Han Seung-soo is a South Korean politician and diplomat best known for his role as the former Prime Minister of South Korea from 2008 until 2008 and President of the 56th session of the General Assembly of the United Nations, in 2001 and 2002. Prior to his career in politics, Han had a prominent academic career at Seoul National University teaching economics, he also researched economics at the Universities of York until 1968, Cambridge until 1970, Harvard until 1985 and Tokyo until 1987.
Han’s distinguished political, diplomatic and administrative career gave him the opportunity to serve as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Industry and Trade before serving as Prime Minister. He has also acted as the Korean Ambassador to the United States, Chief of Staff to the President of the Republic of Korea, Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General on Climate Change and Chairman of the 2009 OECD Ministerial Council Meeting in Paris.
After completing his education at Yonsei University, Seoul National University and the University of York, Han was elected to the National Assembly in 1988. After being elected as President of the fifty-sixth session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2001, Han was appointed the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea. After Han’s term in the UN, he re-entered politics and was subsequently elected into the Korean National Assembly in 2002.
On top of his political affiliation, Han also had a passion for sustainable living, clean water and sanitation. In 2007, he began serving as a United Nations Special Envoy on Climate Change, later being appointed Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Reduction and Water for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2013, Chair of the High-Level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters and as a member of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation. With his years of experience, Han founded the High-Level Expert Panel on Water and Disaster/UNSGAB and is Chairman of the International Advisory Board of the International Forum of China.
A testament to his dedication to politics, Han was awarded as an honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. At present, he is a member of the Club de Madrid, a collection of 80 Presidents and Prime Ministers of democratic countries, who work together to reinforce democratic leadership and governance worldwide.