Kenya manoeuvres to take up Africa’s seat at the UN Security Council

State House is counting on African Union support to clinch a seat on the United Nations Security Council

Kenya is banking on repeated endorsements by the African Union and Nairobi’s own networks to clinch a seat at the UN Security Council when a vote comes up this evening, the Daily Nation’s Aggrey Mutambo reports.

The elections for non-permanent seats on the UN’s most powerful organ are usually routine.

However, today’s will be historic because it will be the first virtual election held by secret ballot.

It is scheduled for 4pm Nairobi time.

One slot for Africa

In Africa, Kenya will be competing against Djibouti, which it beat three times to win the African Union endorsement vote last year, but which stuck to the race, challenging the validity of the elections.

The winner will sit on the council for the next two years from January 2021, taking part in decision-making on global peace and security.

Other countries in the race are Canada, India, Ireland, Mexico and Norway. To win a seat, a country must garner at least two-thirds of the eligible UN member states’ votes.

With one slot allocated for Africa, Kenya has this past week reminded the world of an endorsement it won at the African Union. Traditionally, AU member states front candidates at the UN organs “to act in [the Union’s] name”, in the words of a resolution endorsed by the African Union Summit more than a decade ago.

Kenyan leadership

“Facts are stubborn. Kenya is Africa’s legitimate candidate,” said the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Macharia Kamau.

“Kenya’s leadership in multilateral diplomacy has stood out even in these extraordinary times of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kamau wrote in the country’s final pitch this week, referring to Kenya’s participation in AU Bureau meetings on the pandemic, as well as its recent hosting of an extraordinary summit of leaders of the organisation of the African, Caribbean and Pacific states. Both meetings were held online.

“As a proven team player and stickler for rules-based multilateralism as well as rich experience, Kenya is a safe pair of hands and stands ready to deliver on its promise,” the pitch said.

AU endorsement quizzed

Kenya’s candidature has lately been helped by the African Union, which has clarified that Nairobi should be Africa’s only participant in the race. The AU Permanent Observer Mission to the UN last week signalled that Kenya obtained its endorsement by valid means.

“The [mission] has the honour to remind [all] that the African Union endorsed the Republic of Kenya for a non-permanent seat [on] the United Nations Security Council for the term 2021-2022,” the mission led by Fatima Kyari Mohammed said in a note on 9 June.

It was the third time the mission was clarifying the matter, after Djibouti contested the decision at the AU, saying the committee of permanent representatives who voted in Kenya had no authority to transmit the decision, unless endorsed by the AU Executive Council, a group of foreign ministers of AU member states.

Aggrey Mutambo

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Daily Nation, Kenya
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