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Kenya holds its breath over UN Security Council seat

Wednesday June 17, 2020

Kenya will today know whether it has a seat at the powerful United Nations Security Council.

Permanent representatives of the 193 UN member states in New York will cast their ballots for the country candidates vying for the non-permanent membership slots.

Kenya is competing against Djibouti for the single African group seat currently occupied by South Africa.

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A programme of the vote shows that member states would cast ballots during designated time slots at the General Assembly hall.
“This is due to limitations on large gatherings at the UN due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” the plan reads.

Kenya’s bid is part of the five seats available for election this year, according to the regular distribution among regions. The country launched its global campaign in November 2019 in New York following the endorsement by the African Union in August the same year.

In pitching Kenya's bid, Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau said Nairobi is keen on the seat to make contributions to global peace and security.

“We seek to achieve peace and security through the cultivation of a climate of trust, transparency and synergy of all actors,” he said in an appeal to the member states for support.

Macharia said the country would promote respect for international rules and norms and ensure sensitivity to member states' interests. He also says the opportunity would help Kenya advance the peaceful resolution of conflicts and deliver increased cooperation in global peace and security efforts.

Kenya’s stakes will depend on how the other states treat Djibouti’s candidacy. Nairobi says it “diligently and assiduously sought to find a consensus that would best serve Africa’s interests”.

But despite the competition, Macharia exuded confidence that Kenya is the better choice, citing its place in representing Africa’s diversity.
“Kenya can champion Africa’s collective interests in the UNSC. We invite all members of the UN family to consider our humble request for their support.”

The five new members elected this year will take up their seats on January 1, 2021, and serve until December 31, 2022.

Kenya has served at the council twice — 1973-1974 and 1997-1998. Djibouti has had a stint from 1993 to 1994.

Kenya has positioned its bid on the themes of building bridges, regional peace and security; peacekeeping and support operations as well as counterterrorism and prevention of violent extremism.

The country is also positioning humanitarian action — women, peace, and security; youth empowerment; environment and climate change; as well as its commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

Defence CS Monica Juma, having initiated the campaign while at the helm of the Foreign Affairs ministry, expressed confidence that Kenya is better placed to win the seat.

She cited the country’s "steadfastness in building partnerships for strategic and operational approaches to prevent terrorism".

Under the building bridges agenda, the country has pledged to coordinate permanent and non-permanent members of the council.

A UNSC note on the vote says the country has pledged to continue building bridges between the Security Council, the UN Peacebuilding Commission and other UN organs.

“Kenya also hopes to promote inclusive and triangular coordination among the Security Council, UN Secretariat and troop-contributing countries,” the notes read.

Kenya has emphasised the “Silencing the Guns” initiative, which highlighted its role in conflict prevention and resolution as well as peacekeeping efforts in Africa.

India is running unopposed for the Asia-Pacific group seat, which is currently held by Indonesia.

Mexico is also running unopposed for the Latin American and the Caribbean group slot currently held by the Dominican Republic.

Canada, Ireland, and Norway are competing for the two seats allocated to Western Europe and Others Group, currently held by Belgium and Germany.

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