Robert J. Berg

Distinguished Fellow

Robert Berg is a Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center. He is also the advisor to the board of the World Academy of Art and Science; chairman of the board of the Alliance for Peacebuilding; chair of an advisory board at the University of California, Davis; a fellow of the Royal Africa Society and the Academic Council of the United Nations; and a member of the Bretton Woods Committee, the Cosmos Club and the International Scientific Committee of the Library of Alexandria, Egypt. Berg recently organized a mutual learning dialogue between leaders of the nuclear disarmament and the peacebuilding communities to strengthen the work of both communities. In 2013, he was named to the largely honorary post of Distinguished Professor and member of the Scientific Committee of the Instituto Dell’Approccio Centrato Sulla Persona, Rome.

From 1965-1981, Berg was with U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) where he was senior finance office, Africa; helped draft the landmark Basic Human Needs legislation that guided USAID and influenced other donors; and founded USAID’s Office of Evaluation where the first impact evaluations for international development were devised. He also was founding chair of evaluation for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee. 

In the 1980s, Berg became the first senior fellow at the Overseas Development Council, then the preeminent international development think tank in the U.S. There he co-directed a blue ribbon commission on Africa under the co-chairmanship of Lawrence Eagleburger and Don McHenry. The Commission’s recommendations led to U.N. General Assembly basic policy and to U.S. legislation on Africa. Starting in 1986 and continuing for a dozen years, he was president and then chair of the International Development Conference, then the largest forum on international development, with a board of 120 leaders of international development. The conference became an important forum for national and U.N. leaders. It pioneered work on helping make youth and age better recognized assets for society, and it helped foster young social entrepreneurs around the world.

In the 1990s, and for 15 years thereafter, he was associated with the United Nations in various ways: as senior advisor to UNICEF helping to devise the first global summit to advance the human condition (The World Summit for Children) which set in motion and backstopped national actions that have saved the lives of well over 50 million children. He was senior advisor to UNESCO working with the World Education Forum, the gathering of the world’s education ministers. He helped train the top 300 U.N. officials in planning and human resource management. He was senior advisor to the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa and was actively involved in what is considered the most thorough institutional reform in the U.N. system, involving policy reforms that have had global influence. And he initiated and assembled the first system-wide substantive program in the U.N.’s history, working with all the U.N.’s agency heads. This led to a number of changes subsequently used in managing the Millennium Development Goals, the second U.N. system-wide initiative. He was senior advisor to the World Federation of United Nations Associations and also was called upon to advise some of the largest non-profits in international development, e.g., Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (CARE), World Vision and Christian Children’s Fund.

Throughout his career he has been actively involved as a board member and volunteer in numerous non-profit organizations beginning in the War on Poverty, continuing with service on a number of civic boards in Washington, D.C., and including boards of higher education, women in development, microfinance, and international economic development. He has also served on the board of an international consulting corporation.

Berg has an undergraduate degree at the University of Southern California and holds an MBA in Behavioral Science from the University of Chicago.


Co-edited books: Strategies for African Development (co-edited with Jennifer Whitaker), University of California Press, 1986; and Cooperation for International Development (co-edited with David F. Gordon), Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1989. More contemporary writings are found in the Stanford Journal of Law, Science and Policy, Global Governance, and publications of the World Academy of Art and Science.

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