Rudolf Joó (1946-2002) was born in Miskolc, Hungary. He graduated with a degree in international relations from the University of Economic Sciences in Budapest. He completed his postgraduate studies at the Institut Européen des Hautes Études Internationales in Nice and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the US. He worked as a research fellow at the Hungarian Institute of Foreign Affairs, the Gorky (foreign language) Library, the Hungarian Institute in Paris, the Institute of Hungarian Studies and at numerous academic institutions in Europe. He was a visiting lecturer - amongst others - in Lyon and Garmisch- Partenkirchen. He received his PhD in his main area of research: the theory and practice of minority issues in Western-, East-Central Europe and in Hungary. His books and studies have had a major impact on the Hungarian academic life.
He was among the personalities paving the way for political transition in 1989-90. He became a founding member of the Magyar Demokrata Fórum (Hungarian Democratic Forum, the leading force behind political change at the end of the 1980s). He held important governmental positions (Deputy, then Administrative State Secretary at the Ministry of Defence (1991-1994), Deputy State Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1998 -2000). From 2000 he was ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Hungary to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva. In 2001 he was appointed director of UNESCO’s Division for Peace, Human Rights, Democracy and Tolerance in Paris.
He was one of the first scholars to gather the experiences of democratic control of armed forces in Hungary and made his research accessible not only for the Hungarian but also for the international public. He was full professor at the Zrínyi Miklós University of National Defence and associate professor at ELTE Law University. His life-work represents an essential chapter in the history of Hungarian minority and security policy.