The culmination of the 75 years of the United Nations (UN) commemoration would not be complete if Kenya’s history and contributions were missing.
Kenya has had an enthralling relationship with the UN for a long time and continues to create many indelible memories. Recently, the country became a Non-Permanent Member of the UN Security Council (UNSC).
As Kenya joins the rest of the world in marking this significant milestone attained by the UN, Kenya’s High Commissioner to Tanzania H.E. Dan Kazungu expatiates on the country’s history in the UN as well as the significant contributions made by KenyaKenya has been engaging constructively at the apex of multilateral diplomacy.
How does it feel being member of the UN as it commemorates its 75 years of operation?
We are proud to be a part of this global organization that has 193 sovereign member states. As a member of the UN, Kenya believes in the purpose and the principles on which the UN was founded. The United Nations gives Kenya an international forum and opportunity to make fundamental contributions that impact considerably on the lives of global citizens, making the world better governed, better managed and a better place to sustain human life. Therefore, the country plays a significant role in the promotion and implementation of the United Nations mandate which include maintaining inter-national peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.
How does the Kenya High Com-mission in Tanzania plan to celebrate this special day?
It is rather unfortunate that this years’ celebrations will be marred by the COVID 19 pandemic. That notwithstanding, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all United Nations Members a happy United Nations Day.
The Mission will follow the proceedings in New York virtually. We shall take time to reflect on the accomplishments of the UN as an institution, and those of Kenya as a member state of the organization, as we look forward to building the future we want.
What could be that one thing the UN has done to Kenya and it will forever cherish until the end of time in this world?
Kenya’s admission to the UN on 16th December 1963, was a turning point for our international relations and diplomacy. Kenya gained recognition by the rest of the world. This recognition then afforded Kenya the space and voice to leverage and articulate her interests on the international platform.
The UN is a multilateral body that provides a platform where competing interests of sovereign member states are transacted, consensus built and decisions made. Thus, Kenya cherishes the fact that she is able to engage, interact as well as forge friendships and relationships with other sovereign member states, via the United Nations.
Kenya is one of the countries that has deployed a number of its troops to UN peacekeeping missions what else Kenya has done during these 75 years of UN?
Since its admission into the UN 57 years ago, Kenya made contributions of military troops and police officers to UN Peace Keeping Missions. Kenya’s experience in the field of peacekeeping spans over three decades beginning with the first deployment to Chad under the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in 1979.
In those three decades, Kenya has committed over 30,000 troops in peacekeeping missions abroad. The country has made other contributions to the UN. Basically, our commitment to the principles and ideals of the UN has been resolute and consistent.
In the area of international peace and security, Kenya hosts the UN Engineering Logistics Base for Africa Region that supports the capacity building of Africa’s Troop Contributing Countries (TCCs).
Kenya also hosts the Regional Centre for Small Arms (RECSA) which brings together fourteen (14) UN African member States with the mandate of addressing the proliferation of small arms and light weapons with in the Eastern and Southern Africa region as well as the Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre which covers maritime rescue for Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania and its functions have been broadened to include piracy and information sharing to enhance the suppression of piracy.
Kenya is the only African country that hosts a fully-fledged Secretariat UN office in Nairobi. The other offices are in New York, Geneva and Vienna. In Addition, Kenya hosts the United Nations Environment Program, UNEP and is keen on environmental protection and sustainability. Kenya believes strongly that peace and security is untenable where development is not sustainable, inclusive or gender balanced. As such, we are at the fore front of advocating for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Kenya has served on the UN Security Councils twice that is in 1973-74 and 1997- 98 and is set to do so again from next year. Theme for this commemoration is anchored on “building the future we want.” How does Kenya reflect on this compelling slogan?
To mark its 75th year of existence, the UN chose the theme “The Future that We Want; the United Nations that We Need: Reaffirming our Collective Commitment to Multilateralism”. This theme is synonymous with that of Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs strategy of “Building bridges for peace, international cooperation, glob-al competitiveness and shared national prosperity”, during the period 2018/2019 – 2022/2023.
