Our Speakers

Irina Bokova

Former UNESCO Director-General

Irina Bokova, originally from Bulgaria, worked as the Director-General of UNESCO between 2009-2017, she is the first woman elected head of the Organization. Ms. Bokova joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria in 1977 where she was responsible for human rights and equality of women issues. She was later appointed in charge of political and legal affairs at the Permanent Mission of Bulgaria to the United Nations in New York. Ms. Bokova participated in the drafting of Bulgaria’s new Constitution, which contributed to the country’s accession to the European Union. Ms. Bokova was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and Coordinator of Bulgaria-European Union relations from 1995 to 1997; Ambassador of Bulgaria to France, Monaco and UNESCO from 2005 to 2009; and Personal Representative of the President of Bulgaria to the "Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie" (OIF). Ms. Bokova graduated from Moscow State Institute of International Relations, and has postgraduate studies from the University of Maryland and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She has received Doctor Honoris Causa from prestigious universities. Ms. Bokova speaks Bulgarian, English, French, Spanish and Russian.