Who? Where? When?

The UNESCO Charter defines the post of Director-General of UNESCO as a high official figure – the Organization manager, vested with wide powers and full authority.

Director-General makes preparations for all sessions of the General Conference, Executive Board and Committee, possessing a right of initiator and participating in all sessions without vote. He elaborates a working program with relevant budget proposals, supports proposals of the Member States of UNESCO for work changes by his comments and draw up periodic reports on his activity. The decision rests with the Director-General when selecting personnel (at Director level after consultations with the Executive Board) and determining the Secretariat’s structure.

When selecting the Director-General, the conciliation of interests and opinions of different regional groups, the rotation of personnel and candidates’ peculiarities are of primary importance. According to Article VI of the UNESCO Charter, the Director-General is elected by the General Conference on a motion of the Executive Board. The candidacy discussion is carried out closed-door in the Executive Board (and at a General Conference as well). A decision is taken by secret ballot. In the event that a nominee does not receive the requisite majority vote at a General Conference, the Executive Board within 48 hours can nominate a new candidate. The Executive Board coordinates with Director-General his personal work contract. The Director-General is elected for 6 years, the mandate can be extended only once for the next six year term.

A ceremony of election of new Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization took place in Paris in October 2009. Subsequent to the results of the secret ballot the representative of Bulgaria Irina Bokova became Director-General.

Director-Generals of UNESCO (from 1946 to the present day)

  • Audrey Azoulay (from 2017 to the present day)
  • Irina Bokova (from 2009 to the 2017)