Kenya secures backing for Africa’s bid to have more say in UN

Deputy President William Ruto chats with Foreign affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed (left) during the 71st UN General assembly meeting in New York, September 19, 2016. PHOTO | CHARLES KIMANI | DPPS
Deputy President William Ruto chats with Foreign affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed (left) during the 71st UN General assembly meeting in New York, September 19, 2016. PHOTO | CHARLES KIMANI | DPPS

Kenya has secured key support for Africa in the continent’s push for reforms to have more say in the UN top decision-making organ.

The UN General Assembly President Peter Thomson, also in a show of confidence of the continent’s role in the affairs of the UN, sought Kenya’s permission to allow its permanent representative to the UN Macharia Kamau to head the Sustainable Development Goals implementation committee.

Mr Thomson, in a meeting with Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto on Monday night, agreed that Africa deserves permanent representation on the UN Security Council.

The top Fiji diplomat who is the current President of the UN General Assembly agreed with the Deputy President that African countries have been frustrated in their bid to hold sway in the key UN organ that is held on to tight by five powerful nations in the world.

“I am aware of the frustration African countries face despite being great parties,” he said during a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, which will be officially opened Tuesday by US President Barack Obama.


Mr Thomson promised to use his leverage in the largest global grouping of countries to address issues of under representation and unfavourable decision-making that has frustrated African members.

The frustrations which Africa has been facing, he said, should come to an end.

“Africa’s contribution is key. I cannot promise miracles; but I will try my best. How do we get more flexible such issues are important,” he said.

Mr Ruto, who is representing President Uhuru Kenyatta at the 71st UN General Assembly whose main agenda is to find solutions to the large movements of refugees and migrants, had raised the frustrations that African countries were facing in pushing for reforms in the UN Security Council.

“We are keen as a country on matters to do with UN reform. We can share what we think the UN should look like. It should be more open and democratic,” he said.

Taking advantage of the fact that the continent played a key role in the election of Mr Thomson from the tiny Pacific island of Fiji as President of the 71st UN General Assembly, he urged Mr Thomson to use his diplomatic skills to ensure the reforms are implemented under his leadership.

“I am confident under your leadership, the United Nations General Assembly shall advance its pivotal work during this critical era in the international arena,” he said.


African countries have been pushing for reforms in the UN Security Council with a view to expanding its permanent membership to include two countries from the continent.

The continent argues that the role it plays in the UN requires it to have a voice in the decisions which are made by the powerful organ whose membership is currently held by United States of America (USA), Russia, United Kingdom (UK), China and France.

Africa has only two slots on the UN Security Council held on a rotational basis.

A committee of 10 member states, which include Kenya, have been tasked to push for the reforms by the continent.

During the meeting, Mr Thomson requested Kenya to allow Mr Kamau to head the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mr Kamau is well versed with the SDGs, as he headed a team that crafted the development goals to take over from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) last year.

Mr Ruto also met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and discussed the refugee situation in Kenya, regional security and Kenya’s role in peace restoration.

The UN boss who is set to retire by the end of this year paid tribute and commended Kenya for hosting the largest number of refugees for a long period of time.

Mr Ban said: “We appreciate your commitment to address this issue, which is part of our international obligation.”

He said the UN said the refugee crisis required a global sharing of the responsibility.

He said the South Sudan crisis was a big issue and thanked Kenya for its role in spearheading amicable resolution of the power struggle.

Mr Ruto said 27,000 Somali refugees had returned to their country while 100,000 others had been processed and were awaiting funds for repatriation.

The Deputy President said the international community should play its role to ensure South Sudan realises lasting peace.

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