Dr Kennedy Graham

Kennedy Graham has been a diplomat, university teacher, United Nations official and a Member of Parliament. 

A profile image of IGPS Senior Associate Dr Kennedy Graham.

He graduated with a BCom in accounting and economics from Auckland University, a BA Hons (First Class) in Political Science from Victoria University of Wellington, an MA in International Relations from Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy (Boston), and a PhD in International Relations (Victoria). His master’s theory was on "Values in Paradox: The Theory and Practice of the International Civil Service", and his doctoral thesis was on "Nuclear-free Zones as an Arms Control Measure".

Contact details

Email: kennedy.graham@vuw.ac.nz
Phone: 021 242 3989

Academic work

Ken’s academic work has been divided between time as a Senior Research fellow at Cambridge University (UK, 1995), Research Fellow at the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (Dhaka, 1995), Senior Fellow at Canterbury University’s School of Law (Christchurch, 2005-08) and Visiting Professor in International Relations at the College of Europe (Bruges, 2006-08). He has authored or edited five books, including The Planetary Interest: A New Concept for the Global Age, with a foreword by Kofi Annan (UCL-Routledge; London-NY, 1999).


Ken served 17 years in New Zealand’s Foreign Ministry in the 1970s and '80s, specialising in nuclear disarmament and being involved in the negotiations for the Rarotonga Treaty establishing the South Pacific Nuclear-free Zone. During the '90s he was Secretary-General of Parliamentarians for Global Action (New York) and Director of Planning at the International Institute for Democracy & Electoral Assistance (Stockholm).

United Nations

His work with the United Nations has included an internship in the 1970s, and roles as Director of the UN University’s Leadership Academy (Jordan, 1999 -2002) and as Senior Consultant to the Political & Security Council Affairs Department (New York, 2003-06). He also served in a consultancy capacity to the Independent Commission on Threats, Challenges and Change (2003-04).

Member of Parliament

From 2008-2017, Ken was a Member of the NZ Parliament, serving on the Justice and Privileges Committees and as Vice-Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. He attended many UN climate change conferences (including Rio in 1992, Copenhagen in 2009 and Paris in 2015), and was founding chairman of GLOBE-NZ, the cross-party group on climate change in the 51st Parliament (2015-17).

Centre for Global Studies

Ken is founding Director of the NZ Centre for Global Studies (2013-18), a think tank devoted to research and debate on global affairs in the 21st century and New Zealand’s role within that.