Gustavo Gonzalez

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Picture of Gustavo Gonzalez, UNDP Senior Country Director, taken in Yemen, January 2013.jpg

Gustavo Gonzalez, born in January 1960 in Argentina, is a post-crisis and peace-building expert with more than 20 years of field experience in designing, setting up and managing post-crisis operations in Central America, Africa and Middle-East. He is the Senior Country Director[1] of the United Nations Development Programme in Yemen and a member of the United Nations Country Team.[2]

Professional career[edit]

United Nations system[edit]

Before Yemen, Gustavo Gonzalez was appointed UNDP Country Director [3] in Burundi (2008-2011), where he was actively involved in the implementation of the pilot – Strategic Framework for Peace building in Burundi[4] within the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB, French acronym). He led technical and financial support provided by UNDP to the Burundian transition, including support to the challenging post-crisis electoral cycle in the country, comprising the organization of five successive elections within a period of four months.[5]

As part of the UN peace-building support in Burundi, Gonzalez introduced the concepts of “Adults associated with armed groups”[6] and “Women associated with armed groups",[3] in the negotiations between the Government of Burundi and the National Forces of Liberation (P-FNL), in Pretoria (2009);[7] allowing more than 11,000 combatants, including 1,000 women -initially excluded from the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Programme (PNDDR)- to be disarmed and reintegrated into civilian live.[8] In this context, Gonzalez developed the “3x6 approach”[9] for the economic reintegration of ex combatants and other members of the community of re-installation, an innovate employment generation mechanism based on compulsory savings.[10]

Prior to Burundi, Gonzalez was assigned by the UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery,[11] to establish the Post-Conflict Unit[12] in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2003–07), being the first unit of this nature within the UN in Africa. This initiative greatly contributed to an unprecedented expansion of UNDP’s activities in the country.[13] The Country Office adopted an innovative business model based on a drastic programme alignment with the priorities of the political transition in DRC, implying a significant scaling up of activities from an expenditure level of US $11.3 million in 2003 to US $27.9 million in 2004 and US $221.5million in 2005, "becoming by far the largest UNDP programme in Africa”.[13]

In 2009, and after an independent evaluation, the UNDP Country Office in DRC was nominated for the Innovations Award in Transforming Government,[14] sponsored jointly by the IBM Corporation and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[12]

In support of increasing stabilization activities in the Northeast of DRC, Gonzalez was appointed in 2006 Coordinator of Operations for the Stabilization of the Ituri [15] where he developed the “Rapid Response Mechanism”, an operational device to address crisis situations based on a pre-positioned network of implementing partners -national and international non-governmental organizations- in the field, with fast-track disbursement mechanism to assist ex combatants, internally displaced people, returnees, etc. The approach proposed by RRM "was an innovative one that attempted to reconcile the operational requirements of an emergency situation with the institutional processes of a development agency".[13] Gonzalez and his team received, in 2006, the UNDP’s Administrator Award on Innovation and Creativity[16] for the results of the Disarmament and Community Reinsertion[17] of ex combatants of the seven armed groups[18] operating in Ituri, eastern DRC, as part of the Dar es Salaam Accord [19] (2003).

Before joining UNDP, Gonzalez led several post-crisis programmes, working for the World Bank-funded Transitional Programme in Guinea Bissau (2000-2002), implemented by the International Organization for Migration; the United Nations Office for Project Services, in Central African Republic (1998-2000); and the former United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs in Angola, Liberia and Mozambique (1994-1997).

In Angola, Gonzalez was in charge of establishing in 1994 the first Demobilization and Reintegration Office (DRO) within a UN humanitarian body – the Humanitarian Assistance Coordination Unit[20] – UCAH – (Portuguese acronym), constituting a very controversial initiative for some humanitarian stakeholders, who saw this function belonging to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Angola – United Nations Angola Verification Mission.[21]

Under the leadership of Gonzalez, the DRO was responsible for planning and coordinating one of the largest disarmament and demobilization operation in contemporary DDR, comprising more than 75,000 combatants of the National Union for Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), plus an estimated 350,000 family members settled around 15 quartering areas [22] during more than two years. In Angola, Gonzalez contributed to the development of the categories of “vulnerable groups” – including war-disabled soldiers and child soldiers-,[21] which are now fully incorporated in DDR standards, as well as introducing the modality of “Joint DDR Technical Working Group” for stakeholder’s coordination and oversight of DDR processes, considered now as a best practice and extensively used in DDR processes.[21]

Organization of the American States[edit]

Prior to working with the United Nations, Gonzalez participated in the first peace-building operation under the umbrella of the Organization of American States in Nicaragua, the International Support and Verification Commission (CIAV-OEA, Spanish acronym), within the framework of the Tela Agreement [23] (1989). He was Chief of Field Operations for the repatriation from Honduras of 7,000 members of the Nicaraguan Resistance (NR), known also as “Contras”, and their family dependents. After that, he was the Head of the Social Reintegration Programme, targeting more than 12,000 demobilized soldiers from the NR, the Sandinist Popular Army (EPS, Spanish acronym) as well as other rebel groups known as “recontras".[24] In this context, Gonzalez developed the innovative approach of reintegration “as a family affair”,[25] launching a nationwide self-construction housing programme, developing new resettlement areas to tackle the problem of land tenure in Nicaragua, allowing the reinsertion of more than 12,000 ex combatants and family members after almost nine years of conflict.

