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Third Time’s a Charm: Kenya’s Impressive Run at the UNSC | Citizen Support


According to Article 7 of the United Nations (UN) Charter, the UN is made up of 5 major organs: The General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the International Court of Justice, The Security Council and Trusteeship Council and the Secretariat. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC), as one of the main organs of the United Nations, has the following functions and authority: maintenance of international peace and security in accordance with the principles and purposes of the UN Charter (Article 24); investigation of any dispute or situation that might lead to international friction (Article 34); recommendation of methods of adjusting such disputes or the terms of settlement (Article 36); determination of the existence of a threat to peace or acts of aggression and recommend what action should be taken; calling on UN members to apply sanctions and other measures to prevent or to stop aggression (Article 41); taking military action against an aggressor (Articles 42-46); to recommend the admission of new members to the UN (Article 4); recommendation to the General Assembly the appointment of the Secretary-General (Article 97); with the General Assembly, elect the judges of the International Court of Justice (Article 4 of the Statute of the ICJ). The UNSC is composed of five permanent members who have veto powers conferred to them vide Article 27(3) of the UN charter. It is also composed of 10 non-permanent members (E10) who each serve a two-year term at the council.


Kenya started her most recent bid to campaign for a non-permanent seat at the UNSC in 2019, where after a lot of shuttle diplomacy with the various countries of the African Union (AU) she won the right to be Africa’s candidate in a private vote that saw Kenya garner 37 votes against Djibouti’s 13. Kenya’s campaign was hinged on a ten-point agenda which included the country’s commitment to: Building bridges: by being a strong advocate for a reformed, strengthened and representative United Nations rooted at the centre of a rule based international system. Promoting a culture of peace, tolerance and of respect for human dignity and aspirations. Regional peace and security: Building appropriate linkages between UN and African bodies to help solve regional conflicts or prevent them. Gender equality: Promoting policies that will ensure women and men participate in conflict resolution programmes. Youth empowerment: Promoting actions that include youth participation in key programmes. Justice, human rights and democracy: Promoting ideas that create useful environment for a just society. Peacekeeping operations: Seeking to have the UNSC provide clear mandate and financial support for peacekeeping operations like AMISOM. Counter-terrorism: Promoting regional and global cooperation against terror merchants. Humanitarian action: Seeking lasting solutions to challenges of forced migration. Climate change: Seeking lasting solutions to security challenges caused by erratic climatic conditions. Sustainable development: synergising UN SDGs for 2030 and AU’s Agenda 2063. After securing her place as Africa’s candidate for the seat, the campaign moved to the UN headquarters in New York and culminated in Kenya starting her term at the UNSC in January 2021.


As its term came to a close in December 2022, it is not lost on anyone that Kenya has boldly made her mark and had a really good run at the Council, representing her people and Africa at large very well on the global stage. Kudos!

This is not Kenya’s first rodeo at the UNSC as it has previously occupied the non-permanent seat in 1973-1974 and 1997-1998. Kenya first held the UNSC Presidency under the tutelage of Ambassador Joseph Odero-Jowi in February 1973. Kenya then held UNSC Presidency under Ambassador Charles Gatere Maina in May 1974. She also held the UNSC Presidency in February 1997 and May 1998 under the able leadership of Ambassador Njuguna M. Mahugu. During its two tenures, Kenya was instrumental in supporting the passing of several key resolutions towards maintaining international peace and security.


According to the UNSC Provisional Rules of Procedure (S/96) the UNSC Presidency is held for the calendar month on a rotational basis. The President is responsible for the conduct of meetings of the UNSC and is authorized to represent the UNSC in relations with other organs of the UN and with member states. The President calls meetings when necessary, approves provisional agenda and signs verbatim record of Security Council meetings. On October 1st, 2021, Kenya assumed the rotational Presidency of the UN Security Council, under the stewardship of Ambassador Martin Kimani. During her turn at the helm, Kenya was able to facilitate the adoption of two (2) Security Council Presidential Statements (PRSTs) which went on to form part of the official records of the Council. These PRSTs were adopted following high-level open debates of the Security Council that were presided over by the headship of the country. On October 12th, 2021, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over an in-person high-level open debate of the Council on Diversity, State Building and the Search for Peace. The UN Secretary General, H.E. Antonio Guterres and leaders from Rwanda, South Africa and Afghanistan also addressed this session where it was agreed that: the failure to properly manage diversity was not only the core root cause of a majority of civil wars and violent conflicts, but that poor management of diversity was a grave threat to international peace and security. The Council adopted a Presidential Statement as an outcome of a ministerial debate on the Great Lakes Region chaired by Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, the then Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs on October 20th, 2021. The session was to facilitate a renewed commitment of the Great Lakes countries in seeking sustainable solutions to the core causes and drivers of conflict. On October 21st, 2021, she also chaired an in-person Ministerial Level Open debate on Women and Peace and Security, that saw more than 60 delegations participate. This session, which was focused on investing in women peacekeepers and women peacebuilders, was briefed by the UN Secretary General, H.E. Antonio Guterres, as well as by Amb. Sima Sami Bahous, the Executive Director of UN-Women.


On October 28th, 2021, His Excellency former President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over a High-Level Open Debate of the Council on the Cooperation between the United Nations, and Regional and Sub-regional Organizations (African Union), under the theme of “Renewing Solidarity to Successfully Deliver Peace and Security in a Changing Conflict Environment”. The high-level open debate was briefed by leaders from Ghana, Tunisa, Vietnam, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Norway, the UN Deputy Secretary General and the AU High Representative for the Peace Fund. The Council consequently adopted a Presidential Statement as an outcome of this high-level debate. Kenya also oversaw the inauguration of the Security Council Chambers for the in-person participation of the wider UN membership in Council’s deliberations, making Kenya’ Presidency the first in-person session since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Amb. Macharia Kamau, the Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, chaired a session in which he proposed the adoption of diverse, well-defined, cultural and context specific approaches in seeking innovative interventions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Kenya also presided over the opening of the Security Council Chambers for the in-person participation of the wider UN membership in Council’s deliberations, making Kenya’ Presidency the first to be held in-person since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Kenya closed of her month-long Presidency by leading the Security Council for a field visit to the Sahel region of Africa during which the Council called on the leadership of Mali and Niger. This visit permitted the Council to assess and appreciate the challenges of terrorism in the Sahel.


During her tenure at the Council, Kenya led by H.E Dr. Martin Kimani in partnership with H.E Ms. Anna Karin Eneström, Permanent Representative of Sweden was able to facilitate consultations on a possible negotiated outcome that culminated in Resolution A/76/L.86 on financing for peacebuilding. A resolution that indicates that majority if not all Member States are going to make and honour their commitments towards the peacebuilding fund in order to guarantee predictability, flexibility and adequacy in the financing of peacebuilding initiatives in conflict areas.


Kenya’s third term at the Security Council was not without some colour with H.E Dr. Martin Kimani’s February 2022, speech on the situation in Ukraine going viral for a number of reasons. His subsequent comments on the same have garnered responses from both sides of the divide but Kenya remains resolute in its commitment to protecting countries’ territorial integrity and liberties that are due all free nations. As its term came to a close in December 2022, it is not lost on anyone that Kenya has boldly made her mark and had a really good run at the Council, representing her people and Africa at large very well on the global stage. Kudos!

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