Diplomatic Triumph: Islamabad Beats New Delhi to Secure Vice Chair in UNESCO

Wed Dec 06 2023
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ISLAMABAD: In a major diplomatic achievement on the international front Pakistan beats India in an election at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) executive board for the post of vice chair.

Pakistan’s candidate secured the position of vice-chairperson of the UNESCO executive board with 38 votes, surpassing India’s representative who received only 18 votes.

India’s defeat in the UNESCO election contradicts its traditional diplomatic policy of participating in elections deemed winnable, raising questions about its influence and standing in international organizations. Pakistan has also been re-elected as the Executive Board of the UNESCO for the 2023-2027 term, receiving the highest number of votes, 154, in the Group election held on November 1 5, 2023.

The UNESCO Executive Board plays a crucial role in shaping the organization’s policies and programs. Pakistan’s re-election and readiness to contribute to the Executive Board of UNESCO is its testament to its long-standing support and constructive role from United Nations forums.

Pakistan’s re-election to the UNESCO Executive Board provides an opportunity for active global engagement, advocacy and collaboration on education, culture, science, and communication issues.

Membership in the UNESCO Executive Board offers Pakistan the chance to enhance its diplomatic ties and collaborate with other member states.

UNESCO Executive Board membership to enable Pakistan to influence global policies

Pakistan’s UNESCO Executive Board membership will enable it to influence global policies and initiatives in education, science, culture, and communication, advocating for its own issues and shaping international discourse.

As a member of the Executive Board, Pakistan will work for the strengthening of UNESCO’s mandate and contribute to the policy making.

Pakistan will also work for the development of norms, advancement of global priorities, and effective oversight of programs and activities of the organization, as a member of the Executive Board Pakistan will endeavor to build bridges across regions and forging consensus on key issues for tangible outcomes and impact on the ground.

Executive board plays crucial role in setting agendas

The executive board, one of UNESCO’s constitutional organs, plays a crucial role in setting agendas and allocating time for meetings. The vice-chairperson, although lacking decision-making powers, contributes to these functions.

The election pertained to the vice- chairperson position for Group IV, which includes countries like Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, and others. This indicates the regional dynamics at play in the election.

India has been a member of the executive board bureau since 2021, holding the post of chair of the Finance and Administration Commission of UNESCO (2021-2023). The bureau consists of 12 members   each representing one of the regional electoral groups.

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Despite India projecting itself as the ‘voice’ of the Global South, the election results indicate that a significant number of Global South countries, constituting the majority of the executive board, may have sided with Pakistan.

India’s representative at UNESCO, Vishal Sharma, a political appointee, was questioned about the rationale for India’s dismal performance.

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