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United Nations University, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER)

Helsinki, Finland
Joined October 2016
Presence in: Finland
Focus: Governance, Accountability & Transparency, Health, Livelihoods, Other, Peace-building & Transitional Justice

The United Nations University – World Institute for Development Economics Research provides economic analysis and policy advice with the aim of promoting sustainable and equitable development for all.

The Institute began operations over 30 years ago in Helsinki, Finland, as the first research centre of the United Nations University. Today it is a unique blend of think tank, research institute, and UN agency – providing a range of services from policy advice to governments as well as freely available original research.

Our mission

To undertake research and policy analysis on the most pressing concerns affecting the living conditions of the world’s poorest people.

To provide a forum for knowledge sharing, discussion and debate between researchers and development professionals on how to achieve equitable, gender-balanced, and environmentally sustainable policies.

To offer capacity-building and training for research and decision makers in economics and social development

The Institute is funded through an endowment fund with additional contributions from Denmark, Finland, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

People Associated With This Organization

Rachel Gisselquist

United Nations University, World...
Joined October 2016
Interests: Citizenship & Identification, Peace-building & Transitional Justice, Traditional / Customary Justice
I am a political scientist and currently a Research Fellow with the United Nations University’s World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER). I work on the politics of the developing world, with particular attention to ethnic politics and group-based inequality, state fragility, governance, and democratization in sub-Saharan Africa. My recent work is published in various journals and edited volumes, including The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Ethnic and Racial Studies, Social Indicators Research, and World Development. Among other policy publications, I co-authored the first two editions of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, which has become a standard reference on governance.

Before joining UNU-WIDER, I spent three years at Harvard University as Research Director, Index of African Governance. I have also spent time at the London School of Economics and with the World Bank. I have a PhD in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University. Please see my CV and bio here for more:

Currently, much of my research focuses on group-based inequalities – with particular attention to ethnic inequalities. Through this research, I have been considering various ways in which group-based inequalities can be mediated and addressed, which has led me to think more about legal empowerment for disadvantaged groups. At UNU-WIDER, I am the focal point for our project on “The Politics of Group-Based Inequalities: Measurement, Implications, and Possibilities for Change” (see I have put together under this project an exploratory research initiative on group-based inequality and legal empowerment, which aims to complement the considerable policy attention that has been paid to the topic of legal empowerment and inclusive development by building explicitly on related work in political science, sociology, and political economy. With a focus on impact on group-based inequality, it aims to offer new frameworks for considering broader and longer-term impact - including consideration of political tensions and tradeoffs. It focuses on impact on group-based in six areas: access to justice, legal identity, property rights, labor rights, business rights, and peace building. For more, please see

Contributed Resources:

Rachel Gisselquist is the network champion (main point of contact) for United Nations University, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).

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