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Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis takes office as Secretary General of the Assembly

Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis begins today her mandate as Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly. The first woman to occupy this post since the Assembly's creation in 1949, she was elected by parliamentarians on 26 January for a 5-year term of office at the last PACE session held in Strasbourg and remotely.

She has made it a priority to enhance the impact of PACE across the member States by strengthening synergies with national parliaments, while making better use of the potential of the Council of Europe as a whole and modernising working methods within the Assembly. She is committed to upholding PACE's essential role as a platform for dialogue in an increasingly complex political environment.

Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis has been working in the Parliamentary Assembly for 21 years, successively leading the Monitoring Committee and the Political Affairs Committee. She started her career at the Council of Europe in 1993 at the European Commission of Human Rights and has also worked for the Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers. She is a lawyer and holds a PhD on the European Convention of Human Rights from the European University Institute in Florence, where she also served as a Research Assistant for the Italian jurist Antonio Cassese, the first President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and first President of the Council of Europe’s European Committee for the Prevention of Torture.

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. Ms Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis will head a Secretariat of around 90 staff – which assists the President and the Assembly members in their work – and will ensure the proper conduct of parliamentary proceedings.

She succeeds in these functions Wojciech Sawicki whom she thanked for his professional dedication and his steady leadership in difficult times.