CIVICUS Staff Biographies

Kumi Naidoo, CIVICUS Secretary General

Issued: 21 June 2006

Kumi Naidoo is the Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. CIVICUS is an international alliance of more than 325, 00 organisations and individuals from 85 countries dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world.

Kumi joined CIVICUS in September, 1998. Previously he was the founding Executive Director of the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO), the umbrella agency for the NGO community in South Africa.

During the democratic elections he served as an official spokesperson of the Independent Electoral Commission and as the National Director responsible for the training of electoral staff. This position required the overseeing of the preparation of over 300,000 people to staff the electoral process.

He has also served in several leadership positions in the adult education NGO sector in South Africa, and has been a freelance journalist, editor, and researcher. He has been active in the anti-apartheid movement since the age of fifteen. During the 1980s, he played an active role in student, youth, and residentsí associations. He served two years as a volunteer live-in ďhousefatherĒ and counselor and was responsible for the welfare of ten young boys. He also played a key role in the anti-apartheid sports movement, as an athlete, coach, and administrator. As a grassroots youth activist in Durban in the 1980s, Kumi was involved in a range of youth leadership building programs, in breaking down racial barriers among young people, and mobilizing young people to participate in the liberation struggle against apartheid.

After being arrested and charged with violating the state of emergency regulations in 1986, he went underground for nearly a year before fleeing the country due to persistent police harassment. After the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, Kumi returned to South Africa and worked on a voluntary basis to help set up the African National Congress as a legal political party.

Kumi initiated and led a wide range of education, development, and social justice initiatives within South Africa, including the National Menís March against Violence against Women and Children, the National Campaign on the Apartheid Debt, and the Electronic Media in Education Forum. He is currently a member of the Commonwealth Foundationís NGO Advisory Committee. He also served on the task team that wrote the new not-for-profit organisationsí law in South Africa.

Kumi, who was expelled from school in South Africa at the age of 15 as a result of his anti-apartheid activities, is a Rhodes Scholar and holds degrees in politics and law. He has a doctorate in political sociology from Magdalen College, Oxford University. He has published several articles on NGOs, civil society, youth and resistance politics in South Africa. He recently edited Civil Society at the Millennium.

Kumi currently serves as the chairperson of the Partnership for Transparency Fund, which supports civil society efforts to eradicate corruption. He serves on UNIFEM and UNDF as an advisory board member. Kumi is also the advisor to the chairperson of the Clinton Global Fund.

Kumi was appointed by the UN Secretary-General to the Panel of Eminent Persons on UN Civil Society Relations and is also a member of the steering committee of the World Economic Forumís Global Governance Initiative. In addition, he chaired the International Facilitation Group of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) campaign in 2005.

As a result of this work, Kumi is now chairing the International Facilitation Group of the Global Call to Action against Poverty, that are planning joint civil society mobilisations around trade, debt, aid and demands to national governments in 2006. The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP -, the Secretariat of which is currently being hosted by CIVICUS.

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