Martin Kimani confirmed to speak at UNH Durham Commencement


Anna Kate Munsey, Managing Editor

The 2022 University of New Hampshire (UNH) Durham commencement speaker will be Martin Kimani, Kenya’s representative to the United Nations (UN).

Kimani, who graduated from UNH in 1996, went on to earn a master’s and doctorate at the King’s College in London. He has moved up the ranks in international affairs, including as permanent representative to the UN Environment Programme and Human Settlements Programme. His background also includes counterterrorism work, both as Kenya’s Special Envoy for Countering Violent Extremism and previous director of Kenya’s National Counter Terrorism Centre.

Throughout the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Kimani has been vocal in his opposition of Russia’s invasion. In February, he gave a speech to the UN Security Council comparing Putin’s refusal to accept the sovereignty of former Soviet states such as Ukraine to African colonial history, and emphasized the risks of attempting to rekindle “dead empires.”

Kimani is renowned across the world and in Kenya, where he was born. He was presented with the Chief of the Order of the Burning Spear award from the president of Kenya. This is “one of the highest commendations a citizen can receive,” according to a press release from UNH.

“There are lots of things taken into consideration when reviewing nominees for Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree recipients. Martin specifically has lots of accomplishments that the committee felt made him the best candidate. The nomination that was submitted for Martin was phenomenal highlighting his work with the United Nations. As an alum, the committee felt Martin was particularly well suited for this honor,” said Megan Brunelle, director of university and special events.

This year’s commencement ceremonies will take place on Memorial Field, divided by individual colleges. Read more about the plans here.

CNN Anchor Wolf Blitzer gave last year’s commencement speech for both the classes of 2020 and 2021. It was pre-recorded and shown at each ceremony, in place of a live keynote speaker

Unlike last year’s pre-recorded speech, this year Kimani will speak at all four undergraduate ceremonies live and in-person, Brunelle said.

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Gasowski.