk Hosni's Election
  62. Interviewé par Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, le ministre des Affaires étrangères a évoqué les relations de la France avec l'Iran, les élections afghanes et l'Unesco. (video)
  63. Descarta Francia tener un favorito para dirigir la UNESCO
  64. Francia no expresará "preferencia" por ningún candidato
  65. Foreign Policy Slams Farouk Hosni's Candidacy
  66. UNESCO Can Help in Attaining MDGs Says EU Commissioner
  67. Why Did Not Hosni Go To Toulouse
  68. A Sorry Candidate
  69. Oppose Farouk Hosni as UNESCO's Director General
  70. Ferrero-Waldner: Hartes Rennen um Unesco-Chefposten
  71. UNESCO Candidate Calls for Pan-American Effort to Spur Development
  72. Clearing the Debris
  73. Turkey and Zülfü Livaneli miss top UNESCO post
  74. Joseph Hammond: Foreign Policy slams Farouk Hosni’s UNESCO candidacy
  75. UNESCO: Hosni, Not Hostile to Israel but Expect Just Peace
  76. Egyptian CM Farouk Hosni during Cairo-Scandal
  77. Ayoon Wa Azan (He would Burn Them Himself If They Made Their Way In)
  78. Campagne d'Egypte pour l'Unesco
  79. Jean-Marie Ehouzou expose les chances de Tidjani Serpos
  80. Egypt’s Unesco candidatefights attacks on two sides
  81. Unesco: le candidat égyptien à la direction générale dans les feux de la controverse
  82. Egyptian writers condemn Foreign Policy Magazine attack as “uprovoked”
  83. Farouk Hosni candidat à la direction de l’Unesco: Chronique d’une campagne controversée
  84. The ambassador in France Irina Bokova – UNESCO Director General candidate
  86. Farouk Hosni, qui mal y pense?
  87. L'Égyptien Farouk Hosni à la conquête de l'Unesco
  88. Umstrittener Kandidat bei der UNESCO
  89. Message from: Prof Sospeter Muhongo, Musoma | Candidate: Director of UNESCO
  90. Arab favourite for Unesco's top job apologises for 'book burning' remarks
  91. Egypt's Unesco hopeful in book burning row
  92. ‘Hebrew book-burning’ minister Farouk Hosni is front-runner to head Unesco
  93. An Anti-Semite for UNESCO?
  94. UNESCO: Wahl von Faruk Hosni zum Generaldirektor wäre ein
  95. MIDEAST: Political Clouds Hang Over UNESCO Selection
  96. Farouk Hosni e gli strani giochi della candidatura egiziana all'Unesco
  98. Egypt rallies for UNESCO's top post
  99. Unesco: des intellectuels accusent Paris d'oeuvrer à l'élection d'Hosni
  100. France backs Farouk Hosni to win UNESCO's post (Egyptian article dated August 2008.)
  101. Ambassador Bokova visits Morocco
  102. Is This Who Should Head UNESCO?
  103. Unesco-Chefposten: Ferrero-Waldners Chancen schwinden
  104. EU unlikely to agree on UNESCO candidate: commissioner
  105. U.S. Will Not Disclose Choice for UNESCO Director General
  106. Eyeing the goal posts
  107. Egypt's UNESCO Candidate: An Anti-Jewish Bigot?
  108. Farouk Hosni Is Tying Himself in Knots
  109. An Egyptian for UNESCO (comments on the op ed piece)
  110. Private Motive for Egypt’s Public Embrace of a Jewish Past
  111. Egypt's bid to lead UNESCO raises hackles
  112. Controversy Lingers Over Choosing the Next Unesco Chief
  113. Egyptian censorship advocate is candidate to be UNESCO director general
  114. The U.N.'s New Censor
  115. Un défenseur de la censure candidat à la direction de l’Unesco
  116. L'Unesco élit son directeur: le candidat égyptien fait scandale
  117. Vorwurf, Sarkozy würde Kandidatur von Hosni für Amt von UNESCO-Generaldirektor unterstützen
  118. Ein Antisemit als Generaldirektor?
  119. Henri Guaino, plume présidentielle aujourd'hui, universelle demain, par Claude Lanzmann et Bernard-Henri Lévy
  120. Unesco : Kogui à Paris, Joseph Yaï à Cotonou, l'élection de Tidjani-Serpos
  121. Israel Row Looms Over UNESCO Race
  122. Optimismo sobre candidatura a director general de UNESCO
  123. UNESCO to Pick New Chief
  124. La UNESCO examina a los candidatos a director general en medio de la polémica
  125. Campaign for top UNESCO post gets off to a charged start
  126. Se busca director general
  127. Candidata ecuatoriana a dirigir la UNESCO ve con optimismo sus posibilidades
  128. Unesco - Un Egyptien accusé d’antisémitisme part grand favori
  129. Egyptian minister's candidacy to lead UNESCO sparks controversy
  130. Process begins to choose a new Unesco chief
  131. Campagne feutrée à l'Unesco
  133. L’Unesco, les raisons d’espérer de Tidjani Serpos
  134. Ivonne Baki, tras la presidencia de la UNESCO
  135. Controversy Surrounds Frontrunner in Race to Head Major U.N. Agency
  136. Let's Not Put UNESCO in the Hands of a Culture Cop
  137. Egyptian Minister's Candidacy to Lead UNESCO Sparks Controversy
  138. Controversy Flares Over UNESCO Chief Candidate
  139. Unesco: le chasseur de nazis Serge Klarsfeld soutient le candidat égyptien controversé
  140. The Bad Minister
