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Speaker > Biography

Biography of Jakob Kellenberger

kJakob Kellenberger (born October 19, 1944 in Heiden, Switzerland) is a Swiss diplomat and the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). He studied French and Spanish literature as well as linguistics and gained a doctorate from the University of Zürich.

In 1974, he started his diplomatic career with a position in the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. From 1975 until 1984, he served in several diplomatic positions in Madrid, Brussels and London. He then returned to Switzerland to lead the Integration Office, a joint institution of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Department of Economic Affairs responsible for Switzerland's relations with the European Union and the European Free Trade Association. From 1989 to 1998 he was the head of several Swiss delegations in official negotiations with the European Union. In the period he was head of the Swiss Delegation in charge of the negotiations on transit, Deputy Chief negotiator for Switzerland in the negotiations on the European Economic Space with the European Community, and Co-ordinator and Chief Negotiator for the bilateral, sectorial agreements with the European Union.

On August 27, 1998 he was elected as president of the ICRC. He assumed the office in the beginning of the year 2000.


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