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She holds degrees from Bryn Mawr College and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California.
Kane has served in many positions during her career at the United Nations. She was named as new UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs on 8 March 2012, replacing Sergio de Queiroz Duarte. She was responsible for negotiating and conducting the chemical weapons investigation in Syria in 2013 which led to Syria joining the Chemical Weapons Convention and the dismantlement of its declared chemical weapons stocks. Between May 2008 and 2012, she was Under-Secretary-General for Management, responsible for a $11 billion annual budget, plus $2 billion for the renovation of the New York campus, and oversaw the management of >50,000 staff worldwide.
She served twice in the Department for Political Affairs, as Assistant Secretary-General  and previously as Director, focusing on preventing and resolving conflicts. In the latter capacity, she was in charge of the divisions dealing with the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East, as well as decolonization, and the division for Palestinian Rights. She supported several special political missions in Iraq, Nepal and the Middle East, and established the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, which was unprecedented among UN or other international efforts to promote accountability and strengthen the rule of law.
She also served as Assistant Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management, where she concentrated on the implementation of reform initiatives, integrated global management, the use of information technology tools and the re-positioning of the Department as a proactive and efficient service provider.
From 1995 to 1999, Kane held a managerial position in the Department of Public Information, where she was responsible for United Nations publications. In this capacity, she launched the UN website in all official UN languages and administered the putting in place of the online documentation system through the UN website.
She has also held a number of other positions at the United Nations, including Principal Officer for Political Affairs in the Office of former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and as political adviser to the Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central American Peace Process to end the conflict in El Salvador. Additionally, she has worked in several UN missions including as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), as well as in Jakarta, Indonesia, and Bangkok, Thailand.
Before she joined the UN Secretariat, she worked for the World Bank in Washington, D.C. and for the private sector in Europe.
As of 2016, Kane teaches at Sciences Po Paris School of International Affairs on disarmament issues. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. In 2015, she received the Order of Merit of Germany (Grosses Verdienstkreuz). In 2016 she also received the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold with Star High award from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Austria.
In April 2016, Kane was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Director-General Irina Bokova of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to the governing council of the United Nations University. Also in 2016, Kane received the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal  from then Foreign Minister Steinmeier.
In addition, Kane holds various paid and unpaid positions, including the following:
- European Leadership Network, Member
- Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBTO), Member and Co-Chair
- Dialogue Advisory Group, Director of the Advisory Board 
° International Institute for Peace, Vienna, Vice President ° Security Council Report, Member of the Advisory Board
- Foreign Policy Association, Advisory Fellow
- "UN chief outlines five-year action plan to build 'the future we want'". United Nations. January 25, 2012. Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- Secretary-General Appoints 12 New Members to Council of United Nations University United Nations, press release of 27 April 2016.
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