Parliament must take diplomacy a notch higher

With their unique and enviable vantage point, Members of Parliament should be consummate diplomats, seek solutions to challenges facing the country.

Indeed, the honourable members should always act for the common good of all as they represent their voters. The simmering crises at every turn, call for Parliament to be champions of peace and voice of reason while creating cohesion.

Away from the traditional core mandate of oversight, representation and legislation, Parliamentarians can add another colourful feather in the cap by giving a voice to salient issues bedeviling the people they represent in the legislature.

The credible voice in the quest to realise parliamentary diplomacy places the members right at the centre of the issues in the country and globalised world. The forming up and subsequent product of the bipartisan committee currently engaging in talks on reforming the Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission, by Kenya Kwanza and Azimio is itself a mandate of Parliament, practising diplomacy.

It is a laudable feat that parliamentarians can sit and engage candidly on broader issues of national interest and achieve holistic resolutions that transcend party or individual persuasions.

With the raging war in Ukraine and Russia, Horn of Africa, Middle East, protracted trade wars and human as well as wildlife trafficking, parliamentarians can be pivotal agents in brokering lasting peace and a crucial cog in cessation of hostilities. Recently, Kenya received Delaware Senator Chris Coons who was on a shuttle diplomacy, pacifying nations and communities on a warpath. In many ways, what Senator Coons was engaging in is parliamentary diplomacy. European Union parliaments vigorously engaged their counterparts in efforts to quell the devastating war in Ukraine.

It is no surprise that local leadership have often been called to mediate, arbitrate and hammer solutions to problems in society.

Diplomacy in its plurality characterises a heathy and functioning democracy. Infusion of parliamentary process in the globalised affairs hoists the place of the august House as the trusted voice of reason.

As the Executive through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs engages in economic diplomacy, it would imperative for Parliament to curve its niche and participate at international stage and therefore making diplomacy part of their mandate.

Parliamentarians operate from point of advantage with experience, resources, human capital at their disposal, knowledge and legal backing to drive the cog of diplomacy a notch higher. Drawing experience from the Senate, legislators can swim against the grain without appearing to be invariance with their sponsoring political parties. They have the veritable stage to convey messages which official government functionaries cannot deliver. Without duplicating, conflicting and replicating the traditional diplomacy employed by government, parliamentarians from both sides of the aisle should build strong bridges and provide secure safe-ways to warring parties and be unshackled by state functionaries.

Ideally, parliamentary diplomacy goes a long way to complement the efforts by government of the day due to their flexibility, privilege and brain trust.

Sometimes, they are not bound by the positions taken by governments and therefore their influence supersedes interests of the state as they provide a principled third dimension perspective on things.

For democracy, good human rights record and bilateral trade negotiations, parliamentary diplomacy provides an ample forum to smoothen the rough edges and misunderstandings among trading partners, communities and nations.

By effectively playing the complimentary role, Parliament casts its influence larger and wider to enriching conversations, enriching democracy and holding governments to accountable.

The writer is Kericho Senator and Majority Leader in the Senate. @AaronCheruiyot