H.E. Ms. Bhaswati Mukherjee, Former Ambassador to the Netherlands

Expertise in:   Human Rights, Disarmament and Arms Control Issues, World Heritage, Culture and Cultural Diversity, Gender Issues, India´s relations with European Union, EU Expansion and Eurozone Crisis, Refugee Rights, Management and Administrative Reform.

Education:  M.A. (History), University of Delhi, India; Degree (Superior) in French History and Civilization, Sorbonne University, Paris, France

Languages: Excellent English, French, Hindi and Bengali

Assignments and Expertise:

Ambassador of India to the Netherlands, The Hague, 31st July 2010 to July 2013.  Thereafter, engaged in heritage projects for UNESCO; the Indentured Labour Route Project for the Government of Mauritius; Spice Route Project for State Government of Kerala, India, as well as visiting Professor in various Indian Universities for lectures on strategic issues and on Indian culture, civilisation and heritage :

Engaged in high level and effective bilateral and multilateral diplomacy on behalf of India.

Oversaw transformation of Indo-Dutch relations to build new political and strategic relationships through inter alia establishment of several working groups on political, strategic and economic issues including the Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism.  Extensively expanded cultural interactions and effectively utilized local Government and Diaspora’ support for the establishment of Indian Cultural Centre “Gandhi Centre” at the Hague, bringing to fruition a 40 year dream of Indian Diaspora.  Started the “India News”, a popular new bi-monthly with extensive circulation.

Effectively applying over 25 years of multilateral experience, including on disarmament and arms control issues, to take over leadership and guide progress in the different multilateral institutions in the Hague.  Unanimously elected as Chairperson of the Executive Council of Organisation for Prevention of Chemical Weapons on May 2012 at a difficult period of transition in the Organisation.    Oversaw change in India’s position on Rome Statute and International Criminal Court (ICC): Have extensively engaged with ICC especially on UN Security Council issues notably on Libya and Sudan.  Campaigned successfully to obtain Host Country support and that of different National Groups to ensure election by overwhelming majority in both Security Council and General Assembly of Indian Judge Bhandari to International Court of Justice, bringing an Indian Judge back to the World Court after a gap of more than 22 years.  Extensively involved in current negotiations on International Tribunal on Lebanon to bring to justice perpetrators of terrorist crimes in that country.

Ambassador/Permanent Representative of India to the UNESCO, Paris, 20th September 2004 to 30th June 2010:

Responsible for formulating and implementing several key initiatives as India’s Representative on UNESCO´s Executive Board, as Chairman of the Group of 77 and China and President of the Asian Group.  Shaped and transformed the organisation’s positions on vital issues including generating additional support and funding for Education For All (EFA) and an African Heritage Fund, building consensus on intricate and new scientific and technological advances such as a medical and bio-ethic Manual on the Human Genome.  Similarly, helped to shape a consensus on how to address climate change affecting World Heritage Sites.  Ensured the adoption through intensive negotiations by the General Conference of UNESCO of two landmark Conventions on culture, the Convention on Intangible Cultural Heritage as well as Cultural Diversity Convention respectively.  Was subsequently unanimously elected to Committees of both these Conventions and chaired the Committee on Cultural Diversity in addition to being India’s Representative on World Heritage Convention Committee for four years. Established a South-South Cooperation Fund on Education.  As Chairperson of the Fund for three years, was engaged in extensive fund raising and generating awareness among stakeholders in order to achieve universal primary education and enhance literacy rates.  Also worked on issues relating to human rights of women and girl child within UNESCO’s areas of competence and wrote extensively on the role of UNESCO’s human rights monitoring mechanisms in the context of the United Nations system.

Joint Secretary (Europe West, EU and Commonwealth), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi, January 1999 to September 2004:

Formulated and extensively expanded Indo-EU and India-Commonwealth relations in all its dimensions as Director General in the Indian Foreign Office on EU and Commonwealth affairs.  Oversaw India’s relations with 24 Western European countries, European Union, European Commission as well as the Commonwealth, negotiated at senior official level with the EU Troika to establish an annual India-EU Summit Level relationship commencing from the first Summit in Lisbon in June 2000.  Subsequently helped to shape and chaired from the Indian side several India EU Working Groups including on Counter Terrorism (three separate working groups with France, UK and EU respectively) and India-EU Joint Working Group on Consular Issues as well as the India-EU Joint Commission.  Was Secretary to four Eminent Persons Groups shaping India’s relations with these countries including the India-EU Roundtable, the India-UK Roundtable, the Indo-French Initiative and the Indo-German Eminent Persons Group.  Organized and managed both the substantive and administrative logistical arrangements of return summits with the EU in every alternate year commencing from 2001 till departure from Delhi.  This included pre-Summit negotiations and finalization of the Summit document between India and then EU Troika issued at Summit level.  Similarly, organized annual summits every alternate year with Germany (former Chancellor Schroeder), France (former President Chirac) and UK (former Prime Minister Blair).  As focal point for India on all Commonwealth related issues, participated and negotiated in all Commonwealth senior official meetings and represented India thereafter in Ministerial and Summit level meetings till September 2004.  Also participated in Indian Prime Minister´s delegation to the G-20 Summit in Evian, France.

