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Rahul Chandran

Rahul Chandran (born 1976) is policy analyst working in the fields of conflict and security, widely known for his work on resilience and on United Nations reform.

He is currently the team leader and lead author of the International Review of Civilian Capacity,[1] a reform process for the United Nations. The product of this work, Civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict,[2] was widely praised in a United Nations Security Council debate.[3] The President of the Council (France), stated that the United Nations had a"collective interest in ensuring that its goals are achieved"; the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission (Rwanda), observed that the report was "a window of opportunity for the international community" and various Member States, including the United States, welcomed the report as important, timely and ambitious.[4] Prior to this, Chandran spent four years at the Center on International Cooperation(CIC), where he was the Deputy Director. At CIC, Chandran, along with the Director, Bruce D. Jones, and Richard Gowan, helped to make CIC one of the most influential think-tanks working on conflict and security issues. While at CIC, Chandran ran the Afghanistan Reconstruction Program, working for Barnett Rubin before his appointment as Senior Advisor to Richard Holbrooke.

Chandran was the lead author of From Fragility to Resilience, a policy paper for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that provided new definitions for State-building and resilience. The paper was highly influential in the world of conflict policy. First, it restored the idea that political settlement was essential to social contract stability. Second, it defined building resilience as the goal of international assistance to conflict countries. Third, it renewed the focus on legitimacy. This work has been taken forward in a number of other fora on political settlements most notably by Alan Whaites and DfiD, as well as the World Bank s 2011 World Development Report, and on legitimacy by theOECD's International Network on Conflict and Fragility.

Chandran was also the lead author of Recovering From War a report commissioned by the UK Government ahead of its 20 May 2008thematic debate in the United Nations Security Council. Recovering from War defined three primary weaknesses in the international response to conflict:

  • A strategy gap observing no evidence of strategy that encompassed political, security, development and humanitarian tools across bilateral and multi-lateral actors; and no framework for prioritization.
  • A financing gap noting that financing instruments are neither flexible nor dynamic.
  • A series of capacity gaps in leadership capacity; in implementation capacity; in sheer availability of civilian resources, and in a lack of training for purpose.

These findings formed the basis of then Prime Minister Gordon Brown s address to the Security Council, and the subsequent debate. They have also launched a series of processes to address these, with considerable success on the capacity gap through the Review of Civilian Capacities; some progress on the financing gap through the OECD/DAC process on financing and aid architecture; and negligible process on the strategy gap.

Chandran has previously worked for the World Bank on participatory monitoring and evaluation issues, and for the UN in Afghanistan, where he wrote a popular DiariesDiaries column for Slate Magazine. Before this, he had a successful private sector career, involved with ESPNCricinfo and Rely Software Rely Software among others. He was also a paralegal on Pigford v. Glickman one of the largest civil rights actions in US history.

Chandran currently serves on the Expert Advisory Group of the Partnership for Democratic Governance for whom he wrote Statebuilding and Government Consolidation in Situations of Fragility, and the Consortium Advisory Group for DfID s Secure livelihoods research consortium.


Chandran is a graduate of Yale University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Select Publications

  1. International Review of Civilian Capacity
  2. Civilian capacity in the aftermath of conflict
  4. Transcript of the UN discussion


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