Danilo Türk

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Danilo Türk
Danilo Türk 2011.jpg
3rd President of Slovenia
In office
23 December 2007 – 22 December 2012
Prime Minister Janez Janša
Borut Pahor
Janez Janša
Preceded by Janez Drnovšek
Succeeded by Borut Pahor
Assistant Secretary-General of the UN for Political Affairs
In office
Secretary-General Kofi Anan
Ambassador - Permanent Representative of Slovenia to the United Nations
In office
President Milan Kučan
Succeeded by Ernest Petrič
President of the United Nations Security Council
In office
August 1998
Preceded by Sergey Lavrov
Succeeded by Lena Hjelm-Wallén
In office
November 1999
Preceded by Sergey Lavrov
Succeeded by Peter Hain
Personal details
Born (1952-02-19) 19 February 1952 (age 63)
Maribor, Yugoslavia
(now Slovenia)
Nationality Slovenian
Political party Independent
Spouse(s) Barbara Miklič
Children 1
Alma mater University of Ljubljana
University of Belgrade
Website Official website

Danilo Türk (pronounced [daˈníːlɔ ˈtýɾk]; born 19 February 1952) is a Slovenian lawyer, diplomat and politician who served as the President of Slovenia between December 2007 and December 2012. He was also the first Slovene ambassador to the United Nations from 1991 until 2000. As of 2014, he is a visiting professor of international law at Columbia University in New York City. He is a professor emeritus.

Early life[edit]

Türk was born in a lower-middle-class family in Maribor, Slovenia (then part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia). His father died when he was a child. He attended the prestigious II. Gymnasium High school in Maribor. In 1971 he enrolled to the University of Ljubljana where he studied law. After graduation he served as the secretary of the commission for minority and expatriate affairs at the Socialist alliance of working people (SZDL), a mass organisation sponsored by Yugoslav communist party. In December 1979 he became the chairman of that commission and was later promoted to become a member of the executive committee of SZDL. He obtained an MA with a thesis on minority rights from the University of Belgrade's Law School. In 1978, he became a teaching assistant at the Faculty of Law in Ljubljana. In 1982, he obtained his PhD with a thesis on the principle of non-intervention in international law. In 1983, he became 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 1990, he returned to Slovenia as member of the Constitutional Commission of the Slovenian National Assembly led by France Bučar and Peter Jambrek. He cowrote the human rights chapter in 1991's Slovene Constitution.

Diplomatic and academic career[edit]

From 1992 to 2000, Türk was the first Slovene Permanent Representative to the United Nations. During this time, he was president of the United Nations Security Council in August 1998 and November 1999.[1] 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. 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. He is author of the first Slovene book of international law, called Temelji mednarodnega prava (Foundations of International Law).

Election to president[edit]

Danilo Türk and his wife Barbara with Harald V and Sonja of Norway in 2011

In June 2007 he accepted to run in the 2007 Slovene presidential election. As an "independent" candidate, he was backed by a broad coalition of left wing parties, composed by the opposition Zares and Social Democrats, the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia, as well as by the extra-parliamentary Christian Socialist and Democratic Party. In the first round of the presidential elections, held on 21 October 2007, he placed second with 24.54% of the votes, which brought him into the run-off against the centre right candidate Lojze Peterle who received 28.50% of the popular vote. He won the run-off on 11 November 2007 by a landslide, with 68.2% of the votes,[2] becoming the third president of Slovenia on December 23, 2007.

Health issues[edit]

In March 2011, Danilo Türk successfully underwent robot-assisted prostate cancer surgery at the Urology Institute in Innsbruck, Austria. The media questioned his decision to have the operation performed abroad, as it could be also done at the General Hospital Celje in Slovenia.[3] Andrej Kmetec, the head of the Department of Urology at the University Medical Centre Ljubljana, explained that he had advised Türk to choose the Innsbruck centre because they had much more experience than Celje in performing such operations.[4]

2012 election[edit]

He ran for re-election in 2012, but lost the election to Borut Pahor in a second round of voting, held on 2 December 2012; he received roughly one-third of the votes.[5]

UN Secretary-General candidature[edit]

In December 2013 Türk announced that he was planning to run for the position of UN Secretary-General. He was soon supported by Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek and Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Erjavec. In January 2014 the Slovene government officially nominated Türk as its candidate for UN Secretary-General. He was later supported also by the new Prime Minister Miro Cerar and President Borut Pahor. At the beginning he was also supported by then professor at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences and future speaker of the National Assembly of Slovenia Milan Brglez.

Türk has many experiences with work in the United Nations. He served as the first Permanent Representative of the Republic of Slovenia to the UN, he stayed in New York as Ambassador for 9 years from 1991 until 2000. As Slovenian representative he also presided the United Nations Security Council twice. His work was recognised by then Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Anan, who chose Türk as one of his coworkers and named him for Assistant Secretary-General in 2000. He served as Assistant Secretary-General until 2005, when he returned to Slovenia, where he worked as professor of international law in University of Ljubljana. He was also Slovenian representative to the UN Human Rights Committee.

For many experts Türk is a very good candidate, as he worked in the UN and cooperated with its institutions for more than 30 years. The Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Anan also invited Türk to be his assistant for political affairs. He was Assistant Secretary-General for more than 5 years, before he returned in Ljubljana as professor of the international law at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Law. Türk has been recognised as an expert for the human rights and his work has been connected with human rights and fight for equality for more than 40 years. He is also one of the authors of the Human rights chapter of the Slovene Constitution.

American analyst Richard Gowan recognised Türk as one of the favourites for the position of Secretary-General.

In December 2015 Türk was officially nominated by the Slovenian Government.

Honors and awards[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Danilo Türk is married to Barbara Türk née Miklič. They have a daughter. He is the brother of the manager Vitoslav Türk, member of the Slovenian Democratic Party.[10][11]


External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Janez Drnovšek
President of Slovenia
Succeeded by
Borut Pahor