United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres announced on 18 April 2019 the appointment of Volker Türk of Austria as Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. He will succeed Fabrizio Hochschild Drummond of Chile who was appointed as Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the Preparations for the Commemoration of the United Nations’ 75th Anniversary. The effective handover will be during the month of July.
Reporting to the Chef de Cabinet, Mr. Türk will ensure coherence in the strategic analysis provided to the Secretary-General by the political, peacekeeping, sustainable development, humanitarian, human rights and rule of law portfolios in the Executive Office. He will chair the Deputies Committee and serve as the Secretary to the Executives Committee and the Senior Management Group, respectively. Mr. Türk will also liaise with the Secretary to the Chief Executives Board to ensure coherence with the system.
Having served as Assistant High Commissioner for Protection in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Geneva since 2015, Mr. Türk brings extensive change management experience and strategic vision, with 30 years of expertise in the field of international protection of refugees and stateless persons, advocacy and humanitarian work more broadly. He has been leading UNHCR’s global protection activities and overseeing the development and implementation of protection and solutions policy with governments and other actors and in UNHCR’s operations around the world. Most recently, Mr. Türk played a key role in the development of the Global Compact on Refugees.
He served in key UNHCR headquarters positions as Director of the Division of International Protection from 2009 to 2015, Director of Organizational Development and Management in the Executive Office leading UNHCR’s structural and management change process from 2008 to 2009, as well as Chief of Section, Protection Policy and Legal Advice, from 2000 to 2004, instrumental in the Global Consultations process and the development of the Agenda for Protection. Mr. Türk also occupied various roles with UNHCR in many parts of the world, including as Representative in Malaysia; Assistant Chief of Mission in Kosovo and in Bosnia and Herzegovina respectively; Regional Protection Co-ordinator in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and in Kuwait.
Mr. Türk holds a Doctorate in International Law from the University of Vienna, having completed his thesis on UNHCR and its mandate. He was research assistant at the University’s Institute of International Law, as well as the Institute of Criminal Law at the University of Linz in Austria from where he holds a Master of Laws. He has published widely on international refugee and human rights law.