1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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UNRISD Director to Retire After Eleven Years in Office

30 Apr 2009



Thandika Mkandawire is to leave the United Nations after 11 years at the helm of UNRISD. A Swedish national of Malawian origin, he is an economist with many years’ experience in the promotion of comparative research on development issues.

Since his appointment as UNRISD Director on 1 May 1998, Thandika has led innovative work at the Institute involving research across a wide range of social development issues, including his own particular passion of Social Policy and Development. During his directorship, UNRISD has gained greater international visibility as a research institute, and produced well-respected and influential books, reports and papers dealing with issues such as gender equality, the transformative potential of social policy, corporate social responsibility, and social cohesion, just to mention a few.

"Students, academics and policy-makers alike have been influenced by UNRISD's research publications," said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "We owe Thandika Mkandawire a vote of thanks for his hard work and commitment over the past 11 years."

Reflecting on his time at UNRISD, Thandika said,

“The role that research plays in shaping thinking and creating policies for the future is often overlooked, but the purpose it serves is fundamental. During my time at UNRISD I have tried to ensure that our work has tackled the key social issues faced by the world. Looking at the subjects we’ve covered in the past and the subjects that are key issues today, I think that we have achieved this aim.

“‘While I am eager to take up new intellectual challenges after moving on from UNRISD, I will always remember my years here pleasurably and consider my time at the Institute as having been beneficial to myself and the organization. I hope that the work we have done during my tenure and the projects we are carrying out now, especially our ongoing Poverty Project, have and will shape peoples’ way of thinking for the better.”

Until such time as the UN Secretary-General announces his new appointee as Director, UNRISD Deputy Director, Peter Utting, will be Officer in Charge.

Notes to Editors
  • The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) was created in 1963 and is an autonomous UN agency engaging in multidisciplinary research on the social dimensions of contemporary problems affecting development. Through its research, UNRISD stimulates dialogue and contributes to policy debates on key issues of social development within and outside the UN system.
  • Thandika Mkandawire studied economics at Ohio State University and the University of Stockholm and has taught at the Universities of Stockholm and Zimbabwe. He holds a Doctorate in Letters from Rhodes University. Thandika is a member of the editorial boards of Africa Development; Africa Review of Books; Development and Change; Global Governance; Journal of Development Studies; Journal of Human Development and Oxford Development Studies; Africa Review of Books, and Feminist Economics; and has recently served on the executive committees of the International Institute for Labour Studies, the Swedish NGO Fund for Human Rights, the Comparative Research Programme on Poverty (CROP) of the International Social Science Council, Care International, the Steering Committee of the UN Project on Intellectual History, and the African Gender Institute. His recent publications include the edited volume, ‘Social Policy in a Developmental Context’. Thandika will leave UNRISD on 30 April 2009 and plans to take up the newly created position of ‘Chair in African Development’ at the London School of Economics.
  • Peter Utting is Deputy Director and also Research Coordinator of the program area Market, Business and Regulation at UNRISD. He specializes in research on corporate social responsibility, business regulation, civil society activism and sustainable development. He has been responsible for overseeing the preparation of several of the Institute's flagship reports, including States of Disarray: The Social Effects of Globalization and Visible Hands: Taking Responsibility for Social Development. His recent edited publications include: Corporate Accountability and Sustainable Development (OUP 2008) and Reclaiming Development Agendas: Knowledge, Power and International Policy Making (Palgrave 2006). Peter will be Officer in Charge of UNRISD from 1 May 2009.

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