Mr Kamalesh Sharma, an Indian diplomat, became Commonwealth Secretary-General on 1 April 2008. He was appointed to the post by Commonwealth Heads of Government at their meeting in Kampala, Uganda, in November 2007.
Mr Sharma and the Commonwealth
Mr Sharma previously served as India's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, where he was closely involved in Commonwealth activities. In that capacity, since 2004 he has served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Foundation. He represented India at the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting in London in February and November 2005. Mr Sharma also led the Indian delegation at the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers Meeting held on the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta in November 2005. As High Commissioner, he has spoken in public on the Commonwealth.
Serving the global community
From 2002 to 2004, Mr Sharma served as the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to Timor Leste, with the rank of Under Secretary-General. He was responsible for helping to build up a newly independent Timor Leste by strengthening internal security and public administration, including justice, financial administration, policing and protection of human rights.
From 1988 to 1990, Mr Sharma served as India's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, where he acted as the spokesperson for developing countries in the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) during the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade talks. During his tenure as Ambassador and the Indian Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, from 1997 to 2002, Mr Sharma chaired the Working Group on Financing for Development, which led to the Monterrey Consensus.
In the late 1990s, he was closely engaged in the process which led to the formulation and adoption of the Millennium Development Goals. Mr Sharma's special interests lie in the empowerment of young people, the advancement of women's rights, the challenge of poverty eradication and economic growth.
Mr Sharma has been a member of the Indian Foreign Service since 1965, and has served at ambassadorial level in five missions. In his career as an Indian diplomat, Mr Sharma was heavily involved in multilateral issues. He headed the Technical Co-operation Division in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, helping to build human resource capacity in developing countries. He was involved in the administration of development assistance from the European Union while on assignment with the Ministry of Finance, where he also held responsibility for the development of India's hydrocarbon sector. His other duties were in the development of trade, finance and technology.
Mr Sharma organised the 1995 South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) Summit in New Delhi, including the Leaders' Retreat in Shimla.
Mr Sharma was educated at Modern School and St Stephen's College, Delhi, and at King's College, Cambridge University, where he read Literature. He is a fellow at Harvard University, USA. Mr Sharma is a governor of the Ditchley Foundation, and was formerly a Director of the International Peace Academy in New York. In 2001 he was awarded a medal for services to internationalism by the Foreign Policy Association of the United States. He holds honorary doctorates from Middlesex and De Montfort Universities in the UK.
In 2000, Mr Sharma edited Mille Fleurs - Poetry From Around The World, and Imagining Tomorrow - Rethinking the Global Challenge, featuring articles by prominent thinkers on challenges faced by the international community in the era of globalization.
Mr Sharma is married with two adult children. His interests are in spiritual and mystical traditions, literature, cosmology, cricket, Indian and Western classical music, and jazz.