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Australian candidate for Director-General of UNESCO [Gareth Evans]

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Media Release

Alexander Downer

Minister for Foreign Affairs


FA 62

7 June 1999

Australian Candidate for Director-General of UNESCO

I am pleased to announce today that the Government will support the candidature of the Hon Gareth Evans QC MP to be the n ext Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The Government considers Mr Evans to be eminently qualified for the position of UNESCO Director-General. Australia has participated actively in UNESCO's programs since joining as a founding member in 1946 and we are a major contributor to the UNESCO budget. We are keen to see a reformed organisation successfully meet the challenges of the new millennium. Mr Evans has the political and intellectual stature, and international standing, to take the Organisation in that direction.

During his term as one of Australia's longest serving foreign ministers, Mr Evans was recognised for his strong commitment to the United Nations system and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his part in developing the United Nations peace plan for Cambodia.

Australia has been an active supporter of UNESCO since joining as one of the founding members in 1946. Mr Evans' candidacy reflects Australia's desire to contribute further to strengthen UNESCO's important role in the United Nations system.

The UNESCO General Conference in November 1999 will appoint the next Director-General, on the recommendation of the 58-member Executive Board. The Executive Board will make its selection in October.

There are several candidates already declared for the position. The Government recognises that securing Mr Evans' election will be a considerable challenge but believes that he is the best qualified of the candidates nominated so far.

Among the other candidates is the Japanese Ambassador to France. The Ambassador also heads the UNESCO World Heritage Committee which will consider whether to list Kakadu on the World Heritage "in danger" list at its meeting on 12 July.

The Australian Government rejects any suggestion of linkage between Mr Evans' candidacy and this issue, and is confident that the candidacy will have no bearing on the Committee's deliberations. 

For further information: Minister - Innes Willox 02 6277 7500 

Department - Tony Melville 02 6261 1555



jy  1999-06-09  12:31