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UNESCO Candidate

About the Commission

Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari (born January 1, 1948 in Al-Ghariyah, Qatar) is a Qatari diplomat, statesman, and intellectual. He is Adviser at the Amiri Diwan, and has been the Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage of Qatar from July 2008 to January 2016. He was previously the Ambassador of Qatar for France, the United States, the UNESCO and the UN. He is married and the father of three children.
Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari holds a Bachelor's degree in Arabic and Islamic studies from Cairo University (Faculty of Dar al-Ulum), which he obtained in 1970. He also holds a Master's Degree Diploma from Saint Joseph Jesuit University in Beirut, which he attended between 1974 and 1977. He then studied Political philosophy at La Sorbonne in Paris in 1980 and completed a PhD in Political science at the Stony Brook University (New York) in 1990. He speaks Arabic, English and French.
Early career and diplomacy
Between 1972 and 1974, he started his diplomatic career as chargé d'affaires in Lebanon. He was appointed ambassador of Qatar in Syria from 1974 to 1979 then in France (1979–84). During that time he was also non-resident ambassador in Greece, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. From 1984 to 1990, he was Qatar's ambassador to the United Nations while also running the non-resident embassies to Argentina, Brazil and Canada. He was then appointed ambassador to the United States (1990–92) and non-resident ambassador to Mexico and Venezuela.
Ministerial functions
Dr Hamad Al-Kawari became Minister for Information and Culture in Qatar in 1992. Between 1992 and 1996 he acted in favor of freedom of information and the press by ending the censorship regulations on newspapers and publications, and in 1997 by closing the doors of the Ministry of Information.
This initiative for freedom of information would eventually lead to the creation of the Doha Centre for Media Freedom in 2007.
He was appointed Minister for Culture, Arts and Heritage from July, 2008 to January, 2016. He was the first person to ever hold this position. In 2010, he presided at the 17th Conference of Arab Ministers of Culture.
Whilst in office, Doha was named the 2010 Arab Capital of Culture.
2012 marked the launch of the "cultural years" initiative fostering cooperation and exchanges between Qatar and other partner countries. Partners include the United Kingdom (2012), Japan (2013), Brazil (2014), Turkey (2015), China (2016) and Germany (2017). This project involves the main Qatari cultural institutions, including the Qatar Museums Authority and the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage. The board is co-chaired by Sheikha Al-Mayassa Al Thani and Dr Hamad Al-Kawari.
Functions in International Organizations
From 1979 to 1984, he was the Ambassador to France as well as the representant for Qatar at UNESCO.
Whilst acting as Ambassador to the United Nations from 1984 to 1990, Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari also represented Qatar as official delegate to the UN for the country. During that time, he was simultaneously elected Deputy Chairman of the General Assembly of the United Nations at its fortieth session and Chairman of the Special Political Committee (4th Committee) at its 42nd session.
In 1987, he was elected Vice President of the Committee Against Apartheid and Member of the Trustee board of directors of the "Dag Hammarskjöld" Commemoration. He has also represented his country at the conferences of the Non-Aligned Movement. From 1997 to 2014, he was member of the Advisory Board of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC).
In 2012, he presided at the UNCTAD XIII 2012 (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development). In September 2012, Dr Hamad Al-Kawari was elected Honorary Chairman of the 25th Universal Postal Congress.
Passionate about the French language and culture, he presided over Qatar's delegation to l'Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2012, which accepted Qatar as an associated member in the Organisation.
Other functions
•    Member of the Consultative Authority for the High Council of GCC.
•    Member of the board of directors of the Rand-Qatar Policy Institute.
•    Founder and chairperson of the board of Governors of the Doha Center for Media Freedom.
•    President of Higher Committee for 2010 Arab Capital of Culture.
•    Head of the committee of State Awards, Qatar.
•    Head of the committee of Qatar Award for Child Literature.
•    Co-founder of the Arab World Institute in Paris in 1980.
•    In 2008, he became Chairman of the Qatar Businessmen Association.
•    Decorated with the French honorific Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2014).
•    Decorated with the French "Légion d'Honneur", title of Commandeur, in 1984.
•    Presented with National Order of Merit by the President of the French Republic in 1980.
•    Presented with Badges of Honour by Italy, Spain, Syria and Jordan.
•    Decorated with a medal from the Queen of The Netherlands.
•    Decorated with a medal from the Republic of Poland.
•    Doctorate Honoris Causa (for achievements in the field of culture and heritage) University Rome 2 Tor Vergata.
•    Dialectics of Conflicts and Settlements (Jadal Al-Maarik Wa Al-Teswiyat): Cairo: Dar Al-Moustaqbal Al-Arabi, 2001 (Arabic)
•    The Deficient Knowledge (Al-Maarifa Al-Naqisa): Beirut: Reyadh Al-Rayes, 2005. (Arabic)
•    Ala Kadri Ahl Al-Azm. HBKU Press, 2015. (Arabic)
•    Vision. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari, Doha, 2016 (Arabic, English, French, Spanish)
•    Global Majlis. HBKU Press, 2016. (English)
•    Majlis Mondial. Hamad bin Abdulaziz Al-Kawari. Odile Jacob Paris, 2016. (French)

