Unesco post is still vacant

December 1, 2000

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation still has no head of its education directorate, a position that has been vacant for more than six months.

Koichiro Matsuura, Unesco director-general, has admitted receiving criticism from some executive board members over the length of time it has taken to fill this and other senior positions. Last week, he said he would announce an appointment "soon".

During a press conference, that took place a year almost to the day since he became head of the organisation, Mr Matsuura spelt out progress that had been made in implementing major structural reforms at Unesco.

He was elected last November to modernise the organisation and to lead a more open and honest administration in the wake of a damning independent report carried out by the Canadian government. The report revealed corruption, cronyism and nepotism in the organisation, with some 40 per cent of senior appointments and a third of promotions not made through proper channels.

Mr Matsuura said he had nearly finished the task of renewing his managerial team. He said it took a long time, "for I have insisted on recruitment procedures that are open and transparent".

Under his "separation scheme" he has been rejuvenating the workforce, introducing new expertise and planning to correct the balance of the top-heavy staffing hierarchy. Two-thirds of about 100 "new talents" appointed at mid-management and administrative levels are aged under 40 and nearly three-fifths are women. He has halved the number of divisions, delivering a new structure that is "clearer, more functional and more efficient", he claimed.

According to Mr Matsuura's report to his executive board last month, the separation scheme cost $7.9 million to implement - which he acknowledged "may be found by some to be high".

Asked when a new assistant director-general for education might be appointed, Mr Matsuura said he would make an announcement soon.

He said: "Democracy takes time. I could have filled (vacant) senior positions immediately after I took over, but I avoided that to make serious and collective efforts with my colleagues to search for the best possible people."

Between 150 and 300 applications for posts were received during the recruitment process.

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