My grandparents' house, East Bank Demerara, Guyana, 1970s
I grew up in London. My parents emigrated to the UK in the late 1960s from the small Caribbean nation of Guyana. My grandparents looked after me in Guyana for a little time after I was born while my parents were busy establishing themselves in England. But my Caribbean roots have had a lasting impression on me - from the music and food I enjoy to the hilarious accent that emerges when in the company of West Indians.
Belfer Center Research Fellows, Harvard Kennedy School, 2005-6
Before I started work at the London School of Economics, I was lucky enough to spend several years as a research fellow in the US. I learned much, made some good friends, and met my wife, Rachel Gisselquist, who is also a political scientist.
UN electoral mission to East Timor, Maliana, 1999
Before entering academia, I tried a few different hats. Some of these have been important formative experiences in my professional development.
I spent a couple of years at the World Bank in Washington DC where I saw close-up the politics of policy-making in development. I played a tiny part in the effort to modernize the Bank's environmental and social "safeguard" policies that dealt with politically-sensitive issues such as indigenous peoples and the involuntary resettlement of communities.
I worked for the Government of Guyana as a Legal Officer in the country's newly-established Environmental Protection Agency for a year. It was a chance to see life from the other side of the donor-recipient divide and to feel the limitations of a well-intentioned government agency constrained by extremely limited resources and capacity.
I also served, briefly but very memorably, for the UN on its electoral mission on East Timor’s referendum in 1999. It was a useful lesson for me in understanding the challenge UN missions face as they manage the gap between people's expectations and field-level realities.
Some of the students, Gulu, N. Uganda, 2009
Now a plug for my favourite NGO: Latin Balle Pee (the Child is Innocent, in Acholi). This very special organization works in northern Uganda, a region severely affected by an insurgency waged by the Lord's Resistance Army that had displaced nearly 1.4 million people at its height in 2004. The organization's mission is to identify and train the next generation of community leaders from among the many hundreds of thousands of children affected by the conflict to help rebuild the war-torn north. I helped set up Latin Balle Pee after spending a year in Uganda during my PhD. I am no longer involved in running the organization but I would encourage people to support its unusual and important cause. You can donate or even sponsor one of the child leadership trainees. www.thechildisinnocent.org
Finally, a little on my qualifications. I hold a PhD in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and an MA in International Development Studies from George Washington University. I am also trained in law and, although I do not practice, I maintain an interest in international criminal and human rights law. I received an LLB from Kings College London and a Maîtrise en Droit from the Université de Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne. I am an Attorney admitted at the New York Bar.