This strategy is indeed one of the reasons why Kenya sought to vie for the UN Security Council Non-Permanent seat. The UN theme is a call to humanity to urgently reflect on our actions, figure out our missteps, and then rectify them going forward, on the domestic as well as the international levels. It also emphasizes the need for team work and unity of purpose in our multilateral agenda for effective and sustainable peace and prosperity for all. Kenya believes that if we remain focused, we are certain to bring about the positive change we want to see in the world.
Where does the UN-Kenya tie go? Is the future bright for both parts?
I wish to reiterate that Kenya and UN do not engage as equal partners. The tie between Kenya and UN is purely on how the rights, responsibilities as well as obligations bestowed and enjoyed by each member state on admission to the global body can be exercised and respected.
Kenya believes in multilateral-ism and the rules based international system where all states exercise the rights due to them equally as enshrined in the Charter of the global body. The emerging global trends foreshadow heightened interactions among the UN member states, and the role of the UN now more than ever, being enhanced. Having said that, I am confident that our community of nations shall, albeit with diver interests, continue to work together under the standard operating procedures and able guidance of the United Nations.
Recently, Kenya was selected to be a member of the UN Security Council. What does this mean to you?
In the words of President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya’s selection as a Non-Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council is a demonstration of the country’s growing profile and influence in the community of nations as a steadfast and dependable development partner”
Kenya will use this opportunity as a platform to consolidate and voice Africa’s position and to advocate for reforms at the Security Council so as to make it more representative and inclusive as articulated in the Ezulwini Consensus of 2005. It also means that Kenya will work with the all UN member states to implement the UNSC mandate in an inclusive, responsive and consultative manner irrespective of size and military might.
What do you think was the turning point of winning such privilege over Djibouti?
It should be noted that Kenya had offered its candidature for the non-permanent seat at the Security Council for the 2013-2014 and 2018-2019 periods, but had to withdraw on both occasions in favour of Rwanda and Ethiopia, respectively.
It was therefore hoped that during the 2021-2022 period, when the die would be cast, the lot would be fall on Kenya. However, that was not the case.
Djibouti is a formidable opponent. Both countries worked day and night to ensure a win, both at the African Union level and the United Nations Assembly.
However, there could only be one East African representative at the UN Security Council. Team Kenya worked hard. Under the stewardship of the President and leadership of the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs and the UNSC Special envoy, Kenya was able to candidly present its agenda and exhibit its credentials, ability and zeal to deliver on the mandate bestowed upon by the other member states, particularly the AU members that endorsed its candidature.
Kenya chose not to be deterred by provocative actions and disinformation by other parties but instead displayed its formidable prowess in diplomacy and foreign affairs capabilities in motion right from the start that gave us the result we yearned for.
What achievements can Kenya garner by virtue of being a member of the UN?
Kenya seeks to serve at the United Nations and not to garner or gain anything. We seek to offer servant leadership and contribute to the ideals that we so dearly uphold.
One of the things that Kenya intends to do in this regard is to promote cooperation with the UN Security Council and the Peace and Security Council, African Union’s decision making body on issues of peace and security on the continent, as well as regional integration bodies such as the East African Community and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
The pledges made during the campaign for the UNSC Seat were not mere rhetoric. We intend to follow through and see to it that the pledges made during the campaign for the seat are fulfilled.
Where are the strategic areas of cooperation between UN and Kenya?
Kenya as a member of the UN has an equal voice and rights as other member states. Thus, we shall continue to use the platform that is provided by virtue of our membership to establish meaningful relations and partnerships with other states at the UN. Kenya’s commitment to the principles and ideals of the UN has been resolute and consistent, particularly on matters of peace and security, sustainable development, global environment and climate change issues.
Currently, Kenya recognizes that sustainable development under the 17 sustainable development goals agenda 2030 inform key priority cooperation areas with all member states of the UN. To enable successive achievements in these priority cooperation are-as, Kenya has anchored in the country’s blue print for development the national priorities as outlined in the Kenya Vision 2030 and the big 4 agenda.