Why we are supporting Audrey Azoulay for the position of UNESCO Director-General

By Open Letter - 26 September 2017 at 1:40 pm
Why we are supporting Audrey Azoulay for the position of UNESCO Director-General

In a few weeks’ time, UNESCO Member States will choose their new Director-General.

None of the great challenges currently facing our world, from climate change, rapid urban development, to displacement of peoples, identity politics and violent extremism, can be resolved by one country alone and none can be resolved without culture, education and science.

To build our common future and promote a humanism that is needed now more than ever, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization must regain a central role on the international stage and the ability to defend even more strongly its universal values and missions exercising responsible multilateral governance.

To defend this collective project, open to the world and focused on young generations, Audrey Azoulay has put forward her candidacy to become the Director-General of UNESCO, convinced that it is through education and culture, and the dissemination of science and sustainable development that the Organization will be able to activate the furthest-reaching and soundest forces over the long term, of the United Nations universal project for peace and democracy.

Her personal life and professional career have always been marked by her active commitment to innovation and intercultural and intergenerational dialogue. Her connection with the two shores of the Mediterranean, between Europe and Africa, has led her to fight for the diversity of languages and cultural expressions.

Audrey Azoulay promotes a new-generation project for a strong, independent, innovative and dynamic UNESCO, capable of conducting ambitious actions to meet the main challenges of the 21st century. UNESCO should be a place for debate where the voices of the world, the voices of researchers, artists, intellectuals, civil society, consider the issues of tomorrow’s world, such as artificial intelligence.

UNESCO can once again be the conscience of the United Nations, in accordance with the founders’ words of Léon Blum, adapted to the challenges of the 21st century. It is through the action of women and men of good will, united in their same conception of human dignity and by a sense of responsibility towards future generations that the outreach expected of UNESCO will be restored.

This French candidacy, strongly supported by French President Emmanuel Macron, reflects France’s commitment and desire to work to further UNESCO, whose headquarters are in Paris, at this crucial time.

Without the common goods of freedom and democracy and the ability of individuals and our societies to be autonomous, remain free and ensure social justice and preserve our planet, there is no desirable or sustainable future. That is why it is vital to safeguard UNESCO’s legitimacy as an irreplaceable forum for dialogue between our nations and between our peoples, which does not ignore global tensions but is able to move beyond confrontations to align all of the voices of the nations in the world.

For all of these reasons, we support Audrey Azoulay’s candidacy to become the Director-General of UNESCO.

The first signatories are as follows:

Joe Addo, architect

Rokiatou Hampâté Bâ, President of the Amadou Hampâté Bâ Foundation

Miquel Barceló, Artist

Peter Brook, Theater and film director, actor and writer

Prof. Emmanuelle Charpentier, Director and Scientific Member at the Max Planck Institute of Infection Biology

Prof. Yves Coppens, Paleontologist and paleoanthropologist, honorary professor at the College de France, Member of the Institute de France

Amadou Diaw, President of the Saint-Louis Forum, Senegal

Bernard Foccroulle, Musician, General Director of the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence

Prof. Dr. Detlev Ganten, Former Chief Executive Officer Charité, President of World Health Summit Charité Berlin

Costa-Gavras, Film director, scriptwriter and producer

Prof. Dhanjay Jhurry, Vice-chancellor of the University of Mauritius

Prof. Anibal Jozami, UNTREF Rector (Universidad Nacional Tres de Febrero) and General Director of BIENALSUR

Jean-Marie Kakou-Gervais, Former minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ivory Coast

Dr. Thomas S. Kaplan, Entrepreneur, philanthropist and environmentalist

Fouad Laroui, Writer and academic

Erri de Luca, Writer, poet and translator

Radu Mihaileanu, Film director, scriptwriter and producer

Alain Mabanckou, Writer, Full Professor of Literature at UCLA

Marilu Marini, Comédienne et metteuse en scène

Armand Maudave, Writer, former diplomat

Achille Mbembe, Author

Prof. Atukwei (John) Okai, poet, writer, Secretary General of the Pan African Writers’ Association

El Tayeb Mustafa, President of The Future University Sudan, Secretary-General of Sudanese National Academy of Sciences, founding member of the Arab Academy of Science

Nureldin Satti, former Ambassador of Sudan, former high official at the UN

Raoul Peck, Film director, scriptwriter and producer

Pablo Reinoso, Artist and designer

Pascal Rogard, President of the French Coalition for Cultural Diversity

Dr. Alberto Ruy-Sanchez, Writer and publisher

Volker Schlöndorff, Film director, scriptwriter and producer

Leïla Slimani, Journalist and Writer

Dr. François Taddéi, Researcher, founder and director of the Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity

Prof. Françoise Thébaud, Honorary Professor at the University of Avignon, Associated Researcher at Institute for Gender Studies, University of Geneva

Lilian Thuram, President of the Foundation Education against racism

Prof. Cédric Villani, Deputy, Mathematician, Professor at University of Lyon, Member of the Académie des Sciences

Wajdi Mouawad, Writer, theater director and actor, director of the Théâtre national de la Colline

Remigijus Žaliūnas, Rector of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences, former President of the Council of the Association of Lithuanian Higher Education Institutions

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