Leader Profile: Kemal Dervis, United Nations Development Program Administrator

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is the foremost source of development assistance in the world. With offices in 166 countries and a hefty budget of over US$ 4 billion, the agency aims to promote international development, reduce worldwide poverty, find solutions to the scourge of HIV/AIDS, enhance good governance, and safeguard the rights of women. Its bursary is sustained by the voluntary donations of member countries, all of which staunchly support the agency’s aim of meeting the objectives posited by the Millennium Development Goals.

Kemal Dervis is the institution’s Administrator, the third highest ranking position within the United Nations agencies, behind the secretary-general and his deputy. He was appointed by Kofi Annan in 2005 and has been relentlessly spearheading the agency’s activities since. In his speech marking the occasion of World AIDS day, the administrator underscored the need to continue the fight against AIDS, in spite of the praiseworthy drop in the number of infections. “New data released by UNAIDS in its 2007 AIDS Epidemic Update shows global HIV prevalence levelling off and the number of new infections falling, with approximately 33.2 million people living with HIV in 2007. Yet with 6,800 new infections and over 5,700 deaths each day due to AIDS, we recognize the epidemic as a long-term development crisis—as it claims lives, deepens and spreads poverty and depletes resources. We must continue to scale up efforts towards universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by 2010.”

Dervis lauded the UNDP’s unbiased approach towards people afflicted with HIV/AIDS. “As UNDP’s Administrator, I am proud of the commitment our organization has made to support staff living with HIV. We have been at the forefront of developing the Inter-Agency Programme “UN Cares” that will succeed our own “We Care” programme. This is a major step forward in ensuring that UNDP staff living with HIV/AIDS have access to care, treatment and support, and a workplace free from stigma and discrimination,” he proudly added. In his closing statement, Dervis encouraged the continued commitment of countries towards achieving the 6th Millennium Goal, halting and reversing the spread of AIDS by 2015.

Before serving as the UNDP’s administrator, Dervis was Turkey’s minister for economic affairs, and was largely credited with the country’s successful recovery program launched in 2001. Prior to that, he worked for the World Bank (1977) and served as a member of Princeton’s Economics department (1976). He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics and continued his master’s in the same school, completing his graduate degree in 1970. He earned his PhD from Princeton University three years later, in 1973.

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