UNESCO – Candidacy of Audrey Azoulay for the position of director-general – Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian (06 October 2017)


The coming week will be decisive for UNESCO’s future. The 58 nations of the Executive Board will elect the person whose name will be put forward at the General Conference in early November to be the organization’s next director-general.

France is presenting the candidacy of former culture and communication minister Audrey Azoulay for this position.

It is because it is a founding member of UNESCO and hosts it headquarters that France is so strongly committed to helping the organization regain the moral and intellectual prestige that underpinned its mandate within the UN system. The fight against obscurantism being waged in all of our societies and the values of respect, dialogue, and listening are more central than ever when it comes to responding to contemporary challenges. The spread of knowledge, the promotion of quality education for all, the protection of humanity’s heritage and our environment, the empowerment of women and girls are all UNESCO priorities. In a world where the freedom of opinion and expression are all too often challenged, it is vital for UNESCO to continue its support for the free circulation of ideas, harnessing all necessary means to promote, in particular, the freedom of the press and the protection of journalists. These key principles will be decisive to next week’s election.

France maintains these same priorities within multilateral bodies to support UNESCO’s work. This is reflected by the decision to raise official development assistance to 0.55% of the gross national product by 2022, announced by the President and the co-presidency of the next financing conference for the Global Partnership for Education. That is crucial in order for us to collectively meet the sustainable development goal of lifetime education for all.

This is the purpose of Audrey Azoulay’s candidacy on behalf of France. She intends to restore UNESCO’s ability to strengthen its efforts on the ground, update its methods and become more open to young people. Her political, diplomatic, and managerial experience guarantees an effective, inclusive UNESCO, respectful of all, that brings together all the world’s nations.