Austria’s Volker Turk Appointed Next UN Rights Chief


United Nations – The United Nations on Thursday approved Austrian diplomat Volker Turk to be its new high commissioner for human rights, replacing former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet in the sensitive, high-profile post.

The 57-year-old envoy has spent most of his career within the UN system, with a particular focus on refugees, and worked closely with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when the latter headed the global body’s refugee agency.

Turk, currently serving as assistant secretary general for policy, was tapped by Guterres on Wednesday and approved by the UN General Assembly by consensus on Thursday, to applause.

“Mr. Turk has devoted his long and distinguished career to advancing universal human rights, notably the international protection of some of the world’s most vulnerable people — refugees and stateless persons,” Guterres said in a statement.
“In my thirty-year long #UNHCR work with refugees, I have seen time and again the consequences of hate speech and its dehumanizing effect on people,” Turk wrote in July on Twitter. “Say #NoToHate is the only powerful answer.”
The UN veteran replaces Bachelet, who was appointed four years ago with the specific intent of having a powerful female politician in the role.

Guterres’s choice of a figure unknown to the wider public stands in contrast to his appointment of the high-profile Bachelet, who ended her tenure last week.

Turk will have his work cut out: Bachelet published a long-awaited report on rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region just minutes before the end of her term, leaving the tricky follow-up job to her successor.__The Nation