UNESCO’s General Conference today elected Irina Bokova for a second four-year term as Director-General of the Organization. She was nominated for the position by UNESCO’s Executive Board on 4 October.
Bokova was reelected with 160 votes in favor, 14 votes against and one abstention. She is to assume office at a ceremony on November 18.
Born on 12 July 1952 in Sofia (Bulgaria), Irina Bokova was first elected Director-General of UNESCO in November 2009 and is the first woman to have held that post. Immediately prior to October 2009, Bokova served as Bulgaria’s Ambassador to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO. In Bulgaria, she earlier served in Parliament and as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Foreign Affairs. Irina Bokova has received doctor honoris causa from many prestigious universities across the world. In addition to her mother tongue, she speaks English, French, Spanish and Russian.
Over the past four years, Irina Bokova has focused UNESCO’s program on two overarching objectives – forging a culture of peace and promoting sustainable development – along with two global priorities – Africa and gender equality. In the past two years she has coped with a financial crisis caused by the United States, nominally UNESCO’s donor, withholding its contributions to the Organization.
The United States, as a result of nonpayment of its assessed contributions to UNESCO, last Saturday lost its vote in the General Conference. Today Director General Bokova published her response to that loss of voting rights.