Bulgarian diplomat to become first woman to head UNESCO

22 September 2009

A former foreign minister of Bulgaria, Irina Bokova, will become the first woman to lead the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after she won a narrow victory today in the fifth and final round of voting for the post.

A former foreign minister of Bulgaria, Irina Bokova, will become the first woman to lead the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after she won a narrow victory today in the fifth and final round of voting for the post.

Mrs. Bokova received 31 votes from the 58-member Executive Board, UNESCO announced from its headquarters in Paris, where the voting took place early this evening local time. Egypt’s Culture Minister Farouk Hosny was runner-up.

Mrs. Bokova’s nomination will now be submitted on 15 October to UNESCO’s 193-member General Conference for formal approval.

Born in 1952, Mrs. Bokova is her country’s current Ambassador to France and its permanent delegate to UNESCO. She has served in many other senior diplomatic or Government positions in her country, including a stint as foreign minister in 1996-97.

Mrs. Bokova will serve an initial four-year term as head of UNESCO. The current Director-General, Koïchiro Matsuura, ends his second term in November and is not eligible for another stint.

Seven other candidates were competing to be Director-General but withdrew from the race in recent days as the voting progressed. They are Mohammed Bedjaoui (Algeria), Benita Ferrero-Waldner (Austria), Nouréini Tidjani-Serpos (Benin), Ivonne Juez de A. Baki (Ecuador), Ina Marciulionyte (Lithuania), Alexander Vladimirovich Yakovenko (Russia) and Sospeter Mwijarubi Muhongo (Tanzania).

 

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Election of new UNESCO chief heads into fourth round

A fourth round of voting will be held on Monday to try to select the next head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after none of the candidates for the post were able to obtain a majority of ballots yesterday.