Irina Bokova

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Irina Bokowa (2009), October 2009

Irina Georgiewa Bokowa (also spelled Irina Georgieva Bokova , Bulgarian Ирина Георгиева Бокова ; born July 12, 1952 in Sofia ) is a Bulgarian politician of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and from November 15, 2009 to November 15, 2017 Director General of UNESCO .

Education and political career

Irina Bokowa is the daughter of Georgi Bokow, a former editor-in-chief of Rabotnitschesko delo (The Workers' Matter ), the central organ of the Bulgarian Communist Party from 1948 to 1990. She graduated from high school in 1971 at the prestigious First English Language School in Sofia. She then studied at the Moscow State Institute for International Relations , where she obtained a Master of Business Administration degree in 1976 . She completed postgraduate studies on US foreign policy in 1989 at the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs.

In 1977 she joined the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where she held various positions. For a while she worked for Bulgaria at the United Nations in New York. Between 1986 and 1990 she served as an advisor to the Foreign Minister with the rank of First Secretary. From 1995 onwards, as Deputy Minister, she coordinated Bulgaria's relations with the European Union . From November 1996 to February 1997 she headed the ministry in the cabinet of Prime Minister Schan Widenow .

As a member of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, she was a member of the Bulgarian Grand Constituent Assembly between 1990 and 1991 and of the Narodno Sabranie , the national parliament, between 2001 and 2005 . From 2005 she was the Bulgarian ambassador to France and Monaco as well as to UNESCO .

She has been a member of the jury of the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award since 2008 .

In 2016 she was Bulgaria's candidate to succeed Ban Ki-moon as Secretary General of the United Nations . In 2020, Bokowa was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences .


On September 22, 2009, she proposed the UNESCO Executive Council as the successor to Kōichirō Matsuura as director general of the organization. Previously, she had prevailed in five ballots against her fiercest competitor, the Egyptian Faruk Hosni , and seven other applicants. The General Conference of UNESCO confirmed her election on October 15, 2009. The official handover was on November 15, 2009. She is the first woman and the first representative of a former socialist state to head a UN organization.

In 2011 she received an honorary doctorate from the University of Haifa for her achievements in this position .

Bokova's term ended on November 15, 2017; on October 10, 2017, Audrey Azoulay was elected as her successor.

World Heritage Site in the Syrian War

After the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant ( ISIL ) conquered the Syrian oasis city of Palmyra , which is a World Heritage Site, in 2015, the fourth year of the war in Syria , it committed atrocities to the population there and destroyed ruins, statues, Temples and tombs. In August, Palmyra's former chief archaeologist, Khaled Asaad , was publicly beheaded and crucified. At the end of March 2016, in the fifth year of the war in Syria, Syrian government troops with the support of the Russian Air Force and the Lebanese-Shiite Hezbollah militia recaptured the ancient ruined city of Palmyra. Irina Bokowa welcomed this offensive in her role as UNESCO Director General.


Irina Bokowa is married and has two grown children.

Web links

Commons : Irina Bokowa  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Ташо Ташев: Министрите на България 1879-1999 . АИ "Проф. Марин Дринов “/ Изд. на МО, София 1999, ISBN 978-954-430-603-8 / ISBN 978-954-509-191-9 .
  2. The first woman to head Unesco Die Welt , September 24, 2009
  3. UN Secretary General: Female, if possible from Eastern Europe - WELT. Retrieved March 14, 2017 .
  4. First woman at the top of Unesco. NZZ Online , accessed on October 15, 2009 .
  5. Address by Irina Bokova (PDF), October 9, 2017
  6. Cruel beheading by Palmyra archaeologists causes horror. Stern , August 19, 201, accessed March 27, 2016 .
  7. Syrian Army: "IS is about to collapse". Die Presse, March 27, 2016, accessed on March 27, 2016 .