Mukesh Kapila CBE has worked extensively and advised in crisis and conflict management, humanitarian affairs, post-conflict recovery and development, and HIV and AIDS. Kapila is currently Professor of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs at the University of Manchester. He is also Special Representative for the Aegis Trust for the prevention of crimes against humanity. Kapila is also author of a book titled Against A Tide of Evil.
He was the Deputy Director of the National UK AIDS programme during the 1990s.
He was Head of Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs unit of the British Department for International Development from 1998 to 2002. From 2002-2003, Kapila was a Special Adviser to the United Nations, first to the Special Representative of the Secretary General in Afghanistan and then to the High Commissioner for Human Rights. In 2003-2004 Kapila was the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, and the UN Development Program Resident Representative for the Sudan.
While stationed in Sudan, he was outspoken in his condemnation of the human rights abuses being committed in the western region of Darfur. His activism began after a Darfuri woman came to his office to tell him how she, her daughter and 200 other women in the village of Tawilla had been gang-raped and mostly murdered by government soldiers and paramilitaries. His reports about the Darfur conflict were at the time dismissed by the Government of Sudan as a "a heap of lies", though they succeeded in bringing Darfur to the attention of the world's media for the first time. Kapila was subsequently transferred out of Sudan in April 2004, only 13 months into a 24 month assignment. Commenting in 2006 on this period, Kapila stated:
There is debate about whether we had genocide in Darfur or not, but certainly in my mind, and the mind of many, many people, I think there is very little doubt that what went on in Darfur in 2003 and the early part of 2004 was certainly genocide. We can argue the words, but that would be no consolation to those people who are affected.
So I subsequently went on to speak about it publicly, having tried the various diplomatic routes and avenues, and I soon found myself hauled onto a plane out of Khartoum. And as I reflected back on it, I thought to myself that there I was presiding over the first genocide of the 21st century – it is a place in history you don’t wish to have.
Kapila has won several awards for his humanitarian and development work. In 2003, he was honored by Queen Elizabeth II and named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his international service. In 2007 he received the Dr Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award of the Institute for Global Leadership.
He was a Director in the Department of Health Action in Crises of the World Health Organization (2004 to 2006). An employee of the Government of the United Kingdom, he was on secondment to the United Nations. He was an Adviser to the World Bank on climate change issues, has advised the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR), and the International Labour Organization. He was the chief executive of PHG Foundation in Cambridge, UK from September 2003 to August 2004.
Prior to his appointment as Special Representative for the Aegis Trust, Kapila was the Under Secretary General for National Society and Knowledge Development at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Earlier he served as the Special Representative for HIV and AIDS, and subsequently as Special Representative to the Secretary General of the IFRC. While at IFRC, Kapila has been instrumental in developing worldwide “global alliances” of the Red Cross Red Crescent such as HIV and disaster risk reduction, where successful scale-up has been achieved. More recently, he has been responsible for formulating Strategy 2020 - the International Federation's vision for the next decade.
He has served as an Advisory Board member of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), and of Minority Rights Group International, and Executive Committee Member of the Alliance for Direct Action against Rape in Conflicts and Crises (AllianceDARC). He has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), the International Peace Academy (IPA) and of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Co-ordination (UNDAC) system.
Dr. Kapila is presently a Senior Member of Hughes Hall College, Cambridge University, UK. He is also an Associate Fellow at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, Manchester University, UK.
Kapila resides in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
Notes and references
- Dr Mukesh Kapila, edited transcript, 'Moving from Words to Action; the Responsibility to Protect', Aegis Trust, 25 January 2006
- Press Notice 14, Session 2004-05 - Darfur, Sudan: Crisis, response and lessons, announcement for an evidence session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, May 2005
- WHO Resource Persons: Dr Mukesh KAPILA, World Health Organization biography
- "Southern Africa deserves better than promises", says the International Federation's new Special Representative for HIV and AIDS, Reuters, 2 October 2006