History · Politics

Irina Bokova- A Fighter for Human Rights & Culture Heritage

I have been written much about Bulgarian traditions and folklore on this blog. Traditions and folklore are part of the oral heritage and has a special place among the people. I have earlier mentioned that the place of The Madara Horseman and the tangible heritage of Nestinar are on the list of UNESCO´s World Heritage in Bulgaria. And who could be better to introduce then one of the most famous and important Bulgarian´s then Irina Bokova– the General-Director of UNESCO? As a student in museum and culture heritage this woman is a big role model of mine. Irina Bokova is working against ISIS and their demolishing of the culture heritage and the freedom of expression, and earlier this week did she visit Sweden to discuss freedom of expression, education  and green economy at Almedalsveckan, Gotland, Sweden. 

Background

Irina Bokova was born in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, on the 12th of July 1952. She is a daughter to Georgi Bokov, an editor-in-chief of the newspaper Rabotnichesko Delo, which was the official newspaper to the Bulgarian Communist Party. Irina Bokova graduated at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, but she also studied at the University of Maryland (Washington) and at the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard University). In 1977 she started to work at the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a third secretary. Mrs Bokova was a member of the Bulgarian Parliament twice, the first time was between 1990-1991, representing the Bulgarian Socialist Party (the Communist Party was renamed as the Socialist Party in 1990). Between 13th of November 1996-13th of February 1997 Bokova held the position of  acting minister. She was a member of the Parliament for the second time in 2001-2005. She advocated for Bulgaria´s membership in both EU and NATO. She also participated in the drafting of Bulgaria´s new Constitution.

Irina Bokova speaks: Bulgarian, Russian, English, French and Spanish. She is married and have two grown children that live and work in the United States.

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Photo: http://www.euractiv.com/people/irina-bokova/

Bokova and UNESCO

The 15th of November 2009 Bokova was elected Director-General of UNESCO, and have kept that position for 15 years now since she was reelected in 2013. She is the first person from East Europe, and the first woman of the world to lead the organisation. Bokova has been actively engaged in international efforts to advance gender equality, quality education for all and combat terrorist financing by preventing the illicit traffic of cultural goods. She is also fighting against Antisemitism and racism, she is also the first Director-General of the organization to appoint a Special envoy for Holocaust and also maintaining activities on Holocaust remembrance and awareness. Other than that she also work with sustainable development, such as early warning systems for tsunamis and trans-boundary water management agreements. She also leads discussions for the safety of journalists and freedom of expression.

Bokova at Almedalsveckan, Gotland, Sweden

On Thursday the 7th of July did Irina Bokova visited Sweden at Almedalsveckan in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. Almedalsveckan is a yearly event that are always being hold on Visby, Gotland (Gotland is Sweden´s biggest island), where politician and organisations meet to discuss politic and current topics that are connected to today´s society. Visby is the biggest town in Gotland, it has many old medieval houses and a city wall (well, sort of, that´s another discussion which I will not take now) and was an important place for Hansa, the German merchant between 1100-1600 century. Bokova expressed herself with this words: “Outstanding universal value embodied: fascinating of Visby Hanseatic town, World Heritage site of Sweden, symbol of our shared heritage“.

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Photo: https://twitter.com/irinabokova

Bokova gave a speech about the freedom of expression and pointed out that in the year of 2015, 70 journalists were killed meanwhile doing their job. And continued to discuss if the free word are being threatened in today´s society and how we can work to prevent more killings to happen. Later on the same day she also participated in a seminar together with Gustav Fridolin (the leader of Miljöpartiet the leading party in Sweden when it comes to green politics), Mats Djurberg (General-Director for the Swedish UNESCO) and Eva Friman (director of SWEDESD). Together they discussed the role of education to maintain a sustainable and green environment, which changes that are needed to be done on both a local but also global level. Bokova said: “We all need green economies, and most of all, green citizens- education is essential“.

Bokova- The Next UN Secretary-General? 

For the moment Ban Ki-Moon is the Secretary-General for the UN but from the 1st of January 2017 there will be a new leader for the UN. So far during the history of people who been chosen as Secretary-General has been men, and this time many people think that a woman will take the place for representing the UN. One of the official candidates are Irina Bokova, which many people think has a great chanse of becoming the next Secretary-General. Kristalina Georgieva is another Bulgarian woman who candidate, but neither the less has not made it to the official candidates. Another woman that people think may become the next Secretary-General is Vesna Pusić  from Croatia.

Will Irina Bokova become the next Secretary-General? 

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Photo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irina_Bokova

Sources for this article:

http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/about-us/who-we-are/director-general/biography/

Unescos generaldirektör besöker Almedalen

http://sverigesradio.se/sida/gruppsida.aspx?programid=3227&grupp=23059&artikel=6468336

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irina_Bokova

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristalina_Georgieva

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Secretary-General_selection,_2016

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