URGENT Appeal to Disqualify Iran’s Run for Chair of UNESCO Executive Board

November 8, 2017

Dr. Shimon Samuels, the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), explained that, “this week, a third of the Executive Board of 58 States – the motor of UNESCO – will be elected, for a four-year term.” 

“Next, the new Chair of the Board will be selected from the Asian Group, which is led by Iran as the sole contender,” he added.

“Following the Centre’s exposure of Iran's ‘UNESCO Prison’ in Dezful close to the Iraqi border, the arrest of teachers on UNESCO International Mother Language Day and of journalists on UNESCO Press Freedom Day,the Delegate of South Korea in disgust, put forward his candidacy,” noted Dr. Samuels.

His report highlighted the role in the election of two opposing world views:

- “Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who lambasted the UNESCO Education 2030 Programme. He protested the objectives for gender equality’ as ‘one of the main mistakes of the Western mentality about women… there is no reason for Iran to sign a document that others have prepared for us, and thus destroy our culture'.”

- “In contradiction, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, in 2015 – together with the UNESCO Youth Forum – introduced his ‘Vision 2030’: a plan to reform the economy, restrict the power of the religious police, to create a country of ‘moderate Islam open to all religions and the world’ and, significantly, removal of the ban on female drivers.”

Samuels continued, “In the bars and corridors of UNESCO, one hears the rumours and the obvious trade-offs: Sunni member-states will clearly oppose the Iranian candidate. The Latin and Caribbean Group is split between the ‘Alba Bloc' of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Cuba and Nicaragua, where Tehran and its terrorist agency, Hezbollah, are deeply seated, but mainstream countries will support the Korean candidate. Much of Africa is Sunni, but Iran is lobbying heavily.”

“If the Asian Group is unable to achieve a satisfactory majority winner, the race can then be opened to candidates from other groups,” he also said, adding, “The most egregious are the European Union members, who are defending their 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement with Iran and their trade bonanza subsequent to the lifting of sanctions.”

Dr. Samuels concluded by saying, “UNESCO should adopt the Saudi 2030 vision of the future, and condemn the Iranian rejection of its own 2030 Education Programme.,,The Ayatollah’s preference for the Middle Ages must disqualify Tehran’s candidate as Chair of the UNESCO Executive Board.”

For further information, contact Shimon Samuels on +33 609 770 158

For more information, please contact the Center's Communications Department, 310-553-9036. Join the Center on Facebook, www.facebook.com/simonwiesenthalcenter, or follow @simonwiesenthal for news updates sent direct to your Twitter feed.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).