Kenya's extensive peacekeeping experience will come in handy in Haiti

KDF parade during the 59th Madaraka Day celebrations at Uhuru Gardens, Nairobi, on June 1, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Kenya has been instrumental in multilateral peace support operations, contributing over 55,000 troops and other personnel to various peacekeeping missions in 40 countries.

The country also contributes to the training of peacekeepers from different countries at the International Peace Support Training Centre in Nairobi.

There is no doubt that since its independence, Kenya has carved a unique niche for itself on the global stage as a leading contributor to international peace and security.

Kenya’s journey in peacekeeping traces back to the 1960s when it actively participated in the United Nations Operation in the Congo.

This early baptism by fire set the precedent for its unwavering dedication to peacekeeping efforts in Africa and across the world. From Somalia and Liberia to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Namibia, Kenyan forces have consistently answered the call for stability under the banner of the United Nations.

The unwavering commitment of Kenyan troops has not only showcased the nation’s dedication to global peace but also solidified its reputation as a reliable and capable partner in international efforts to maintain stability.

Kenya’s contributions extend beyond troop deployments. In January 2021, the country commenced its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UNSC and pledged to address critical issues such as regional peace and security, countering terrorism, and promoting human rights. 

The nation has actively participated in critical peace negotiations, instrumental in resolving conflicts in Sudan, South Sudan, and Somalia. Former President Daniel arap Moi’s legacy is particularly intertwined with this pursuit of peaceful solutions, earning him recognition for his tireless efforts in bringing warring parties to the table.

His successors have continued with this legacy. In addition to military actions, Kenya’s involvement in peacekeeping is characterised by active engagement in humanitarian efforts. This holistic approach is particularly crucial in Haiti where socio-economic challenges exacerbate the need for humanitarian aid. Kenya’s contribution can bring about positive change and contribute to long-term stability by addressing both the immediate and underlying issues.

Decades of experience have honed the Kenya Armed Forces (KDF) and the National Police Service into a well-oiled machine. Renowned for their resilience, adaptability, and cultural sensitivity, KDF troops and the police undergo rigorous training that emphasises international humanitarian law, human rights, and conflict resolution techniques. This focus on not just military prowess but also diplomacy, positions them well for the complexities of peacekeeping missions. 

The current crisis in Haiti, gripped by gang violence and political instability, presents a pressing humanitarian challenge. The UN Security Council’s decision to deploy a peacekeeping force offers a glimmer of hope. Kenya is uniquely qualified to lead this mission for several reasons.

Firstly, it has grappled with similar challenges of gang violence and political unrest within its own borders. These experiences provide valuable insights that can be applied to the Haitian context.

Secondly, Kenya’s diverse population fosters a deeper understanding of different cultures, allowing its peacekeepers to build trust and rapport with local communities in Haiti – a crucial ingredient for long-term solutions.

Finally, Kenya’s unwavering commitment to pan-Africanism motivates its involvement in assisting fellow African or Black nations. Deploying peacekeepers to Haiti embodies this spirit of solidarity and strengthens ties across international borders.

Kenya’s participation in various peacekeeping missions has fostered strong ties with international partners. These partnerships are vital for a successful and collaborative approach to peacekeeping. By deploying forces to Haiti, Kenya can build on existing relationships, enhancing the effectiveness of the mission through shared resources, intelligence, and support.

However, some concerns regarding the deployment require careful consideration. Potential human rights abuses by Kenyan security forces have been raised, and this must be addressed. Additionally, clear and consistent communication with the Haitian people regarding the mission’s objectives and timeline will be crucial for building trust and fostering cooperation.