Kul Chandra Gautam Biography


(Brief biographical profile)

Mr. Kul Chandra Gautam is a distinguished diplomat, development professional, and a former senior official of the United Nations. Currently, he serves on the Boards of several international and national organizations, charitable foundations and public private partnerships. Previously, he served in senior managerial and leadership positions with the UN in several countries and continents in a career spanning over three decades. As a former Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, he has extensive experience in international diplomacy, development cooperation and humanitarian assistance.

A citizen of Nepal, currently Mr. Gautam informally advises his country’s senior political and civil society leadership on the peace process, consolidation of democracy, human rights, and socio-economic development. Previously, he served as Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Nepal on International Affairs and the Peace Process.

Current Positions and Activities:

- Board Member, Council of Trustees of OXFAM GB (UK)

- Board Member, RESULTS Inc and RESULTS Education Fund (USA)

- Board Member, GoodWeave International (USA)

- Global Champion, Global Partnership for Education (GPE) (USA)

- International Trustee, Religions for Peace (USA)

- Chair, Arigatou International Council on Prayer and Action for Children (Japan/USA)

- Advisor, Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) (Japan/Kenya)

- Advisor, Inter-faith Initiative to End Child Poverty (Japan/Kenya)

- Vice Chair, Aarogya Health Foundation (Nepal)

- Special Advisor, Non-Resident Nepalese Association (NRNA)

- Special Advisor, Nepal Public Health Foundation (Nepal)

- Advisor, Rato Bangla Educational Foundation (Nepal)

- Patron, Chance for Change (Nepal/UK)

- Patron, Hima Gautam Memorial Trust, Amarpur-Gulmi (Nepal)

- President, Rotary Club of Kathmandu Mid-town (Nepal)

Previous Positions and activities:

- Special Advisor to Prime Minister of Nepal on International Affairs and Peace Process (2010-11)

- Nepal’s candidate for President of the UN General Assembly (2010-11)

- Chairman, Gautam Buddha International Peace Award Committee, Nepal (2010-2011)

- Chairman of the Board, Citizens Bank International, Nepal (2010-2011)

- Patron, Rollback Violence Campaign (Himsa Antya Abhiyan), Nepal (2009-2011)

- Member, Nepal Development Council (2010-2012)

- Advisor, South Asia Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (World Bank, 2010-13)

- Chair/Member, Micronutrient Initiative, Canada (2001-2009)

- Honorary Chair, Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund (USA 2008-10)

- Chairman, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, Geneva, (2005-2007)

- Member, Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) Board (2004-2007)

- Member, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) Board (2005-07)

- Member, Inter-faith Council for Ethics Education (2003-10)

Positions held at UNICEF/United Nations:

- Assistant Secretary-General of the UN, and Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF (2000-2007)

- Regional Director, UNICEF, for East Asia and the Pacific (1998-2000)

- Special Representative, UNICEF, India (1997)

- Director, UNICEF Program Division, New York (1993-1996)

- Director, Planning and Coordination, UNICEF, New York (1989-1992)

- Chief, Latin America and the Caribbean, UNICEF, New York (1986-88)

- UNICEF Representative, Haiti (1983-86), and Laos (1979-82)

- UNICEF Program Officer, Indonesia (1975-79), and Cambodia (1973-75)

In his long and distinguished career with the United Nations, from 1973 to 2007, Mr. Gautam visited nearly 100 countries on official missions involving field visits as well as dealings with local and national leaders in Africa, Asia, Latin America, CEE/CIS and the OECD countries. He had extensive dealings with leaders of governments, donor agencies, multi-lateral organizations, NGOs and the corporate sector in policy dialogue, advocacy and resource mobilization.

Mr. Gautam was the key senior UNICEF officer responsible for drafting the Declaration and Plan of Action of the 1990 World Summit for Children, the largest gathering of world leaders in history until that time. The Summit for Children gave a major boost to the near universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The ambitious goals and targets initially formulated by the Summit eventually evolved into the Millennium Development Goals. In 2001-2002 Gautam led the organization of another major United Nations conference – the Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Children – attended by 70 world leaders and thousands of child rights activists and civil society leaders, including many celebrities and Nobel Prize Laureates.

Mr. Gautam is the winner of several awards, including the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award in 2008, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Social Justice Award for Lifetime Achievement given by Dartmouth College, USA in 2009.

Education and upbringing

Kul Gautam was born on 1 December 1949 in a small village in a remote part of Nepal, where until recently there was no road, no electricity, no telephone, and no school. His father was semi-literate and mother illiterate. He acquired his early education in Nepal and India, and went on to receive his higher education at Dartmouth College and Princeton University in USA, majoring in international relations and development economics. He was also a Senior Visiting Fellow on sabbatical at Harvard University’s Centre for Population and Development. Besides his mother tongue Nepali, he is fluent in English and has a working knowledge of French, Spanish, Hindi and Bahasa Indonesia.

Through hard work, dedication and commitment, Gautam progressed through the ranks of the United Nations to become the highest ranking Nepali in the UN system for sometime. During the decade-long civil war in Nepal, he worked hard informally to secure the support of the UN and other key players to promote peace and reconciliation in his homeland. He spoke forcefully against violence, impunity and violation of human rights by all parties in the conflict. He continues to speak out and write extensively on the peace process, democracy, human rights and post-conflict reconstruction and development in Nepal.

Mr. Gautam is currently involved in a variety of local, national and global development activities, and advocacy of poverty reduction, socio-economic development, and the well-being and empowerment of women, children, and other vulnerable groups. Commenting on his evolution from his humble beginnings in the hills of Nepal to the halls of high-level policy making at the United Nations and beyond, his friends and colleagues regard Mr. Gautam as a high achiever with solid managerial, diplomatic and leadership skills.