Dr Danilo Türk was born on 19 February 1952 in Maribor, Slovenia. He studied at the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he obtained his law degree (1975) with a dissertation on "Procedural bases for enforcement of the rights of Slovenian and Croatian minorities in Austria before UN authorities". After his degree, he started to 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 masters degree in law from Belgrade University with a dissertation entitled "Protection of Minorities and International Law", became an academic assistant and started 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 on "The principle of non-intervention in international relations and in international law".
He continued his academic career at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana where, in December 1982, he became assistant professor, then associate professor (1987) and finally tenured professor of international law (1995). In the period 1983-1992 Dr Türk headed the university's Institute of International Law and International Relations. In these years he devoted his energies 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 in many cases involving human rights violations in the former Yugoslavia. From 1984 to 1992 he was member of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities as an independent expert and acted in his personal capacity. For the Sub-Commission he prepared a report on the right to freedom of opinion and expression and a series of reports on the putting economic, social and cultural rights into practice. In 1991 he was 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 – with the authorisation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs – he informally represented the still unrecognised Slovenia in Geneva in contacts with representatives of the UN, the 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, Congo among others.
Following the successful conclusion of Slovenia’s term as non-permanent member of the Security Council, Mr Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organisation, appointed Dr Türk as Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. For more than five years his tasks included analytical and consulting activity relating to the crisis situations of the time, such as the Balkans (in particular Kosovo and Macedonia), Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, North Korea, East Timor, Columbia, Haiti, Venezuela and others. 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 11 November 2007 he was elected President of the Republic of Slovenia by 68,03% votes
and was inaugurated in the National Assembly on 22 December 2007.
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