James Kariuki: Man With Kenyan Roots Representing UK at the UN

  • Photo collage of Ambassador James Kariuki, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN.
    Photo collage of Ambassador James Kariuki, UK Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN.
    UK Government
  • Ambassador James Kariuki is the Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, a position he assumed in August 2021.

    Kariuki, whose father is a Kenyan, represents the interests of the UK at the powerful global body, with his childhood experiences influencing his career progression.

    Before landing that prestigious role, Kariuki served as Multilateral Policy Director at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Between 2018 to 2021, where he was tasked with policy developments towards unifying the country's diplomatic issues, human rights and sanctions.

    He was also the Director of Diplomacy from 2016 to 2018, where he led the UK government work across the US on politics, communications, economics and global issues.

    Ambassador James Kariuki, the Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
    Ambassador James Kariuki, the Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
    UN

    Drawing his determination from former US President Barrack Obama, whose father was  Kenyan, Kariuki also held several Senior Civil Service positions in Britain: Head of Policy Planning and Deputy Director, Europe and Deputy Director at the National Economic Council Secretariat.

    The high-ranking diplomat recalled that his Kenyan father abandoned him in UK, exposing him and his brother to childhood trauma. Coupled with other atrocities of being a black kid, Kariuki manoeuvred his way to get recognition and establish his career.

    "Growing up in rural Surrey in the 70s and 80s, with an absent Kenyan father and a single white mother, the disadvantages were pretty evident," he stated.

     "My brother and I were the only black kids in a private school of a thousand students, and certainly two of the poorest. Suspicious eyes were everywhere – from shopkeepers to village policemen; from the parents of early girlfriends to the skinheads on Brighton’s football terraces," he added.

    Despite receiving the appointment from the outgoing UK Prime Minister, Kariuki recalled that it was not an easy journey.

    "You face a whole new layer of complexity when you go abroad to represent your country. Your authority as a British diplomat is in doubt – many of us have had the tragi-comic experience of being taken for the driver or the security guard; or being challenged at the entrance to private clubs reserved for elites and expats," he recounted.

    In his latest statement dated Tuesday, August 23, Kariuki called out Russia for its illegal invasion of Ukraine and threatening to possess its nuclear plant.

    "Russia’s war is reckless and irresponsible. A nuclear disaster should be unthinkable, and no member of the United Nations – let alone a permanent member of this Council – should bring about that threat by seeking to take another country’s nuclear facilities by force," he stated.

    "Russia’s actions are contrary to the principles of the Convention of Nuclear Safety and other international nuclear safety conventions. So we call once more upon Russia to return full control of all Ukraine’s nuclear facilities to their rightful sovereign owner to ensure their safe and secure operation," Kariuki added.

    Ambassador James Kariuki, the Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations
    Ambassador James Kariuki, the Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
    UN
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