Biography

KUL CHANDRA GAUTAM

(Brief CV/Biographical profile – 2018)

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:

- Chair of the Board, RESULTS and RESULTS Education Fund (USA)
- Co-Chair, UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Women’s & Children’s Health
- Chair, Programme Committee, Council of Trustees of OXFAM GB (UK)
- Vice Chair, Board of GoodWeave International (USA)
- Chair, Arigatou International Council of Prayer and Action for Children (Japan/USA)
- International Trustee, Religions for Peace (USA)
- Member, Fund Steering Committee of Global Partnership to End Violence against Children (UN/USA)
- Advisor, Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) (Japan/Kenya)
- Vice Chair, Aarogya Health Foundation (Nepal)
- Special Advisor, Nepal Public Health Foundation (Nepal)
- Special Advisor, Retired UN Staff Association of Nepal
- Advisor, Rato Bangla Educational Foundation (Nepal)
- Patron, Hima Gautam Memorial Trust, Amarpur-Gulmi (Nepal)
- Past President / Member, 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 (2010-2014)
- Special Advisor, Non-Resident Nepalese Association (NRNA)
- Patron, Chance for Change (Nepal/UK)
- Global Champion, Global Partnership for Education (GPE / USA)
- 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 Programme 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 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The ambitious goals and targets initially formulated by the Summit eventually evolved into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 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 there was no road, no electricity, no telephone, and no school or health center. 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 Center for Population and Development in 1996-97. 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 in early 2000s.  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. He is the author of ‘Lost in Transition: Rebuilding Nepal from the Maoist mayhem and mega earthquake’ published in 2015; and a forthcoming memoir: Boy from Gulmi, Citizen of the World (2018).

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.

(More info at: www.kulgautam.org ;  kulgautam@hotmail.com)

Short Biography of Kul Gautam

Kul Chandra Gautam was born on 1 December 1949 in the small village of Amarpur in Gulmi district of western Nepal. He was the first child of Om Prasad and Heema Gautam, a simple farmer’s family in Amarpur. He was born under-weight and suffered many illnesses in his infancy and survived a near-death experience. Small and frail looking, Kul was known for being a very inquisitive little boy. His relatives and childhood friends remember him asking endless questions on topics ranging from the origins of the earth and stars to religious faiths and miracles.

When he grew up, Amarpur village had no school, no health post, no running water, and no roads. As a child, Kul learned his alphabets from his barely literate grandfather Kapil Mani Gautam. At the age of 7 he left home to study with a guru in a neighbouring village across the river. Besides Nepali, his native tongue, Kul also studied Sanskrit and some Hindu scriptures. At the age of 10 he was sent to Benaras, the holy city of learning in India, to continue his studies in Sanskrit and theology.

Initially his parents’ wish had been for Kul to become an educated priest or pundit. But his life took a different turn, when one of his uncles suggested that Kul should switch to modern, “English” education to prepare himself for a government job. Kul was taken to Kathmandu and enrolled in a local school there. But Kathmandu did not suit Kul well. He got sick and became frail. So, his parents decided to send him to a school in Tansen, Palpa – a 3 days walk away from his village.

Kul was a bright student, always at the top of his class. Besides his regular studies, he became a voracious reader of Nepali literature. He had read much of the published classics of Nepali literature by the time he was 18 years old. As a student he participated in poetry recitals and was a champion in inter-school antakshari contests in Tansen. He also wrote essays and poems.

He was awarded a medal and recognition as a “Bal Kabi” or young poet-laureate by the then district commissioner of Palpa. During his studies at Janata Vidyalaya school in Tansen, Kul became good friends with several U.S. Peace Corps volunteers who were English language teachers at the school. He learned to play Scrabble with them and surprised them by occasionally beating them – quite a feat for an ordinary Nepali 7th or 8th grader. Impressed by Kul’s English language and academic aptitudes, these Peace Corps volunteers encouraged him to consider pursuing higher education in America when he finished his high school.

Kul completed the last year of his high school from the Juddhodaya Public High School in Kathmandu in 1966. He scored first division and was among the top students in the nationwide SLC exam. Right after completing high school, Kul took the TOEFL, the SAT and college entrance exams for U.S. colleges in Kathmandu and secured excellent results.

He applied and got admission with full scholarship at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, USA. But because he had obtained the scholarship directly through his own efforts, rather than going through His Majesty’s Government of Nepal, and partly because he was an ordinary village boy, not related to any prominent Kathmandu families or senior government officials, he could not obtain a Nepali passport to travel abroad. Disappointed but not discouraged, Kul persevered and got his passport 2 years later.

While waiting for his passport, Kul enrolled himself at Tri-Chandra College in Kathmandu and obtained the intermediate of arts (I.A.) diploma securing first division and ranking among the top students in the nation. To earn his living, he worked as a part-time translator at the USAID mission in Kathmandu. Although he was only a high school graduate, he gave private tutoring lessons to more senior college students to supplement his income.

At Dartmouth College in the US, Kul majored in International Relations. He was in the Dean’s List and graduated cum laude. He was active in the 1960s student movement against US war in Vietnam. He was one of the founders and the first President of the International Students Association at Dartmouth. In another extra-curricular activity, he was active in the student Model United Nations programme. This planted in him a deep respect for the ideals of the United Nations, and a desire to eventually work for this international organization.

