Kenya has successfully concluded her Presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month of October, 2021, in what proved to be a historic and consequential month for the country’s foreign policy and diplomacy.
On October 1st, 2021, Kenya assumed the rotational Presidency of the UN Security Council, a water shed moment in the country’s two-year tenure at the Security Council. This is informed by the fact that the UN Security Council is the principal organ for the maintenance and furtherance of international peace and security.
It is worth recalling that Kenya’s membership of the UN Security Council is in keeping with the country’s desire to shape the global security environment in order to make Kenya – and Kenyans – safer. Indeed, the conduct, outcomes and accomplishments of Kenya’s Presidency of the Council in October 2021 were not only consistent with the country’s strategic security goals, but were also vital in impressing on the Council, Kenyan – as well as African – ethos in addressing global security challenges.
In this respect, Kenya facilitated the adoption of two (2) Security Council Presidential Statements – or PRSTs – which will henceforth form part of the official documentations and records of the Council. These PRSTs were adopted following high level open debates of the Security Council that were presided over by the leadership of the country. On October 28th, 2021, His Excellency 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 H.E. President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, H.E. President Kais SAIED of Tunisa, H.E. Nguyen Xuan PHUC of Viet Nam, H.E. Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. GONSALVES of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, H.E. Prime Minister Jonas Gahr STØRE of Norway, H.E. Amina Mohammed, the UN Deputy Secretary General and by Dr. Donald KABERUKA, the AU High Representative for the Peace Fund. The Council subsequently adopted a Presidential Statement as an outcome of this high-level debate.
Likewise, on October 20th, 2021, the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Raychelle Omamo, presided over a ministerial open debate on the Great Lakes Region. This was in support of renewed commitment of the Great Lakes countries in seeking sustainable solutions to the root causes and drivers of conflict. The Council adopted a Presidential Statement as an outcome of this ministerial debate.
It is equally important to point out Kenya’s role in advancing the issue of diversity as a key driver of conflict. 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. This session that was also addressed by the UN Secretary-General, H.E. António GUTERRES, H.E. President Paul KAGAME of Rwanda, H.E. Thabo MBEKI, the former President of South Africa and by Honourable Fawzia KOOFI, former Deputy – and only female – Speaker of the Afghan Parliament. A key outcome of this high-level debate was 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.
Kenya also presided over the opening up 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. Indeed, on October 21st, 2021, the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Raychelle OMAMO, chaired an in-person Ministerial Level Open debate on Women and Peace and Security, with more than 60 delegations participating at the event. This session, which was 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.
Kenya’s Presidency of the Council has similarly been instrumental in re-energizing and revitalizing discussions on the Middle East, particularly on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. In a session that was presided over by the Principal Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Macharia Kamau invited the Council to break from past models that had been used to address the conflicts in the Middle East. In their stead, Principal Secretary Amb. Kamau proffered the adoption of the diverse, well-defined, cultural-context grassroot channels in seeking innovative answers to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In concluding a momentous Presidency, Kenya – under the leadership of her Permanent Representative to the UN, Amb. Martin Kimani – led the Security Council for a field visit to the Sahel region of Africa, a visit that saw the Council call on the leadership of Mali and Niger. This visit was both historic and significant; it allowed the Council to assess and be apprised of the challenges of terrorism in the Sahel and how these impacted on the governance and stability of the region. This visit to the Sahel was also the first such visit by the Council during the Covid era.
It is worth pointing out that the conclusion of Kenya’s Presidency of the Security Council was marked by a series of events, which included an interactive briefing to the United Nations members. This took place on October 29th, 2021, where the wider UN Membership paid tribute to Kenya for the exemplary stewardship of the affairs of the Security Council. At a reception hosted for all UN Member States, the Chief Administrative Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Ababu Namwamba conveyed the gratitude of His Excellency President Uhuru KENYATTA, the Government and the people of Kenya to Security Council members for the supporting Kenya’s Programme of Work for the month of October. Similarly, Hon. Namwamba thanked the UN membership for the trust and honour that they had bestowed on Kenya by electing her to the Council and underscored Kenya’s continued commitment and leadership on the maintenance of international peace and security.
Indeed, the successful Presidency of the Council in the month of October 2021 has provided Kenya with a vital platform for the advancement of the country’s foreign policy objectives and also in contributing to a safer, secure and prosperous Africa.