Former President, Portugal; Former High Representative, United Nations Alliance of Civilizations
Jorge Sampaio was president of the Portuguese Republic (1996–2006), United Nations High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations (2007–2013), and United Nations Special Envoy to Stop Tuberculosis (2006–2012).
Jorge Sampaio was born in Lisbon on September 18, 1939. He started his political career as college student of the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon. Mr. Sampaio was involved in the student protests against the totalitarian regime and was leader of the Lisbon students union between 1960 and 1961. Following his graduation in 1961, Mr. Sampaio started a notable career as a lawyer, and was often involved in the defense of many political prisoners.
After the Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974, Mr. Sampaio funded Movimento de Esquerda Socialista (MES, the Portuguese acronym for Socialist Left Movement) but abandoned the political project soon after. In 1978 he joined the labor party (PS, Socialist Party), where he remains to the present day. His was first elected as a deputy for Lisbon in the Portuguese National Parliament is in 1979. Between this year and 1984, he was a member of the European Commission for Human Rights, where he developed important work on these topics. Between 1986 and 1987 he was president of the parliamentary bench of the Socialist Party. In 1989, Mr. Sampaio was elected president of this political group, an office he held until 1991.
Also in 1989, Mr. Sampaio was elected Mayor of Lisbon, remaining in office until 1995. In January he ran for the presidency of the Republic. He won the election and was re-elected for a second term as president on January 14, 2001. As president, Mr. Sampaio's actions were focused on social and cultural affairs. In the international political scene, he oversaw the handover of Macau to China in December 1999, and he also gave important publicity to the cause of East Timor’s independence.
As a former president, Mr. Sampaio is a member of the Portuguese Council of State. He is also a member of the Club of Madrid, an independent non-profit organization composed of 81 democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers from 57 different countries.
In May, 2006, Mr. Sampaio was appointed by the United Nations secretary-general as his first special envoy for the Global Plan to Stop Tuberculosis. He ended his tenure in December, 2012. In April, 2007,UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon designated him as high representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, a position he held until February, 2013. In 2013 he founded the Global Platform for Syrian Students (www.globalplatformforsyrianstudents.org), an emergency scholarship programme aimed at allowing Syrian students affected by the war to continue their studies and graduate. Against this backdrop he has also become a strong advocator in the international arena of the importance of boosting higher education opportunities in emergencies and protracted crises, making the case for a global, sustainable and systemic solution.
He is author of several publications and essays.