UNITED NATIONS. BOKOVA RE-ELECTED AT UNESCO

 

1 NOVEMBER 2013

BOKOVA RE-ELECTED AT UNESCO

There was no doubt about UNESCO's Irina Bokova's renewal. There were two lightweight candidates who really didn't matter. During a vote of the 58-member Executive Board on Friday, 5 October, Ms. Bokova received her second term from the first round. She received 39 votes when only 30 were necessary. Rashad Farah of Djibouti received only 13 votes. More embarrassing was the case of Joseph Maila of Lebanon who received only 6. Mr. Maila is actually a French national for whom France did not vote for nor did it propose. He had worked at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the Quai d'Orsay. His belated candidature was prompted by Lebanon's representative to UNESCO, presumably on the urging of Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman. Lebanese diplomats -- particularly those in Paris and New York (U.N.), should have given their President sincere and honest advice that Mr. Maila was a non-starter. It is a pity that a country like Lebanon, which has a historic link with Culture and UNESCO -- and has outstanding political candidates for the post in later opportunities -- had to be dragged into a futile venture.

Indeed, there are many Lebanese and Arab intellectuals who believe that Ms. Bokova -- with her record in Bulgaria and in Paris -- will be of better value to the Arab region than someone of hardly any record of sizable accomplishments like Maila, who is hardly known in the Arab world.

Ms. Bokova's overwhelming selection by the Executive Board will be presented to UNESCO's 195 member states on 2 November. Her first term started on 15 November 2009.

As we congratulate Ms. Bokova, we list a biographical note posted on UNESCO's official site:

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.