Vaira Vike-Freiberga


Republic of Latvia

WAAS Designation:


Primary Position & Institution:

Former President, Republic of Latvia; Founding Member, Club de Madrid; Member, Global Commission on Elections, Democracy & Security; Chair, European Commission’s High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism

Short Bio:

Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga is President of the Club of Madrid and former President of Latvia (1999-2007). She played an instrumental role in achieving membership in the European Union and NATO for her country and raised the nation’s recognition in the world through her international activities. She was appointed Special Envoy on United Nations reform in 2005 and was an official candidate for the post of UN Secretary General in 2006. Since the end of her presidency in 2007, Dr. Vike-Freiberga has been solicited as invited speaker on social issues, moral values, European historical dialogue, and democracy. In December 2007 she was appointed Vice-chair of the Reflection group on the long-term future of Europe. In 2011-2012 she chaired the High-level group on freedom and pluralism of the media in the EU. In 2015 she was a member of two High-level groups on European security and defense. Since 2014, she is President of the Club de Madrid of over 100 democratically elected former Heads of State and Government. Having left Latvia as a child refugee, Vaira started schooling in a refugee camp in Germany in 1945, continued in French Morocco, and pursued higher education in Canada, with a Ph.D. in experimental psychology (1965) at McGill University in Montreal. Dr. Vike-Freiberga emerged as a prominent spokesperson on politics and science policy whilst Professor of psychology and interdisciplinary scholar at the University of Montreal (1965-1998). She returned to her native country in 1998 to head the Latvian Institute. Less than a year later she was elected President by the Latvian Parliament and re-elected in 2003. Dr. Vike-Freiberga is a member, board member or patron of 30 international organisations, including the World Leadership Alliance, the Board of Trustees of the Nizami Ganjavi International Centre (Co-chair), and the European Council on Foreign Relations, as well as five Academies. She has been awarded 34 Orders of Merit (1st class) and 19 Honorary doctorates, as well as many medals, prizes, and honours, for distinguished work in the humanities and social sciences. She has published 14 books and authored over 200 articles, book chapters, reports, and audiovisual materials.