United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed Kenyan human rights activist Alice Wairimu Nderitu as Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.
Ms Nderitu takes over from Adama Dieng of Senegal who took office in 2012.
“Ms Nderitu is a recognized voice in the field of peacebuilding and violence prevention, having led as mediator and senior adviser in reconciliation processes among communities in Kenya, as well as in other African settings, ” the UN boss said while announcing the appointment on Tuesday.
Ms Nderitu, who served as Commissioner of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in Kenya, from 2009 to 2013, was part of the Panel of Eminent Persons monitoring the October 28 Tanzania General Election.
The Tanzania Election Watch Panel is on record condemning intimidation and harassment of opposition leaders and members after the poll that saw President John Pombe Magufuli declared winner with over 80 per cent of the votes cast.
Previously, Ms Nderitu served as a Founding Member and co-Chair of the Uwiano Platform for Peace, a prevention agency linking early warning to early response.
She is also the founder of Community Voices for Peace and Pluralism, a network of African women professionals preventing, transforming and solving violent, ethnic, racial and religious conflicts worldwide.
Ms Nderitu’s national experience includes her tenure as Director of the Education for Social Justice programme at Fahamu, from 2007 to 2009, and as Head of the Human Rights Education and Capacity-Building Programme for the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and its predecessor, the Standing Committee on Human Rights, from 1999 to 2007.
Previously, she was Researcher and Administrator of the Kenya Prisons Service within the Ministry of Home Affairs, between 1992 and 1999.
She is a member of the Kenya National Committee on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, War Crimes, Crimes Against Humanity and All Forms of Discrimination, as well as the African Union Network of African Women in Conflict Prevention and Mediation (Fem-Wise), and the Women Waging Peace Network.
Ms Nderitu holds a master’s degree in armed conflict and peace studies (2013) and a Bachelor of Arts, Literature and Philosophy (1990) from the University of Nairobi.
She is a Transitional Justice Fellow at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in South Africa. Widely published, she is the recipient of awards recognizing her commitment to peaceful conflict resolution throughout Africa and her innovative approach to mediation.
Some of the cases she will be following include one of Rwandan Genocide suspect Felicien Kabuga who is facing charges of genocide, complicity in genocide and incitement to commit genocide – accusations he has denied.
At least 800,000 people are reported to have been killed in Rwanda by ethnic Hutu extremists in just 100 days in the 1994 genocide.