May 28, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Kibaki let public servants do their work freely

President Mwai Kibaki was my appointing authority when I first became Ambassador. I always felt a deep obligation to serve him for the honor. I have also worked with and for him on critical files over the years, leading me to admire him greatly for his quiet genius, decisive and principled manner.

His leadership and service for our country since independence in various departments is really unmatched. His sophisticated leadership style, misinterpreted by many as hands off, meant he would select the tasks assigned to him based on their ability and ability, then expect them to perform and move on.

At a critical juncture In the most sensitive moments of our political history, he asked me, in the face of my own hesitation, if I understood what it meant to be “Ambassador Extraordinarily Plenipotentiary”. And when I said yes, he told me that I shouldn’t wait to be handheld or micromanaged, but rather get on with what I knew I had to do.

Three incidents are still pending from my memory. The first revolves around why I was appointed ambassador in the first place. UNEP has faced threats from within the organization and from European countries attempting to move the organization’s headquarters from Nairobi to Europe.

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President Kibaki recognized the imminent threat to Kenya’s reputation and honor. And as an economist, he also recognized the enormous impact that the loss of tens of thousands of jobs linked to the presence of international organizations in Kenya would have had an enormous impact on the economy.

He immediately confronted us. Work on it, to rescue the organization and to remind the world of Kenya’s responsibility to the institution and its contribution to the world environmental agenda. This culminated in victory at the Earth Summit, also known as the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
President Kibaki personally attended, although ailing at the time, and successfully lobbied for it not just to keep UNEP in Nairobi, but to bring the global environmental agenda back to the fore and center stage.

Shortly thereafter, in 2010, came another hugely pivotal moment in history of Kenya. The government had to make the crucial decision of how to engage with the international community regarding the post-election violence of 2008.

Elements in the US and UK governments of the time wanted to make a decision, for example Kenya on issues of political transition and democracy with little regard for clarity of fact, attribution of accountability and practice of international institutional jurisprudence.

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It was a political minefield of competing international and national emotional narratives surrounding the events of the 2007/2008 violence. But what President Kibaki would not accept was the hijacking of the democracy that Kenyans had worked for so long and the usurpation of the popular will of the Kenyan people by elements of the so-called international community and the institutions of the United Nations system. and in particular the International Criminal Court (ICC).

My moment of self-realization as an Ambassador Extraordinarily Plenipotentiary came in full force. And the rest is history.

The third major experience for me came in 2011 when Kenya is important due to Kenya’s rising status in the world as a country with original ideas and the ability to be a global thought leader. that I was elected by my colleagues from among all Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in New York to lead the process of developing the global Sustainable Development Goals, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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My confidence and inspiration to undertake this daunting task came from President Kibaki himself with his direction for economic development in our own country and the power of his narrative for social and economic change, driven and manifested in Kenya’s Vision 2030, his spirit eskind.

Many do not know it, but it was this vision around which I structured my engagement and leadership the Open Working Group (OWG) of the United Nations. The OWG worked towards the achievement of the United Nations’ Global Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030, which was finally adopted by all nations of the world in New York in 2015, with Kenya celebrated for its contribution and leadership.

< p>President Kibaki’s vision for this country, both as we begin our economic journey to independence and as the initiator of our 2030 Vision, means his legacy and genius will long be with us. Our nation owes a great debt of gratitude to this great man and the icon of our democracy and our economy. I feel a great personal loss at his death. May his soul rest in everlasting peace. Amen

Amb. Kamau is Chief Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs