Equatorial Guinea's dictator Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, allegedly a cannibal and definitely a tyrant, has given the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) $3m to award a $300,000 grant to scientists in his name.
Foreign Policy reports that the dictator committed the money over five years for the catchily-named 'UNESCO-Obiang Nguema Mbasogo International Prize for Research in the Life Sciences.' The prize comes in the form of a grant to be given to up to three scientists per year. The organization had been toying with the idea of taking the dictator's money for some time, against the wishes of human rights organizations that are appalled at the idea.
FP spoke to a Kenneth Hurwitz, a "lawyer who specializes in anticorruption with the Open Society Justice Initiative, one of 25 organizations that called on UNESCO in January to cancel the prize." He summed his difficulties with the idea up nicely:
If there's any way for UNESCO to shoot itself in the foot it's by renting its credibility to President Obiang, whose record of corruption and abuse seems to go against everything the organization supposedly stands for... UNESCO should have pulled this prize long ago. Instead, it acts as a public relations firm for Obiang's brutal and kleptocratic regime.
What he said. There was no answer at UNESCO's main offices in Paris — no surprise as it's almost 8pm there. We're promised a comment by their New York contingent shortly.