Kenya: UNSC Race - Kenya Cites Written AU Backing

Kenya is citing a written backing from the African Union as it launches global campaign for the UN Security Council seat Thursday in New York, United States.

As part of the Kenya Festival Week in New York, the Kenyan government will be launching its final leg of campaigns seeking to win the non-permanent seat for the period 2021-2022.

The campaigns, already launched in Africa in September, are being led by senior diplomats who include Special Envoy Tom Amolo (current Diplomatic and Political Secretary), Catherine Mwangi (Permanent Representative to the African Union) and Lazarus Amayo (Permanent Representative to the UN, New York).

The three will be joined by Cabinet Secretary Monica Juma and PS Macharia Kamau as well as other senior government officials.

The campaigns could also involve local brands such as Ketepa tea, Tusker, Java Coffee House, Kenya Nut Company's Out of Africa, Keroche Breweries, Leleshwa Wines, and the Kenya Flower Council members such as Tambuzi Flowers, Red Lands Roses and Nzurri.

The various Permanent Representatives to the United Nations will also join Kenyan elite athletes for a morning run ahead of the campaign launch later in the day.

In New York, Kenyan officials have adopted "door-to-door" vote-seeking to explain what Nairobi stands for and how it got African Union's endorsement to be the continent's sole candidate.

Legal opinion

Last week, the African Union submitted a legal opinion to the UN, supporting Kenya's argument that it is Nairobi alone which should be competing from Africa, potentially ruining the party for Djibouti which insists to be in the race.

In New York, part of the campaigns will involve explaining how the AU reaches its decisions and the tradition that exists of member states not violating those decisions.

"It is a painstaking and prolonged process of moving from one-member state to the next, getting them to appreciate the circumstances (of endorsement) and hopefully getting them to support Kenya's candidature on merit," Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau told The EastAfrican from New York.

Though the African Union is not a member of the UN, it passed an all-member-endorsed policy in 2007 to routinely nominate member states to contest for UNSC seats "to act in its name."

Nairobi was endorsed by the African Union in September, after defeating Djibouti 37 votes to 13, winning by more than the required two-thirds majority.

Djibouti has since reneged on its concession after the AU poll in September, seeking to stand for the election when the UN General Assembly convenes next June in New York.

To be elected UNSC member, Kenya will have to garner at least 129 votes, or two thirds of the vote.

"The campaign will not be easy nor short, it will be protracted and difficult process and we will not know the results until the very end after the voting," Mr Kamau added.

If Djibouti insists on running, the UN could witness two countries competing from the same region for the first time in three years.

The Netherlands and Italy also failed to agree in 2016, in turn they shared the seat in their time, alternatingly.

Fighting for a seat reserved for Europe and Others Group, neither side managed to win more than 95 votes, well below the requisite 129 votes. And after five rounds of voting, they agreed to get a year each, instead of two years for one.

This arrangement can only be possible if the two sides agree with it, and submit a joint proposal to the UN.

In 1960, a race for the Europe representative went for more than 50 rounds between Poland and Turkey, producing no clear winner. They later agreed to share out their two-year term.

Under the theme of "peace and security for sustainable development," Nairobi says it wants to sit on the Council and push for more collaboration between the African Union and the UN, in localising solutions of the continent's problems.

These collaborations could include addressing conflicts which pushes people to become refugees, regional peacekeeping financing, climate change and transboundary crimes.

"Kenya has already begun and will continue building bridges by consistently advocating for a more rules-based international system," a statement from the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

"As Kenya seeks to join the United Nations Security Council for the period 2021-2022, it firmly believes in the difference it can make to global peace and security. At a time of increased geopolitical complexities, Kenya's experienced and safe pair of hands can be relied upon to help manage the global peace and security agenda with other members of the Council."

The UN Security Council is the UN's most powerful body, charged with making crucial decisions on peace and security.

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