Vietnam runs for top UNESCO position

By Dam Tuan   August 3, 2016 | 03:50 am PT
Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau has the chance to become the first Vietnamese director-general of UNESCO.

Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau, director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Culture and UNESCO Department, has become the first Vietnamese to be nominated for the director-general position of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for the 2017-2021 term.

This is also the first time a Vietnamese diplomat as been put forward to lead a prominent UN agency, according to the Vietnamese Fatherland Front’s official newspaper.


Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau, a well-known contributor to Vietnam's education, culture and heritage works. Photo from

The nomination ceremony was organized by Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on July 30 in Da Nang with the attendance of representatives from UN agencies and international organizations in Vietnam.

Pham Sanh Chau (55) was the Vietnamese ambassador to Belgium and the European Union (EU) from 2011 to 2014. 

In 1999, as an ambassador to UNESCO, Chau participated in a campaign for UNESCO recognition of Hanoi as a “city for peace”. He also contributed to the canvas of the world natural heritage title awarded by UNESCO for National Park by Phong Nha-Ke Bang.

Pham Sanh Chau is fluent in English and French and worked as an interpreter for numerous senior officials from 1986-1996.

A new director-general of UNESCO is elected every four years by its General Conference. The organization was founded on November 16, 1945.

Its purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms in order to increase universal respect for justice, the rule of law, and human rights along with fundamental freedom proclaimed in the United Nations Charter.

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