Vasak was born in Czechoslovakia and later moved to France to study law. He decided to remain there after the Communist coup in Prague in February 1948. He acquired French citizenship and worked for the Council of Europe in various capacities.
In 1969, Vasak became the first Secretary-General of the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, a position which he held until 1980. He served as Director of the Division of Human Rights and Peace and later as Legal Advisor to UNESCO and the World Tourism Organization.
Vasak was the editor of a 1982 book called The International Dimensions of Human Rights (ISBN 0-313-23394-2).
He died in May 1st, 2015.
- "Avis de décès de Karel VASAK" (in French). Libra Memoria. Retrieved 9 June 2015.
- UNESCO’s Philosophy of “intellectual and moral solidarity” in attaining peace. UNESCO. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
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