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Vietnamese diplomat runs for UNESCO Director-General post

Wednesday, April 26, 2017, 19:26 GMT+7

A seasoned Vietnamese diplomat will compete against eight other candidates for the Director-General post of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO.

Pham Sanh Chau, Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs and Special Representative of the Prime Minister of Vietnam on UNESCO Affairs, is scheduled to take part in an interview for the post during a public plenary meeting on Thursday, he told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Tuesday.

Nine candidates will be interviewed during the 201st Board session at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on Thursday and Friday, with each interviewee given 90 minutes to press their claims.

The UNESCO Executive Board determined the order of the interviews during a private meeting where lots were drawn on Monday, meaning Chau being the sixth interviewee.

During the 90-minute session, each candidate will deliver their vision statement before taking questions from the Executive Board in English and French.

Chau has said that this is an important event in his diplomatic career and that he feels both nervous and proud.

“There is also national pride as I am representing Vietnam in this race,” he said.

The diplomat told Tuoi Tre he had taken part in similar contests in and out the country but that this interview posed the biggest psychological pressure.

“This interview requires not only vast knowledge, but also the ability to give the clearest and most convincing answers in more than one language,” he said.

“The interview will also be broadcast live and this only adds to the pressure.”

The other candidates are from Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, France, Guatemala, Iraq, Lebanon and Qatar.

nJABUNRm.jpgUNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France. Photo: UNESCO

The UNESCO Director-General is nominated by the organization’s Executive Board and appointed by the General Conference.

The person nominated for the position by the Executive Board is chosen by secret ballot, during a vote that will take place during the Board's 202nd session in October 2017.

Subsequently, the Chairperson of the Board will inform the General Conference, during its 39th session in November 2017, of the candidate nominated by the Board.

The General Conference shall then consider this nomination and then elect, by secret ballot, the person proposed by the Executive Board.

The Director-General of UNESCO is the organization’s Chief Administrative Officer.

The Director-General may be appointed initially for a period of four years, and may then be appointed for a further term of four years, but shall not be eligible for reappointment for a third term.

Chau said the Director-General of UNESCO will be in charge of a US$676 million budget, 2,500 personnel made up of 200 nationalities and nearly 70 offices and centers under the organizations’ management.

The incumbent Director-General is Bulgarian Irina Bokova, who was elected in 2009 and then reelected for a second term in 2013.

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