Amadou-Mahtar M'BOW (1974 - 1987)

(Senegal, 1921)

Director-General of UNESCO from November 15, 1974 to November 14, 1987 (two terms).

History and geography teacher with French-speaking education, A.-M.M‘Bow had worked at top-level jobs on issues relating to education in Senegal until the country gained independence, then as Minister of Education (1966-1968) and Minister of Culture and Youth of Senegal (1968-1979). M‘Bow came to UNESCO as head of a delegation of his country at the 14th General Conference, then he became a member of the Executive Board, was appointed responsible for education under the Director-General.

M‘Bow was, first of all, an advocate of the “third world” and Africa’s interests. His ambition is to make UNESCO stronger in solving problems of the development of the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. At the same time he tried to smooth over polemical attacks emerging during his work and contradictions between East and West, North and South that were in most cases directed against Israel, he supported a new information and communication order. Thanks to M‘Bow’s personal merit, since the end of the 1970s decisions in UNESCO have begun to be taken on basis of consensus.

Because of the excessive centralization and other shortcomings of management, critics ascribed the responsibility for the USA withdrawal from UNESCO in 1984 to M‘Bow being at an intersection of opposing opinions. He got into the scope of activity of the Heritage Foundation organization that was pursuing in the United Nations a policy hostile to the USA. Joint withdrawal of Great Britain and Singapore, the following protracted financial crisis hindered M‘Bow's personal wish and that of the Third World from electing him for the third term.