AMINA MOHAMED: THE IRON LADY


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    Written by: Meshack Masibo

    When President Uhuru Kenyatta was introducing his first cabinet in 2013, many waited in baited breath as the president rolled out the accolades of the different individuals that would form his cabinet.  The New Constitution mandated that cabinet secretaries would be professionals and not members of parliament as in rhe previous regimes. This had drawn close the aspirations of Kenyans had where cabinet secretaries were not merely political appointments but experts in the different dockets they were to hold.

    This was introduced to solve the mischief of unqualified cabinet secretaries, some of whom lacked a basic education and could not articulate Kenyan issues particularly on a global platform. So when Mr Kenyatta started to introduce the new secretary for Foreign Affairs, Kenyans were impressed with the Accolades Mrs Amina Mohammed had under her sleeves.

    In 2017, the President retained her in his new cabinet, only now in a different role as the cabinet secretary for education.

    So who exactly is Ambassador Amina Mohammed?

    Born on 5 October 1961, Ms. Mohamed graduated with a LLM in International Law from Kiev State University, and has also undertaken post graduate studies at University of Oxford and the Kenya School of Law. She is fluent in English, Russian, Swahili and has a working knowledge of French. Expertise in Public Sector management and Institutional Reform Ambassador Amina Mohamed will be remembered for her contribution as chair of the Task-Force on the restructuring, reforming and rationalizing of Kenya’s Foreign Service and the conduct of its Missions abroad.

    The recommendations of the said team are credited with Kenya’s Foreign Trade Policy which refocused the Ministry’s operations towards economic and commercial diplomacy. As Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs, she is equally credited with personally guiding the negotiation and drafting of critical legislations such as the national referendum law which preceded the promulgation of the country’s new Constitution in 2010.

    She also spearheaded passage of crucial laws relating to institutional reforms which govern the conduct of national elections, ethics and integrity in the public service, as well as access to justice and the policy on national cohesion. In the United Nations Environment Programme Ambassador Amina Mohamed has made significant contributions to the implementation of UNEP’s Medium Term Strategy and related Programmes including the on-going reforms. More recently she 3 has been actively engaged with the intergovernmental processes for the implementation of the RIO+20 outcomes including support for efforts to enhance UNEP’s funding base.

    She has been keen on efforts to enhancing the capacity of UNEP particularly on advocacy for additional resources to undertake agreed programmes including advocacy for universal membership for the UNEP’s Governing Council Legal Practitioner Through her experience in the multilateral arena the candidate is best remembered for sound legal advice during Kenya’s tenure as a Non-Permanent Member of The United Nations Security Council (UNSC). During the WTO negotiations, particularly in the run-up to the Doha trade talks, Amb. Amina greatly contributed to the texts that led to successful negotiations.

    She was also nominated as a candidate for the post of Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO). An accomplished diplomat and distinguished negotiator, Amb. Amina Mohamed is uniquely placed to bring to the WTO a wealth of experience from over 26 years of public service in Kenya and at the international level.  Ambassador. Mohamed has served as the United Nations Secretary-General BAN Ki-moon as United Nations’ Assistant Secretary General and Deputy Director General for the United Nations Environment Programme based in Nairobi Kenya.

    She has over the years earned a reputation as distinguished diplomat, lawyer, manager and policymaker working across a broad spectrum of issues facing the global community from International Trade and disarmament issues to the exciting field of sustainable development and environmental policy. She is a committed International civil servant who has had a distinguished career both in Kenya and internationally. She has risen through the ranks in Kenya’s diplomatic service to the level of Ambassador/Permanent Representative.

    During her tenure in Geneva from 2000-2006 she registered many achievements. For instance she was the first woman to chair the General Council of the World Trade Organization as well as the 2 first African and first woman to Chair the Council for the International Organization for Migration. She undoubtedly brought to her position as ambassador some excellent analytical and interpersonal skills which she developed during the course of her career in the multilateral arena. Her admirable negotiation skills served her well and she effectively articulated global issues pertaining to the WTO.

    Above all, she was a tireless team player which was evident during lengthy drafting sessions and while dealing with sensitive International Agreements. Upon the expiry of her tenure abroad 2006, Amb. Amina served the government of Kenya as Director for Europe and the Commonwealth Division as well as Director for Diaspora Affairs in the Foreign Ministry.

    In 2008, she again distinguished herself as Kenya’s Permanent Secretary and Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs. During her tenure as Permanent Secretary, she played a critical role through exceptional leadership to fast-track important political, legal and constitutional reforms. Amb. Amina is an excellent strategist and visionary. She anticipates the management needs of every organization in which she works. With her profound knowledge of the WTO and her unique diplomatic and managerial skills, Ambassador Amina Mohamed has what it takes to competently guide the agenda of the WTO.

    A motivated and result-oriented Leader Throughout her career, Ambassador Amina Mohamed has distinguished herself as an inspiring leader not only through her strength of personality but also through solid leadership and commitment to the cause. During her assignments her colleagues remember her shining negotiations skills which were evident when she chaired three key WTO bodies namely: the Dispute Settlement Body, the Trade Policy Review Body and the General Council. As Chair of the General Council she provided unparalleled stewardship in both the preparations and the actual negotiations for the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Conference. This period is remembered for substantial progress made on Doha Development Agenda including the successful negotiations culminating in the LDC’s waiver on market access as well as an agreement by WTO members to amend the TRIPS agreement to allow members without capacity to produce pharmaceutical products to import such drugs for addressing urgent public health concerns.

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