Kassym-Jomart Tokayev was born on 17 May, 1953 in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan.
His father, Kemel Tokayev (1923-1986), was a veteran of the Second World War and a well-known Kazakh writer. His mother, Turar Shabarbayeva (1931-2000), worked at the Alma-Ata Institute of Foreign Languages.
In 1970, Mr. Tokayev joined the Moscow State Institute of International relations. In his fifth year, he was sent to the training courses at the USSR Embassy in China for six months. Upon graduation from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations in 1975, Mr. Tokayev joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR and was posted to the Soviet Embassy in the Republic of Singapore. In 1979, he returned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR. In 1983, he went to the People’s Republic of China for training courses at the Beijing Language Institute. In 1984-1985, he served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was then posted to the Soviet Embassy in Beijing where he served until 1991 as Second Secretary, First Secretary, and Counsellor. In 1991, he enrolled at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the USSR in Moscow in a training course for senior diplomats.
In 1992, Mr. Tokayev was appointed Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In 1993, he became First Deputy Foreign Minister and in 1994 he was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. In March 1999, he was promoted to the post of Deputy Prime Minister. In October 1999, with the endorsement of the Parliament, he was appointed Prime Minister by Decree of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In January 2002, he resigned and was subsequently appointed Secretary of State – Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Tokayev continued to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs until January 2007 when he was elected Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Mr. Tokayev held the post of Foreign Minister for ten years (1994-1999, 2002-2007).
As Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Tokayev played an active role in the field of nuclear non-proliferation. In 1995 and 2005, he participated in the Review Conferences for the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in New York. In 1996, he signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in New York, and in 2005 the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone in Central Asia (CANWFZ) in Semipalatinsk. He was elected Chairman of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States and of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Mr. Tokayev took part in ten sessions of the United Nations General Assembly.
Mr. Tokayev holds the diplomatic rank of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
As Chairman of the Senate of the Parliament of Kazhakstan, Mr. Tokayev was elected in 2008 Vice-President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
In March 2011, the Secretary-General of the United Nations announced the appointment of Mr. Tokayev as Under Secretary-General, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, and Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to the Conference on Disarmament. He serves as Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament. He is also the Designated Official for safety and security of UN personnel for Switzerland.
Mr. Tokayev holds a Doctorate in Political Science. He is the author of six books and numerous articles on international affairs. He is an Honorary Professor and Doctor of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, as well as a member of its Board of Trustees. He is also Honorary Dean of the Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations. As Director-General of UNOG, he received the "academicus" award from the University of Geneva.
He is fluent in Russian, English and Chinese and has knowledge of French.
He is the recipient of several state awards from the Republic of Kazakhstan and other countries.
Mr. Tokayev was President of the Table Tennis Federation of Kazakhstan.
Mr. Tokayev is married and has a son, Timur Tokayev, born in Moscow in 1984, who graduated from the Collège du Léman and Webster University in Switzerland. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science. His wife, Nadejda Tokayeva, was born in 1957 and graduated from the Moscow State Institute for History and Archives.