Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations BMJ Confidential

Mukesh Kapila: The international humanitarian

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 27 February 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l649
Duncan Smith


Mukesh Kapila, 64, is professor of global health and humanitarian affairs at the University of Manchester. He qualified in medicine and public health, working for the NHS in Oxford, Cambridge, and London before being drawn into international humanitarian affairs. As a British government official in the 1990s he dealt with the genocides in Rwanda and Bosnia-Hercegovina. Serving as the head of the United Nations in Sudan in 2003-04 he witnessed mass crimes against humanity in Darfur. His strong protests led to his expulsion and to writing Against a Tide of Evil, a book documenting what was then confirmed by the International Criminal Court as genocide. “We can argue the words, but that would be no consolation to those people who were affected,” he says. He has served as a member or an adviser to many international bodies and was appointed a CBE in 2003.

What was your earliest ambition?

To be an actor. Hankering for that helped me navigate through a life that has witnessed, in equal measure, so much tragedy and absurdity.

What do you regret most in your career?

Not giving Slobodan Milosevic (Serbian president who died in the Hague during his trial for war crimes and genocide) a robust piece of my mind when I met him in Belgrade during the height of the war.

What is your pet hate?

Cowardice mixed with hypocrisy.

What is the worst job you have done?

Standing at the edge of the Kagera river …

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