Inside Kenya’s strategy to win UN top seat

Written By: Christine Muchira
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Kenya’s place and space in the world has radically changed.

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The country’s foreign policy has become purposeful, where Kenya is no longer reactive to issues but proactive.

This is according to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs Macharia Kamau who was speaking in an exclusive interview with KBC.

The PS noted the role Kenya has played in ensuring that there is peace and stability among its neighbours saying no other country in the region has done more than Kenya.

Kenya is the premier destination for building peace.

“We have nurtured governments in Kenya-invested in their civil service and military transformation,” the PS noted.

The African Union (AU) has endorsed Kenya as the sole United Nations Security Council candidate.

UN Security Council non-permanent member

The United Nations Security Council, the most powerful organ of the UN, is charged with maintaining international peace and security.

Five powerful countries sit as permanent members China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States along with ten elected members with two-year terms who sit as non-permanent members.

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Since 1990, the Council has dramatically increased its activity and it now meets in nearly continuous session. It dispatches military operations, imposes sanctions, mandates arms inspections, deploys election monitors and more.

It is also charged with admitting new members to the UN and can approve any changes to the UN Charter, the formative law for the United Nations.

Kenya has been a non-permanent member of the UNSC twice, the first in 1973 and then in 1997.

The non-permanent member seat is more of an observer seat, they do not have a vote on critical issues that the five permanent members posses.

The country is seeking a third stab at the United Nations top decision-making organ.

For one to be elected as a non-permanent member a country must garner 129 votes out of 193.

According to PS Macharia, Kenya plans to use the position at the UNSC to champion investment in green economy, regional peace and sustainable development among other issues affecting developing economies.

“We are proud that our strategy worked and we won the endorsement honorable and amicably. We shall send the signal to the world that we are more than ready to take on global responsibilities for peace.” Said PS Macharia.

“We shall take our role to manage peace and security well. We have been endorsed and the world is looking at us to play our rightful role.” PS Macharia added.

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The candidates that had expressed interest in the seat from the Eastern Africa Region were Kenya and Djibouti.

Kenya won the Eastern Africa region spot after garnering 37 votes against Djibouti’s 13 during an election held by the African Union Permanent Representatives’ Committee Wednesday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Given Kenya’s Foreign Policy which is strongly afro-centric, the elections to the UNSC will give the country the opportunity to build consensus across regional and global matters that affect Africa.

Kenya’s ten point agenda at the UNSC

  • Building bridges
  • Peace keeping and support operations
  • Regional peace and security
  • Countering terrorism and prevention of extremism
  • Women, peace and security
  • Youth empowerment
  • Humanitarian action
  • Justice, human rights and democracy
  • Global environment and climate change agenda
  • Sustainable Development Agenda
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Kenya’s foreign policy document

The policy provides a broad framework on Kenya’s foreign relations and diplomatic engagements within a contemporary globalized environment and outlines the evolution of our foreign relations and engagements with our partners over the last five decades and its future strategic direction to ensure the achievement of the collective aspirations of Kenyans, bearing in mind the critical role of foreign policy in meeting national priorities.

The foreign policy objectives are informed by a common desire for a peaceful, united and prosperous country as embodied in Kenya’s National Anthem, the Constitution and Kenya Vision 2030.

Kenya seeks to promote sub-regional and regional integration and cooperation emphasizing intra-African trade as the cornerstone for Africa’s socio-economic and political unity.

Through economic diplomacy, Kenya continues to strengthen and consolidate its trade and investment links with traditional partners while exploring new trade five and investment partners in order to expand access of Kenyan products to foreign markets, while at the same time increasing investments for our country.

Kenya seeks to deepen its engagement and partnerships with the Kenyan Diaspora in order to leverage and harness their skills and expertise for national development.

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