Walther Lichem, Head of the Department for International Organisations in the Austrian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, with studies in law (Univ. of Graz, Austria) and political science (Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Institute for Advanced Studies, Vienna) started his professional career in 1966 at the United Nations Secretariat in New York in the field of international water resources with development cooperation missions to Ethiopia (1971), Argentina (1971-74) and to the Senegal River Development Organisation (1980). He was also Rapporteur on international river basins at the International Conference on Water Law (Caracas, 1976) and at the IVth World Water Conference (Buenos Aires, 1982).
After joining the Austrian Foreign Service in 1974 he served in the Department for International Organisations, in the Cabinet of the Minister, as Consul General in Ljubljana (1976-1980) and as Ambassador to Chile (1980-1984).
On his return to Vienna he assumed responsibilities in the areas of security policy, the CSCE, development cooperation and with regard to international organisations. Between 1987 and 1989 he chaired a European Campaign on North/South Interdependence and Solidarity of the Council of Europe leading to the creation of the European North/South Centre in Lisbon. At the United Nations Conference on Human Rights in 1993 he was Rapporteur on Human Rights, Democracy and Development. He served as Ambassador to Canada from 1993 to 2000.
During his assignments in Vienna he also contributed as lecturer to the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna and to the International Peace Academy Seminars on UN peace-keeping. He is also Honorary Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. Mr. Lichem was Chairman of the Board of Interpress Service (1998-2001) and is member of the Board of the People’s Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE), New York.
Numerous articles and books deal with human rights education, the challenges of environment and development, international rivers and local water organisations, North/South relations, development policies, with the foreign policy and national political system of Austria, UN peace-keeping, the CSCE process and with cultural and identity plurality.
Walther Lichem holds honorary degrees of Carleton University, Ottawa (1999), and of the University of Alberta, Edmonton (2001).