Kamalesh Sharma

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His Excellency
Kamalesh Sharma
Kamalesh Sharma January 2015.jpg
5th Secretary-General of the Commonwealth of Nations
Assumed office
1 April 2008
Head Elizabeth II
Chair Yoweri Museveni
Patrick Manning
(Trinidad & Tobago)
Kamla Persad-Bissessar
(Trinidad & Tobago)
Julia Gillard
Kevin Rudd
Tony Abbott
Mahinda Rajapaksa
(Sri Lanka)
Maithripala Sirisena
(Sri Lanka)
Joseph Muscat
Preceded by Don McKinnon
Succeeded by Patricia Scotland, Baroness Scotland of Asthal
(designate, takes office 1 April 2016)
Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast
In office
10 December 2009 – 25 April 2015
Preceded by George J. Mitchell
Succeeded by Thomas Moran
Permanent Representative of India
to the United Nations
In office
7 August 1997 – 27 May 2002
Secretary General Kofi Annan
President Kocheril Raman Narayanan
Preceded by Prakash Shah
Succeeded by Vijay K. Nambiar
Personal details
Born (1941-09-30) 30 September 1941 (age 74)
British India
Nationality India
Children 2
Alma mater University of Cambridge
Modern School (New Delhi)
Profession diplomat

Kamalesh Sharma (born 30 September 1941)[1] is the 5th and current Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Nations from 2008, having previously served as the High Commissioner for India in London.[2]

Early life and background[edit]

Kamalesh Sharma is an alumnus of the Modern School, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi, St. Stephen's College in Delhi and King's College, Cambridge.[3]


Sharma was an officer in the Indian Foreign Service from 1965 to 2001. He served as India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, from Aug 1997 to May 2002, before his retirement from IFS.[4] From 2002 to 2004, he served as UN Secretary General's special representative to East Timor. He was appointed as the High Commissioner of India to Britain in 2004. He is a Vice-President of the Royal Commonwealth Society. He has also been the Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast since July 2009.[5][6]

Commonwealth Secretary-General[edit]

Sharma was elected to the position of secretary-general over Michael Frendo, foreign minister of Malta, during the biennial Commonwealth summit in Kampala, Uganda held from 22 to 24 November 2007.[7] He took over from Sir Don McKinnon of New Zealand on 1 April 2008.[8]

Sharma was re-elected on 30 October 2011 at the 2011 CHOGM. He was unopposed, having been proposed by India and seconded by Pakistan. His second and final four year term began on 1 April 2012 and will end 30 March 2017.

Sharma has been criticised as a "decent but ineffective" secretary-general by Hugh Segal, Canada's former special envoy to the Commonwealth, who commented that under Sharma's tenure, the organization has been "missing in action on Sri Lankan human rights, vicious anti-gay laws in some parts of Africa and continued weakness in the promotion of judicial independence and democracy."[9]

Chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast[edit]

On 9 July 2009 Sharma was appointed Chancellor of The Queen's University of Belfast after the retirement of Senator George J. Mitchell.[10] Queen's says he was responsible for cementing relations between Northern Ireland and India which led to the country's investment in Northern Ireland businesses.[10] The position is a largely honorary title and Sharma said he was enormously proud to be given the job at Queen's.[10]


  1. ^ "New Permanent Representative of India Presents Credentials". United Nations. 4 August 1997. Retrieved 6 April 2008. 
  2. ^ "Kamalesh Sharma is new Commonwealth Secretary-General". Commonwealth Secretariat. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  3. ^ "Kamalesh Sharma, Indian High Commissioner". Judge Business School, Cambridge. Archived from the original on 15 November 2007. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  4. ^ "Permanent Representatives of India to the United Nations" (PDF). un.int. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  5. ^ http://www.qub.ac.uk/temp/New_Chancellor.html
  6. ^ "India to field Kamalesh Sharma for C'wealth job". The Hindu. 7 June 2007. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  7. ^ "Kamlesh Sharma for C'wealth top job". Times Now. 24 November 2007. Archived from the original on 27 November 2007. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  8. ^ "Indian diplomat to be new head of Commonwealth". Reuters, Africa. 24 November 2007. Retrieved 24 November 2007. 
  9. ^ Segal, Hugh (November 26, 2015). "The spirit of the Commonwealth needs to be revived - and quickly". Globe and Mail. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c "Queen's appoints new chancellor". BBC News. 9 July 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2009. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Senator George Mitchell
Chancellor of Queen's University Belfast
Succeeded by
Thomas Moran