United Nations Office at Nairobi
Coordinates1°14′05″S 36°48′59″E / 1.2346°S 36.8164°E / -1.2346; 36.8164Coordinates: 1°14′05″S 36°48′59″E / 1.2346°S 36.8164°E / -1.2346; 36.8164
Zainab Bangura

The United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON, Swahili: Ofisi ya Umoja wa Mataifa Nairobi) in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is one of four major United Nations office sites[a] where numerous different UN agencies have a joint presence. Established in 1996, it is the UN's official headquarters in Africa.[1]

The United Nations Office at Nairobi also hosts the global headquarters for two programmes: the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)[2] and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).[3]

In November 2004, the United Nations Security Council held a rare session at Nairobi to discuss the armed conflicts in southern and western Sudan that constituted a phase of the Second Sudanese Civil War.[4] The meeting was convened at the urging of then-Ambassador John Danforth of the United States.[5]


Flags of member states at the United Nations, Nairobi
Flags of member states at the United Nations, Nairobi

The complex of buildings is located next to the Karura Forest in the Gigiri district of Nairobi, along United Nations Avenue. It stands across the street from the US Embassy in Kenya.

The UN complex contains a 'green' building, a completely energy and carbon-neutral building, housing UNEP and UN-Habitat offices.[6][7] The building is the first of its kind in Africa, recycling water and using natural light to reduce reliance on artificial lighting. In addition, the building is designed to use natural flow of air as a substitute to air conditioning, and it contains solar panels to generate all the energy that the building might consume.[8] It was opened on 31 March 2011 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.[9]

The zero-energy UN-Habitat and UNEP office building
The zero-energy UN-Habitat and UNEP office building

Burned Trees, a series of sculptures designed by Monegasque artist Philippe Pastor aimed at drawing attention to forest conflagrations, has been exhibited continuously at the office since 2006.[10]


The office complex can also be visited by the public, in the form of pre-booked, guided tours, provided by the UN Visitors' Service of Nairobi. Anyone interested has the opportunity to book a tour, during which one can learn about the history and work of the UN, while also getting an opportunity to see the offices, including the above-mentioned green building. Tours are available during office hours each day, in various languages (e.g. English, Chinese, German, French, Kiswahili).

Constituent agencies

Headquartered at Nairobi:

Presence at Nairobi:

UNON also hosts the annual East Africa Model United Nations Conference for secondary school and university students from East Africa.[11]


UNON is headed by a Director-General, who is at the rank of Under-Secretary-General in the United Nations System. The Director-General is appointed by the Secretary General.[12] The current Director-General is Zainab Bangura[13] of Sierra Leone.[14]


  1. Klaus Töpfer, Germany, 1998–2006
  2. Anna Tibaijuka, Tanzania, 2006–2009
  3. Achim Steiner, Brazil, 2010–2011
  4. Sahle-Work Zewde, Ethiopia, 2011–2018
  5. Hanna Tetteh, Ghana, 2018–2019
  6. Maimunah Mohd Sharif,[16] Malaysia, 2019–2020 (Acting)
  7. Zainab Bangura,[17] Sierra Leone, 2020–present

See also


  1. ^ New York City, Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna


  1. ^ "Welcome to the United Nations Office at Nairobi".
  2. ^ "Structure and leadership". 28 September 2017.
  3. ^ "Learn more about us | UN-Habitat".
  4. ^ "Security Council Nairobi Meeting Welcomes End of Year Peace Pledge By Parties To Sudan Conflict". Un.org. Archived from the original on 13 October 2012.
  5. ^ "Travel to Nairobi, Kenya of the UN Security Council".
  6. ^ "New UN office in Nairobi is a showcase for sustainability". Greening the Blue.
  7. ^ www.standardmedia.co.ke (1 April 2011). "Standard Digital News : : Business – New benchmark as UN opens green building in Nairobi". Standardmedia.co.ke. Archived from the original on 4 January 2012. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  8. ^ Recio, Eugenia (7 March 2011). "UNEP Showcases New Green Buildings in Nairobi – Climate Change Policy & Practice". Climate-l.iisd.org.
  9. ^ "New energy-efficient UN offices in Kenya serve as model for future – Ban". UN News. 31 March 2011.
  10. ^ United Nations Environment Programme: Philippe Pastor
  11. ^ "East African Model United Nations". Retrieved 26 October 2018.
  12. ^ "Welcome to the United Nations Office at Nairobi | the United Nations Office at Nairobi".
  13. ^ "Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi | United Nations Secretary-General".
  14. ^ "Office of the Director-General | UNON".
  15. ^ "Previous DG's | UNON".
  16. ^ "Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura of Sierra Leone - Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON) | United Nations Secretary-General". Un.org. 30 December 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2022.
  17. ^ "United Nations Office at Nairobi | United Nations Secretary-General".