Jan Kleijssen was born in 1958 in Almelo, The Netherlands. He studied International Law at Utrecht State University (LLM in 1981) and International Affairs at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa (MA 1982). Kleijssen joined the Council of Europe in 1983 as a Lawyer with the European Commission of Human Rights.
He was Secretary to the Parliamentary Assembly’s Political Affairs Committee from 1990 to 1999. Kleijssen then served as Director of the Secretary General’s Private Office and afterwards as Director and Special Advisor to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly.
Kleijssen is currently the Director of Information Society – Action against Crime, Directorate General Human Rights and Rule of Law, of the Council of Europe.
His Directorate carries out standard-setting, monitoring and co-operation activities on a wide variety of issues, including: Freedom of expression; Data protection; Internet governance; Cybercrime; Terrorism; Criminal law; Fighting corruption and money laundering.
Kleijssen was appointed Chair of the Council of Europe’s Disciplinary Board in December 2015, and Council of Europe Internet Governance Coordinator in 2018.
In May 2018, the Secretary General appointed Kleijssen to lead the work on the proposals for the future of the Council of Europe following the Elsinore Ministerial Session.
These served as a basis for discussion at the Ministerial Session in Helsinki in May 2019, celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the Council of Europe.
Onalytica, a marketing software platform, in July 2019 included Kleijssen among the Top 100 influencers on the regulation of new technologies. Besides his mother tongue Dutch, Kleijssen is fully fluent in English, French, German and Italian.
He takes a great interest in history and cinema and is also a keen marathon runner.