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A seat at UN Security Council will secure Kenya’s interests

Tuesday August 20 2019

Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau

Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau speaks on April 16, 2019. Kenya has intensified lobbying among peers to gain a seat on the UN Security Council. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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It should be something of a national disgrace that our nation has only ever sat on the United Nations Security Council four times in its history, the last time being in 1998.

Unfortunately, this is demonstrative of how Kenya used to be seen on the international stage.

Kenya has sat two times less than the likes of Ethiopia, Gabon and Ghana.


However, since Uhuru Kenyatta assumed office, Kenya has sat at the top table of international politics and diplomacy.

During his first term, Uhuru met with the major leaders of the day and the most influential and prosperous nations made a beeline to our nation.


This was only bettered by Uhuru’s second term, which witnessed a massive increase in the amount of international forums Kenya was invited to, like the G7.

Last year, he met with the leaders of Switzerland, UK, Ethiopia, South Korea, Djibouti, and of course, there was the memorable visit of former US President Barack Obama.

All of these meetings have added to Kenya’s economy and security and contributed to our people’s industry, health and education.

Now it seeks a place at the highest level, a return after more than two decades, to the United Nations Security Council.

Uhuru does not seek this seat for the mere prestige, but because it can further Kenya’s national interests.

At the moment, Somalia present a threat to Kenyan interests in the Indian Ocean where it is suing Kenya through the International Court of Justice to redraw the maritime boundary in an area thought to have pol. This case, or the withdrawal thereof, will have massive ramifications for our nation.


Additionally, Kenya seeks to expand the UN office in Nairobi which brings tens of millions of shillings in foreign currency to our state coffers and continues to be an important element to our regional standing.

If Kenya is not on the UN Security Council, then it is far more likely that Somalia’s case will receive some sympathy.

In addition, Kenya has a major interest in ensuring that Al Shabaab is added to a terrorist blacklist like ISIL and Al Qaeda to prevent it from raising funds. Some in the international community are less than sympathetic to this idea and have been lobbying to prevent this.

These, and many more reasons are why Uhuru has been on a charm offensive of late, meeting with Heads of States or their representatives from 18 countries in Kenya and abroad.

In the last couple of days, he has been in the Caribbean which is an important source of votes at the United Nations.

So far, this heightened diplomatic activity is certainly bearing fruit.

Kenya is on the cusp of becoming Africa’s representative on the Security Council and has almost secured the backing of the African Union.


In an initial vote on August 5 between prospective candidates for the UN Security Council Kenya and Djibouti, Kenya received 33 out of 49 votes, with the rest of the countries abstaining. The final vote will be on August 21.

There is still some way to go, but Uhuru is rectifying an historic wrong.

He has returned Kenya to the highest levels internationally.

However, none of this would be possible if the leaders weren’t seeing for themselves that Kenya is open for business, is seriously fighting corruption and raising the living standards of its citizens.

Tribalism is receding into the past and the Republic of Kenya is becoming more well known for its Silicon Savannah than its violent politics.

Reaching the UN Security Council will be the cherry on top, and further increase Kenya’s influence.


For too long, Kenya had a parochial attitude which saw its place in the world on the bottom tiers and that was reflected in its poor attempts in the attraction of foreign investment. Uhuru has massively multiplied the amount of foreign governments and businesses that are investing in this nation’s future.

The strategic plan that Uhuru has created for ensuring that Kenya reaches Vision 2030, that our nation becomes a newly industrialising, middle-income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by 2030, is way ahead of schedule.

While some might not think international junkets and seats on important international institutions are a vital part of that, they would be wrong.

For Kenya to succeed it needs to be enmeshed into the international system and be taken seriously by the leaders of global diplomacy, industry and investment.

This might be something that his predecessors didn’t fully grasp, but it is certainly a fact that Uhuru fully understands.

Mr Cherambos comments on topical issues. [email protected]