Nigeria: Benin Ambassador
The Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Benin Republic to UNESCO, Prof. Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï, has been elected Chairman of the Organisation's Executive Board for a two-year term.
Yaï, who was elected in the first round of voting, takes over from the Ambassador of China, Zhang Xinsheng, who served from October 2005.
Addressing the Board after his election, Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï declared, "The tasks awaiting us are many and arduous, some are unprecedented, but they are exhilarating." In his eyes, the choice of an African chairman reflects the growing interest in NEPAD within UNESCO.
International Organizations and Africa
The Director- General of UNESCO, Koïchiro Matsuura, expressed his satisfaction that a prominent leader from the African continent was heading the Executive Board at a time when UNESCO is adopting a new mid-term strategy, programme and budget in which Africa ranks as a top priority.
A specialist in African literature and languages, literacy, oral poetry and the culture of the African diaspora, Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï has been a university professor in Benin , Nigeria , Brazil , Japan , Great Britain and the United States of America . He has contributed to the development of UNESCO's programmes in African languages and cultures. He was also a member of the World Heritage Committee and several committees and juries, including the International Scientific Committee of the Slave Route and the jury responsible for designating the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
The 58 members of the Executive Board, appointed by the General Conference, meet twice a year. The Board is responsible for reviewing the implementation of the programmes adopted by the General Conference, UNESCO's ruling body.