Kenya’s two-year tenure in United Nations Security Council commences

In Summary

•Kenya’s third tenure in the Security Council comes at critical juncture in the international arena.

•In contrast to the 1997-1998 term when Kenya last served at the Council, the nature and character of diplomatic actors has changed considerably. 

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks during a past UN conference.
President Uhuru Kenyatta speaks during a past UN conference.
Image: /COURTESY

Twenty-three years since its previous tenure, Kenya will be joining the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on January 1st, 2021, for a two-year term. This follows a resounding endorsement by the African Union in August of 2019, a reaffirmation of the trust that the AU has in Kenya’s abilities and leadership to pursue the continent’s interests at the Council. Notably, Kenya’s membership to the UNSC coincides with the Country’s concurrent membership in the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) for the period of 2019-2022.Both the UN Security Council and the AU’s Peace and Security Council are critical Infrastructures for the maintenance and furtherance of International Peace and Security. Similarly, Kenya assumed the Presidency of the Organization of the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) in 2019.

These illustrate Kenya’s expanding influence on the international stage. It also aptly dovetails with the country’s philosophy and belief that global challenges are only surmountable if the world’s rules-based multilateral system is deployed in a manner that attracts consensus. This is not only in the appreciation of the challenges, but also in the evolution of practical response strategies that seek to address these challenges. More importantly, these concurrent leadership positions speak to the high expectations of Kenya, not only from the African continent, but also globally.

Kenya’s third tenure in the Security Council comes at critical juncture in the international arena. In contrast to the 1997-1998 term when Kenya last served at the Council, the nature and character of diplomatic actors has changed considerably. The world is increasingly globalizing and interconnecting. These factors, coupled with advancements in Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) and increased migration, among other factors, have led to emerging security challenges such as terrorism and cybercrime. In addition, the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, as well as increasingly divergent philosophical and political approaches to global issues among the major powers, call for skillful engagements to build bridges and galvanize consensus towards sustainable global peace.

Kenya’s experiences, ethos and philosophy stand the country in good stead as a champion for consensus. In particular, Kenya will be seeking to work collaboratively with like-minded members of the Security Council to advance its four broad priority objectives, namely, Regional Peace and Security; Peace Support Operations; Counter Terrorism and Violent Extremism and Climate and Security.

As an anchor State and as a guarantor of regional peace and security, Kenya has played a central role in regional peace initiatives. The Somalia and Sudan Peace Processes, which were both birthed and midwifed by Kenya, reinforce the country’s peace credentials. Similarly, Kenya has taken part in peace missions across 40 countries and runs one of the largest and oldest peacekeeping training centers on the continent, the International Peace Support Training Center (IPSTC). In the same vein, Kenya stands out as an excellent example for the progressive achievement of gender equality in peace keeping, having one of the highest percentages of female officers serving in peacekeeping missions.

On matters of Counter Terrorism, Kenya will lend her voice on the matter at the Council, especially in light of having experienced the impact of violent terrorism. Accordingly, Kenya will seek to consolidate gains made in the fight against terrorism and its ideology, as well as championing matters of Counter Terrorism both in Africa and globally.

As a renowned promoter of awareness on climate change and environmental issues, Kenya recognizes climate change as a “threat multiplier”, which contributes to human security risks. In addition, climate change is indirectly contributing to conflicts in Africa, particularly in the Horn of Africa, the Lake Chad Basin and in the Sahel. Kenya is and has been an active member of the Friends of Climate and Security in the Council. The country is also host to UNEP and HABITAT.

Likewise, Kenya’s leadership in multilateral diplomacy has stood out even during these extraordinary times of global COVID-19 pandemic. For instance, His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta who is a member of the Bureau of African Union Heads of State and Government, has been engaging world leaders and institutions in proffering solutions for concerted response measures to the COVID-19 pandemic. His Excellency the President hosted the First Extra Ordinary Summit of the OACPS on June 3rd, 2020 under the theme “Transcending the COVID-19 Pandemic: Building Resilience through Global Solidarity”. The focus of the Summit was to address current and post COVID-19 challenges.

In this regard, therefore, Kenya will not only be a safe pair of hands at the Council, but is also prepared, determined and motivated to deliver on its promise as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2021-2022 term.