Inspiring Stories
14- Michel Kafando

Michel Kafando

Class of 1972
Special Envoy to Burundi, United Nations (2017-2019)
President of the Transition and Head of State, Burkina Faso (2014-2015)

Michel Kafando is a Burkinabé diplomat well-known for his efforts in Burkina Faso to implement a proper democratic transition. As such, he served as transitional president of Burkina Faso after the 2014 uprising to ensure fair elections.

Kafando studied public law at the University of Bordeaux, earning his first degree in political studies in 1969. He then received a diploma in political studies in 1972 in Paris, simultaneous to his time at the Geneva Graduate Institute.

Upon his return to Ouagadougou, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 1976 to 1981 where he served in a diverse range of roles from director of international cooperation to director of international relations, and director of international organisations. Between 1978 and 1981, Kafando also served as technical advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs for legal issues and international cooperation.

Kafando was thus very active in multilateral diplomacy. Representing his country, he also led several delegations to numerous conferences hosted by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) as well as the United Nations, where he served as Vice-President of the UN General Assembly in 1982. Additionally, he frequently represented his Head of State in meetings with other State administrators in the subregion.

He served as the Chairman of the National Remote Sensing Commission and the Commission on External Assistance, and took part in numerous economic missions abroad

Kafando later obtained a PhD in political science at the Sorbonne in 1990, with his thesis oriented in international affairs titled «Les Etats du Conseil de l’Entente (Bénin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Togo) et les pays de l’Est: de l’hostilité idéologique à l’ouverture diplomatique (1960-1990)».

From 1998 to 2011, Kafando was appointed permanent representative of Burkina Faso to the United Nations. During this period, he held the UN Security Council's rotating presidency for a year in 2008.

In 2014, following the popular uprising in Burkina Faso, Kafando was named head of state and transitional president until the end of 2015. He oversaw the peaceful restoration of democracy in his country. The transitional government ensured democratic elections at the completion of his term. In order to prevent misuse of power and lead by example, Michel Kafando and his fellow Zida, deputy head of the presidential guard, did not run for elections.

For three years until the completion of his mandate, he led and coordinated the political efforts of the United Nations in partnership with the African Union (AU) and the East African Community (EAC) to promote peace and sustainable development in Burundi.