The University of Malaya awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in recognition of her achievements and contribution to building peace during a Convocation ceremony held in Kuala Lumpur on 30 September 2013.
The Director-General, who gave an address at the University of Malaya during her first official visit to Malaysia in May 2013, was represented by Mr Hubert Gijzen, Director of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science in Jakarta and UNESCO Representative to Malaysia.
In his conferment address, the Pro Chancellor of the University commended the Director-General’s ‘new humanism’ as an approach to protecting protect human rights and dignity and as a basis for promoting sustainable development. “Guided by this conviction, she has led a root and branch reform of UNESCO to advocate for knowledge-based societies where human rights are cherished through access to quality education for all, the celebration of culture, freedom of expression, scientific innovation, dialogue, tolerance and respect for diversity.” He referred also to the Director-General’s initiatives to harness the full power of the sciences to promote cooperative solutions to major challenges, ranging from climate change to water management and the protection of biodiversity.
The University of Malaya enjoys a special relationship with UNESCO: it was given the mandate to create the first UNESCO Club in Malaysia in 2007 to promote the Organization’s mandate and ideals. It also houses the Malaya Centre for Civilizational Dialogue, which carries out wide-ranging reflections on contemporary issues. It is Malaysia’s oldest university.