After having worked at a court and in an international law firm in Zurich, Jenö Staehelin joined the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation in 1969, where he accomplished a remarkable career. Amongst other functions, he was Ambassador in charge of European and North American Affairs from 1987 to 1993, Ambassador to Japan from 1993 to 1997, and then Ambassador to the United Nations in New York. Upon the admission of Switzerland to the United Nations in September 2002, he became the Permanent Representative of Switzerland to the United Nations in New York.
Jenö Staehelin was a member of the Foundation Board of HEI and the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva. He served as a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross and is member of the board of the Kofi Annan Foundation.
Jenö Staehelin holds a Doctorate in Law from the University of Bern and an LLM from Harvard Law School (HLS). He was a member of the HLS Dean's Advisory Board and is still a member of its Overseers’ Visiting Committee. Thanks to his support, the Graduate Institute was able to establish a cooperation agreement with Harvard Law School in 2006, to which the University of Geneva was associated.
In 2013, Jenö Staehelin initiated and funded the Institute’s international contest for graduate students, entitled “Advancing Development Goals”.