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U.S. UNESCO Press Release

Statement by U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion on the UNESCO-Equatorial Guinea Prize for Research in the Life Sciences

July 13, 2012

We condemn UNESCO’s decision to award this prize against the wishes of many of its own member states and the international human rights community.  The United States is a leading supporter of efforts to recognize and celebrate the achievements of scientists in Africa and around the world but we have consistently and adamantly objected to this particular prize.

We simply cannot promote this award given concerns regarding the questionable source of the prize funds. The International Non-governmental community considers Equatorial Guinea one of the world’s worst human rights offenders.  Equatorial Guinea scores poorly on most global indices related to Freedom of Expression and Access to Education.

UNESCO’s decision to implement the prize is particularly regrettable because it also distracts from UNESCO’s genuinely laudable work defending freedom of speech, promoting intercultural dialogue and Holocaust education, protecting priceless cultural sites around the world and improving access to quality education, especially for women and girls—all of which are initiatives the United States strongly supports.

To emphasize our opposition to this prize, the United States will join other like-minded UNESCO member states in boycotting the awards ceremony on July 17, 2012.