Obiang prize shelved… for now… again

UNESCO’s executive board Tuesday again deferred action on the life sciences prize named after and funded by President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. The Committee to Protect Journalists joined with other human rights organizations to call on the board to eliminate the prize permanently.

CPJ and other groups have consistently voiced their opposition to the prize, saying that Equatorial Guinea’s record on human rights, including press freedom, makes it incompatible with UNESCO’s mission. This marks the second time the prize has been suspended. This time, Obiang launched a charm offensive from his platform of rotating president of the African Union, and debate went down to the wire. Instead of a divisive vote that would have pit African and Western delegations against each other, a commission at UNESCO’s executive board agreed unanimously to set up a working group to continue consultations on the prize, the Associated Press reported.

The full press release can be found here.