Kenya takes over the presidency of the UN Safety Council, however should work onerous to affect the agenda


The presidency of the Council affords Kenya some, albeit restricted, scope to form the Council’s agenda

Kenya just lately took on the presidency of the UN Safety Council for the month of October 2021, a job which is assumed in flip by every member of the Council. The East African nation assumed non-permanent membership of the Council for the third time in January this 12 months.

The UN Safety Council is charged with the first duty for the upkeep of worldwide peace and safety. It’s endowed with a collection of strong binding powers to additional this goal.

These embrace the imposition of sanctions and the authorisation of navy deployments in response to conditions which it determines to be a risk to worldwide peace and safety. Due to this, membership of the Safety Council is way wanted.

Kenya will need to use the presidency to extra typically steer debate on a number of the most important points going through Africa. It assumes this position amid quite a lot of international challenges.

These embrace rising calls for for the growth of COVID-19 vaccination programmes. As a result of African nations have a number of the world’s lowest ranges of vaccination, Kenya is more likely to need to exert ethical stress on main powers to bolster efforts to extend native inoculation charges.

One other problem is local weather change. Sub-Saharan Africa is among the areas most clearly beset by its results. There may be broad consensus on the challenges local weather change raises, which can make it attainable for Kenya to boost consciousness of the particular results African states face.

As well as, better consideration is being paid once more to Islamist terrorism following the ascent to energy once more of the Taliban in Afghanistan. As a sufferer of Al-Shabaab assaults itself, Kenya understands the character of this risk.

It has been a key participant within the peacekeeping mission in Somalia which has needed to cope with the risk posed by Al-Shabaab. Kenya is more likely to need to push for extra worldwide assist in stabilising the area and weakening the affect of terrorist actors.

The query is, nonetheless, how a lot of a job can Kenya truly play in influencing the worldwide peace and safety agenda?

The reply is, not a lot. The power of non-permanent members to affect the Safety Council’s agenda is restricted as a result of the assist, or at the least non-opposition, of the 5 everlasting members is crucial to the passage of any decision. It is because every everlasting member can unilaterally veto it.

Non-permanent members due to this fact can’t advance any plan of action to which at the least one of many everlasting 5 is vehemently opposed.

On a optimistic be aware, nonetheless, Kenya’s key priorities are issues on which there’s a lot consensus. Which means that it might take pleasure in some scope to form the course of progress on addressing these on the UN degree.

UN Safety Council membership

The Council consists of 15 members. The 5 everlasting members are: China, France, Russian Federation, the UK and the US. Ten non-permanent members are elected for two-year phrases by the Basic Meeting.

Essentially the most notable limitation — and a main supply of criticism — is that the Council is insufficiently consultant and democratic. It is because it’s dominated by the veto-wielding everlasting 5 members.

Makes an attempt at reforming the Council’s composition, to broaden its geographical range, proceed to be affected by obstacles. Most notably, the dearth of any consensus on the form that reform ought to take.

The everlasting 5 owe their standing to historic circumstances. The US, Russia (on the time, the USSR) and UK had been victorious allied powers who had been the UN’s principal founders on the finish of the Second World Warfare.

France and China served as regional counterweights to a probably resurgent Germany or Japan. The present standing of at the least a few of these is more and more questioned as their international affect wanes whereas new powers have emerged in underrepresented areas of the world.

The election to a two-year, non-renewable time period as a non-permanent member is one of the best that different nations can aspire to as a route in direction of exercising some affect and demonstrating management in respect of the worldwide peace and safety agenda.

Kenya’s success

Beneath a formulation employed by the UN’s Basic Meeting when allocating non-permanent seats on the Council, three seats are reserved for African states. In its most up-to-date election to the Council, held throughout 2020, Kenya overwhelmingly defeated Djibouti to exchange the outgoing South Africa.

Kenya’s success arguably stemmed from a broadly shared notion of its stature as a secure position mannequin on the continent, notably in East Africa, inside which it stood tall as the world’s most developed and influential energy.

On taking on its seat, President Kenyatta outlined a 4 level agenda to information Kenya’s time period on the Council. This consisted of:

  • participating these stakeholders closest to crises within the responses taken;

  • supporting key UN our bodies to strengthen the capability of state establishments throughout programmes of post-conflict reconstruction;

  • backing measures designed to strengthen the position of Africa and the worldwide south inside the wider UN system;

  • and making certain that the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t turn into a serious supply of world instability.

The presidency of the Council affords Kenya some, albeit restricted, scope to form the Council’s agenda. The president is liable for routine administrative capabilities — reminiscent of calling conferences, approving the agenda, presiding over conferences and presenting statements from the Council.

Though these permit minimal capability to form the Council’s enterprise, the president additionally represents the Council in interactions with different UN our bodies. For the reason that millennium it has turn into widespread for it to arrange background papers on points below dialogue.

These latter roles present some alternatives to convey its views to bear on the UN’s broad agenda.

Influencing the agenda

There are strategies that non-permanent members, reminiscent of Kenya, can use to affect the agenda. Its predecessor, South Africa, constructed unified positions among the many Council’s three African members to boost the visibility and affect of points essential to the continent.

South Africa additionally employed a proactive method to public diplomacy. It spearheaded the negotiation of a key Council decision pertaining to the position of girls within the international peace and safety agenda.

Forming alliances is important to advertise any pursuits and collectively states are in a position to attain out to extra potential sources of assist. Kenya types an excellent regional partnership with Niger and Tunisia on the Council.

Non-permanent members will even be extra profitable in garnering wider assist for his or her agendas in the event that they focus their priorities on points the place a lot consensus already exists, versus these which sit at odds with the coverage stances of different members.

The Council has been comparatively united on most resolutions adopted throughout 2021. The principle supply of dissent got here within the type of a small variety of Russian or Chinese language abstentions on resolutions pertaining to Afghanistan, South Sudan and the Central African Republic on account of some modest disagreements over their scope.

Nonetheless, Kenya has demonstrated the capability for an impartial method when it was one among simply two states to say no to assist the extension of sanctions towards South Sudan, utilizing its standing as a regional neighbour to argue these had been ineffective and counterproductive. Given the unity of the everlasting 5, nonetheless, Kenya’s stance was fruitless.

Gary Wilson, Senior Lecturer in Legislation, Liverpool John Moores College

This text is republished from The Dialog below a Artistic Commons license. Learn the unique article.


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