Vietnamese candidate runs for UNESCO General Director chair

NDO – Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau, Assistant to the Foreign Minister and Special Envoy to the Prime Minister on UNESCO delivered a presentation and attended an interview for the position of UNESCO Director General at the international organisation headquarters in Paris on April 27.


Taking place from April 26-27, interviews were held at a plenary session within the framework of the 201st session of the UNESCO Executive Board for nine candidates, including three women and six men.

In 90 minutes, candidates gave their presentations and then answered questions in English or French. Ambassador Chau expressed his confidence and persuasion skills through his programme of action to bring more dynamism and efficiency to UNESCO for peace and stable development.

At the beginning of his ten-minute presentation, Ambassador Chau expressed his deep gratitude to the Party, State, Government and people of Vietnam for choosing him as Vietnam’s first representative in the election. He said that it is a great honour to uphold UNESCO’s noble values of human intellect and dignity, and to enhance the contribution of Vietnam to its development in the time to come.

According to him, if he is elected Director General of UNESCO, he will carry out three strategic visions, including promoting peace, innovation, and expanding information and communication, aimed at enhancing UNESCO’s role and its status and prestige over the next four years.

Regarding the role of the director general in promoting the close and effective relationship between the three governing bodies within the UNESCO, including the General Assembly, the Executive Board and the Secretariat, Ambassador Chau said that a good leader needs good assistants. It is important to build a close relationship between the director general and the assistants, he affirmed. Therefore, it is necessary for the leader to have a good understanding of UNESCO’s mission, vision and goals.

With his experience in holding important positions such as Ambassador – Head of the Vietnamese delegation to UNESCO, Director General of the Foreign and Cultural Affairs Department and UNESCO as well as General Secretary of the Vietnam National Commission for UNESCO, Ambassador Chau said he understands the working processes as well as the priorities and interests of each member country to promote the role of the head of this organisation.

He said that the international community needs to increase interest in areas with many difficulties and delays, including the promotion of heritage preservation as well as strengthening the dissemination of information in all aspects in Africa.

Ambassador Chau said that improving the education of women, thereby reducing gender inequalities, was one of his top priorities, as stated in the nine Millennium Development Goals of UNESCO. Education is the core and needs to receive more attention, especially in regards to women. UNESCO should provide more specific frameworks for each country in improving education for women, he said.

He also said that he will devote himself to being a trusted and caring friend, capable of connecting all members if he was elected to the position. UNESCO is a major professional organisation covering many areas, so the head must be knowledgeable and skilled in solving all problems as well as the current budget challenge.

After the live interview programme, the Executive Board will vote for a sole candidate in October 2017. Then, in November 2017, the President of the Executive Board will inform the General Assembly of the selected candidate. The UNESCO General Assembly will consider this nomination and cast a ballot on the official winner to replace Bulgarian Director General Irina Bokova, who will leave her office this year after two terms.