Danilo Türk

Dr. Danilo Türk was born on February 19, 1952 in Maribor, Slovenia. He received his law degree in 1975 from the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, after completing his dissertation, Procedural Bases for Enforcement of the Rights of Slovenian and Croatian Minorities in Austria Before UN Authorities. After receiving his degree, he began work as secretary of the Commission for Minorities and Migrants of the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Slovenia (SZDL). In 1978, he obtained his master’s degree in law from Belgrade University with a dissertation entitled, Protection of Minorities and International Law, and became an academic assistant, teaching international law at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana. After his military service, he resumed his work on minority issues and served as chairman of the SZDL Commission for Minorities and Migrants until 1981. In 1982, he obtained his doctorate from the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana with a thesis entitled, The Principle of Non-Intervention in International Relations and in International Law.

Dr. Türk continued his academic career at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana where, in December 1982, he became assistant professor, then associate professor in 1987, and finally tenured professor of international law in 1995. From 1983 to 1992, Dr. Türk headed the university's Institute of International Law and International Relations. In these years he devoted his time to research and teaching, and efforts for the protection of human rights. Since 1975 he has been actively involved with Amnesty International and has acted as adviser on many occasions involving human rights violations in the former Yugoslavia. From 1984 to 1992 he was a member of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities as an independent expert. For the Sub-Commission he prepared a report on the right to freedom of opinion and expression as well as a series of reports on how to put economic, social, and cultural rights into practice. In 1991 he became the chairman of the Sub-Commission.

In 1987, Dr. Türk initiated and participated in the establishment of the Human Rights Council in Slovenia. The Council was established early in 1988 under the auspices of the SZDL and from 1989 on it functioned as an independent institution. Dr. Türk was the vice president of the Council. After Slovenia's declaration of independence, Dr. Türk took an active role in its diplomatic activity. In July and August 1991, under the authorization of the minister of foreign affairs, he informally represented the still-unrecognized Slovenia in Geneva in contacts with representatives of the UN, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) and the Council of Europe. From September 1991 to August 1992, he was a member of the Slovene delegation at the Conference on Yugoslavia. On behalf of Slovenia, Dr. Türk prepared a number of draft memoranda for the Arbitration Commission of the Conference on Yugoslavia (the Badinter Commission). The first memorandum, written in November 1991, was the key document on which the Commission founded its statement that Yugoslavia had dissolved and that all the successor states were equal in status.

In 1992, Dr. Türk assumed the position of ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia to the United Nations. During his term on the Security Council from 1998 to 1999, he dealt with the issues of Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, East Timor, and the Congo, among others.

Following the successful conclusion of Slovenia’s term as non-permanent member of the Security Council, Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, appointed Dr. Türk assistant secretary-general for political affairs. For more than five years his tasks included analytical and consulting activity related to  crisis situations including  the Balkans (in particular Kosovo and Macedonia), Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, North Korea, East Timor, Colombia, Haiti, and Venezuela. After 13 years in New York, Dr. Türk returned to Slovenia in the summer of 2005. He resumed teaching international law and related subjects at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana. Since May 2006, he has served as vice dean of the Faculty of Law.

On November 11, 2007, Dr. Türk was elected president of the Republic of Slovenia, winning 68.03% of the vote, and was inaugurated in the National Assembly on December 22, 2007.

Source: University Programs and Events Planning Resources, September 2008