"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


UNESCO outrage

From Global Witness:
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is set to award a life sciences prize named after and funded by the dictator of Equatorial Guinea, despite pleas from hundreds of outraged individuals and organizations around the world. Human rights and other civil society groups today called for a full investigation into the source of the money in a joint letter to UNESCO.

"UNESCO is allowing itself to be used to burnish the unsavory reputation of a cruel and corrupt despot," said Tutu Alicante of the human rights organization EG Justice. "The prize's US$3 million endowment should be used for the education and welfare of the people of Equatorial Guinea, rather than the glorification of their president."

...The UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences was created in 2008 to recognize "scientific achievements that improve the quality of human life." Yet under the rule of President Obiang-the prize's namesake-the quality of life in the country, sub-Saharan Africa's fourth largest oil producer, remains abysmal.
Let me add my voice to those opposing this decision by UNESCO. Obiang's regime is guilty of massive, well-documented human rights violations against civilians. This is not a situation in which the facts are up for debate; there is universal agreement among observers (excluding those working in the oil industry) that Obiang is among the worst human rights violators in the world.

There is no good reason that a UN agency should validate his "leadership" or honor Mr. Obiang's name in any way. To implicitly claim that Obiang is concerned with improving the life of anyone outside of his own family is insulting to the memory of those innocent civilians who have been tortured and died at the hands of his regime. UNESCO - and any scientist who accepts this award - should be ashamed.


Anonymous Errwhateverz said...

Why is there so much outrage about this award - which is plainly absurd, and in being so, plainly meaningless - and yet no-one is raging about the massive quantities of oil the US buys off its "Good friend" (Condi Rice) which is what sustains and underpins the entire regime!?

Is it because this is simply easy to be mad about? Is it more interesting due to its novelty? Is it because it's the UN and not the US?

And yes, everyone can get all hot under the collar about the fact that it is symbolic which makes it different, but what about this?


Wednesday, May 12, 2010 3:52:00 AM

Blogger lu said...

and here i was, thinking that unesco didn't do anything. i guess they give away lifetime achievement awards to dictators in sub saharan africa, my mistake!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 6:30:00 AM

Blogger texasinafrica said...

@Errwhateverz, yes, there's a big difference between the United States and the United Nations. One is a state with foreign policy objectives (including the maintenance of oil supplies). The other is a multilateral organization that consistently keeps respect for human rights near the top of its priority list.

Also, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I've already discussed my disgust with Obama's decision to receive the Obiangs, much less to pose for a picture with them.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010 7:53:00 AM

Anonymous Errwhateverz said...

Fair enough - I was never suggesting there was some sort of hypocrisy going on, simply that there are more fundamental issues that warrant attention but that don't always get the same amount of critical attention because they are, well more complicated I guess. Its frustrating.

And good blog.

Thursday, May 13, 2010 4:10:00 AM


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