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José Ayala-Lasso became the first United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on 5 April 1994. He was appointed for a four-year term by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, with the unanimous approval of the General Assembly. Mr. Ayala-Lasso held the post as High Commissioner until he resigned on 15 March 1997 after he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of his native country, Ecuador.

Mr. Ayala-Lasso was born in Quito , Ecuador , on 29 January 1932 . He served as Ecuador 's Minister of Foreign affairs from 1977 to 1979, and subsequently as Ecuador 's Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Economic Community (EEC) and Peru.

From 1989 to 1994, Mr. Ayala-Lasso was the Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in New York; from 1991 to 1992, he was the Representative of Ecuador on the United Nations Security Council. He served as President of the Security Council in August 1991 and again in September 1992.

During the 48th session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, he chaired the working group that considered establishing the post of High Commissioner for Human Rights and implementing other aspects of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which was adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights that year.

Mr. Ayala-Lasso holds degrees in law and economics, international law, political and social sciences from la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, la Universidad Central del Ecuador, and l'Université Catholique de Louvain , Belgium. He has taught at el Instituto de Derecho Internacional of la Universidad Central del Ecuador.