Dr. Kalliopi K. Koufa is an Emeritus Professor of Law of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and Honourary Director of the Institute of International Public Law and International Relations of Thessaloniki. Further, she is a Member of the Council of Europe’s “European Commission for Democracy Through Law” (also known as “The Venice Commission”, in which she is representing Greece), President of the Hellenic Inter-ministerial Committee for the Implementation and Dissemination of International Humanitarian Law, and a titular member for life of the Bar Association of Thessaloniki.
Born in Thessaloniki and educated at “Peiramatikon” School and the American College “Anatolia” of Thessaloniki, Dr. Kalliopi Koufa pursued further her early education in the fields of English literature, French literature and History, at the then Regent Street Polytechnic of London, in England, and continued by studying Political Science at the Faculty of Economic and Social Sciences of the University of Geneva, as well as the Graduate Institute of International Studies (“Institut Universitaire de Hautes Etudes Internationales”) of Geneva, in Switzerland.
A graduate of the University of Geneva and the “Institut de Hautes Etudes Internationales” of Geneva, holding the Degree of “Licenciée ès Sciences Politiques” with a specialization in International Studies, she next proceeded to studying Law, at the Faculty of Law of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, where she achieved an LL.B. with distinction, an LL.M. in Public Law with honours, and her Ph.D. in International Law with honours.
In early 1970, Dr. Koufa joined as a Barrister the Thessaloniki Bar Association, and a few months later was appointed as an Assistant Professor of the Chair of Public International Law at the Law Faculty of Aristotle University, where she served for over thirty years, successfully ascending from the lower (Assistant, Lecturer, Associate, and Adjunct Professor) to the topmost rung of the academic ladder (full Professor). So, in 1989, when the Law Faculty unanimously elected her a full Professor (with tenure) in Public International Law and International Organization, she actually became the first ever female Greek international lawyer to attain this academic position at a Greek University.
Professor Koufa is an internationally recognized legal scholar and theorist, whose extensive and diverse (published and other) writings include monographs, books, studies, articles, working papers and reports for the United Nations and other International Organizations, book introductions and reviews, translations, advisory opinions and a voluminous editorial work. She has written in Greek, English, French and German, and part of her outstanding work has also been translated into other languages, including Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese, Turkish and Romanian. Also an accomplished and skilful academic teacher, Professor Koufa has taught or lectured in a number of foreign countries, including Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands, and the USA.
Furthermore, Professor Koufa is a rarely experienced international practitioner of law. The broad range of her scholarship having also attracted attention within the Directorate of International Organizations of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she was called to participate as a legal counsel and/or member of the Greek (diplomatic and other) Delegations in a great number of important international conferences and plenary sessions, as well as other meetings and working groups of institutional organs and bodies of various International Organizations, such as the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE/OSCE), the Vienna World Conference on Human Rights, the Council of Europe, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and, above all, the United Nations Organization (UNO). For more than fifteen consecutive years, she participated in the Plenary Sessions of the UN General Assembly in New York, as a Greek delegate to the Third and Sixth Committees, and also in the Plenary and other sessions of the UN Commission of Human Rights in Geneva, as a Greek delegate and an expert in human and minority rights.
This huge diplomatic experience combined with her high specialist expertise in the field of international protection of human rights earned for her, in 1994, her first election as an independent expert to the UN Sub-Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities, by the UN Commission of Human Rights. This UN Sub-Commission, which later took the name of UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, was at the time the main consultative human rights body of independent experts within the United Nations system. At first as an alternate, then as a full member, and Special Rapporteur on the most intricate and delicate issue of “Terrorism and human rights” (1998-2004), Professor Koufa was repeatedly reelected to the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, and served it until its final elimination, in 2006, in various capacities including as its Vice-President,. Her outstanding reports on terrorism and human rights, as well as the elaboration of principles and guidelines concerning the promotion and protection of human rights when combating terrorism, prepared for the Sub-Commission – in the eve and in the aftermath of 11 September 2001 – are now a point of reference in legal scholarship, not only for the groundbreaking and pioneer role that they have played in the United Nations human rights system, but because of their distinctive contribution to the intricate philosophy, law, and policy of dealing with terrorism and counter-terrorism while respecting human rights.
Last but not least, reference should also be made to Professor Koufa’s distinctive tenures in the direction of two internationally renowned Greek educational, training, and research institutions that have their seat in Thessaloniki, namely the Institute for Balkan Studies and the Institute of International Public Law and International Relations of Thessaloniki. At the Institute for Balkan Studies, she served as Director (1990-1992), President (1997-2000) and throughout that decade as a member of its Governing Board. Her presence at this Institute marked the reorientation of its research priorities towards more contemporary international issues associated with Greek foreign policy. Professor Koufa’s close academic relationship with the Institute of International Public Law and International Relations of Thessaloniki, already dating from the early 1970’s, culminated with her appointment as its Director (1993-2007). During her tenure as Director, she boosted the international reputation and prestige of the Institute’s Annual Sessions on International Law and International Relations by attracting an ever increasing array of distinguished internationalists, multiplied its training and research activities, created new posts for younger researchers, improved its existing series of publication and introduced new ones.
At present, as throughout her eventful academic and professional life, Professor Kalliopi Koufa is also an active member and/or member of the governing board of a number of Greek and international academic and professional associations, and continues with a unique zeal her creative activity, in her most cherished fields of international law and international human rights law, as a much appreciated and respected academic teacher, international independent expert and dedicated individual.