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Matsuura Nominated for UNESCO Job

October 20, 1999

PARIS (AP) _ Koichiro Matsuura, a Japanese diplomat, was nominated Wednesday to become the director of UNESCO.

The executive board of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization selected Matsuura following a campaign for the post that laid bare some regional rivalries.

Matsuura, Japan’s ambassador to France since 1994 and current head of the U.N. World Heritage Committee, is almost certain to be confirmed as UNESCO’s director-general by the agency’s General Conference on Nov. 12.

His main U.N. experience was with the heritage committee, which designates and seeks to protect areas of historical and natural value.

Matsuura was picked from a field of four candidates in a third round of voting by the Paris-based UNESCO board. He got 34 of 58 votes, winning out over contenders from Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The other finalists included Ghazi Algosaibi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Britain and Ismail Serageldin of Egypt, vice president of the World Bank.

Some of those candidates created Web sites to promote their views on issues ranging from human rights to the empowerment of women.

Outgoing UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor had said he wanted to see somebody who was independent lead UNESCO. But he also told reporters that qualified candidates from Asia, the Arab world or eastern Europe would have preference.

Five of the past seven directors have been from Europe. Mayor’s predecessor, Senegal’s Amadou Mahtar M’Bow, was the first African to head a major U.N. organization.

UNESCO was founded in 1945 after World War II to fight intolerance and racism. It has 185 members, including Britain which rejoined last year after a 10-year absence.

The United States quit UNESCO in the mid-1980s, claiming corruption and gross mismanagement, and has not returned.

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