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Kenya elected to United Nations Security Council after second vote

By Cyrus Ombati | June 18th 2020

Defence CS Monica Juma when she issued a statement that Kenya's campaign to secure UN Security Council seat. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Kenya won the much-coveted UN Security Council seat after beating its African rival Djibouti in second-round voting in New York, USA.

Kenya garnered 129 votes against Djibouti’s 62 in the voting that saw almost all member states vote.

President of UNGA Tijjani Muhammad- Bande announced the winner after the voting exercise that took almost three hours.

The contest between Kenya and Djibouti headed to the second round of voting Thursday after the first phase saw Nairobi’s victory insufficient to win the UN Security Council seat.

In the first round on Wednesday, Nairobi scored 113 votes against Djibouti’s 78. The rules of the elections demand at least two-thirds of the eligible UN member states voting to be declared the winner.

On Wednesday, the election that started ?at 4 pm Kenyan time saw 192 of the 193 member states voting. Only Venezuela was barred from casting its ballot as it is still in arrears for its membership in the UN.

The UN Security Council is the most powerful organ of the UN, charged with maintaining global peace and security. Its decisions, by law, must be obeyed by all UN member states, giving its prestige and power.

Kenya now is among the 10 non-permanent members, that often worked alongside the permanent five (Russia, China, UK, US, France) to pass resolutions touching on global peace and security.

While the permanent five often have powers to veto, their continual bickering on key issues has often required the non-permanent ten to tilt decisions in their favour, making all members of the Council influential. Besides, all members of the Council get a chance to preside of sittings, providing another opportunity to influence the agenda.

Kenya banked on the African Union endorsement and its own networks abroad to hope to ride the Djibouti challenge.

The elections for non-permanent seats of the UN’s most powerful are often routine annual events. Kenya joins India, Ireland, Mexico and Norway who were elected members of the SC Council for a 2-year term ?beginning on ?January 1, ?2021.

Mr Volkan Bozkir of Turkey was elected President of the 75th session of the General Assembly.

Wednesday’s elections were historic because representatives voted under restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic, and without the plenary sessions. 

The elections were held simultaneously in the General Assembly hall on June 17, in accordance with decision 74/755 of  May 29, 2020, entitled, “Procedure for holding elections by secret ballot without a plenary meeting during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic”.

Having obtained the two-thirds majority of members present and voting and the greatest number of votes, 18 States were elected members of Economic and Social Council for a three-year term ?beginning on  ?January 1, 2021. They include Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Guatemala, Indonesia, Japan, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Mexico, Nigeria, Portugal, Solomon Islands, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.

President Kenyatta led the campaign to have Kenya elected to the post saying Kenya will advance the pan-Africanist agenda of global peace, solidarity and multilateralism if successful. Citing Kenya's long history of contributing troops to peacekeeping interventions, the President said Kenya has the right credentials to represent the African continent in the UNSC. Kenyatta spoke ?Tuesday night during a virtual campaign meeting with permanent representatives of various countries to the United Nations hosted by Kenya ahead of UNSC elections that were set for Wednesday.

He formed part of the campaign that Kenya has mounted to clinch the seat. ODM leader Raila Odinga said Kenya has served the community of nations with dedication and grace; hosting refugees, sending peacekeepers to troubled lands, ensuring regional stability.

Kenyatta told the representatives that Kenya's experience as the host nation of UN-Habitat and UNEP global headquarters places the country in an advantaged position to champion the world's sustainable development agenda.

He persuaded the representatives to vote for Kenya based on the country's track record of democracy, respect for human rights and solidarity.

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