Martin Kimani: Profile of Kenyan Envoy Who Boldly Told Off Putin

  • Kenya's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Martin Kimani,
    Kenya's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Martin Kimani.
    UN
  • Kenya's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Martin Kimani, on Monday, February 21, made international headlines when he boldly told off Russian President Vladimir Putin, for undermining Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

    In the speech that has since gone viral globally, Kimani noted that the move by Putin to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states was the spark that would ignite a full-blown conflict between the two nations.

    Many netizens from around the world hailed Kenya's bold position and admired Kimani's presentation as the hallmark of modern diplomacy. 

    Kimani was appointed as Kenya's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) by President Uhuru Kenyatta in December 2020. Prior to his posting to New York, he served in the same capacity at the UN in Nairobi.

    Kenya's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Martin Kimani, (2).jpg
    Kenya's Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN), Ambassador Martin Kimani during a past UN sitting.
    Ambassador Martin Kimani

    Kimani had prior engagements with the UN, serving at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

    In December 2018, he was appointed as Secretary of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI). In September 2015, Uhuru appointed him as Director of Kenya’s National Counter Terrorism Centre and Special Envoy for Countering Violent Extremism.

    The ambassador has also served as a director at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development’s (IGAD) Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism in Ethiopia between April 2011 and December 2012.

    Kimani established himself as a renowned diplomat, holding an undergraduate degree at the University of New Hampshire (1996). He also holds a Master's Degree in War Studies from the University of London (2003) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from King's College (2013)

    He is a Fellow of the African Leadership Initiative and the Aspen Global Leadership Program. He was also the 2013 Distinguished African Visiting Fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs.

    Notably, Ambassador Kimani is not new to running the show. In October 2020, he stunned parliament with his Curriculum Vitae (CV), in which he had listed President Kenyatta as one of his referees.

    This caused the then members of the National Assembly Committee on  Defence and Foreign Affairs to question his intention behind adding the Head of the Executive as a person of contact. Mandera North MP Abdullah Bashir asked whether he added the president to intimidate the members, a notion he denied.

    "The referees I put there are people who know my character very well from working with me very closely. Now when I think about whether they can be contacted, I realise it was a mistake put that," he noted.

    The Committee also raised questions on his wealth declaration, which he put at Ksh58 million. Kimani was hard-pressed to explain why his wealth was rather low despite having worked with the UN for nearly 20 years.

    "You have been working with the UN bodies from 1998, which we now pay very well. Are you telling me that you have not been saving or investing?" the MP posed.

    "I have spent a long time investing in myself and in my education. I have taken time off to pursue two  Masters and a PhD and forgone many years of earning to gain those academic qualifications," he responded.

    The Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, posing with Kenyan flag
    The Permanent Representative of Kenya to the United Nations, Martin Kimani, posing with Kenyan flag.
    File