Irina Bokova

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This name uses Eastern Slavic naming customs; the patronymic is Georgieva and the family name is Bokova.
Irina Bokova
Ирина Бокова
Irina Bokova UNESCO.jpg
Director-General of UNESCO
Incumbent
Assumed office
15 October 2009
Deputy Getachew Engida
Preceded by Kōichirō Matsuura
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Acting
In office
13 November 1996 – 13 February 1997
Prime Minister Zhan Videnov
Preceded by Georgi Pirinski
Succeeded by Stoyan Stalev (Acting)
Personal details
Born (1952-07-12) 12 July 1952 (age 62)
Sofia, Bulgaria
Political party Communist Party (Before 1990)
Socialist Party (1990–present)
Spouse(s) Lubomir Kolarov (Divorced)
Kalin Mitrev
Children Pavel
Naia
Alma mater Moscow State Institute of
International Relations
Website Official website

Irina Georgieva Bokova (Bulgarian: Ирина Георгиева Бокова) (born 12 July 1952) is a Bulgarian politician and the incumbent Director-General of UNESCO. As Director-General of UNESCO, Bokova is actively supportive of international efforts to advance gender equality, improve education and cutoff funding for terrorism by increasing efforts to fight piracy of intellectual goods. A firm opponent of racism and anti-Semitism, Bokova has led UNESCO’s activities on Holocaust remembrance. She was member of the Bulgarian parliament from the Bulgarian Socialist Party for two terms, minister and deputy minister of foreign affairs in the cabinet of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, and was Bulgaria’s ambassador to France and to Monaco, Permanent Delegate of Bulgaria to UNESCO and personal representative of the Bulgaria’s president to the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (2005–2009).

On 22 September 2009, Bokova's candidacy was proposed for the post of Director-General of UNESCO. On 15 October 2009, The 35th Session of the General Conference elected Irina Bokova of Bulgaria as the tenth Director-General of UNESCO. Bokova is the first female and Eastern European to head UNESCO. In addition to her mother tongue, she speaks English, French, Spanish and Russian. She is married with two grown children who live and work in the United States.[1][2]

Childhood and early years[edit]

Irina Bokova is the daughter of the communist-era politician Georgi Bokov, editor-in-chief of Rabotnichesko Delo, the official newspaper and organ of the Bulgarian Communist Party.[3] By descent Bokova is Bulgarian from Macedonia.[4] Bokova is a graduate of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations. Subsequently, she worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, eventually becoming Minister in the winter of 1996 - 1997. She was a member of the Bulgarian communist party until 1990.

Education[edit]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Award or decoration Date Place
Doctor honoris causa of Ewha Womans University May 2010 Seoul, Korea
Doctor honoris causa of Moscow State Institute of International Relations September 2010 Moscow, Russian Federation
Doctor honoris causa of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore October 2010 Milan, Italy
Doctor honoris causa of St. Cyril and St. Methodius University of Veliko Tarnovo October 2010 Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Doctor honoris causa of National University of San Martín December 2010 Buenos Aires, Argentina
Doctor honoris causa in Law of Pontifical Catholic University of Peru February 2011 Lima, Peru
Doctor honoris causa of Philippine Normal University March 2011 Manilla City, Philippines
Quadricentennial Golden Cross Award of University of Santo Tomas March 2011 Manilla City, Philippines
Doctor honoris causa of National University of Political Studies and Public Administration Studies April 2011 Bucharest, Romania
Doctor honoris causa of Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Center at Haifa University May 2011 Haifa, Israel
Doctor honoris causa of University of Edinburgh June 2011 Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Doctor honoris causa of Mongolian University of Science and Technology July 2011 Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
Doctor honoris causa of Lomonosov Moscow State University September 2011 Moscow, Russian Federation
Doctor honoris causa of University of Algiers 1 April 2012 Algiers, Algeria
Doctor honoris causa of University of Dhaka May 2012 Dhaka, India
Honorary Professor of Tongji University May 2012 Shanghai, China
Honorary Distinction of Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava May 2012 Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Honorary Distinction of Slovak Academy of Sciences May 2012 Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Doctor honoris causa of Herzen University June 2012 St. Petersburg, Russian Federation
Doctor honoris causa of Durham University June 2012 Durham, United Kingdrom
Doctor honoris causa of Laval University February 2013 Quebec, Canada
Doctor honoris causa of Tongji University May 2013 Shanghai, China
Doctor honoris causa of Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam June 2013 Ha Noi, Vietnam
Doctor honoris causa of Eurasian National University August 2013 Astana, Kazakhstan
Doctor honoris causa in Humanities of University of Malaya September 2013 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Honourable Medal and Diploma of National Academy of Sciences April 2014 Kyiv, Ukraine
Doctor honoris causa of University of Yaoundé I September 2014 Yaoundé, Cameroon
Doctor honoris causa of National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts October 2014 Paris, France
KOÇ-KAM Semahat Arsel Distinguished Fellow of Koç University January 2015 Istanbul, Turkey
Doctor honoris causa of University of National and World Economy January 2015 Sofia, Bulgaria
Grand Cross of the Order of the Sun of Peru February 2011 Lima, Peru
Grand Chancellor of the National Order of Chad March 2012 Chad
Title of Commander of the National Order of Benin June 2012 Benin
Officer of the Order of Cultural Merit March 2013 Monaco
Grand Officer of the Condecoracion de la Orden Jose Matias Delgado March 2013 El Salvador
Order of the People’s Friendship of the Republic of Bashkortostan October 2013 Bashkortostan
National Order "Juan Mora Fernández" November 2013 Costa Rica
Order of Diplomatic Service Merit February 2014 Seoul, Korea
Hilal-i-Pakistan Award February 2014 Pakistan
Order of Friendship April 2014 Kazakhstan
Order of Stara Planina (1st class) 31 March 2014 Sofia, Bulgaria
Medal «Magtymguly Pyragy»[6] 15 May 2014 Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Title of Commander of the Order of Ouissam Alaouite July 2014 Rabat, Morocco
Grand Officer of the Order of Valour of Cameroon September 2014 Camerooon
Title of Commander of the Legion of Honour[7] April 2015 Paris, France

On April 6, 2015, the French Embassy in Bulgaria announced that Mrs. Bokova has been awarded the French Order of the Legion of Honour.[8] On 31 March 2014, Bokova was officially awarded Bulgaria's highest national honour - the Order of Stara Planina (1st class) by president Rosen Plevneliev for her extremely significant merits to Bulgaria, bringing about an improvement in world peace and security indicators, and the development of political and cultural exchanges at the highest levels.[9][10]

Career[edit]

Current positions[edit]

  • Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
  • Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to France.
  • Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to the Principality of Monaco.
  • Permanent Delegate of the Republic of Bulgaria to UNESCO.
  • Representative of the Bulgarian Government to the Executive Board of UNESCO (since the election of Bulgaria in October 2007).
  • Personal Representative of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).
  • Deputy Chairperson, Group of Francophone Countries at UNESCO.
  • Chairperson of the Second Extraordinary Session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (February 2008, Sofia).
  • Member of the Literary group Prix des Ambassadeur.

Parliamentary experience[edit]

  • Deputy Chairperson of the Foreign Policy, Defense and Security Committee.
  • Member of the European Integration Committee.
  • Deputy Chairperson of the Joint Parliamentary Committee Bulgaria – European Union.

Civil society experience[edit]

  • Founder and Chairperson of the European Policy Forum (since its inception in Sofia in 1997), a non-profit, non-governmental organization.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs[edit]

November 1996 - February 1997:

June 1995 - February 1997, other positions held in the cabinet of Zhan Videnov, Bulgarian Socialist Party:

  • First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of UN, OSCE, EU and NATO.
  • Chief co-ordinator of Bulgaria–EU relations.[5]
  • Co-Chairperson, Bulgaria – EU Association Committee.[5]
  • National PHARE Co-ordinator.[5]
  • Chairperson, Inter-Agency Co-ordination Commission on European Integration (at deputy ministerial level).
  • Took part as head of delegation or keynote speaker in a number of international fora.
  • Member of the Board of Trustees of the Centre for European Studies.

UNESCO[edit]

On 22 September 2009, Bokova was elected Director-General of UNESCO.[2] She defeated nine candidates at the election in Paris, with Farouk Hosny ultimately being defeated by 31-27 in the fifth and last round of voting.[2] Hosny had been expected to win but attracted criticism from figures such as Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel over his anti-Israel statements.[2][11] She took over the position from Koïchiro Matsuura of Japan.[2] She entered the office of the Director-General as both the first woman, and the first Eastern European to take this role.[2] On 15 October 2009, The 35th Session of the General Conference elected Irina Bokova of Bulgaria as the tenth Director-General of UNESCO. The investiture took place in a ceremony in Room I in the afternoon of Friday 23 October 2009.

On 4 October 2013, the Executive Board of UNESCO nominated her for second term as Director-General.[12] She was re-elected by the UNESCO General Conference on 12 November 2013.[13]

In 2009, while most of the Bulgarian media was supportive[14] of Ms. Bokova's future role at the helm of UNESCO, some raised questions about her past as a daughter of a member of the totalitarian communist elite.[15] Bulgarian-born German writer Iliya Troyanov criticised Bokova's election as Director-General of UNESCO in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, calling it "a scandal," in light of Bokova's father's communist past.[16] On the other hand, The New York Times not only published an article, explaining who Mrs. Bokova is,[17] but also officially supported her nomination on the grounds that "[s]he played an active role in Bulgaria’s political transformation from Soviet satellite to European Union member. That should be a strong asset in leading an organization badly buffeted in the past by ideological storms."[18]

On 16 January 2014, Irina Bokova yielded to pressure from the Arab League and postponed[19] for five months an exhibit entitled “The People, the Book, the Land — 3,500 years of ties between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel” following protest from the Arab states in UNESCO, arguing it would harm the peace process. Invitations had already gone out and the exhibit was scheduled to run from January 21 through January 30 at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters with fully prepared exhibition material already in place. In a letter to Bokova, Abdulla al Neaimi, an official from the United Arab Emirates, expressed “deep worry and great disapproval” over the program showing the age old connection between Israel and the Jewish people.[20] The US State Department said it was outraged at the move, “UNESCO’s decision is wrong and should be reversed.”[21] Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs said “is no appropriate rationale to delay the exhibition and deeply disappointed by the decision made to postpone it”.[22] The Wiesenthal Center called the move an “Absolute outrage, the Arabs don’t want the world to know that the Jews have a 3,500-year relationship to the Land of Israel”.[23] The exhibition was opened on June 11, 2014 in Paris, in a ceremony with participation by Mrs. Bokova and the Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Marvin Hier.[24] The exhibit was co-sponsored by Israel, Canada, and Montenegro, and was called "a breakthrough" by its author, professor Robert Wistrich.[25]

On 28 March 2015, she launched Unite4Heritage, a campaign aiming to create a global movement "to protect and safeguard heritage in areas where it is threatened by extremists".[26] The campaign was triggered by the programmatic destruction of cultural heritage conducted in Iraq and Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) since 2014, in particular after the circulation of videos of looting at Mosul Museum, destruction in the city of Nimrud and the UNESCO World Heritage site of Hatra.

Financing for terrorism[edit]

As Director-General of UNESCO, Bokova led efforts to block the trade in Syrian and Iraqi cultural artifacts to fund ISIS and other radical Islamist groups. These efforts led to the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199 on 12 February 2015. This resolution officially recognized the link between illicit traffic and security, outlawed all trade in cultural goods from Iraq and Syria and requested that UNESCO coordinate efforts in this area with Interpol.[27] In response to the threat to Iraq’s antiquities from increased violence and instability, Bokova implemented an emergency plan to safeguard artifacts of Iraq’s cultural heritage.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Irina Bokova, directrice générale de l’UNESCO, nommée commandeur de la Légion d’honneur French Embassy in Sofia
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Bokova wins Unesco leadership vote". Al Jazeera. 2009-09-22. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  3. ^ "A Glance at UNESCO's Next Leader". The New York Times. 2009-09-22. [dead link]
  4. ^ "Стандарт", Брой 5860, 8 май 2009. (Bulgarian)
  5. ^ a b c d Biography on Irina Bokova's personal web site
  6. ^ Alsina. "Туркменистан сегодня - веб-сайт государственного информационного агентства Туркменистана - Указы Президента Туркменистана и Хроника 15-го мая". Turkmenistan state news agency. 
  7. ^ UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova awarded Order of the Legion of Honour
  8. ^ Irina Bokova, directrice générale de l’UNESCO, nommée commandeur de la Légion d’honneur (from the site of the French Embassy in Sofia)
  9. ^ Указ № 211 Обн. ДВ. бр. 98 от 12 ноември 2013 г.
  10. ^ "Бокова получи орден "Стара планина" с лента и се върна в детството". mediapool.bg. 2014-03-31. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  11. ^ STEVEN ERLANGER (2009-09-22). "Bulgarian Defeats Egyptian in Unesco Vote". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  12. ^ "Irina Bokova nominated by UNESCO Executive Board for the post of Director-General". UNESCO. 2013-10-04. Retrieved 2013-10-07. 
  13. ^ UNESCO General Conference elects Irina Bokova for second term as Director-General
  14. ^ F.e. "Don't Envy, Rejoice, Bulgarians" (In Bulgarian), an editorial in "Trud", Bulgaria's best-selling newspaper
  15. ^ "Is Bokova's Win a Win for the Entire Nation" a blog posting by Ivo Indzhev, a prominent Bulgarian journalist and blogger (In Bulgarian)
  16. ^ Warum die Unesco-Wahl ein Skandal ist (German), Summary in English, In Bulgarian
  17. ^ Bulgarian Who Is to Lead Unesco Advocates Political Pluralism, New York Times, Sept. 24, 2009.
  18. ^ The Right Head for Unesco, New York Times, Sept. 28, 2009.
  19. ^ Information regarding the planned exhibition, “People, Book, Land – The 3,500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People to the Holy Land” (information from UNESCO)
  20. ^ "UN cancels Jewish exhibit at last minute on Arab complaints". Fox News. 
  21. ^ "U.S. chides UNESCO for putting Jewish exhibit on hold". Reuters. 
  22. ^ "US, Canada urge UNESCO not to postpone exhibit on Land of Israel". The Jerusalem Post - JPost.com. 
  23. ^ "UN cancels Jewish exhibit at last minute on Arab complaints". Fox News. 
  24. ^ “People, Book, Land: The 3500 Year Relationship of the Jewish People with the Holy Land” exhibition opens at UNESCO (information from UNESCO web site)
  25. ^ UNESCO deletes ‘Israel’ from title of its exhibit on Jewish ties to Israel (article in The Times of Israel)
  26. ^ Centre, UNESCO. "#Unite4Heritage campaign launched by UNESCO Director-General in Baghdad". whc.unesco.org. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  27. ^ [1]
  28. ^ [2]

External links[edit]

Articles and Interviews[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Georgi Pirinski
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Acting

1996–1997
Succeeded by
Stoyan Stalev
Acting
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Kōichirō Matsuura
Director-General of UNESCO
2009–present
Incumbent