Volker Türk is Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Coordination in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Mr Türk ensures coherence in the strategic analysis provided to the Secretary-General and conducts system-wide coordination, including on the Secretary-General’s ‘Call to Action for Human Rights’, his initiatives on COVID-19 and his report on ‘Our Common Agenda’ to address future challenges. He chairs the Deputies Committee, serves as the Secretary to the Executive Committee and the Senior Management Group, as well as liaises closely on matters related to the Chief Executives Board.
Prior to joining the Executive Office of the Secretary-General, Mr Türk served as Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva. He led UNHCR’s global protection activities and oversaw the development and implementation of protection and solutions policy with governments and other actors and in UNHCR’s operations around the world. Mr Türk led the development of the Global Compact on Refugees for UNHCR, bringing to fruition a strong commitment from the international community to share the responsibility for refugees and to ensure more predictable, sustained support for the communities that host them.
Mr Türk previously served as the Director of the Division of International Protection from September 2009 to February 2015, where he positioned the Division as the key actor in the progressive development of international law, standards, and protection policy relating to forced displacement and statelessness, as well as in the provision of protection support to UNHCR operations and emergencies worldwide. He was also pivotal to the development of the Ministerial Event on Refugees and Stateless Persons, which culminated in significant pledges for policy change, support, and other actions to strengthen the protection of refugees and stateless persons around the world; and he further spearheaded the #IBelong Campaign to end Statelessness.
From April 2008 to September 2009, Mr Türk was Director for Organizational Development and Management, leading UNHCR’s structural and management change process. He played a central role in the development of UNHCR’s Global Strategic Priorities, as well as the Global Management Accountability Framework and the Global Needs Assessment methodology, which were both firsts in the history of the organisation. He served as Chief of the Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section from 2000 to 2004, and was instrumental in the Global Consultations process and the development of the Agenda for Protection.
In addition to these key positions at UNHCR Headquarters, Mr Türk occupied various roles with UNHCR in many parts of the world, including as Representative in Malaysia; Assistant Chief of Mission in Kosovo (S/RES/1244 (1999)), Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kuwait; as well as Regional Protection Co-ordinator in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Before his time with the United Nations, Mr Türk worked as university assistant at the Institute of International Law at the University of Vienna (Austria), where he finished his doctoral thesis on UNHCR and its mandate (published in 1992). From 1985 to 1988, he was research assistant at the Institute of Criminal Law at the University of Linz (Austria). He has published widely on international refugee and human rights law.