Mr. Kai Buchholz, 1976 - 2010
Special Assistant to the PDSRSG (Germany)
Kai Buchholz, a national of Germany, worked as Special Assistant to the Principal Deputy Special Representative for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) since July 2008.
After graduating cum laude from Maastricht University with a Master’s in Economics, Kai worked for the German Development Bank for two years. In 2002, he joined the UN Development Group Office as a Junior Professional Officer.
In his five years in New York, he excelled at his job and was selected to work as policy specialist in the UN Secretariat where he applied his skills with the Secretary- General’s Policy Committee and the High-level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence.
According to a colleague, Kai was involved with “all the hot initiatives of the office on the UN reform.” On an online memorial page, the same colleague wrote to Kai: “You have been recruited with the label ‘junior,’ and yet you are leading even in the most complex processes in the office … You are leading with your intelligence, your vision, your dynamism, your pragmatism, your respect and connection to others … I have never met somebody with such a clear vision on the work of the UN.”
Another co-worker said, “Kai was a great person to work with, really smart, fast, funny, principled, stubborn, outspoken, determined, and so full of life. He did such an excellent job of whatever he was asked to do,” and some expected him to become a UN leader one day.
Going to the field was a dream come true for Kai, according to a friend. Haiti was his first peacekeeping mission and he was excited to be there. “He enjoyed it in Haiti,” said a friend, “He felt he belonged.”
Hours before the earthquake, Kai posted a video about “the challenges that Haiti was starting to overcome,” recalled a friend.
Besides his dedication to work, Kai was also a devoted friend who touched the lives of many.
Described as “intelligent, sharp, witty, warm-hearted, candid, supportive” and as someone who didn’t take himself too seriously, Kai never ceased to put a smile on his friends’ faces.
“For me Kai meant funny, happiness, fun and laughter,” said a friend who considered Kai as “one of the best people” he had ever met.
“Kai will always be remembered for his terrific sense of humour and ability to laugh at himself,” wrote another friend.
An excellent chef, Kai often pampered his friends with dinner parties, that included board games. He was also an avid traveler and had left his footprints in 47 countries.
A memorial service was held on Friday, 12 February 2010 at the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations. His friends also hope to erect a memorial bench in his honour in New York City’s Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza.
Kai is survived by his parents Dr. Jochen and Ursula Buchholz, his sister Antje and his longtime girlfriend Robyn Carter.