Kenya successfully concluded her participation – at the Highest Level – of the High-level Week of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA78) in New York.
The highlight of what proved to be a historic and consequential week for the country’s foreign policy and diplomacy was His Excellency the President’s address to the General Assembly. In His Excellency’s address to the gathered world leaders, the President used the occasion to challenge the exiting norms and standards in the current global geopolitical configurations, remarking that these were inconsistent with the founding principles and purpose of the United Nations. In particular, the President noted the dysfunctional nature of the United Nations Security Council occasioned by ideological and political differences amongst the major powers, and which had resulted in a Council that was incapable of delivering meaningful progress to global security challenges.
The President also used the occasion to brief on the regional peace and security architecture, particularly Kenya’s efforts at Silencing the Guns in Africa. Noting that there could never be meaningful regional and continental integration without peace, the President informed that Kenya was keen to use her position as an anchor State and a guarantor of regional peace and security to leverage peaceful coexistence as an essential component for accelerating Africa’s economic growth and development.
Still on matters of regional peace and security, the President appealed to the UN General Assembly on the need for concerted global efforts to aid Haiti, a country that had suffered immensely from the bitter legacy of slavery, colonialism, sabotage and neglect. It is worth pointing out that Haiti was the first country to abolish the reprehensible practice of slavery and one whose triumphant revolution inspired liberation crusades across continents. Unfortunately, Haiti’s glorious march to freedom and independence has suffered tremendous setbacks, with ongoing political crisis and natural disasters converging to worsen an already dire situation. In appealing for positive and meaningful contribution in its recovery, the President observed that Haiti would be the ultimate test of international solidarity and collective action, further noting that the stability and prosperity of Haiti would not only be beneficial to her neighbours and the region, but would also be a force for good for global peace and security.
Indeed, issues of peace and security were highly pursued by Kenya’s delegation to 78th Session of the UN General Assembly. In my participation at the 13th Ministerial Meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum, GCTF, I used the occasion to appraise participants on peace and security in the region and also to draw the attention of the global community to the threats of terrorism and violent extremism in the region. The Cabinet Secretary observed that spikes in acts of terror was due to unattended simmering conflicts and proffered that addressing impeding conflicts was, therefore, vital in advancing peace and security objectives in the region.
The President also chaired a High-Level Meeting of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) on the margins of UNGA78. The purpose of this meeting was to sustain the momentum generated by the African Climate Summit (ACS) – held in Nairobi – as well as by the Africa Food Systems Forum Summit that was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in September of 2023. In hosting this meeting, the President not only allowed for reflections on the Nairobi Declaration, and the UN Secretary General’s Climate Ambition Summit, but was also central in reinforcing Kenya’s Climate credentials.
The Kenyan delegation to the High-level Week of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly further used the occasion to advance the country’s economic, political and commercial interests, consistent with Kenya’s Economic Diplomacy ethos. For instance, His Excellency the President witnessed the establishment of Diplomatic Relations with a number of countries, including the Dominican Republic, Grenada and Haiti. The expansion of the country’s Diplomatic Footprint in the Caribbean allows Kenya to build on the bonds of ancestry and friendship between Africa and CARICOM and to also lay foundations for lasting, robust socio-economic and political engagements.
Similarly, His Excellency the President used the occasion to meet with significant and influential captains of industry, key among them being Mr. Lawrence FINK, the Chairman & CEO Blackrock, Mr. Bill GATES of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Ajay BANGA, World Bank President, as well senior executives from the National Basket Association (NBA).
A key outcome of these High-Level Business meetings was the signing of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which is essential in provision of time-limited grants to Kenya, thus promoting economic growth, reducing poverty, and strengthening of the country’s institutions. Likewise, these High-Level Business meetings were crucial in reassuring the various investors of the viability, diverseness and the resilience of the Kenyan economy.
Indeed, Kenya’s participation at the High-level Week of the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA78) in New York has provided the country with an essential platform for the advancement of the country’s foreign policy and economic objectives and also in contributing to a safer, secure and prosperous Africa.
Article by Dr. Alfred N. Mutua, EGH, Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs.