Walther Lichem, retired Austrian Ambassador with studies in law and oriental archaeology (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 as Head of the Department for International Organisations, in the Cabinet of the Minister, as Consul General in the SR Slovenia (1976-1980) and as Ambassador to Chile (1980-1984) and Canada (1993-2000).
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.
Recent assignments include juridical and institution-building advisory services to the sixteen African countries of the Guinea Current (2009-2011) regarding the creation of a regional organisation for the protection of their marine and coastal ecosystems, the reorganisation of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and programmes related to societal development in Africa, Asia and Latin America. With the support of an informal UN working group he recently launched an initiative on improving the interaction between global governance processes and the academic institutions.
Mr. Lichem was Chairman of the Board of Interpress Service (1998-2001) and serves currently as Vice-Chair of the IPS Board’s Executive Committee.