UNCAC Coalition opposes UNESCO's adoption of the Equatorial Guinea Prize

12 March 2012.

The UNCAC Coalition, composed of more than 300 civil society organisations committed to fighting corruption and promoting human rights worldwide, strongly opposes the decision made on Friday, 9 March 2012 by the members of UNESCO’s Executive Board at its 189th session to adopt the Equatorial Guinea – UNESCO International Prize for Research and Science.

UNESCO’s reputation has been damaged through the endorsement of the prize, putting Equatorial Guinea’s President’s interest above the spirit and principles of the United Nations and UNESCO’s constitutional goals by providing positive publicity to his regime about which there are grave concerns on many counts.

Despite opposition from civil society groups as well as some government representatives in UNESCO’s Executive Board, the award was accepted on the condition of changing its original name UNESCO – Obiang Nguema Mbasogo to the UNESCO – Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences. Far from solving the dispute or appeasing the public outcry, the origin of the funds used to finance the prize are still in question, mainly because of the dubious reputation of the government that is perceived to be amongst the most corrupt in the world and is also known for well-documented brutality and whose citizens live in poverty despite the country’s oil riches.

The UNCAC Coalition condemns the decision to adopt the Equatorial Guinea – UNESCO Prize and calls upon the Executive Board to set up clear, transparent guidelines for the creation of awards by the UN and UN agencies, in order to guarantee that all awards and their funding sources are in full accord with UN essential values, international commitments and standards regarding the promotion of human rights, the Millennium Development Goals and the global fight against corruption.

Click on the following links to see the letters from Sherpa supported by the UNCAC Coalition addressed to the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the Director-General of UNESCO, opposing the appointment of Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue as Deputy Permanent Delegate of Equatorial Guinea to UNESCO and the establishment of the UNESCO – Equatorial Guinea International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences: