Director general, UNESCO
"The latest ICTs have created new opportunities for the creation, preservation, dissemination and use of information. UNESCO aims to go further, towards the construction of inclusive knowledge societies in which people can transform information into knowledge and understanding that empowers them to improve their livelihoods and contribute to their social and economic development. Universal access to broadband-enabled applications will be vital for achieving this goal, by delivering quality education, sharing of scientific knowledge, enhancing social cohesion, and promoting cultural diversity."
Irina Bokova, born on 12 July 1952 in Sofia (Bulgaria), is a Bulgarian diplomat and politician, and has been the Director-General of UNESCO since 15 November 2009. She is the first woman to have been elected head of the Organization. She was also Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador of Bulgaria.
Having graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, the University of Maryland (Washington) and the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University), in 1977 Irina Bokova joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, 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). Elected as a deputy of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (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.
As a polyglot (Bulgarian, English, French and Spanish), she 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. In the course of her career, she has also represented Bulgaria at the United Nations. 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.