Parliamentary Assembly session : 31 March – 4 April 2003 

Born 16 June 1942 in Vienna, Austria
Married to Martina Pucher-Schwimmer, two sons

University of Vienna
Law Faculty, doctorate in law, 1964
Post-graduate studies in social and labour law

Professional career
Union of Private Employees, Law Department, 1964
Austrian Federation of Workers and Employees:
Head of Social Affairs Department, 1971
Head of Political Office, 1976
Vienna Health Insurance Fund:
Head of Department. for Fees, Insurance and Audit, 1979
Deputy Director General, 1984, (3800 employees)

Political career
Member of the Austrian Parliament (Nationalrat) from 1971 to 1999, Vice-Chairman of the parliamentary group of the Austrian People's Party from 1986 to 1994, Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Social Affairs from 1978 to 1989, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Health from 1989 to 1994, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Justice in 1995, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Housing and Construction from 1995 to 1999.

Chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Union friendship group Austria-Israel of the Austrian Parliament from 1976 to 1999, Member of the National Board of the Austria-Israel Association from 1973 to 1999, Vice-President from 1977 to 1981, Acting President (after the assassination of the former President, Heinz Nittel) from 1981 to 1982 and President from 1982 to August 1999.

Council of Europe: Member of the Austrian delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly since 1991. Chairman of the Group of the European People's Party-Christian Democrats since 1996. Member of the Bureau, President of the Sub-Committee on International Economic Relations, Vice-President of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur on various issues including monitoring of member states (Romania, Slovakia, Turkey); Vice-President of the Assembly in 1996, elected Secretary General June 1999.

Lectures on various issues - social, health, housing, general political affairs - in Austria and abroad: France, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, UK, USA (before taking office as Secretary General of the Council of Europe):

Christian Unions in Austria, Europa-Verlag, 1975
The Social Consequences of Inflation, Verlag Orac, 1988
A Union Makes History: 100 Years of the Christian Social Workers’ Union, Verlag Holzhausen, 1994. Numerous articles on issues concerning social, health, housing and general political affairs.

As Secretary General of the Council of Europe: lectures at Moscow State Institute University for International Relations (MGIMO) Moscow; The Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Boston; European University, Madrid and Ateneo Cientifico Literario y Artistico de Madrid in Madrid; Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung in Berlin; European Forum Alpbach at different venues in Austria.

Grand Decoration of Honour in Silver with Star for services to the Republic of Austria; Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for services to the Republic of Austria; Grand Medal in Silver for Meritorious Service to the Province of Vienna; Leopold Kunschak Special Prize (1975), Grand Cross of the Star of Romania (2001)

Austrian Scientific Council for Work Relations; Sigmund Freud Society; Society for Social Policy and Social Reform; Dr. Karl-Kummer Institut; Christian Social Workers’ Union.

Books, history, stamps, art
Working languages
German, English, French