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EUI alumna breaks glass ceiling in European governance

Posted on 08 February 2021

Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis, who graduated from the EUI in 1994 with a PhD in Law, has been elected Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). She becomes the first woman to hold the post in the Assembly’s 72-year history. She will serve for a five-year term starting on 1 March 2021.


Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis has been elected Secretary General of PACE

More than 96 per cent of the members of the Parliamentary Assembly participated in the election, which she swept with 240 votes out of 300.

Dr Chatzivassiliou has 27 years of experience working in the Council of Europe.

The lawyer started her career at the European Commission of Human Rights in 1993. She defended her doctoral dissertation Pre-trial deprivation of liberty under the European Convention on Human Rights: a critical appraisal of the Strasbourg case-law at the EUI in 1994, under the supervision of the late Professor Antonio Cassese.

Dr Chatzivassiliou has worked with and for parliamentarians from all over Europe in the Assembly for more than two decades. During the last 13 years, she led the Secretariats of the Monitoring and then Political Affairs and Democracy committees of the Council of Europe.

In an email reply to the EUI following her election, Secretary General Chatzivassiliou stated “I’m feeling grateful for the wonderful four years passed in Fiesole. Of course the Institute and Professor Antonio Cassese played a fundamental role in all this!”

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