Sudanese Member of UNESCO Executive Council

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (SUDANOW)—Sudanese Professor Abdin Mohamed Ali Salih has recently been appointed a member of the UNESCO Executive Council, a UN agency which, according to him, truly stands for the world's enlightenment and flawless conscience and, unlike other international organizations, it averts politicizing its activities and missions.

Salih pledged he would do his best to make the Sudan, Africa and the Arab countries get all opportunities and rights provided by UNESCO.

In the following interview, Prof. Salih shed light on the importance of UNESCO and what he can offer to the region in his new post:

Q-Will you introduce yourself to our readers?
A-I am graduated from the University of Khartoum as a civil engineer with the first honor degree in 1969. I obtained the PhD in the same domain from the British Royal Faculty of Science and Technology, University of London. I served as a civil engineering teacher in the University of Khartoum as well as other universities in Europe, the Middle East and the United States of America. I joined UNENSCO in 1993 in several positions. Then I assumed the chairmanship of the government council for the international hydrological programme as a representative of the Sudan in UNESCO.

Q-Will you give us a description of the voting starting from the preparations to the announcement of the result?
A-The Sudan contested against eight Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon for four seats for the Arab group. After withdrawal by Jordan and Bahrain before the voting, the competition was confined to seven states, including Sudan.
I got 86 votes out of a total 151 votes with 40 absentees due to the heated contest among the Arab states which, unlike other world groups of nations, could not coordinate amongst themselves. The voting continued the whole day and was not decisive and had to be rerun in the evening, something which led to absence of some participants.
Most of the African and European countries, especially the Western ones, and the influential nations too, voted in my favor and so did other nations from Asia. The world has supported us, offering an evidence of their acknowledgement of the culture and civilization of the Sudan and its scientists who have performed appreciable roles and missions for the world.

UNESCO delegation visits Gebel Barkal site
UNESCO delegation visits Gebel Barkal site



Q-What were the efforts that led to winning the elections? Which parties that contributed to those efforts?
A-The success of winning the seat was a result of an organized and coordinated effort in addition to the strong support by the Sudanese National Commission for UNESCO and the Sudanese Embassy in Paris and the Sudanese permanent mission to UNESCO in France besides numerous parties and personalities in UNESCO which supported by candidacy.

Q-What benefits can the Sudan gain from your presence as a representative of the Sudan and the Arab group in UNESCO?
A-The Sudan is classified among the world's seven nations which possess a human heritage that has contributed to the progress of humanity since ancient ages. It was the Nubian civilization that has constructed the world's first water reservoirs, the first to melt and use steel and manufacture glass, we have to appreciate the civilization to which we belong and which has contributed to the progress and welfare of the human-beings.
Besides the civilization sites, the Sudan possesses natural resources and other important attributes which are considered a human heritage which UNESCO can help develop and preserve for the human interest.
One of the missions of UNESCO is to announce a list of the international cultural sites, which are either historic or natural and the Organization calls for protection of those sites but is not responsible for protecting those sites. The Sudan has one site on this list - Gebel Al-Barkal and the sites of the Napatan Region – which comprise five archaeological sites on both sides of the Nile representing the Napatan and Merowtic cultures (900BC-350AD).
The Organization can also contribute to the progress and scientific education in Sudan.
I would spare no effort to help the Sudan enjoy all opportunities and rights that UNESCO provides to the Sudan for preservation and utilization of its resources. And I would exert every effort for the interest of Africa, the Arab group and the world at large.

Q-How can the Sudan benefit for UNESCO programmes of education, Culture, science, communication, information, etc.?
A-The Sudan, like other African and Arab countries, is lagging behind in the field of science which is one of UNESCO specializations and in which the organization can provide assistance and expertise to all nations.

Head of Qatar-sponsored project for rehabilitation of  Merowe sites DR Abdallah Al Najar
Head of Qatar-sponsored project for rehabilitation of Merowe sites DR Abdallah Al Najar


Q-How are you going to cooperate with the Sudanese UNESCO Committee for implementation of the projects which are beneficial to the Sudan?
A-The Sudanese UNESCO Committee is an excellent body that perfectly understands its mission. It includes prominent scientists characterized by competence and seriousness and are capable of benefiting from the experience and assistance of UNESCO in its main fields, especially education, science and modern technology. Coordination between the ministries and other concerned institution is vitally important for gaining the maximum benefit from UNESCO. We have to specify our priorities and the urgent duties we have to achieve and we have to carry out the preparations required for applying for UNESCO assistance.

Q-Will you give us a briefing on the history of UNESCO?
A- UNESCO is a specialized UN agency that is aimed at contributing to maintenance of peace and security by promoting cooperation among the countries of the world in the fields of education, culture and science and for establishment of a worldwide respect for justice, supremacy of law, human rights and basic freedoms principles.

The Organization stands for the world's vigil consciousness and conscience and it differs from the other international agencies in that it distances its activities from politics, for instance, UNESCO insisted on accepting the Palestinian state as a member in it in spite of the fact that it was not represented in the UN. This resulted in the US pulling out of the Organization and ultimately, UNESCO lost 22% of its budget.
The world today is more in need than ever for the mission of the UNESCO which advocates peace and instills it in the minds of the people as it still retains the spirit and behavior on which it has been founded in 1945, following World War II, that is, for 70 years now.
The UNESCO spheres of action have now become five after adding the communication information and social science to the original scientific, cultural and educational domains.


salih



Q- And what about the member states and governing bodies?
A-UNESCO membership is of 195 nations, with its main seat in Paris and more than 50 offices and numerous teaching institutes around the world. The Organization has five main programmes of education, physics, humanitarian and social sciences, culture and communication and information. It supports various projects such as illiteracy eradication, technical training, qualification programmes, teachers' training, and global sciences programmes in addition to cultural and historic projects, international cooperation agreements for preservation of international civilization, natural heritage and human rights protection.
UNESCO is divided into five geographic regions which are West Europe, East Europe, Latin America, Asia, Pacific and Africa and the later is divided into Africa south of the Sahara and Arab nations.

The Executive Board is elected by the UNESCO General Assembly, which groups all 193 member states, each four years. It decides on the general policies and approves the programmes to be carried out, passes the general budget and supervises the general secretariat. It usually meets biennially and may hold additional meetings if necessary.

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MAS/ AS

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