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Ex-French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay Elected to Head UNESCO

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Audrey Azoulay, a French-Jewish woman
Audrey Azoulay, a French-Jewish woman of Moroccan descent, as its next Director-General. Wikimedia

United Nations, October 14: A day after the US and Israel announced they were withdrawing from the Unesco alleging anti-Israel bias in the organization, it elected Audrey Azoulay, a French-Jewish woman of Moroccan descent, as its next Director-General.

In the final round of voting by Unesco’s Executive Board on Friday at its headquarters in Paris, Azoulay defeated Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari of Qatar, winning 30 votes to his 28.

Audrey Azoulay will succeed Irina Bokova, a Bulgarian who ran unsuccessfully for Secretary-General of the UN last year.

In her vision statement or manifesto, while campaigning for the post, Azoulay wrote, “Unesco must assert itself with ambition as the conscience of the United Nations.”

Through “the defense of humanist values” the Unesco can bring new life to the UN’s “universalist project of peace and democracy,” she said.

Unesco is the science, education and culture arm of the UN family.

Audrey Azoulay has had a long career in arts and culture administration before becoming Culture Minister last year and leaving the job after the national elections last May.

She has been the deputy Director-General of the French National Centre of Cinematography and a legal expert on culture and communication for the European Commission.

When she takes over the helm of Unesco she must grapple with the fallout of the US leaving the organization.

US membership in the Unesco will formally end in 2018 but already in 2013 Washington had lost its voting rights because Congress stopped paying the dues to the organization starting in 2011 because it had admitted Palestine as a full member.

The US contribution was 22 percent of Unesco’s budget and the organization had to cut its programmes with US arrears in excess of 600 million.

The breaking point for the US came in July when Unesco called the Old City of Hebron and a sanctuary considered holy by both Jews and Muslims in the West Bank a part of Palestinian territory while designating them World Heritage Site.

The area is under Israeli control and Israel claims the area. Palestinians call Hebron Al-Khalil and the sanctuary is called the Tomb of the Patriarchs by Jews and Ibrahim Mosque by Muslims.

The campaign for Unesco’s top job started with 10 candidates and the list was whittled down to three this week.

Egyptian Moushira Khattab was the third candidate in Thursday’s fourth round ballot where Azoulay and Al-Kawari led and moved on to the final round.(IANS)

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Gallery Dedicated for Disabled Indian Artists gets Inaugurated at UNESCO House

Enabling the participation of persons with disabilities in artistic and cultural life is a key priority for UNESCO

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UNESCO
To honour the talent of artists with disability, the first edition of 'Discovering Ability' art awards was also organised by Youth4Jobs Foundation, with UNESCO and HSBC. Wikimedia Commons

As part of an inclusive initiative, a temporary art gallery titled ‘Not Just Art’, dedicated to Indian artists with disabilities, was inaugurated by union minister G. Kishan Reddy at UNESCO Cluster House here on Monday.

The unique gallery has over 125 paintings done by disabled artists across 15 Indian states, and showcases their amazing talent with colour and form.

It will be open for public viewing on November 5-7 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., UNESCO said.

To honour the talent of artists with disability, the first edition of ‘Discovering Ability’ art awards was also organised by Youth4Jobs Foundation, with UNESCO and HSBC.

The award celebrates the artistic abilities of persons with disability, who have hitherto remained a largely unrecognised talent pool.

The artists were awarded with a cash prize of Rs 50,000. They are Amrit Khurana and Rohit Anand, both autistic artists; Mallika Khaneja, an artist affected by cerebral palsy; Y. Raghavendran, an artist with speech and hearing impairment; Niral Hareshbhai Swati, an artist with intellectual disability; Mohammed Yasar who participated in the Paralympic Art World Cup in 2019; and Durgesh Kumar Rathore, an artist with dyslexia and bibliophobia.

“Enabling the participation of persons with disabilities in artistic and cultural life is a key priority for UNESCO. (The initiative adds to) disability-focused interventions in India. It signals our commitment to empower persons with disabilities to become both mainstream consumers and producers of art forms.,” Eric Falt, UNESCO Director, New Delhi said.

UNESCO
As part of an inclusive initiative, a temporary art gallery titled ‘Not Just Art’, dedicated to Indian artists with disabilities, was inaugurated by union minister G. Kishan Reddy at UNESCO Cluster House. Pixabay

“If it’s the tag of just an artist, it would hardly get noticed. If we say disabled artist, people will still sit up and take notice. The awards feels like a great recognition,” Aarti Khurana, the mother of an autistic artist Amrit Khurana told IANS.

The jury was a panel of three eminent judges from the Department of Fine Arts, Sarojini Naidu College of Arts and Communication, Hyderabad, UNESCO said.

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As per Youth4Jobs head Meera Shenoy, said the initiative will also help artists develop market linkages, and they will continue to sell art online and through museums under the ‘Not Just Art’ platform. (IANS)