The unveiling of Kenya as one of the non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, after defeating Djibouti for the slot, should be a cause for celebration not only for the country but also the entire African continent.
This achievement comes against the backdrop of monumental challenges for many African countries with regards to peace and security.
Closer home, Kenya is locked in a feud with Somalia on multiple fronts. On the one hand, there is the maritime dispute which Somalia prefers to be settled by an international court even as Kenya advocates for negotiations. The matter is currently being argued in court and it would be helpful for Kenya to use her clout in the international justice system to secure a settlement that is favourable to both parties.
At another level, Somalia approaching a presidential election, has been accusing Kenya of meddling in her internal affairs. Kenya’s cordial relationship with Jubaland has rubbed Somalia the wrong way for a long time.
Matters have not been helped by the fact that Kenya recently strengthened her ties with Somaliland, a semi-autonomous region that has been clamouring for total independence.
Things have gone so bad that Somalia severed her diplomatic ties with Kenya. On this seat at the global body, Kenya should be able to leverage and put an end to the acrimony between her and her neighbour.
It is noticeable that authoritarianism has gone a notch higher in both Tanzania and Uganda. Tanzania’s elections were largely marred by claims of voter intimidation and harassment of key opposition leaders.
In Uganda, the government has unleashed terror on opposition leader Bobi Wine in his bid to end President Yoweri Museveni’s rule. These are developments that ought to be on Kenya’s radar as she takes her role at the UN body. Kenya must use her diplomatic experience to ensure that the East Africa region and the continent at large-maintains peace and security.
Then there is the conflagration that has erupted in Ethiopia following a crackdown by the government of Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy in Tigray. Though Kenya enjoys cordial relationship with the Ethiopian government, she must chart a path that will lead to a resolution of the conflict in a manner that is favourable to both parties.
The UN clout will come in handy in negotiating for an end to the conflict that threatens to morph into a full scale civil war.
Kenya must use its position to advocate for reforms within the UN system. Africa should have at least one permanent slot in the UN Security Council.
And then there is the issue of the coronavirus that has ravaged the entire world, with some countries still under lockdown. Already, there is scepticism among African countries with regard to how the available vaccines will be distributed to all countries. Major European and Asian countries are already making arrangements to secure vaccines for their populations.
The global coalition that is lobbying for developing countries not to be left behind in the distribution of the vaccines is working closely with the World Health Organization on this front.
Kenya ought to use her position in the UN system to lobby for a favourable mechanism of ensuring that poor countries, especially from the African continent, are taken care of.
The rivalry of the world’s major economic powers, the US and China, is something that Kenya has to deftly manoeuvre.
Kenya enjoys cordial relations with both, but has recently had major economic engagements with China. This should not cloud her judgment when making decisions at the international level. Kenya is in the process of sealing a trade deal with the US.
With china having mega investments in the country, how she delicately balances her interest with both powers is something that must be a top agenda- considering that the UN Security Council is the body mandated with slapping sanctions on rogue states that are considered to be a threat to global peace and security.
Kenya also happens to be a member of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union. This compliments her role at the UN body but, more importantly, Kenya should use this position and her diplomatic experience to bear on the resolution of the many conflicts that afflict the continent. This is the moment for Kenya to shine at the international stage.