Democracy That Delivers
Turk, Danilo

Turk, Danilo

President of Slovenia (2007-2012)

Danilo Turk was born on February 19, 1952, in Maribor, Slovenia.

He studied at the Faculty of Law, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he obtained his law degree (1975). In 1978 he obtained his masters degree in law from Belgrade University and started teaching International Law at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana. He also worked on the issues of national minorities. In 1982, he obtained his doctorate from the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana with the thesis on "The principle of non-intervention in international relations and in international law". In 1983 and until 1992, he was the director of the Institute for International Law of the University of Ljubljana.

In the following years, he worked on minority rights. In the mid 1980s, he collaborated with Amnesty International to report on human rights issues in Yugoslavia. Between 1986 and 1992, he served as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Realization of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  In 1985 he drafted the text of the Declaration on the Right to Development which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1986.

Based on his research and experience, Dr Türk initiated, in 1987, the establishment of the Human Rights Council, an independent group that laid foundations for the subsequent legislative work and advocacy for human rights in Slovenia. The Council was established early in 1988 and Dr Türk was the Council’s Vice-President. In 1991 he prepared the draft of the chapter on human rights for the Constitution of the newly independent Republic of Slovenia.

In 1990, he returned to Slovenia as member of the Constitutional Commission of the Slovenian National Assembly. From 1992 to 2000, Türk was first the Slovenian Permanent Representative to the United Nations. During this time, he was president of the United Nations Security Council in August 1998 and November 1999. He dealt with the issues of Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, East Timor, Angola, Sierra Leone and Congo among others. He was also chairman of the Security Council’s Sanctions Committee on Libya (Lockerbie). Between 1997 and 1998, he was a member of the UN Human Rights Committee. From 2000 to 2005, he served as UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. For more than five years his tasks at the headquarters of the UN in New York included analytical and advisory 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, Colombia, Haiti, Venezuela and others. He was also actively engaged in activities aiming at reform, in particular those leading to the creation of the UN Human Rights Council in 2006. In 2005 he returned to Slovenia, becoming professor of international law and vice dean of student affairs at the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana.

In June 2007 he accepted to run in the 2007 Slovenian presidential election. He won the run-off on 11 November 2007 by a landslide, with 68.2% of the votes, becoming the third president of Slovenia from 2007 to 2012.

In his academic work Dr. Türk published over 100 articles in various law journals and three books. The latest among them, “The Foundations in International Law”, was published in 2007 (in Slovene) and has been translated into Hungarian, Czech and Russian. Its second edition in the Slovene language was published in 2015.

At present Dr. Danilo Türk  is member of the Inter – Action Council, the first group of former presidents and prime ministers addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues. Since 2014 he is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Global Fairness Initiative, a Washington based NGO devoted to innovative projects fostering greater fairness in development and overcoming poverty. Since 2015 he is Chairman of the Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace, initiated by a group of 15 UN Member States. Since 2015 Dr. Danilo Türk is emeritus professor of law, University in Ljubljana. He was visiting professor of law at Columbia Law School in New York (in 20014 and in 20015) and is honorary professor of law and non-resident senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, both at the Renmin University of China, Beijing. In 2016 Dr. Danilo Türk was one of the candidates for the post of the Secretary – General of the United Nations.


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