The ambassador stands with a group of students from OMA

Kenya’s Ambassador to the U.N. describes emergence of multipolar world order

April 17, 2023
By: Nancy Sheehan

The era of American unilateralism that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 has been replaced by today’s multipolar and multicultural world, according to Kenya’s permanent representative to the United Nations Dr. Martin Kimani.

In a wide-ranging lecture in the May Street auditorium at Worcester State University April 13, Dr. Kimani called the emerging multipolarity a more dangerous world order that likely will require stronger enforcement of the United Nations charter, which prohibits the use of force against any state’s territorial integrity or political independence. Dr. Kimani’s visit was organized by the student-led Intercultural Student Alliance (ISA) with support from Assistant Professor Catriona Standfield in the Department of History and Political Science. 

The widespread denouncing of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was an example of the kind of response that charter breaches should elicit, Ambassador Kimani said.  But the weaker response to requests from the United States for sanctions on Russia can be traced to the

The ambassador with Brandol

Brandol Ogando Saladin and Dr. Kimani at the Office of Multicultural Affairs

experiences of smaller nations caught between two powers during the Cold War, he said.

During those years, smaller countries were used as pawns in power plays with little regard to their own needs or political intentions, he said. The United States and the Soviet Union would go to great lengths to ensure a nation fell within their sphere of influence, with negative consequences for those who didn’t, he said.

With a re-emergent Russia, many smaller states strive to balance their loyalty to the U.S. with a perceived need to refrain from offending Russia. “Of countries that condemn the invasion, only about half of African states do so,” he said. “The other half either abstain or are not in the room to vote.”

Ambassador Kimani has long and varied experience as a global leader and diplomat. Prior to becoming Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, he served as the Kenyan president’s special envoy for countering violent extremism and director of Kenya’s National Counter Terrorism Centre, and currently is the president of the executive boards of several United Nations panels and programs. As such, he is able to assess the diplomatic concerns and leanings of other UN member states.

“I have been hearing that perhaps the war in Ukraine is only the beginning of a worldwide confrontation between the great powers that, on one side, is the most powerful military in the world, and on the other side, a nuclear state with important and powerful friends,” he said. “Therefore, there are a number of countries that, looking toward the future, conclude ‘We better be quiet and as neutral as we can because the future may be bringing unintended consequences and implications for our country’.”

The ambassador with Standfield, Brandol and Barry Maloney

(from left) Dr. Standfield, Dr. Kimani, Brandol Ogando Saladin, and President Maloney

President Barry M. Maloney welcomed the ambassador to campus. Brandol Ogando Saladin, president of the ISA, introduced Dr. Kimani, saying the lecture aligns with ISA’s mission of ensuring different cultures are represented on campus.

Students said they hoped the lecture would give them a deeper understanding of international politics.

“The ambassador coming here to Worcester State is a big opportunity for us on campus to meet somebody from another country and to learn from his experiences,” Dedrick Baublitz ’25 said, as he waited for the speaking program to begin. “It’s a massive thing for us to be a part of.”

“I’ve wanted to work for the UN for a long time,” Nolan Lonstein ’24, said. “I like international law. Dr. Stanfield at the University really got me into it. It’s been a passion of mine for the past year so I’m coming here to learn about the ambassador, what he does, and why he does what he does. Overall, I think it’s an inspiration to see someone of the ambassador’s stature come to Worcester State.”


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