Kul’s interest and activism in the anti-war movement led him to learn more about the history and politics of Vietnam and Indo-China. Fascinated by the epic struggle of the Vietnamese against great odds, he developed a desire to one-day visit and possibly work in Indo-China. With that in mind, he studied and became proficient in the French language, which served him well in his future career with the United Nations. He completed his graduate studies at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, earning a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree in economic development.

In 1973, Kul was recruited by UNICEF to serve in war-torn Cambodia, a fulfillment of his dream to work for the United Nations in Indo-China. He progressed rapidly in his career with the UN, taking on challenging assignments and demonstrating good managerial and leadership skills. After Cambodia, he served as Programme Officer for UNICEF in Indonesia. Kul became the youngest UNICEF country Representative in Laos in 1979. He then became the first resident UNICEF Representative in Haiti during the politically turbulent times in the early 1980s.

In 1986, Kul became Chief for Latin America and the Caribbean at UNICEF headquarters in New York – an unusual honour and a challenge for an Asian who initially did not speak much Spanish, but who rapidly acquired proficiency in that language, and on the development dynamics of a new continent. Kul was promoted to UNICEF’s Director of Planning and Coordination in 1988. In that capacity he was given prime responsibility for the substantive preparation of the largest gathering of world leaders in history until that time – the 1990 World Summit for Children – at the United Nations in New York.

The Declaration and Plan of Action of the Summit which Kul helped draft became one of the most effective instruments of international advocacy and action for the well-being of the world’s children along with its companion, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The ambitious, time-bound goals of the Summit for Children eventually became the precursors of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Afterwards, Kul served as UNICEF’s Director of Programmes overseeing policy-making and priority-setting of this billion dollars+ a year international organization working in over 160 countries. For brief periods, he also served as UNICEF’s Special Representative for India, and as Regional Director for the Asia Pacific region, before he was appointed Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, holding the rank of Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.

In 2001-2002 Kul 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, civil society leaders and celebrities including Nobel Prize Laureates.

Kul has traveled all over the world, met many leaders and became known as a passionate advocate for the cause of child rights and human development. He is widely recognized as an influential UNICEF leader who contributed significantly to saving the lives and protecting the rights of millions of children around the world under the aegis of UNICEF.

Kul is the winner of several awards, including the 2008 Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award and the 2009 Martin Luther King Social Justice Award for Lifetime Achievement given by Dartmouth College, USA. In recognition of his accomplishments, in 2005 the Himal magazine listed him as one of the 101 eminent national personalities of Nepal of the past 100 years.

During the decade of 2000, Kul was the highest-ranking Nepali in the UN system. After his retirement from the UN, Kul returned to Nepal in 2008. During the decade-long Maoist-led 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. During 2010-11 he served as Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Nepal on International Affairs and the Peace Process.

Kul is currently involved in a variety of local, national and global development activities, and advocacy of sustainable development goals (SDGs), poverty reduction, social justice, and the well-being and empowerment of women, children, and other vulnerable groups. He also continues to speak out and write extensively on the peace process, democracy, human rights and post-conflict reconstruction and development in Nepal.

Kul is the author of ‘Lost in Transition: Rebuilding Nepal from the Maoist mayhem and mega earthquake’ published in 2015. His memoir entitled: ‘Boy from Gulmi, Citizen of the World’ is scheduled for publication in 2018.

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 Kul as a high achiever with solid managerial, diplomatic and leadership skills.

Kul has a lovely family. His wife Binata is a woman of deep religious faith. Daughter Jyotsna is an artist, and son Biplav is a sports management professional. Kul has three grand-children: Riddhi, Hrigved and Rheeya – the real joys of his life.

Updated: March 2018 – (www.kulgautam.org)


Kul Gautam’s professional positions and activities – 2018

Current Positions and Activities:

- Chair of the Board, RESULTS and RESULTS Education Fund (USA)
- Co-Chair, UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Women’s & Children’s Health
- Chair, Programme Committee, Council of Trustees of OXFAM GB (UK)
- Vice Chair, Board of GoodWeave International (USA)
- Chair, Arigatou International Council of Prayer and Action for Children (Japan/USA)
- International Trustee, Religions for Peace (USA)
- Member, Fund Steering Committee of Global Partnership to End Violence against Children (UN/USA)
- Advisor, Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) (Japan/Kenya)
- Member, Expert Advisory Council – Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (USA)
- Vice Chair, Aarogya Health Foundation (Nepal)
- Special Advisor, Nepal Public Health Foundation (Nepal)
- Special Advisor, Retired UN Staff Association of Nepal
- Advisor, Rato Bangla Educational Foundation (Nepal)
- Member, Advisory Board – Nepal Economic Forum
- Patron, Hima Gautam Memorial Trust, Amarpur-Gulmi (Nepal)
- Past President / Member, 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 (2010-2014)
- Special Advisor, Non-Resident Nepalese Association (NRNA)
- Patron, Chance for Change (Nepal/UK)
- Global Champion, Global Partnership for Education (GPE / USA)
- 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 Programme 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)