Ruchira Kamboj stands as a beacon of India’s diplomatic prowess at the United Nations, representing the nation with grace, conviction, and strategic acumen. As India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Kamboj embodies the ethos of India’s foreign policy, advocating for peace, stability, and the interests of the Global South. Her unwavering commitment to amplifying the voices of marginalised nations underscores her role as a champion of inclusivity and equitable representation within the international community.
Who is Ruchira Kamboj?
Ruchira Kamboj is an Indian Foreign Service officer from the 1987 batch who has been serving as India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations since August 2022. She was born on May 3, 1964. She previously served as India’s High Commissioner to South Africa, the first female Indian Ambassador to Bhutan, and India’s Ambassador/Permanent Representative to UNESCO in Paris. She was the All-India Women’s Civil Services batch topper in 1987, as well as the Foreign Service batch topper.
On June 21, 2022, India appointed Kamboj as its first female Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York. Her appointment marks India’s first female Permanent Representative to the United Nations. She took over as PR designate on August 1, 2022.
Ruchira Kamboj, India’s first female Permanent Representative to the United Nations, believes her biggest problems stem from the high standards she has set for herself since childhood. Ruchira, an all-India topper in the 1987 Civil Services class, claims that she has continuously strived to meet and exceed her own standards. From her early days as a young officer to her role as an ambassador, she has been driven by a commitment to excel.
Ruchira’s diplomatic career began in Paris in 1989, when she worked as the third secretary at the Indian Embassy in France until 1991. She served as the Indian High Commission’s first secretary (economic and commercial) in Mauritius from 1996 until 1999. She began working as a counsellor for India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in 2002, and by 2014, she was a member of the G-4 team that was instrumental in reforming and expanding the UN Security Council.
The year 2014 was notable. She took charge of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, which included notable leaders from SAARC countries and Mauritius. She also served as India’s ambassador to UNESCO in Paris, where she advocated for major cultural initiatives.
Ruchira Kamboj, India’s first female UN ambassador, has held a range of positions throughout her decades-long diplomatic career.
“Each mission represented a new frontier, complete with its own set of obstacles. There is no replacement for hard labour. Depending on the job, you must prepare yourself and consider the subject from multiple perspectives.” This is not always visible from the outside.”Ruchira Kamboj
She began her diplomatic career in Paris, France, where she served as the Third Secretary in the Indian Embassy to France from 1989 to 1991.
During this time, she studied French and worked as the second secretary in the Indian Embassy in France. She subsequently went to Delhi, where she served as Under Secretary in the Europe West Division of India’s Ministry of External Affairs from 1991 to 1996, dealing with France, the United Kingdom, the Benelux countries, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. In this role, she also oversaw India’s relations with the Commonwealth of Nations, representing the country at the 14th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, in October 1995.
From 1996 to 1999, she was First Secretary (Economic and Commercial) and Head of Chancery in the Indian High Commission in Port Louis, Mauritius. During Prime Minister Deve Gowda’s 1998 State Visit to Mauritius and Prime Minister IK Gujral’s 1997 State Visit to South Africa, she actively assisted in various capacities.
Returning to Delhi, she worked as Deputy Secretary and later Director in Charge of Foreign Service Personnel and Cadre in the Ministry of External Affairs from June 1999 to March 2002, one of the longest tenures in this critical administrative position at the Ministry.
United Nations, New York.
From 2002 to 2005, Ruchira Kamboj served as counsellor at India’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, where she dealt with a variety of political topics such as UN peacekeeping, UN Security Council reform, the Middle East crisis, and so on. In December 2014, she joined the G-4 team working on the reform and enlargement of the United Nations Security Council, which is still in progress, following the release of Secretary General Kofi Annan’s Blue Ribbon Panel Report.
From 2006 to 2009, she served as India’s Consul General in Cape Town, South Africa, where she worked closely with the South African Parliament. Additionally, she supervised the state visits of India’s President to Cape Town in 2008 and the Congress Party’s President to Cape Town in 2007, both designated by the South African government.
Commonwealth Secretariat, London.
The Commonwealth Secretariat in London appointed Ruchira Kamboj as the Deputy Head of the Secretary General’s Office. She was one of the Commonwealth Secretary General’s two staff officers in a multilateral setting, overseeing a wide range of political and economic concerns. She also attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Trinidad and Tobago in 2009.
Prime Minister Modi’s swearing-in ceremony
In May 2014, she supervised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s swearing-in event, which heads of state and government from SAARC countries and Mauritius attended. She resumed her responsibilities in Paris after completing her unique assignment.
Chief of Protocol
She served as India’s Chief of Protocol from 2011 to 2014, making her the first and only woman in the government to hold this role. In this capacity, she oversaw all outgoing visits by the President of India, Vice President of India, Prime Minister of India, and External Affairs Minister of India. She also interacted with all incoming heads of government and state visiting India. As Chief of Protocol, she worked closely with all High Commissioners and Ambassadors to India on day-to-day administrative matters, particularly sensitive topics under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
As Chief of Protocol, she was involved in the organisation of several international summits in India, including the 4th BRICS Summit in New Delhi in 2012 and the 11th Council of Ministers’ Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association in Bangalore, India, in 2011. In December 2012, she successfully led the ASEAN India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi, which saw the attendance of ten heads of state and government. The second edition of the India ASEAN vehicle rally, which covered 8000 kilometres across eight Asian countries and ended at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi, was a highlight of the summit. She oversaw the entire rally-planning process. In 2013, she organised and supervised the 11th Asia-Europe Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Gurgaon, Haryana, which drew the participation of 52 foreign ministers from Asia and Europe and approximately 1500 attendees.
India-Africa Forum Summit, III, 2015
In August and October 2015, she was summoned back on special duty to help organise the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, which was attended by Heads of State and Government from the 54 African Union members. During this time, she also directed a unique programme on the ‘Weaves of Benares’, which showcased India’s spiritual capital’s rich weaving legacy for the benefit of the Distinguished Visitors.
PR of India to UNESCO in Paris
India appointed her as its Ambassador to UNESCO Paris in April 2014, marking her third foray into multilateralism. Kamboj had an outstanding three-year tenure at UNESCO, with numerous firsts to her credit. In 2016, UNESCO added three historic Indian sites to its World Heritage List, completing an unprecedented hat trick for any country: Nalanda Mahavihara, the Capitol Complex of Chandigarh, and Khangchendzonga National Park. Previously, in 2014, she was part of the team that added Rani ki Vav, the Great Himalayan National Park, to the World Heritage List. UNESCO named Varanasi and Jaipur the first creative cities in India in 2015. In December 2016, she led India to victory when the 24-member Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage designated Yoga as the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. She led the inscription of Ahmedabad as India’s first World Heritage City in July 2017, with the full support of the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO. Under her leadership, India established its first UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the Amrita Vishwavidyapeetham in Kerala.
In April 2016, she organised an International Conference on Zero at UNESCO to highlight India’s strong and historic legacy in mathematics and science. Fields Medalists Professor Manjul Bhargava from Princeton University and Professor Laurent Lafforgue from IHES, France, were among the notable figures in mathematics from France, the Arab world, and India who attended the conference. As a tribute to the world of mathematics and science, India donated to UNESCO a bust of ancient Indian mathematician Aryabhata, which now adorns the organisation’s main entrance, acting as a reminder of this unique and historic occasion.
High Commissioner of India to South Africa and Lesotho
In March 2017, she assumed the role of India’s High Commissioner to South Africa and presented her credentials to South African President Jacob Zuma on August 24, 2017. She also served as India’s High Commissioner to the Kingdom of Lesotho.
Ruchira Kamboj is married to businessman Diwakar Kamboj, and they have one daughter. Her late father was an Indian Army officer, and her mother is a retired Sanskrit writer and professor at the University of Delhi. She speaks three languages: Hindi, English, and French.
She has written multiple op-eds for various newspapers and journals on a variety of issues.
Ruchira Kamboj’s tenure as India’s envoy to the UN reflects her tireless dedication to advancing India’s interests on the global stage while simultaneously championing the aspirations of developing nations. Her astute leadership, coupled with a deep understanding of complex geopolitical dynamics, has cemented her position as a formidable advocate for India’s priorities, making her an indispensable voice for India at the United Nations.
Her diplomatic finesse and unwavering commitment to global peace and development underscore her pivotal role as the voice of India at the United Nations.