Director-General Addresses Global Governance Challenges at Harvard
Speaking to a full room of over 150 students at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government on 3 November, UNESCO Director-General 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, she said.
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.”
The Director-General outlined her vision of new humanism, affirming that “the inherent dignity of every individual must be the starting point for international action and the measure of its success. (…) It is the pillar on which to build long term peace and growth.”
Students linked up to ask questions, ranging from world heritage sites in Africa and Pakistan to press freedom and how to overcome cultural obstacles to girls’ and women’s education.
“The greatest challenge we face today is how to manage diversity and make it work for the benefit of all, and I don’t believe we have all the answers,” said the Director-General in concluding the session.
The event was hosted by the Kokkalis Program on Southeastern and East-Central Europe.
The Director-General is an alumnus of the Kennedy School’s Executive Education Program.