Indian Diplomat Kamalesh Sharma New Commonwealth Secretary-General
The term of office of the current secretary-general, Don McKinnon of New Zealand, ends on March 31, 2008. McKinnon, has held the job for two terms, or eight years.
"It is a tough job I have taken over but I do so with confidence and enthusiasm ... the Commonwealth is a great global good," Sharma said when his appointment was announced by McKinnon during a summit of the group in Uganda. He is currently the Indian High Commissioner in London.
The Commonwealth's members represent 1.8 billion people, or more than a quarter of the world's population.
Sharma beat the other main contender for the job, Maltese Foreign Minister Michael Frendo.
Having immense experience in dealing with global issues, Sharma has served with distinction at various key positions including as India's Permanent Representative to the UN and spokesperson for developing countries in the UNCTAD during the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations.
Sharma has also played a key role in both South-South and North-South relations.
Sharma is currently a member of the Board of Governors of Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Foundation where he has taken keen interest in the activities and guided India's close engagement with the Commonwealth since 2004.
He has served as India's Permanent Representative in New York during which he chaired the Working Group on Financing for Development and the successful consensus building that he has achieved led to the conference yielding the 'Monterrey Consensus' in the conference in Mexico.
He was closely engaged in the process which led to the formulation and adoption of the Millennium Development Goals.
Sharma also had the distinction of being the first Special Representative of UN Secretary General to independent East Timor where he was directly engaged in all aspects of nation building and safeguarding its security.
Among the early contenders who later withdrew was our very own Rais Yatim.
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