Mr. Maina Kiai was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association from 1 May 2011 to 30 April 2017.
A lawyer trained at Nairobi and Harvard Universities, Mr. Kiai has spent the last twenty years campaigning for human rights and constitutional reform in Kenya – notably as founder and Executive Director of the unofficial Kenya Human Rights Commission, and then as Chairman of Kenya’s National Human Rights Commission (2003-2008), where he won a national reputation for his courageous and effective advocacy against official corruption, in support of political reform, and against impunity following the violence that convulsed Kenya in 2008, causing thousands of deaths.
From July 2010 to April 2011, Mr. Kiai was the Executive Director of the International Council on Human Rights Policy, a Geneva-based think-tank which produces research reports and briefing papers with policy recommendations. Mr. Kiai was also the Director of Amnesty International’s Africa Programme (1999-2001), and the Africa Director of the International Human Rights Law Group (now Global Rights, 2001-2003). He held research fellowships at the Danish Institute for Human Rights (Copenhagen), the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington), and the TransAfrica Forum (Washington).
He currently works as co-director of InformAction, a community organizing NGO in Kenya.
Mr. Kiai has regularly been an advocate informing and educating Kenyans through various media about their human rights. In 2014, Freedom House awarded Kiai its Freedom Award for his work in Kenya. The award was begun in 1943 “to extol recipients’ invaluable contribution to the cause of freedom and democracy.” In October 2016, Kiai received the United Nations Foundation‘s Leo Nevas Award for his work as Special Rapporteur. The award recognizes “those who have served as agents of change in advancing international human rights.” In December 2016, he was awarded the AFL-CIO’s George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award “in recognition of his dedication to and effectiveness in highlighting the widespread denial of fundamental human rights at work and in society.”
Kiai stepped down as Rapporteur on 30 April 2017. He was succeeded by Ms. Annalisa Ciampi of Italy.
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