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Jorge Fernando Branco de Sampaio was born in Lisbon, on September 18, 1939, son of Arnaldo Sampaio and Fernanda Bensaude Branco de Sampaio.
In 1961, he graduated in Law from the Faculty of Law of the University of Lisbon. At the University, he developed a relevant academic activity, thus initiating a persistent political action in opposition to the Dictatorship. He was elected President of the Academic Association of the Faculty of Law in 1960-61 and General Secretary of the Inter-Academic Association Meeting (RIA) in 1961-62. As such, he is one of the protagonists of the academic crisis of the early 1960s, which gave rise to a long and widespread movement of student protest, which lasted until April 25, 1974, and which deeply shook the Regime.
He started, however, an intense career as a lawyer, which extended to all branches of law, having also performed directive functions in the Portuguese Bar Association. He played an important role in defending political prisoners at the Lisbon Plenary Court. Continuing his action as an opponent of the Dictatorship, he ran for the National Assembly in 1969, joining the CDE lists. He develops a constant political and intellectual activity, participating in resistance movements and in the affirmation of a democratic alternative with a socialist matrix, open to the new horizons of European political thought.
After the Revolution of April 25, 1974, he was one of the main drivers of the creation of the Socialist Left Movement (MES), from which he left, however, at the founding congress in December of the same year, due to fundamental disagreement with the orientation. ideological defined there. In the years of the Revolution, he played an important role in the dialogue with the moderate wing of the MFA, being an active supporter of the positions of the “Group of Nine”. In March 1975 he was appointed Secretary of State for External Cooperation in the IV Provisional Government.
Still in 1975, he founded the “Socialist Intervention”, a group made up of politicians and intellectuals, who would come to play important roles in public life, and which developed a significant work of reflection and political renewal.
In 1978, Jorge Sampaio joined the Socialist Party (PS). In 1979, he was elected deputy to the Assembly of the Republic, by the Lisbon circle and became a member of the National Secretariat of the PS.
From 1979 to 1984, he was a member of the European Commission for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, carrying out important work there in the defense of Fundamental Rights and contributing to a more dynamic application of the principles contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. He was re-elected deputy to the Assembly of the Republic in 1980, 1985, 1987 and 1991. In 1987/88 he was President of the Parliamentary Group of the Socialist Party, having assumed, in 1986-87, the responsibility for International Relations of the PS. He was also co-Chair of the “Africa Committee” of the Socialist International.
In 1989, he was elected General Secretary of the Socialist Party, a position he held until 1991, and was appointed by the Assembly of the Republic as a member of the Council of State.
In 1989, he decided to run for the presidency of the Lisbon City Council, a position for which he was then elected and then re-elected in 1993. This candidacy assumed, at the time, great political significance and contributed to giving local elections a national importance. As Mayor of Lisbon, and at the head of a team, he asserted a strategic vision, using new concepts and methods of planning, management, integration and urban development.
From 1990 to 1995, he held the Presidency of the Union of Portuguese Language Cities (UCCLA), being elected Vice-President of the Union of Ibero-American Cities in 1990. He was also elected President of the Movement of Eurocities (1990) and President of the Federation World Cup of Cities (1992). In 1995, Jorge Sampaio presented his candidacy for the presidential elections.
On January 14, 1996, he is elected in the first round. He was invested in the office of President of the Republic on March 9, 1996, taking a solemn oath. He fulfilled his first term exercising an initiative magistracy in line with his electoral commitment. He presented himself again and was re-elected in the first round, on January 14, 2001, for a new term.
Jorge Sampaio has maintained, over the years, a constant political-cultural intervention, namely through his constant presence in newspapers and magazines (Seara Nova, O Tempo eo Modo, República, Jornal Novo, Option, Expresso, O Jornal, Diário de Notícias and Public, among others). In 2000, he published the book Quero Dizer-vos, in which he exposed his updated vision of the challenges facing Portuguese society. His presidential interventions were collected in Portuguese books I-X.
In April 2006 he took office as State Councilor, in his capacity as former President of the Republic. In May 2006 he was appointed the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Fight against Tuberculosis and in April 2007 he was appointed by the UN Secretary-General as High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.