UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will propose the appointment of Austria’s Volker Turk as the next High Commissioner for Human Rights. He will succeed Michelle Bachelet of Chile, whose term ended on August 31.

Highlights

  • Traditionally, the UN chief consults with the permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – before selecting a High Commissioner.
  • The appointment of Volker Turk must be approved by the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
  • Other candidates for the position included career diplomat Federico Villegas from Argentina and Adama Dieng of Senegal.

Who is Volker Turk?

  • Volker Turk holds a doctorate in international law from the University of Vienna and a Master of Law from the University of Linz, Austria.
  • He is proficient in many languages. He has good command over English, French and German languages ​​along with a working knowledge of Spanish.
  • Turk has held several key positions during his career. He also served as Director of the Department for International Security from 2009 to 2015, including as the United Nations High Commissioner for the UNHCR Agency.
  • Volker Turk currently works in the office of Antonio Guterres as Under-Secretary-General for Policy.
  • Prior to this, Turk was the Assistant High Commissioner for Security at the United Nations Refugees, UNHCR in Geneva, where he played a key role in the development of the historic Global Compact on Refugees.

UN Human Rights High Commissioner

  • The High Commissioner is the principle official who speaks out for human rights across the whole UN system. It strengthens human rights mechanisms, enhance equality & fight discrimination in all its forms. The Office was created in 1993.
  • It also strengthens accountability & the rule of law and widens the democratic space & protecting the most vulnerable from all forms of human rights abuse.
  • He/she is mandated to promote and protect the universal exercise and full realization of human rights, across the world, as established in UN Charter.

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