Bulgaria's Irina Bokova Reelected UNESCO Director General

Politics » DIPLOMACY | October 5, 2013, Saturday // 10:05
Bulgaria's Irina Bokova Reelected UNESCO Director General: Bulgaria's Irina Bokova Reelected UNESCO Director General UNESCO Director General reelect, Bulgaria's Irina Bokova. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Bulgaria's Irina Bokova has been elected at first round UNESCO Director General for the second four-year term.

The vote of the 58-member Executive Board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was held Friday. Bokova was elected for a second term with absolute majority as she received 39 votes from the needed 30 to win the first round.

Bokova's rivals in the election were Rashad Farah (Djibouti) and Joseph Maila (Lebanon), who received 13 and 6 votes respectively.

According to a UNESCO press statement, Bokova's choice will be submitted for approval to the General Conference, which brings together representatives of the Organization's 195 Member States, on November 12.

Irina Bokova has been the Director-General of UNESCO since 15 November 2009. She is the first woman and the first Eastern European to have been elected head of the Organization.

Below is her biography as posted on the official UNESCO website:

Irina Bokova was born on 12 July 1952 in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Having graduated from Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and studied at the University of Maryland (Washington) and the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University), Irina Bokova joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria in 1977, where she was responsible for human rights issues. Appointed in charge of political and legal affairs at the Permanent Mission of Bulgaria to the United Nations in New York, she was also a member of the Bulgarian Delegation at the United Nations conferences on the equality of women in Copenhagen (1980), Nairobi (1985) and Beijing (1995). As Member of Parliament  (1990-1991 and 2001-2005), she participated in the drafting of Bulgaria's new Constitution, which contributed significantly to the country's accession to the European Union. She launched the first seminar of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on the European Convention on Human Rights.

Irina Bokova was Minister for Foreign Affairs and Coordinator of Bulgaria-European Union relations (1995-1997) and subsequently Ambassador of Bulgaria (2005-2009) to France, Monaco and UNESCO  and Personal Representative of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to the "Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie" (OIF). While serving as State Secretary on European Integration and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms Bokova always promoted European integration. As an active member of many international expert networks and of civil society and, in particular, as Chairperson and founding member of the European Policy Forum, she has worked to overcome European divisions and to foster the values of dialogue, diversity, human dignity and human rights.

Irina Bokova has received doctor honoris causa from many prestigious universities across the world.

In addition to her mother tongue, Irina Bokova speaks English, French, Spanish and Russian.

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Tags: UNESCO, Director General, Irina Bokova, first round, second term
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