Irina Bokova graduated with a degree in International Relations from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) in 1976. In 1989 she was a Ford Foundation Fellow at the University of Maryland School of Public Affairs and in 1999 completed an executive program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She has held positions such as Bulgarias first Secretary of State for European Integration, Foreign Minister of Bulgaria a.i., twice an MP, Ambassador of Bulgaria to France and Monaco, and the Permanent Representative of the republic of Bulgaria to UNESCO. Irina Bokova also contributed to the new Bulgarian Constitution in 1991.
Irina Bokova was the Director-General of UNESCO for two four-year terms (2009 2017). She was the first woman and the first Eastern European leader of the Organisation.
She has received state honors from many countries and honorary doctorate from a number of universities, among them MGIMO, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow State University.