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Declaration of Support

We the undersigned, express our conviction that the world needs a strong and vibrant UNESCO, and in the years ahead, UNESCO needs a visionary and capable leader, who can face the changing world and translate the noble ideals in the Constitution of the Organization into realities that affect the lives of millions of people. We hereby endorse, without reservations, Dr. Ismail Serageldin of Egypt, as the new Director-General of UNESCO, to succeed Prof. Federico Mayor who is completing his second and final term in 1999.

We are moved to do this because we believe that as we approach the third millennium, the world needs, more than ever, UNESCO. An organization committed to "...promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture in order to further the rule of law and for human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world without distinction of race, sex, language or religion..."

The nobility of UNESCO’s mission and purpose challenge us all to do more. Those who drafted that constitution over fifty years ago saw clearly and lucidly the challenges, and saw the role that education, science and culture had to play in creating a better future. Half a century later, despite the end of the cold war and the enormous advances in literacy and education, the challenges are still formidable.

Today, we live in a world of plenty, of dazzling scientific advances and technological breakthroughs. Yet, our times are marred by conflict, violence, economic uncertainty and tragic poverty. A sense of insecurity pervades even the most affluent societies. Nations are looking inward, and the rich turn their backs on the poor. Women and minorities continue to be treated inequitably. The knowledge based society of the future is increasingly going to favor the educated, the nimble and the powerful. Educational institutions will be challenged as never before.

UNESCO is the mandated agency to deal with many of these issues. It needs a leader committed to that mission. Someone who is both a visionary and a doer. A communicator and a manager. A person of broad experience and deep commitment, who is devoted to human dignity, to peace, justice and liberty. Only such a leader will be able to ensure that UNESCO plays its full role in promoting education, science and culture as the primary means to build a better, safer world, where our common humanity is respected, our heritage is honored, and our cultural diversity is celebrated, and to help forge a sustainable development path to this future. A path that is gender-conscious and people-centered, that respects diversity and nurtures the dignity of all things.

Against this background, and aware of the institutional and financial limitations that the organization will be operating under, we believe that the new Director-General should be someone who is recognized as :

  • A visionary leader who can bring people together for a common purpose;

  • A proven manager, who can bring the best out of an international administrative structure to fight bureaucracy, nurture creativity, attract talent and motivate all those associated with UNESCO to fulfill its mandate within the available resources;

  • A person having distinction in one or more of the main fields of UNESCO: Education, Science, and Culture, with a deep understanding of the others and how they fit together in terms of the changing world scene and the development needs of the human family; and

  • A good communicator, in multiple languages, with others within and outside of the institution.

It is our judgment that Dr. Ismail Serageldin fulfills these criteria in a remarkable way.

  • He is a visionary leader in the development field, covering many of the concerns of the human family, recognized as an innovator and coalition builder, champion of the poor, of minorities, of women and the weak and marginalized everywhere.

  • He is a proven manager, who rose through the ranks to become Vice President of the World Bank, and who simultaneously heads the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), Global Water Partnership (GWP), and the World Commission on Water for the 21st Century.

  • He is a master of many topics, with profound knowledge of many issues and a lucid global sense. He has been an amazingly prolific and effective speaker and writer on many fields, including specific and proven contributions in each of the three main areas of UNESCO: education, science and culture. His contributions have been recognized by his peers in the development community and by academic institutions on five continents, many of whom have awarded him academic recognition for his personal qualities and intellectual output, not his official positions.

  • He is an outstanding communicator of ideas, an eloquent and passionate voice for poverty reduction, human rights, dignity, the rights of women, culture, the environment, science and education. Messages that resonate with the mission and purpose of UNESCO.

It is our conviction that Ismail Serageldin is preeminently qualified to lead UNESCO into the next millennium, and we invite those responsible for electing the next Director-General of UNESCO to give their support to the candidacy of Ismail Serageldin.




This declaration of support is signed in a personal capacity, and institutional affiliation will be shown for identification purposes only.