Vision and Mission

My education and career have often brought me in close contact with the world’s “fruitful diversity of cultures” - the very cultures which unite under UNESCO’s roof, where the most diverse cultural expressions coexist. I have pursued comprehensive studies in Arab universities (in Egypt and Lebanon) as well as Western (in France and the United States), and was appointed ambassador to several countries in Europe and the Americas.
I consider myself a citizen of the world, and believe that a unifying and consensual spirit of understanding and harmony should drive my efforts aimed towards imparting UNESCO with a new momentum.
A diplomat from an Arab country leading this Organization for the first time in its history would be a most precious opportunity to reinforce multilateral cooperation, to remind us of the common destiny of Mankind, and to extend bridges between the Arab-Muslim civilization and the other civilizations of the world. Of all, it is UNESCO’s universal vocation that will move forward with new vigor.
Let us create the circumstances that will drive the organization into the future, that will bring a new breath to the necessary debate of ideas – UNESCO’s lifeblood – and assure it a renewed ease in its day-to-day operation.
Toward a new momentum!
The world has changed tremendously since the inception of UNESCO, seventy years ago – a change that may have been even more brisk since the beginning of the 21st century.
The need for multiculturalism becomes evident, as does the rightful protection of cultural identities.
Millions of youth, of women, of people suffering on this earth gradually lose hope by virtue of deplorable living conditions in all regards. A broadening of tension zones and a multiplication of internal and external conflicts occur as a direct result. The shadow of these ills extends ceaselessly, often with tragic consequences: mass migrations, cultural isolationism and a surge of fanaticism and terrorism. We find ourselves facing a crisis of values threatening the world at large.
We will need to arm ourselves with the ideals and ethics of UNESCO – standards established on the shared principles of human dignity, social justice and mutual respect between nations. Today, Mankind has a critical need for this value system and for the expertise accrued throughout the decades by this esteemed organization. We intend to hasten the relaunching of these UNESCO initiatives, building upon the successes and the alternatives presented to us by men and women of science, intellectuals and researchers of diverse horizons.
Let us imagine this new momentum together!

Education first! For all!
Over seven billion inhabitants call Earth home. How many of them are illiterate? How many people are actually benefiting from proper education?
UNESCO is facing a responsibility of historical proportions. It is our duty to massively magnify its engagement towards education. It feels to me that this engagement is one of our raisons d’être, today more than ever.
I feel bolstered by all programs dedicated to provide and improve education worldwide. UNESCO in partnership with several countries and NGOs has already implemented many programs that command respect and due recognition. I am pleased that my country is among those that fund education on a global scale. Joint initiatives such as Educate a Child, Education Above All, and the World Innovation Summit in Education deserve to be supported and widened in order to bear additional fruits.
It is imperative to develop our action towards women’s education throughout the entire world, taking great care not to overlook the regions mired in ignorance, which breeds all types of fanaticism and impedes sustainable economic growth.
We will work together towards multiplying the opportunities for education in Africa and Asia, and to sustain UNESCO’s efforts in the struggle against the phenomenon of early school dropout – efforts which have already borne success in several Latin American countries.
In support of these goals, we intend to develop partnerships between states, institutions, and the world’s best universities to finance the education of millions of children of both genders in underprivileged areas, and to enhance the distribution of high-standard know-how wherever possible. We will leverage all available technological means to combat the educational wastelands plaguing the poorest regions of our planet.
Without education one cannot hope for dialogue, and without quality schooling, one cannot create a better quality of life for future generations.
Serving Mankind
This is a topic particularly dear to my heart, and it is of the utmost importance for UNESCO to continue interacting with hubs of contemporary expertise. This collective brain we call UNESCO needs men and women of knowledge to pursue its mission and continue gifting the sum of intellectual and scientific human progress to all. The international scientific community also needs UNESCO, as it represents none other than its collective conscience - an entity which supplies their independent researches with its ethical dimension.
We will favor assembling a panel of experts, while promoting academic exchanges, the networking of researchers and connections with the potential to yield concrete and immediate applications in all fields that could determine the future of Mankind (water management, taking care of the oceans, global climate change…).
Furthermore, we will do everything to make advanced scientific knowledge available to the greatest number, advocating for a more open and transparent science while being respectful of intellectual property.
It would be sensible to provide additional effort, steering scientific research towards preventing natural disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, and the fight against the deleterious effects of industrialization (notably climate change and potable water).
This is particularly important since it is a field in which UNESCO has already received notable praise with its Agenda for a global early warning system.
Since science and education must be at the service of sustainable development, I intend to support African and South-American countries, not to forget island nations. We will launch partnerships aimed at fostering progress in the realms of sustainability and the fight against natural disasters since these serve the interest of the international community as a whole. Developing island nations are numerous (Barbados, Cabo Verde, Cook, Fiji, Marshall, Mauritius, Palau, Solomon Islands…). In light of global warming, each and every one of them presents a unique case for sustainability tied to their particular vulnerabilities, and requires a specific partnership.
A treasure and a responsibility
World heritage is UNESCO’s recognized “brand”. Thanks to world heritage, UNESCO’s purview is widely known and understood.
Certain sites are hallowed locations in the history of the world. In principle, their inscription onto the UNESCO world heritage list allows for their preservation and visibility, as well as for them to be offered to the knowledge of the whole world. These sites, of course, transcend national identities and religious communities.
Today, everyone is aware that the world’s heritage is under threat of destruction in certain regions. Our fight will be to protect these sites, the monuments, manuscripts and works of art which constitute Mankind’s collective treasure.
UNESCO will have to not simply satisfy itself with protecting what must be, but will also have to be at the forefront of all workshops and work sites aimed at digitizing manuscripts, rebuilding libraries and destroyed monuments, and reviving these sites which speak to the memory of all mankind. It will have to fully engage in the protection of natural and linguistic diversity, tangible and intangible cultural heritage, as well as underwater heritage.
UNESCO is the appropriate and legitimate authority on the redaction of laws protecting human heritage in all its forms, and prosecuting those who harm these wonders.
Freedom of expression and free flow of information
The transition from the “culture of secret information” to the “culture of total transparency” requires colossal efforts. There is still much work to be done to develop international standards and regulations that should broaden civic participation in public life, the process of decision making, and the establishment of principles for transparency, good governance and the fight against corruption. There can be no development without creativity and renewal, and no creativity or renewal can exist without the free flow of information.
It is true that the digital revolution has torn down the old ramparts and opened the way to the construction of a universal civilization founded on new human underpinnings. In order to participate in it, we must make every effort towards defending freedoms, since freedom is the champion of creativity in all domains.
Infringing actions against the freedom of expression and access to information, attacks on journalists, creators and artists, both in conflict zones and elsewhere, remain too frequent – there are continual violations and attacks that often remain unpunished.
We should reflect upon the means to broaden the partnership with journalism schools, various public and private media, local and international civil society, experts and opinion-makers in order to bolster freedom of expression and the free flow of information and ideas.

