Mrs Battaini-Dragoni was born in Brescia (Italy) on 13 August 1950. After gaining a BA in Foreign Languages and Literature from Venice University, she followed a course in International Studies at Nice University, France and received a Diplôme de l'institut Européen des Hautes Etudes Internationales.
A career at the heart of the Council of Europe
Ms Battaini-Dragoni joined the Council of Europe in 1976 as an educational adviser at the European Youth Centre. In 1981, she transferred to the Directorate of Social Affairs and Health, where she worked for over ten years on health, employment and social protection issues, before being promoted to head of service at the Directorate of Education, Culture and Sport. In 1994, she joined the Research and Planning Unit of the Council of Europe, responsible for the programme of activities.
Social and Economic Affairs
Ms Battaini-Dragoni was appointed Director of Social and Economic Affairs in 1998, developing a long-term human-rights based approach to social development, including technical assistance activities and policy recommendations promoting access to basic social rights and fighting social exclusion.
She was active in the Council of Europe's internal reform process and brought social cohesion to centre stage in the post-enlargement period, receiving official endorsement at the second Council of Europe Summit in 1997.
Ms Battaini-Dragoni was appointed Director General of Social Cohesion in 2001, the first ever woman to be nominated to that rank in the Council of Europe. Her duties included supervision of the Council of Europe Development Bank, the Directorate of Social Affairs and Health and the European Directorate for the Quality of Medicines. During her directorship, the Directorate contributed greatly to the Council of Europe Strategy on Social Cohesion with legal texts such as the European Code of Social Security and recommendations on access to social rights and technical assistance activities.
She was appointed Director General of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport in 2004, at a crucial moment in the Council of Europe reform process. In this role, she integrated policy making, bringing various sectors of her Directorate General together and fostering closer links between the Directorate General of Social Cohesion and the Directorate General of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport. Her aim was to modernise the European social model by including issues such as cultural factors, citizenship, diversity policies and the potential of intercultural dialogue. She contributed to streamlining and renewing the Council of Europe's mandate in education, culture, heritage, youth and sport, bringing a strong intercultural dimension, which was endorsed at the third Council of Europe Summit in May 2005,
Since 2005 she has coordinated the Council of Europe's projects on intercultural dialogue, preparing the "White Paper on Intercultural Dialogue", the first document of its kind to be adopted at international level. The White Paper has been translated in 16 languages including Arabic and Hebrew and widely distributed. Its proposals include the development of intercultural skills, through formal and non-formal education. In 2008, she took on responsibility for the Council of Europe's "Speak out against discrimination" campaign, run in partnership with journalists and media and aimed at addressing mounting problems of everyday discrimination against certain population groups.
Following the reform of the Council of Europe's Secretariat of 2011, the Secretary General appointed Ms Battaini-Dragoni Director General of Programmes, responsible for overseeing the bi-annual programme of intergovernmental activities and for coordinating all monitoring, standard-setting and cooperation activities on human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Ms Battaini-Dragoni has published widely on a variety of social and educational policy topics in both Anglophone and Francophone academic journals and international publications, including the European Journal of Migration and Law, the French Revue du Ministère des Affaires Sociales, and the Revue Franco-Québécoise Santé, Société et Solidarité. She also contributed to two World Bank Publications on social exclusion and social standard issues. She is a frequently invited guest speaker at World Bank, UN, OECD, OSCE, Anna Lindh Foundation, ALECSO, UNESCO, Alliance of Civilisations, and EU meetings.
Gabriella Battaini – Dragoni was elected to the post of Deputy Secretary General in June 2012 and took up her duties in September 2012.