Peace negotiations[edit]

As peace-building adviser, Gonzalez took part in relevant peace negotiations in Africa, including the Lusaka Protocol for the Angolan peace process (1994); the Bangui Peace Accord for Central African Republic (1997), the Dar es Salaam Accord for the Demilitarization of the Ituri in DRC (2004) and the Pretoria Talks for the Burundi peace-building process (April 2009).

Academic background[edit]

Gustavo Gonzalez holds a Postgraduate Diploma from the University of Oxford-Said Business School (United Kingdom), a Postgraduate Certificate in University Administration from the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (Brazil) and a Licenciatura in Philosophy from the Universidad del Salvador (Argentina).


  1. ^ UNDP, United Nations Development Programme. "UNDP Who is Who". UNDP Yemen website. UNDP. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  2. ^ United Nations Development Programme, UNDP. "United Nations Country Team in Yemen". Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  3. ^ a b United Nations Development Programme, UNDP (2010). Burundi Report - 2008 towards 2010. Bujumbura: UNDP. p. 5.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Burundi_report" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ Reliefweb. "Report on Burundi". Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  5. ^ United Nations Development Programme, UNDP (2011). Rapport du Projet d'Appui au Processus Electoral 2010 du Burundi. Bujumbura: UNDP. p. 3. 
  6. ^ Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, UNDP. "Africa – Success stories". UNDP. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  7. ^ Political Directorate of the Burundi Peace Process (2009). Declaration on the Implementation Process of joint decisions made on April 8th in Pretoria (PDF). Pretoria, South Africa. 
  8. ^ United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR. "Burundi, dangerous demobilisation gap". Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN). Refword. Retrieved 29 April 2009. 
  9. ^ United Nations Development Programme, UNDP. "3x6 approach". UNDP website. 
  10. ^ Conoir, Yvan; Bonard, P. (2013). Evaluation of UNDP Reintegration Programs. New York: UNDP. The analysis of the “3x6” process proves that it innovates in its methodological approach by giving a central role to savings. After an initial phase of high labor intensive community works which helps the beneficiary earning and saving money, the Adultes associés were encouraged to regroup themselves in association in order to implement long-term economic activities, with the support of the host community. UNDP advised and finally supports local business plans and triples the amount of money that is being invested by the beneficiary. 
  11. ^ United Nations Development Programme, UNDP. "Crisis prevention and recovery". Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Dix, Sarah; Miranda, D.; Norchi, Ch. (2010). Innovations for Post-Conflict Transitions: The United Nations Development Program in the Democratic Republic of Congo (PDF). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation – Harvard Kennedy School. p. 43. Retrieved 8 June 2013. BCPR sent Gustavo Gonzalez, ex-senior DDR advisor in the DRC, on mission in August 2002. This resulted in the development of an ambitious BCPR Technical Assistance Project ZAI/03/M02) that helped the CO define and specify its post-conflict strategy in the country, identifying DDR as the entry point for that strategy.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Sarah" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  13. ^ a b c Faubert, Carrol (2006). Evaluation of UNDP assistance to conflict-affected countries. Case study: Democratic Republic of the Congo (PDF). New York: UNDP. p. 20.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Carrol" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Carrol" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  14. ^ Harvard University, Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovations. "IBM Innovations Award in Transforming Government". Ash Institute. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  15. ^ Congo Planet. "UNDP: the DDR phase III in Ituri proved to be one of the most credible disarmament operations in DRC". CP. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  16. ^ United Nations Development Programme, UNDP. "UNDP in Burundi". Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  17. ^ Reliefweb. "Democratic Republic of Congo – Report". Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  18. ^ IRIN, News. "DRC Report Who is Who in Ituri". Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  19. ^ United Nations, UN. "News on Dar Es Salaam Accord". Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  20. ^ Lanzer, Toby (1996). The UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs in Angola: A Model for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance?. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet. p. 27. ISBN 91-7106-385-4. 
  21. ^ a b c Ball, Nicole; Campbell, Kathleen (1998). Complex crisis and complex peace: Humanitarian coordination in Angola. New York: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance. p. 33. Retrieved 8 June 2013. “One of the first and most contentious issues confronting the UN system was the location of the Demobilization and Reintegration Office. Both UNAVEM and the DPKO lobbied hard to have it located within the peace-keeping mission. UCAH, DHA and, eventually, the UN operational agencies argued in favor of attaching the DRO to UCAH. UCAH believed strongly that since the purpose of demobilization and reintegration was to return ex-combatants to civilian life, the process should be overseen by civilian agencies.”  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Nicole" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page). Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Nicole" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  22. ^ University of Notre Dame, Peace Accords Matrix. "Lusaka Protocol". PAM. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  23. ^ Republica de Honduras, Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores. "Tratados" (PDF). SRE. Retrieved 8 June 2013. 
  24. ^ Merrill, Tim (1993). Nicaragua: A Country Study. Washington, USA: Washington:GPO for the Library of Congress. 
  25. ^ Keener, Samah; Heig, S.; Pereira da Silva, L. ; Ball, N. (1993). Demobilizationa nd Reintegration of Military Personnel in Africa: The Evidence from Seven Country Case Studies (PDF). Washington: The World Bank. p. 81.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)