NEW YORK, 15 June 2011 — The trustees and staff of the Ford Foundation warmly congratulate their colleague Willy Mutunga, who today was confirmed by the Kenyan Parliament as the next chief justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya.
“Around the world people are celebrating the strengthening of Kenya’s democracy,”said Luis Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation. “We know Willy will serve his country and his fellow citizens with distinction, with the highest commitment to the rule of law, and with deep respect for the dignity of all whose cases come before him. It is an extraordinary honor, and we know he will be up to it. We wish him the very best.”
Dr. Mutunga was nominated for the position of chief justice by Kenya’s Judicial Service Commission after a round of public interviews. His nomination was then approved by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga. The formal appointment was made by the Kenyan Parliament in a vote today.
As chief justice, Dr. Mutunga will lead the nation’s judiciary and serve as head of the Supreme Court for a 10-year term. The Supreme Court will play a pivotal role in the implementation of Kenya’s new constitution and the deepening of democratic practices—areas of expertise that Dr. Mutunga has been devoted to his entire professional life.
Dr. Mutunga has served as the Ford Foundation Representative for Eastern Africa, based in Nairobi, since 2009. For five years before that, he was the program officer focused on human rights and women’s rights. A key area of his work involved support for inclusive and transparent constitution-building in the region, including in Kenya.
Earlier in his career, he was executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, and from 1975 to 1998 he held positions of increasing responsibility in a range of civil society organizations in Kenya. He holds a D. Jur degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, and an LL.B. and LL.M. from the University of Dar es Salaam.
The foundation was also pleased to announce that Dr. Joyce Nyairo will serve as acting representative for the office, effective immediately. Dr. Nyairo has been with the Ford Foundation since 2007, supporting the development of the media and civil society in Eastern Africa. She holds a Ph.D. in the Humanities from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.
The Ford Foundation office in Kenya opened in 1962. It is one of four offices the foundation operates in Africa, and one of 11 worldwide.
In recent years the foundation has provided significant support to advance the region’s progress on democratic reform and constitution-building. Our work today seeks to help the people of Kenya by supporting efforts to deepen fairness, participation and opportunity for all members of Kenyan society. The office also supports grantmaking in Tanzania and Uganda.
Read more about the foundation's work in Eastern Africa.