  141. Lost in translation (and willful misrepresentation)
  142. Unesco To Pick New Chief
  143. Soy la candidata del consenso para dirigir la Unesco: Ivonne Baki
  144. The Complete Farouk Hosni, UNESCO, Israel saga
  145. Unesco, une nouvelle vision pour le XXIe siècle
  146. Egyptian's UNESCO candidacy opposed by Zionists
  147. Egyptian censorship advocate is frontrunner for post of UNESCO Director-General
  148. The Battle for the Top Job at UNESCO
  149. L'Italia non può votare per l'antisemita Farouk Hosni all'Unesco
  150. UNESCO's Leadership: A Race or a Death Wish
  151. Prise de tête à l'Unesco
  152. Is that Obama's voice in UNESCO?
  153. Unesco : Le sort de la candidature de Bedjaoui tranché demain
  154. Wrong man for UNESCO
  155. Unesco : les enjeux d'une polémique, par Caroline Fourest
  156. Egypt's compromised Unesco candidate
  157. Culture clashes
  158. Prise de tête à l'Unesco
  159. Farouk Hosni Promised to Burn Any Israeli Books He Found in Egyptian Libraries: Now He May Become Head of उनेस्को
  160. Culture Club Candidate
  161. French split over "book burner"
  162. A Book Burner for UNESCO?
  163. La UNESCO: una historia vergonzosa
  164. TIDJANI-SERPOS « L'UNESCO est le temple des cultures » (video)
  165. Not Only Hostile to Jews and Israel - He Failed as Guardian of Culture in His Own Country and Did Not Even Protect Egyptian UNESCO Literary Laureate
  166. ADL Issues Open Letter To UNESCO; Urges Members To Reject Candidacy Of Farouk Hosni
  167. An Appeal to World Leaders: Protest the Election of Farouk Hosni
  168. UNESCO, Farouk Hosni No Thanks
  169. Egypt's UNESCO Candidate Has Domestic Critics Also
  170. Candidato egípcio a secretário-geral da Unesco nega ser anti-semita
  171. Farouk Hosni défend sa candidature à l'UNESCO
  172. Egypt's man for UNESCO faces undercover opposition
  173. Liderança da Unesco vai para antissemita?
  174. Un bigot à l'UNESCO !
  175. UNESCO to elect new Director-General
  176. Egypt UNESCO candidate has domestic critics also
  177. Farouk Hosni presents his strategy for UNESCO
  178. Course à la tête de l’Unesco : Tévoédjrè en campagne pour Tidjani à Paris
  179. Irina Bokova stands good chances for becoming UNESCO’s next Director General
  180. Le candidat de l’Egypte tient la corde à l’Unesco
  181. Cairo nominee for Unesco chief stirs controversy
  182. Tanzanian Candidate Seeks Greater UNESCO Focus on Science
  183. Farouk Hosni, minister who threatened to burn Hebrew books, set for Unesco post
  184. UNESCO Disunity
  185. Eine Schande namens Uno
  186. Der Mann, der israelische Bücher verbrennen wollte
  187. L'Unesco désigne son directeur, avec un Egyptien controversé pour favori
  188. Polêmica marca escolha de novo secretário-geral da Unesco
  189. UNESCO: Israelfeindlicher Hosni mit guten Chancen
  190. Tête de l'Unesco : le favori accusé d'antisémitisme
  191. Remous autour de la course à l'Unesco
  192. Ferrero-Waldner kämpft um den Unesco-Chef-Posten
  193. Unesco Election: Looking for a Consensus
  194. IFEX members concerned about candidate for UNESCO director-general
  195. Anti-Semitism Charges Mar Bid For U.N. Culture Czar
  196. Egyptian candidate for top job denies anti-Semitism
  197. Egyptian Minister Forced to Apologize for Threatening to Burn Books About Israel
  198. UNESCO vote hit by row over Egyptian candidate
  199. Anti-Semitism row overshadows UNESCO leader vote
  200. Farouk Hosni: My program aims at development of UNESCO
  201. King Farouk of UNESCO?
  202. MUKASA Issues Open Letter to UNESCO: Urges Members to Reject Candidacy of Farouk Hosni
Save UNESCO: Why Farouk Hosni Cannot Become the UNESCO's Next Director General is a blog operated by some French students which posts information on UNESCO and the race for Director General. Omar Massalha, a representative of the committee to support Farouk Hosny has asked that I post also a link to their blog: Yes4FaroukHosny.

The Facebook site for "Egyptians Against Nominating Farouk Hosny for UNESCO" has a number of links to articles in Arabic. If you do not read Arabic, I suggest that you can get a rough translation online using Google translate.

I can not post titles in Arabic but here are links to some articles relevent to the election of the new UNESCO Director General in that language:
There are other news articles on these candidates which I have not been posting as they are not specifically related to UNESCO nor the election campaign. This is especially true of Benita Ferrero-Waldner whose duties as EU Commissioner result in a great deal of media coverage. There are also unposted articles discussing Egyptian cultural matters naming Farouk Hosny in his role as Minister of Culture. I have difficulty following the literature posted in the Cyrillic alphabet.