Joint Secretary (Administration), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi, October 1997 to March 1999:

Oversaw all personnel related issues and instituted Administrative and Personnel reform and redressal of administrative grievances.  Formulated postings and transfers of senior Indian diplomats for approval by the Foreign Service Board as its Secretary and as Chief of Personnel.  Chaired several posting and promotion Boards involving all levels of Foreign Service personnel.  Supervised Indian Missions worldwide and established a new Mission in Fiji after Fiji returned to democracy.  With the assistance of the United Nations, radically transformed the system of salaries and allowances of Indian Foreign Service Officers.  The various administrative reforms were intended to ensure that India’s Foreign Service, established in 1947 after Independence, could adequately address the new challenges and diverse functions as India moved to the new millennium.

Chef de Cabinet to the UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights and Special Assistant to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Centre for Human Rights, (subsequently renamed as Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights) Geneva, August 1991 to October 1997:

Worked as senior UN Civil Servant and participated in all key human rights multilateral initiatives, utilising my extensive and substantive knowledge of applied human rights law and its Conventions as well as involvement and participation in intense human rights negotiations in the Commission of Human Rights.  Was Secretary to the Preparatory Committee established by the United Nations to negotiate a landmark document linking all human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Subsequently appointed Secretary to the Drafting Committee of the Conference.  Helped develop and shape the substance of the Vienna Declaration on Human Rights resulting in its adoption by consensus in 1993.  This altered the fundamentals of human rights law by linking all human rights (including economic, social, cultural, civil and political) as inalienable and interlinked, and helped establish a High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Subsequently, as Chef de Cabinet to the Assistant Secretary General (Ibrahima Fall of Senegal) and later Special Assistant to the first UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Jose Ayala Lasso of Ecuador) was responsible for all substantive human rights issues including a daily inventory of human rights violations worldwide, reorganization of the High Commissioner’s office and speech-writing.  Most of the work was conducted in French.  Also prepared weekly political cables by High Commissioner to UN Secretary General on all relevant human rights issues.  Was responsible for the implementation of the Vienna Declaration throughout the UN system.  Assisted the High Commissioner for Human Rights in the preparatory process as well as in the actual Conference on Human Rights of Women in Beijing in 1995.  This extensive human rights expertise has helped me address and formulate similar initiatives in different bilateral and multilateral fora later in my career, including as Ambassador to UNESCO and at The Hague.

Director (United Nations, Political), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi, October 1989 to July 1991:

Was responsible for preparing and formulating all aspects of India´s relations with the United Nations on political, strategic and disarmament related issues as well as on Security Council matters where India was completing its two-year term as Non-Permanent Member.  Prepared all substantive documentation including the draft final document as part of the non-aligned Troika for non-aligned Ministerial and Summit meetings.  Similarly, was responsible for substantive preparation and negotiations resulting in the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Summit.  Prepared the substantive briefs for India’s high level delegation to the Annual General Assembly and other Ministerial Conferences.

First Secretary, Permanent Mission of India to the UN, New York, October 1986 to September 1989:

Represented India in the Third Committee of the United Nations at a time of intense East-West confrontation and at the height of the Cold War.  Negotiated consensus positions on contentious political issues relating to self-determination, human rights and fundamental freedoms, refugee rights, women’s rights as well as drugs and psychotropic substances.  As Chair of G-77 and China in the Third Committee, helped expand the membership of the Commission on the Status of Women to ensure equitable representation and greater expertise on women´s rights.  Was Chairman of the Consultative Committee of UNIFEM (United Nations Fund for Women) and was India’s representative in the Executive Council of UNICEF.  I thus developed extensive knowledge regarding the management and implementation of policies of United Nations’ Special Programmes and Agencies.

Deputy Secretary (United Nations, Political), Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi, December 1984 to September 1989:

Developed expertise in areas similar to those cited under Director (United Nations, Political) above.

UN Disarmament Fellow, Geneva, Vienna and New York, June 1984 to November 1984:

This important UN Disarmament Fellowship continues till today.  At the height of the Cold War, it was intended to develop expertise on disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control issues among key future disarmament negotiators.  Twenty young diplomats were selected on merit and were extensively trained in Geneva, Vienna and New York.  We were also taken to both East and West Germany, SIPRI in Sweden, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan.  Disarmament Fellows had to write two papers for publication.  My two research papers: Arms Race in Outer Space: A Third World Perspective and Prevention of Nuclear War: Seen From South, were appreciated and approved by the Under Secretary General for Disarmament (Mr. Martenson of Sweden) and published by the UN in its annual disarmament publication.

I served as Under Secretary (United Nations, Political) in New Delhi, Second Secretary (Political) in Cairo and as Second Secretary/Third Secretary (Language Trainee) in Paris, during November 1978 to June 1984.

As Under Secretary (United Nations, Political) (from April-June 1984), I developed expertise in areas similar to those cited under Deputy Secretary/Director (United Nations, Political) above.  As Second Secretary (Political) (from March 1982 - February 1983) with responsibility for Administration and the Chancery in our Embassy in Cairo, I prepared in-depth political analysis regarding the situation in Middle East at a very interesting period immediately after the assassination of President Sadat.  In Paris, as Second Secretary/Third Secretary (Language Trainee) (from November 1978 – February 1982), I was able to study up to the Advanced Level, French History and Civilization at the reputed Sorbonne University and developed my expertise in French.  I subsequently served as Second Secretary to the Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO as well as in the Information & Cultural Wing of the Embassy.  These three postings helped to develop my expertise in bilateral and multilateral affairs, including an in-depth understanding of political and strategic issues, economic and commercial work as well as cultural and social issues.


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