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UNESCO suspends Obiang prize - NGO reactions

UNESCO announced on 21 October 2010 that it was suspending plans to award a prize for "research that improves quality of life", sponsored and funded by, and named for Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.  NGOs had denounced the prize due to the human rights record of President Obiang's government, and its alleged misuse of oil revenues.  NGO reactions to UNESCO's announcement are below.

"Unesco Suspends Award Sponsored by Equatorial Guinea's President Obiang", Colin McClelland, Bloomberg, 21 Oct 2010
"Global Witness...said Unesco should drop the prize altogether.  'A dictator who has impoverished his citizens and enriched himself and his family by plundering the country’s oil wealth has no place sponsoring a UN prize,' Simon Taylor, director of Global Witness, said in an e-mailed statement."

"UNESCO Suspends Dictator Prize After Global Protest", EG Justice, 21 Oct 2010
"EG Justice and its partners welcomed UNESCO’s decision today to suspend, indefinitely, the prize funded by and named after President Obiang of Equatorial Guinea... 'Teodoro Obiang’s regime undermines everything UNESCO stands for,' said Tutu Alicante, executive director of the organization EG Justice. 'We are pleased the Executive Board has acted to protect the organization’s integrity but will continue working for the prize’s cancellation.' ...Prominent African leaders, Latin American literary figures, Nobel laureates, scientists and public health professionals, press freedom groups, Cano prize winners, and rights organizations from around the world came together in an unprecedented effort to challenge the prize, citing serious concerns about President Obiang’s record of corruption and abuse... 'The Obiang family is facing ongoing allegations of corruption with cases in Europe, Africa, and North America. Why weren’t red flags triggered when UNESCO first agreed to accept Obiang’s millions?' said Ken Hurwitz, senior legal officer with the Open Society Justice Initiative. 'Now that the prize has been suspended, UNESCO should implement proper safeguards to address the systemic gaps in oversight revealed by this controversy.'  Equatorial Guinea’s vast oil wealth gives it the highest per-capita GDP in sub-Saharan Africa, yet its health and development indicators are on par with the poorest countries in the world."

"UNESCO: Dictator Prize Suspended Indefinitely", Human Rights Watch, 21 Oct 2010
"UNESCO's decision announced on October 21, 2010, to suspend indefinitely a prize funded by and named after President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea followed a global outcry from scholars and human rights defenders, Human Rights Watch and its partners said today...Equatorial Guinea's vast oil wealth gives it the highest per capita GDP in sub-Saharan Africa, yet its health and development indicators are on par with the poorest countries in the world.  'President Obiang has presided over an abysmal record of abuses and mismanagement in Equatorial Guinea for over 30 years,' said Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch. 'UNESCO should take the opportunity to create safeguards to avoid cause for embarrassment in the future and should go ahead and cancel the Obiang prize completely.' "