LJUBLJANA/OTTAWA, 26. January 2022 – Former Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Honorable Donald J. Johnston, has become president of Advisory Board of the International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES). Johnston was Canada’s senior minister under several Prime Ministers in 1980s and 1990s, president of the Liberal Party of Canada from 1990 to 1994 and the first non-European to become the OECD Secretary-General (1996-2006). As a member of the Cabinet of the Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Trudeau, from 1980 to 1984, Johnston successively held the positions of Chairman of the Treasury Committee, Secretary of State for Science and Technology and Secretary of State for Economic and Regional Development. Johnston also held other senior government positions, such as the Secretary of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada.
As one of the most dynamic OECD heads, Johnston will be remembered by expanding the institutional engagement with than emerging economies of China, Russia, India and Brazil as well as by introducing the matrix of so-called Corporate Social Responsibility – as one of the essential pillars of Sustainable Development. Right upon his arrival to Paris headquarters of the OECD, Johnston created the Education Directorate which introduced the famous PISA (Program of International Student Assessment), now the leading reference for international educational comparisons, even beyond the OECD membership.
Directors of IFIMES Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zijad Bećirović and Bakhatyar Aljaf are convinced that Donald J. Johnston, as President of the IFIMES Advisory Board, will strengthen the institute with his reputation, experience, influence and commitment, especially because the IFIMES has Special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC/UN).
“It is a great honor that the institute has new president, Donald J. Johnston. He is a world-renowned figure and it is difficult to find a more experienced, qualified and distinguished figure than President Johnston. We are proud that President Johnston has taken over the chairmanship of the IFIMES Advisory Board.”
Head of IFIMES Mission in Vienna, Prof. Dr. Anis H. Bajrektarević underlined the importance of the Advisory Board in the work of IFIMES and the importance of President Johnston, who in his career participated in decisions on key challenges of the modern world: “The OECD is a unique organization that brings together the most developed countries and democracies, which are the model and future of the modern world. Therefore, I am convinced that our joint action will strengthen IFIMES activities in other parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and the Balkans, which are important and sensitive areas that can also contribute to a better future.”
Ljubljana/Ottawa, 26 January 2022
 IFIMES – International Institute for Middle East and Balkan Studies, based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, has Special Consultative status at ECOSOC/UN, New York, since 2018