Audrey Azoulay re-elected as the head of UNESCO with massive support
Audrey Azoulay UNESCO

Audrey Azoulay re-elected as the head of UNESCO with massive support

Paris, November 10, 2021

Audrey Azoulay was re-elected Tuesday to the post of Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the massive support of its 193 Member States.

"Ms Azoulay’s re-election took place in a spirit of consensus with the overwhelming backing of UNESCO Member States, obtaining 155 votes out of a total of 169 ballots cast," a press release from UNESCO said.

“I see this result as a sign of regained unity within our organization. Over the last four years, we have been able to restore confidence in UNESCO, and in some respects this has also been about restoring UNESCO’s confidence in itself,” the Director-General told the Member States’ 193 ambassadors after the vote.

“We regained serenity by reducing the political tensions that stood in our way and by looking for common positions on subjects that were divisive in the past. We were then able to develop a shared ambition, notably by reconnecting with the tradition of leading major operations in the field,” she added with satisfaction.

Azoulay, 49, is a French civil servant and politician who was first elected for a four-year term as the Director-General of UNESCO in 2017, becoming the second female leader of the UN organisation. Before that, she had served as France's Minister of Culture from 2016 to 2017.

During her tenure, UNESCO has undergone a significant modernization process to improve the efficiency of its actions. The organization notably embarked on the reconstruction of the old city of Mosul (Iraq), launched in 2018 and currently underway.

Since the tragic double explosion in the port of Beirut in August 2020, UNESCO has rebuilt close to 90 schools in the Lebanese capital where it is also pursuing activities in the fields of heritage and culture.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, while hundreds of millions of children and adolescents were deprived of their right to learn, UNESCO once again proved its ability to step in, establishing the Global Education Coalition which made it possible to ensure educational continuity in 112 countries.

This new momentum has led to a consolidation of UNESCO’s budget. On the twin pillars of national and voluntary contributions, funding for 2020-21 totalled US$1.4 billion. Voluntary contributions increased by 50% over the 2017-2021 period, compared to the previous four years, the release added.

Born in Paris to Moroccan parents, Azoulay is a graduate of France’s Ecole Nationale d’Administration and of the Paris Institut d’Etudes Politiques. She holds a diploma in Business Administration from the University of Lancaster (UK).

Having worked in the sector of culture since the start of her professional career, Azoulay has notably focused on the funding of French public broadcasting and on the reform and modernization of France’s film support system. She has also served the European Commission providing her expertise on issues concerning culture and communication.

In 2014, as an advisor on culture to the President of the French Republic, she notably initiated the development of a protection plan for heritage in danger, which she was able to implement in 2016 as Minister of Culture and Communication. She has also prioritized improving children’s access to culture with the launch of artistic and cultural education school programmes “Création en cours” and created innovative cultural outreach programmes for people in remote and vulnerable areas “Microfolies”.

UNESCO, headquartered in Paris, is a specialised agency of the United Nations aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the arts, the sciences, and culture.


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