Irina Bokova: Director General of UNESCO

Protecting Cultural Heritage in Times of Conflict: Challenges and Threats

Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO in conversation with Serge Schmemann, member of the Board of the New York Times.

The Harvard Club of the UK is pleased to invite you to a discussion with two esteemed Harvard alumni- Irina Bokova and Serge Schmemann- hosted by the The Academie Diplomatique Internationale and the International New York Times.

Tuesday, October 27th
7:45pm - 9:30pm
Ismaili Centre
1-7 Cromwell Gardens SW7 2SL

The event is free but space is extremely limited so please respond immediately if you would like to reserve a place to Verity at

HCUK Members only
A ticket for admittance will be emailed closer to the time.

Irina Bokova
Director General, UNESCO


Irina Bokova, born on 12 July 1952 in Sofia (Bulgaria) has been the Director-General of UNESCO since 15 November 2009, and was successfully reelected for a second term in 2013. She is the first woman and the first Eastern European to lead the Organization.

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 United Nations Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria in 1977. In charge of political and legal affairs at the Permanent Mission of Bulgaria to the United Nations in New York, she was also 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 advocated for Bulgaria’s membership in EU and NATO and participated in the drafting of Bulgaria’s new Constitution.

Irina Bokova was Minister for Foreign Affairs, Coordinator of Bulgaria-European Union relations and Ambassador of Bulgaria to France, Monaco and UNESCO and Personal Representative of the President of the Republic of Bulgaria to the “Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie” (OIF). As Secretary of State for European integration and as Foreign Minister, Irina Bokova has always advocated for European integration. She is a founding member and Chairman of the European Policy Forum, an NGO created to promote European identity and encourage dialogue to overcome divisions in Europe. This is an example of her work to endorse the values of dialogue, diversity, human dignity and human rights. Irina Bokova is Executive Secretary of the Steering Committee of the UN Secretary-General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) and co-Vice-Chair of the Broadband Commission.

Serge Schmemann
Member of the Editorial Board, The New York Times

Serge Schmemann is a member of the editorial board of The New York Times focusing on international issues. Before that he was for ten years the editorial page editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris, to which he was assigned shortly after The New York Times assumed full possession of the IHT. Mr. Schmemann joined the Times in December 1980 after eight years with the Associated Press, and worked for many years as a correspondent and bureau chief in Johannesburg, Moscow, Bonn, Jerusalem and the United Nations. He was the deputy foreign editor of the New York Times from 1999 to 2001. Mr. Schmemann was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1991 for coverage of the reunification of Germany, and an Emmy in 2003 for his work on a television documentary about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He is a graduate of Harvard College and holds an M.A. from Columbia University, as well as an honorary doctorate from Middlebury College. Mr. Schmemann is the author of a book about Russia, Echoes of a Native Land: Two Centuries of a Russian Village, and another, intended for high-school students, about the fall of Communism, When the Wall Came Down: The Berlin Wall and the Fall of Communism, as well as numerous articles and reviews. Mr. Schmemann resides with his wife in Paris.