By STANDARD TEAM
Kenya: Dr Mukhisa Kituyi ‘s appointment as United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary makes him only the second Kenyan after President Uhuru Kenyatta with the title, “His Excellency”.
The official appointment yesterday by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also makes Kituyi, the former Kimilili MP, the topmost diplomat Kenya has produced since Independence.
It throws Kituyi into the deep end of world trade, development and politics and his interaction will be with Heads of State and presidents.
“This is a critical position and it throws him right in the middle of trade wars. For instance, trade wars between US and China or a developing country; Kituyi will have to be the arbiter. This is how critical this position is,” stated a Kenyan diplomat who did not want to be named because he is not authorised to speak.
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Kituyi, who vied for the Bungoma Senator’s position and lost to Moses Wetangula, went through a rigorous interview process at the UN that lasted four months.
The position was advertised last year, which saw him apply and he was shortlisted among other citizens of the world.
This was after local political interests cost him the UN Undersecretary for African Affairs last year.
“He was encouraged to apply due to his standing and reputation when he was the Trade minister,” states the diplomat. On Monday, The Standard exclusively reported that Dr Kituyi had been appointed to the UN position. Before his appointment was made public, Ban Ki-moon first informed President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday, before the Kenya’s UN mission and Foreign Department were alerted. Yesterday, in a statement from Geneva, the UN boss said Kituyi will serve at the helm of UNCTAD for a term of four years beginning September 1. “United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has nominated Mukhisa Kituyi of Kenya to serve as Secretary-General of UNCTAD for a term of four years beginning September 1,” the statement read.
The nomination will go to the UN General Assembly for confirmation.
Dr Kituyi will succeed Supachai Panitchpakdi of Thailand, who assumed the post on September 2005 and was reappointed in 2009. Mr Supachai will conclude his second four-year term of office on August 31.
Dr Kituyi, a graduate of Political Science and International Relations from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, is also a holder a PhD in Social Anthropology, a Master of Philosophy in Development Studies and a Diploma in Science, Comparative Production Systems, all from the University of Bergen, Norway. UNCTAD was established in 1964 and is tasked with promoting sustainable development through supportive domestic and international policies and actions.
Exchanges of experience
The Secretary General of the UN appoints the Secretary-General of UNCTAD, which is a position held by a developing nation, amongst the Group of 77 nations (G77). The 192-member UN General Assembly must then ratify the decision.
UN tradition requires that the Secretary-General consult with the G77 — the developing countries’ club — over the appointment since a national of a developing country has traditionally headed UNCTAD.
It functions as a forum for intergovernmental deliberations, supported by discussions with experts and exchanges of experience, aimed at consensus building.
UNCTAD functions within the scope of the General Assembly, and works closely with the United Nations Development Programme and other regional UN commissions related to trade and development.
It undertakes research, policy analysis and data collection for the debates of government representatives and experts.
It provides technical assistance tailored to the specific requirements of developing countries, with special attention to the needs of the least developed countries and of economies in transition.
When appropriate, UNCTAD cooperates with other organisations and donor countries in the delivery of technical assistance.