An ideal place for the dialogue between civilizations
In a globalized world, interdependent but threatened by standardization and various lightning-quick threats, it is essential for UNESCO to be the permanent de-facto shelter for the dialogue of civilizations.
We will take great care to provide new momentum to the debate of ideas that has made UNESCO a global center for discussion and reflection since the time of its inception.
We will structure this opportunity for dialogue and debate within the organization. UNESCO is the ideal place to converse with one another leaving all preconceptions, conventions, political rigidity and misunderstandings at the door.
We will call upon all of the intellectual elites of the world to gather in the Headquarters’ host country, twice a year, around themes touching upon the dignity of the human person and multicultural paths. We will establish partnerships with the major halls of knowledge and the international media.
Good governance and resource development
There is a general consensus about the fact that UNESCO faces a sharp financial crisis that requires creative solutions and innovative minds in dealing with it. Several countries from all continents donated generously to UNESCO all along its successful journey despite the obstacles and harsh times, allowing the international organization to achieve outstanding results in education, culture and science. In this regard, all Directors General and their staff made exceptional achievements that I respectfully hail.
However, UNESCO needs a new momentum marked by innovative and creative solutions adapted to our global environment and able to remediate and mitigate the shortcomings that impede good performance. I am very confident that once we communicate adequately the noble objectives of UNESCO at a large and targeted scale, the whole world will perceive its importance – today more than ever – in building peace in the minds of men and women. Then, donors, supporters and friends will respond and provide the necessary means allowing UNESCO to fulfill its ambitions at the service of Mankind.
An organization the size of UNESCO cannot deliver its best without good governance and high transparency.
It would be good practice to enhance coordination between the various administrative departments all the while implementing projects following a multidisciplinary approach and using modern project management tools. This would result in much greater cost efficiency and a better management of human and financial resources.
I am convinced that hundreds of institutions throughout the world share the same message and noble objectives with UNESCO, at the service of Mankind.
Communication in this area is of the utmost importance.
The good governance criteria should lead us to intensify the fieldwork. In this regard, we will broaden the debate with geographic groups while making regular visits to worksites to track the various projects and initiatives.
So one day we all can say:
UNESCO is important to me!
No one is disputing the nobility of UNESCO’s ideals. But let us be realistic: if we want these ideals to inspire our action, it is up to us to make them clearly known to all audiences, in all countries. Dynamic communication regarding UNESCO’s infinite potential is a prerequisite to the solidarity required for any financial mobilization.
It is of the utmost importance for UNESCO’s initiatives to be better recognized and appreciated by the younger generation, large corporations, charities and philanthropic associations and the like. This improved visibility applied to all of our activities will allow for more immersive interactivity, will attract more of these entities and will encourage fundraising.
We will dream up flagship projects for the years to come, based on the cornerstone themes of the organization (science, education, heritage).
We will spare no effort to stay in close contact with the United States and advocate for the nation to return under UNESCO’s roof.
All countries need UNESCO, but UNESCO needs all countries as well.
It’s from this base that we will aim to launch this new momentum.