Speaking to a full room of over 150 students, Director-General of UNESCO and former Foreign Minister of Bulgaria Irina Bokova presented her vision of a New Humanism in global governance at Harvard Kennedy School on Wednesday, 3 November 2010.
In her speech, entitled "Global Governance in the 21st Century: The UNESCO Angle," Bokova stated that the core challenge of global governance today is "to harmonise the collective preferences of many different kinds of actors to ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction, for the greater common good." Irina Bokova asserted that "the essential task we face is to build a single community of humanity that draws on humanistic roots and values as the best means to guarantee sustainability and resilience."
Providing education for all, achieving gender equality and respecting cultural diversity are among the challenges at the heart of global governance, Irina Bokova stated. Further, UNESCO's global priories are vital for achieving all of the eight Millennium Development Goals. "UNESCO’s role lies in bridging the gaps that exist in global governance, in supporting public goods that fall through the cracks of globalization and that are vital for our common future."
Irina Bokova underscored the importance of integrating culture and the local context into development policies to make them more effective. The Director-General vowed to work in close collaboration with the Member States, NGOs and the intellectual community in order to make UNESCO’s action more coherent and efficient, more visible and compliant with the imperatives of its redefined priorities.
Managing the complexity of globalization calls for "soft power," a concept coined by Joseph Nye from the Kennedy School. "I believe that UNESCO’s strength can be found here. By this I mean the power to bring the right actors together, to draw on the wealth of civil society (…), to develop partnerships with the private sector to foster better collective action."
Bokova completed a Harvard Kennedy School-Kokkalis Program Executive Education program in 1999. The tenth Director-General of the organization, Bokova is the first woman appointed to UNESCO's leadership, and the first East European and fifth European to win the post.
The lecture was co-sponsored with the Center for International Development, the Women and Public Policy Program, HKS's UN Professional Interest Council, and the UN Association of Greater Boston.