Why Irina Bokova Should Be The Next UN Secretary General

A statement by 27 leading French personalities

Seventy years after the creation of the United Nations and 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world is in the throes of unprecedented transformations: a shifting geopolitical balance of power creating uncertainty and instability in different parts of the world; a major demographic growth that generates economic, social and health inequality and calls for better organization to prevent a refugee tragedy; a climate change that should make us rethink our model of development; digitalized communication that is being exploited by terrorists for inhumane purposes...

Peace, security and even serenity seem ever more elusive prospects in our societies.

In the face of these new challenges for humanity, there is a growing need for a United Nations that shows relevance, legitimacy and effectiveness. Generation Y has become the first global generation accounting for 50 percent of the world's under-30 population. The capacity of the United Nations to demonstrate modernity and attract the attention of Millennials is no longer an option but a matter of survival.

In the face of new challenges for humanity, there is a growing need for a UN that shows relevance, legitimacy and effectiveness.

It is in this new context that the United Nations General Assembly will vote later this year to elect the global institution's new Secretary-General. The world's new top diplomat should be an experienced leader with proven leadership and management skills, a commitment to fairness and accountability and a firm believer in the founding principles of the United Nations.

As regional crises and tensions spread, the new Secretary-General of the United Nations must focus on conflict prevention through open, humane and proactive diplomacy. Peace must be protected and promoted through respect for culture and diversity, and the establishment of sustainable, inclusive and resilient societies capable of resisting extremism and intolerance. All of this will breathe new life into the old juggernaut, which is often criticized but which remains as irreplaceable and indispensable today as it was in decades past.

We firmly believe that no one is better placed to address the critical challenges facing our common future as UN Secretary General than Irina Bokova.

Irina Bokova has emerged from the first UN Security Council straw poll on July 21 as the only woman in the shortlist of leading candidates. We firmly believe that no one is better placed to address the critical challenges facing our common future as UN Secretary General than Irina Bokova. Fluent in four of the six official languages of the United Nations, twice elected Director-General of UNESCO by the direct vote of Member States, this exceptional diplomat has placed peace, sustainability and dignity at the core of her vision for the United Nations. Preventing conflict, building resilient societies, empowering women and promoting good governance are, for her, the foundation for the success of the 2030 Agenda.

At the helm of UNESCO, Irina Bokova made the dialogue among cultures, mutual respect and international and intercultural cooperation her strategic lines of action. She won universal praise for her leadership and managerial skills by keeping all the organization's signature programs intact and viable despite the overnight loss of a fifth of its budget. With four decades of experience in policymaking at the United Nations and as a diplomat, she is both respected and appreciated by political leaders on all five continents. She is committed to the promotion of education and gender equality, the prevention and the fight against extremism, terrorism, racism and anti-Semitism.

It is high time a woman took the lead in global diplomacy.

It is high time a woman took the lead in global diplomacy to give the 3.5 billion women in the world the place they deserve in shaping the future of the generations to come!

Men or women in politics from right and left, representatives of business and cultural circles, of civil society, Jews, Christians, Muslims or atheists, we have joined together to advance an idea of crucial importance: that the United Nations should become a "new generation platform" of dialogue and exchange among countries and cultures to promote and maintain peace and develop harmonious and sustainable societies.

We are convinced that Irina Bokova will be the Secretary-General the United Nations and the world need today. We respectfully urge the Member States of the Security Council not to miss this historical opportunity.

· Christine Albanel, former Minister for Culture and Communication

· Yann Arthus-Bertrand, photographer, journalist and environmentalist

· Pierre Bergé, industrialist and philanthropist

· Michel Boyon, former president of Radio France and the Superior Council for Television and Radio

· Hélène Carrère d'Encausse, Permanent Secretary of the French Academy

· Hervé de Charrette, former Minister of Foreign Affairs

· Jean-Louis Chassade, Chief Executive Officer of SUEZ

· Jean-Pierre Chevenement, former Minister of the Interior and Defense

· Yves Coppens, anthropologist

· Edith Cresson, first (and only) woman Prime Minister of France

· Xavier Darcos, former Minister of Education

· HRH Princess Chantal of France

· Baron François Xavier de Sambucy

· Pierre Gattaz, President of the French Confederation of Business Leaders

· Nicole Guedj, former Minister and human rights activist

· Jean-Michel Jarre, composer and music producer

· Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, Nazi hunters and memory activists

· Bariza Khiari, Senator and former Deputy Speaker of the Senate

· Julia Kristeva, philosopher, literary critic and novelist

· Catherine Lalumière, former Minister and Secretary General of the Council of Europe

· Laurence Parisot, former President of the French Confederation of Business Leaders

· Stéphane Richard, Chief Executive Officer of Orange Telecom

· Daniel Rondeau, diplomat, writer and journalist

· Baron Eric de Rothschild, President of Shoah Memorial

· Karine Uzan-Mercié, Vice-President of Coca-Cola