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Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis, first woman elected Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly

Today the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) elected Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis to the post of Secretary General of the Assembly, 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 replacing Wojciech Sawicki.

The election took place by electronic voting, with a very large participation rate of 96.46 per cent.

Upon her election, she thanked Assembly members for their support: “I am greatly honoured by the confidence of the members and their large mobilisation – I am up to the challenge! Building upon the competence of the Assembly’s staff, I enthusiastically look forward to working together with the members of the Assembly as from March 1st to enhance the impact of our Assembly within our 47 member States and beyond, in close co-operation with the Committee of Ministers and the Secretary General.”

Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis has been working for 21 years with and for parliamentarians from all over Europe in the Parliamentary Assembly, leading, in turn, its Monitoring and Political Affairs Committees. She started her career at the Council of Europe in 1993 at the European Commission of Human Rights.

She is a Doctor in Law, holding a PhD on the European Convention of Human Rights from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis was born in Athens, Greece, on 28 February 1967. She is married and has two children.

In line with the Assembly's Rules of Procedure, the Secretary General ensures the proper functioning of PACE, implements its decisions and co-ordinates the work of the committees. She will head a secretariat of around 90 staff which assists the President and the Assembly members to carry out their work, and ensures the proper conduct of parliamentary proceedings.