Ambassador Martin Palous is a Senior Fellow at Florida International University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), and Director of SIPA’s Václav Havel Center for Human Rights and Diplomacy initiative.
Born in Prague on October 14, 1950, Mr. Palous received his PhD in chemistry from Charles University, Prague, in 1973, and went on to study philosophy and social sciences (graduating in 1977). He also studied law (1996-1999, 2002-2005), completing his PhD in international law in 2000 at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic, with a dissertation entitled Freedom of Expression at the beginning of the 21st Century.
In 2001, he defended his higher doctorate in political and became associate professor at Charles University in Prague.
One of the first signatories of the 1986 Charter 77, Martin served as spokesman for this dissident human rights group. A founding member of the Civic Forum (November 1989), he was elected to the Czechoslovakian Federal Assembly in 1990 and became a member of its Foreign Affairs Committee. He joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Czechoslovakia as adviser to Minister Dienstbier and was Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs from October 1990 to October 1992. From October 1998 through September 2001, he served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the newly formed Czech Republic, and was then asked by President Václav Havel to travel to Washington, D.C. as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic to the United States from September 2002 to November 2005. Dr. Palous was then designated as Ambassador of the Czech Republic to the United Nations, where he served in New York from 2006 through 2010.
Mr. Palous has held a number of teaching positions at Charles University, since 1990. He became a member of the Faculty of Social Sciences (the Institute of Foreign Relations) in 1994 and served for some time as the Faculty s Vice-Dean. In 1993, he joined the Centre for Theoretical Studies (research centre run jointly by Charles University and the Czech Academy of Sciences, headed by Ivan M. Havel). He has lectured extensively in the United States. In 1993- 1994 he was a visiting professor at Northwestern University, in 1995-1996 an associated professor at Central European University in Budapest. Until 1998 he was also active in various non-governmental organizations (Chairman of the Czech Helsinki Committee, Co-Chairman of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly).
Mr. Palous is the author of numerous publications, including the chapter on the Czech Republic in the European Commission publication Democratization in Central and Eastern Europe, "Totalitarianism and Authoritarianism", in the Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace and Conflict (1999, "Between Idealism and Realism: Reflections on the Political Landscape of Postcommunism", in Between Past and Future: "The Revolutions of 1989 and their Aftermath (2000), and most recently" What Kind of God Does Human Rights Require?", in Does Human Rights Need God? (2005), "Common Sense and the Rule of Law", in Philosophy, Literature and Politics (2005). He translates the works of Hannah Arendt and Eric Voegelin. Mr. Palous is married to PavIa Palousova, nee Nemcova. They have two children: Michal (1986) and Johana (1989).