Kenya has been a steadfast member of the Commonwealth since independence in 1963. The Commonwealth is a family of nations forged by shared principles and objectives, and by which we define the future we collectively seek as stipulated in the Commonwealth Charter.
We consider the Commonwealth an important platform for us to engage the world and promote our national interests as well as shared aspirations with the other 53 member states.
The Commonwealth influences and shapes our position on global affairs and creates a forum for our country to play a key role within the international community. It has supported our country’s economic development, education, sustainable use of ocean resources, democracy, human rights and rule of law.
Kenya has also made immense contributions to the Commonwealth. Kenya is championing the Sustainable Blue Economy Action Group within the Commonwealth and is also a member of the Ocean Alliance and Mangrove Ecosystems Livelihoods Action Groups.
In addition, Kenya is a member of the Physical, Digital and Regulatory Connectivity Clusters of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda. We have also made important contributions to the advancement of gender equality through the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting, besides participating in the Commonwealth Sports Ministers Meeting.
The Commonwealth is at a pivotal moment. To further spur its influence globally, it must strengthen its capacity to pursue the collective goals for shared progress and prosperity for member states and humanity. This places a premium on the leadership of the secretariat, the organisation’s management arm, which is tasked with delivery of the aims of the Commonwealth.
The next secretary-general will be responsible for guiding the secretariat, and indeed, the Commonwealth, through difficult times. The ravaging impact of Covid-19 on human life and on economies portends clear challenges beyond the current health crisis. The Covid-19 vaccine deficit, debt restructuring and the pervasive dangers posed by climate change are glaring priorities for the team leader at Marlborough House, Pall Mall, London. The first port of call for an effective secretariat to address these challenges, should be the election of a competent and proven consensus-builder as the seventh secretary-general.
Crafter of foreign policy
President Uhuru Kenyatta has nominated Dr Monica Juma, Kenya’s Cabinet secretary for Defence, for the post of secretary-general of the Commonwealth. Dr Juma is a steadfast compatriot and predecessor at the Foreign Affairs docket, during which she chaired and was instrumental in the successes of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group.
She holds unparalleled credentials as a diplomat of vast experience, an administrator of peace and security at the regional and international levels, a crafter of foreign policy and an exemplar of the Commonwealth values. In her opinion the Commonwealth will have a formidable consensus-builder with expertise in global affairs.
Dr Juma will consolidate the good foundation laid by her predecessors and tap on the immense successes so far to ensure that the organisation thrives. Her leadership will secure strong commitments on propagation of core values and principles and intensify connections through innovative partnerships to promote sustainable development and shared prosperity.
Dr Juma will galvanise collective action in addressing key challenges facing member states while anticipating adversities and taking action to mitigate impact. As we anticipate the Kigali Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting where the next secretary-general will be appointed, Dr Juma stands strong as a top-notch candidate to steer the Commonwealth to the next level and on the path towards the realisation of our shared aspirations of development, democracy and peace.
As President Kenyatta assured, Kenya firmly stands with Dr Juma and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will execute this commitment.
The writer is the Cabinet secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs