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In Corrupt UN of Guterres UNESCO Paving Its Way to Complete Irrelevance

By Matthew Russell Lee & sources, Exclusive

UN GATE, May 14UNESCO, like the whole UN system under Antonio Guterres is falling apart in corruption and fraud.

  Inner City Press has been reporting on serious malfeasance by the French Audrey Azoulay administration at UNESCO in Paris, almost as bad as Antonio Guterres' corruption in and of the UN in New York. A fish rots from the head.

As part of the malfeasance that proliferates unchecked under the French administration of DG Audrey Azoulay, she and her team treat the organization as if it were her private shop. All those close to her receive a candy from the Azoulay’s private candy shop for their good and loyal services.

This is what UNESCO is turning into today - an Azoulay Candy Shop.  The most recent example of a sweet gift is Audrey Azoulay's decision of this May 7, to transfer Lily to the UNESCO office in Ramallah.


As we wrote previously, Lily Neyestani is still the mistress of the former Director of Azoulay’s cabinet Nicolas Kassianides. As revealed by Inner City Press, she was moved to a P5 post in the education sector, in the division for education 2030. After illegally promoting Lily Neyestani to a P5 position, Kassianides left his family in order to start a new life with Lily in a plush apartment on Avenue Bosquet, in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. 

Since Kassianides was appointed Consul General of France in Jerusalem last year, it was easy to foresee that for his dedicated service, Azoulay wouldn't forget to give him a candy by sending his mistress to the UNESCO office in Ramallah, just 21.6 kilometers from Jerusalem, about a 40-minute drive via Begin Boulevard/Route 50. By any standards, that's very nice of her, and shows at least some gratitude for all the dirty work Kassianides has done for her. 

The reluctance of ADG for External Relations Anthony Kwaku Ohemeng-Boamah of the Republic of Ghana to approve the transfer of Lily Neyestani cost him his head, and he was notified this week that his contract would be terminated by the end of next June at the latest. In the end, he signed the memorandum with Lily's transfer, but he'll still be fired. Life's a bitch. Anthony Kwaku Ohemeng-Boamah took up his post in September 2023 and was sacked in May 2024.

 Also in charge of the Africa department, it will be interesting to see the reaction of African ambassadors to Ghana's unexpected humiliation.  On another front, Chile's Deputy Director General for Culture, Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, is actively campaigning for his election as head of UNESCO next year. That's why he recently went on a mission to Chile, even though he had absolutely no business being there, since this year's Press Freedom Day in Chile was the responsibility of UNESCO's Communication and Information Sector, not its Culture Sector.

But with Azoulay backing his campaign, it's more than obvious that he'll get all the support and funding he needs.  So, just days after an internal memorandum on travel restrictions, UNESCO's Deputy DG, the Chinese Xing Qu, approved Ottone's mission with a dozen of his staff in charge of his relentless promotion to the DG post.

Would the totally insignificant DDG have approved this mission on his own without Azoulay's blessing? Absolutely not. In recent years, he hasn't had the courage to take any tangible action or decision, let alone one of such political magnitude.

 Speaking of abuse of power and financial misdeeds, Inner City Press wrote already that the Director of legal affairs, Santiago Villalpando, coerced DG Azoulay and traded his support in exchange for the appointment of his wife to UNESCO. The decision to appoint Marina Silberman, the wife of the director of UNESCO's legal office, to the UN agency has been duly made and she has been given a P5 position in the Financial Management Branch (BFM). This is another major conflict of interest - a reward for impunity in violating the rules - that deserves the full attention of member states.  

 Alaa Youssef, Egypt's Ambassador and Permanent representative to UNESCO and France, could legitimately take the initiative in denouncing most of these malpractices happening at UNESCO. We now understand better why he doesn't, and why the Egyptian Ambassador prefers to remain silent and obey the French authorities and DG Azoulay herself.

As it happens, his wife, Ms Mahitab Marzouk, despite having diplomatic status in accordance with diplomatic conventions, being a member of his family and therefore tax-exempt in France, has a lucrative activity in the field of life-coaching - remunerated at 115 euros an hour


The disclosure of this information sheds light on the Ambassador's refractory behavior: instead of denouncing the misdeeds of the current French administration at UNESCO by campaigning for the Egyptian candidate, he prefers to keep quiet in order to protect the interests of his family and his wife's business. So how can Cairo count on him to defend Anani's interests?

 Would Alaa Youssef be prepared to break his privileged relationship with the French to the detriment of his wife for a much-needed active campaign? Tough personal and political choices lie ahead for the Egyptian ambassador.   The current Executive Board is clearly not inclined to let rampant corruption at UNESCO, caused by mismanagement and violation of financial rules and practices, go unchallenged, even if France, Italy and other EU cronies remain silent or raise their voices in defense of indefensible practices when no previous Director General has enjoyed such indulgence on their part.

 Yet even these EU countries are well aware that, under Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO's main mission has shifted to Prada events and Cannes Festival celebrations. Happily, next year her mandate comes to an end, and this is the only truly comforting and inspirational thought for both the staff and the national authorities who care about UNESCO's future and continue to take an interest in it.

  This is where UNESCO stands today, a UN agency ravaged by financial misappropriations, propitious to the flourishing of abuse of power, corruption and nepotism. We will have more on all that. Watch this site.



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