Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bokova to head UNESCO

It almost inexplicably took five rounds of voting, but former Bulgarian Foreign Minister Irina Bokova is to be the new chief of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). A very fine choice, this is.

She won out over Egyptian Culture Minister Faruq Hosni, who had wide support but a shall-we-say-odd view of what constitutes cultural preservation... Last year he said he would be willing to "burn Israeli books in Egyptian libraries" (and then apologized. uh huh). *Not* exactly the attitude one wants in the chief dispenser of international funding for cultural preservation.

UNESCO has had it bad years; think back to the 1980's and 90's when the U.S., the U.K. and Singapore all withheld funding over ideological differences and accusations of misappropriation (mostly the typical U.N. graft problem). Things are much better in the main, now. If there is a continuing problem, besides the bureaucratic bloat that exists throughout the U.N., it would be in the UNESCO-chartered NGO's out there that are often tools for causes that may not actually serve the goals of the main organization.

But UNESCO itself *is* doing better, and seeing Ms. Bokova take the helm is just one more step in the right direction.


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