New leader confirmed at troubled UN cultural agency Unesco

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Former French culture minister Audrey Azoulay has been confirmed as the new leader of the UN’s cultural body Unesco.

Ms Azoulay, 45, was nominated last month by Unesco’s executive board in a highly politicised race overshadowed by Middle East tensions.

The agency’s general conference, which includes all 195 members, has now formally approved Ms Azoulay’s four-year term in charge.

Unesco's newly elected director-general Audrey Azoulay, left, greets outgoing director-general Irina Bokova during the 39th session of the General Conference at the Unesco headquarters in Paris
Unesco’s newly elected director-general Audrey Azoulay, left, greets outgoing director-general Irina Bokova during the 39th session of the General Conference at the Unesco headquarters in Paris (Christophe Ena/AP)

Ms Azoulay hopes to restore the international standing of the Paris-based organisation which has been mired in financial woes since the United States withdrew its sizeable funding contribution in 2011.

It is also reeling from last month’s decision by the Trump administration to pull out of Unesco because of its alleged anti-Israeli bias.

The new director will set priorities for the organisation’s World Heritage programme, which protects cultural sites and traditions.

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