Irina Bokova, Bulgaria's former foreign minister and current ambassador to Paris became the first woman to head UNESCO, the Paris-based United Nations agency for education science and culture. She also became the first person from the former Soviet bloc countries to be nominated to this post.
Ms. Bokova was elected on Tuesday September 22, 2009, by the organisation's 58-member Executive Board, winning 31 votes to defeat her rival, Egypt's culture minister Farukh Hosni, who polled 27.
The Board will now forward her nomination to UNESCO's General Assembly to be held in November 2009. This was the most thrilling and closely fought election in the organisation's history with the candidates tied at 29 votes each in the fourth round.
In a short address to journalists immediately after her election, Ms. Bokova said she would undertake her new duties "with joy but also with a sense of responsibility." She said she would take on board "all good ideas for the future of UNESCO" and congratulated her defeated rival, saying she would work closely with the Egyptian delegation.