Biography: Kemal Derviş, UNDP Administrator 2005-2009


Kemal Derviş was the head of the United Nations Development Programme, the UN's global development network, from August 2005 to 28 February 2009. He was also the Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programmes and departments working on development issues at the country level. 

Prior to his appointment with UNDP, Mr. Derviş was a member of the Turkish Parliament representing Istanbul from November 2002 to June 2005. During this time, he represented the Turkish Parliament in the Constitutional Convention on the Future of Europe and was a member of the joint commission of the Turkish and European Parliaments. He was also active in the Centre for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies, a Turkish NGO working on economic and political issues.

From March 2001 to August 2002, Kemal Derviş was Minister for Economic Affairs and the Treasury, without party affiliation, of the Republic of Turkey. He was responsible for Turkey's recovery programme after the devastating financial crisis that hit the country in February 2001. In August of 2002, after the crisis was overcome, he resigned from his Ministerial post, joined the Republican People’s Party (centre-left) and was elected to Parliament in November of the same year.

Kemal Derviş earned his Bachelor (first class honours) and Master’s degrees (with distinction) in economics from the London School of Economics, and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. From 1973 to 1977 he was member of the economics faculties of the Middle East Technical University and then Princeton University. In 1977 he joined the World Bank where he worked until he returned to Turkey in 2001.

At the World Bank he held various positions including Division Chief for Industrial and Trade Strategy and Director for the Central Europe Department after the fall of the Berlin wall, a position where he later coordinated the World Bank and donor community’s support to the peace and reconstruction process in the Balkans, particularly in Bosnia. In 1996 he became Vice-President of the World Bank for the Middle East and North Africa Region where he was active in supporting the Middle East Peace Process. In 2000, Kemal Derviş became Vice-President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management where he was responsible for the World Bank’s global programmes and policies to fight poverty. He was also responsible for operational coordination with other institutions, including the United Nations system, the IMF and the WTO on international institutional and policy issues.

Kemal Derviş has been an active participant in various European and international networks including the Global Progressive Forum and the Progressive Governance Network. He was a member of the International Task Force on Global Public Goods co-chaired by Ernesto Zedillo, former President of Mexico and also a member of the Special Commission on the Balkans chaired by Giuliano Amato, former Prime Minister of Italy. He has cooperated with the Global Economic Governance Programme at Oxford and the Center for Global Development in Washington.  Kemal Derviş is currently a member of the Commission on Growth and Development, a body sponsored by the World Bank and others and chaired by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor Mike Spence.  He is also a member of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress, established by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France and chaired by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz. Mr. Derviş also serves on the advisory committees of the Centre for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), and the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV). He is also an adviser to the “Institut de Prospective Economique du Monde Mèditerranèen (IPEMed).” All these activities have had the common objective of finding ways to make globalization into a more stable and inclusive process and to further international cooperation.  

Kemal Derviş has published many articles in academic journals as well as current affairs publications on topics ranging from mathematical models of growth and social mobility and quantitative models of trade, to European enlargement and transatlantic relations (in English, Turkish, French and German - he is fluent in all four languages). A book entitled “General Equilibrium Models for Development Policy,” which he co-authored, was published by Cambridge University Press in 1982 and became a widely used textbook in development economics in the 1980s. In cooperation with the Center for Global Development, he has published a new book entitled “A Better Globalization” (Brookings Press, March 2005) which deals with global development issues and international institutional reform.

The UNDP Administrator is appointed by the Secretary-General and confirmed by the General Assembly for a term of four years. Paul G. Hoffman was appointed as the first Administrator of UNDP in 1966 and served until retirement in 1972. David Owen, who led UNDP’s predecessor organization, the Expanded Programme of Technical Assistance (EPTA), was appointed as Mr. Hoffman’s Co-Administrator. Rudolph A. Peterson was appointed Administrator in 1972 followed by Bradford Morse in 1976; William H. Draper lll, 1986; James Gustave Speth, 1993 to 30 June 1999; and Mark Malloch Brown, 1999-2005.