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Kenya lobbies for UN Security Council seat

Kenya says it will remain in Somalia till al Shabaab is defeated.

Dec 30th 2019 · 2 min read
Kenya lobbies for UN Security Council seat

Kenya will increase its diplomatic activities in the new year as the country steps up its bid to secure a two-year seat on the UN Security Council.

The election for 2020 by the General Assembly will be in June.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially launched its bid on November 7 in New York after an initial one in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in August.

Kenya faces challenges, however, as Djibouti in August rescinded its earlier decision to respect the African Union’s vote to endorse Kenya for the seat, signalling lack of faith in a process it participated in thrice.

Foreign Affairs PS Macharia Kamau in August told the Star the about-turn would not affect Kenya’s bid.

Owing to its geographic position with regards to the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Aden and its trade-friendly location, Djibouti, like Somalia, attracts international foreign interference that Kenya’s Foreign Ministry acknowledges as a weakness in its Strategic Plan 2018-19-2022-23.

Kenya has based its bid on a 10-point agenda to campaign for the UNSC seat.

They are building bridges, peacekeeping and support operations, regional peace and security, counterterrorism, women peace and security, youth empowerment, humanitarian action, justice, human rights and democracy and environment and climate change.

The Security Council consists of five permanent members with veto power (China, France, the Russian Federation, the UK and the US) and 10 non-permanent members elected y the General Assembly for a term of two years.

Each year, the GA elects five non-permanent members of the Security Council. The nonpermanent members include five from African and Asian States, one from Eastern Europe, two from Latin America, two from Western Europe and other states.

It is expected that Foreign Affairs CS Monica Juma, who was in Thailand in December to seek ASEAN’s support for the bid, and her team will intensify their lobbying in the next couple of months.

On December 17, Juma held a review meeting and said the progress was good.

Kenya's baggage includes its maritime dispute with Somalia.  The disputed 100,000 square kilometres is believed to contain vast oil and gas deposits.

The International Court of Justice in October postponed the Maritime Delimitation in the Indian Ocean between Somalia and Kenya for the second time to 2020.

Somalia took Kenya to the ICJ on August 28, 2014, by writing an application to institute proceedings against Nairobi concerning a dispute involving the maritime delimitation in the Indian Ocean.

Somalia contends that the two states disagree about the location of the maritime boundary in the area where their maritime entitlements overlap. Kenya disagrees.

Mogadishu also told the court that diplomatic negotiations have failed to resolve the disagreement.

The matter will be heard in September 2020, but Kenya continues to push for an out-of-court settlement.

Somalia President Mohamed Farmaajo, however, on November 14 expressed his confidence that the ICJ issue will be resolved in a “mutually acceptable manner and not affect our bilateral relations". Observers said this could indicate a change in the hardline position initially taken on the dispute.

Stil on Somalia, Kenya is likely to find itself in a Catch-22 situation as it maintains it will not withdraw its troops until the al Shabaab terror group is defeated.

The UN Security Council in May only extended Amisoms’s mandate in Somalia by one year ahead of the national elections in 2020. Further, the Security Council decided to reduce uniformed personnel by 1,000 in line with the existing plan to gradually transfer security responsibilities to Somali security forces.

Al Shabaab demands that Kenya withdraw its forces from Somalia and cites its presence as a reason for terrorist attacks on Kenyan territory.

Kenya is also expected to continue with its role in the South Sudan peace process after President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar agreed to form a government of national unity after successive postponements. 

last updated: 2019-12-31@08:12