The Biden administration has appointed two Indian-American experts — Sohini Chatterjee and Aditi Gorur — to key diplomatic positions at the US Mission to the United Nations.
Chatterjee will serve as a senior policy advisor to the US Ambassador to the UN, while Gorur has been appointed as policy advisor at the mission, according to the official statement.
An expert on global development, conflict, and mass atrocities, Chatterjee till recently taught as an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She previously worked in the Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning at the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
In an interview to PTI in November, Chatterjee had said that there could be greater cooperation between India and the US in multilateral institutions, in particular at the UN Security Council where India is now a non-permanent member for the next two years beginning January.
She had also favoured strategic dialogue with India on how to combat climate change would be a great opportunity.
She had said that the Biden administration will have a more deliberate and thoughtful engagement with India and there will be an opportunity to really work with New Delhi to balance the burgeoning influence of China in the region, issues related to human rights would be back on the table of this bilateral relationship.
In December, Chatterjee said that Biden, who then was president-elect, has historical experience with alliances and has an understanding of the historical partnership between the US and India as two powerful democracies.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi – in 2021 – should work with the Biden administration to develop a more sustainable alliance – one that will work towards countering violent extremism; boosting trade cooperation bilaterally and in the region; and battling global climate change,” she said when asked about the India US relationship in 2021.
“Climate change will disproportionately affect the poorest in India and in the US. Left unabated, it will have devastating public health consequences and lead to catastrophic natural disasters in the coming decade,” she said.
“Both countries have an opportunity to not be short-sighted but rather to look thoughtfully at the glaring and imminent transboundary threats of the next decade and work together to mitigate them. Both democracies should also use this new era in US leadership to jointly and individually champion democratic principles in the multilateral community,” she said.
Chatterjee, who previously served as senior policy advisor in the Obama administration, said for the Biden administration at the minimum human rights is now going to be “on the table as a critical issue to address.”
The Biden administration is going to be much more concerned with basic, fundamental human rights, she added.
Gorur is an expert on UN peacekeeping. Till recently she was a senior fellow and director of the Protecting Civilians in Conflict Programme at the Stimson Center. Her primary research focus is on preventing and responding to violence against civilians, particularly in the context of peacekeeping operations.
Before joining Stimson, Gorur worked with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements in India, the Asia Foundation and the Center for Liberty in the Middle East in Washington, DC, and the Melbourne University Law School in Australia.
She holds a Master of Arts in international security from Georgetown University, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in development studies and a Bachelor of Laws with honors from the University of Melbourne.