Born in Berlin, Klaus Hüfner studied economics, sociology and political science at the Freie Universität Berlin, the London School of Economics, the Institut de Hautes Etudes Internationales in Geneva and Princeton University. He earned his Ph.D. in economics in 1969.
Between 1964 and 1974 Hüfner worked as a research associate at the Max Planck Institute for Educational Research in Berlin. For the next six years, he served as a professor of economics of education and educational planning at Teachers College Berlin. And, from 1980 to 2002 he held an appointment as professor of economics at the Freie Universität Berlin. Over the years, Hüfner has held research appointments at Stanford University, the University of Melbourne, Osaka University, the International Institute for Educational Planning (UNESCO-IIEP), Paris, and the International Institute for Peace, Vienna.
Hüfner has served on many boards and committees. Among others, he was member of the Executive Board of the German United Nations Association, the Executive Committee of the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), the Governing Board of the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) and the UN Political Advisory Council of the German Foreign Office. Between 1982 and 2010 he served as a member of the Executive Board of the German Commission for UNESCO (1989-1998: vice-president; 1998-2002: president) and between 1994 and 2009 as a member of the Advisory Board of UNESCO-CEPES, Bucharest (1998-2009: chairman). Since 2006, he serves as Senior Research Fellow of the Global Policy Forum, New York.
He is a recipient of the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal of the German UNA. He is also Honorary President of WFUNA, Honorary Member of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Germany and of the German Commission for UNESCO, and Honorary President of the Berlin Committee for UNESCO.
Hüfner has authored and edited over 50 books and more than 200 articles. His written work has examined the UN system, UN finance, UN reform and related topics. His book on human rights complaints has appeared in over twenty editions in twelve languages. Some important recent books are: Multilaterale Bildungsfinanzierung durch das UNO-System (2011), Peanuts für die UNO – Das deutsche Finanzengagement seit 1960 (2008), UNESCO und Menschenrechte (2008), Die Finanzierung des UN-Systems (2nd edition, 2006).