INTERVIEW: Escalating tension between Morocco, Sahrawi Republic of great interest to Kenya — Amb Kamau

Ambassador Jean Kamau

 Kenya’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and the Permanent Representative to the African Union  Jean Kamau speaks about Kenya’s AUPSC membership and chairship in March, 2021. 

Q: What does the chair of the African Union Peace and Security Council mean for you as chair of the month?

A: According to the Protocol of the Peace and Security Council, the AUPSC is mandated to meet at the level of Permanent Representatives, Ministers or Heads of State and Government and convene as often as required at the level of Permanent Representatives, for no less twice a month. The Ministers and the Heads of State and Government shall meet at least once a year, respectively.

Kenya has been privileged to be elected as a member of the AUPSC for a three-year term ending in March 2022. The last time Kenya chaired the AUPSC was in April 2020 under the leadership of Kenya’s former Ambassador to Ethiopia Catherine Mwangi.

It is therefore an honour for the country to serve as chair and provide leadership in finding solutions to Africa’s issues on peace and security especially when formulating Covid-19 recovery plans and strategies.

Q: What are the issues that the AU PSC will tackle during March 2021?

A: In fulfilling Kenya’s mandate in the AUPSC, the March 2021 program will be aimed at tackling critical security issues in Africa and also those in line with Kenya’s Foreign Policy.

As such, the issues under discussion will be important for Kenya’s national security, bilateral relations within the region and multilateral relations within the AU. For example, the devastating impact our country is facing because of climate change resulting competition for scarce natural resources between communities.

Climate change impacts food security, human security and disrupts social economic development. Furthermore, climate change may contribute between communities competing for scarce resources or protecting their water and livelihoods. This is a problem facing many Africa countries that requires collective review and action to address the consequences and impact.

Regionally, Kenya contributes troops to peacekeeping missions such as the African Union Mission in Somalia, which is crucial to Kenya’s national security owing to the geographical proximity of the peacekeeping mission to the country’s borders.

Lastly, the escalating military tension between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Saharawi Republic is of great interest to Kenya. For close to 35 years, Kenya has supported the Saharawi Republic in its quest for self-determination and independence.

Q: With March being recognised internationally as women’s month, how does the PSC aim to commemorate this month?

A: The Republic of Kenya is dedicated to ensuring that the empowerment of all women and girls is upheld. Through the AUPSC chairship, Kenya, led by the Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs will chair an open session on women, peace, culture and gender inclusivity in Africa. In line with the SDGs spirit of leaving no one behind, it is worth noting that women and girls play unique and important roles in building sustainable peace within their respective communities and in society as a whole.

To give more prominence on the topic, Kenya has considered this meeting to be held at ministerial level and to focus not only on peace and security but to also include issues of culture in line with the 2021 AU theme of “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for building the Africa we want.”

The outcome of this session will focus on strengthening the discourse on Women, Peace and Security and will ensure that the voices of all African women and girls continue to be at the centre of the Continents development Agenda . Kenya also recognizes the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on women’s and girls’ vulnerability to violence including harmful practices and exacerbation of already existing gendered structural barriers such as increase in the burden on unpaid care work, loss of livelihoods and exposure to Covid-19 as majority of frontline health workers.

To that effect, it is important that   responsive measures and policies have been put in place to protect Women’s and girls’ rights by ensuring women and girls play an integral role in building back our communities post-Covid and that our Covid-19 recovery plans are gender responsive Kenya has put measures in place such as post Covid-19 Economic Recovery Framework “Building Back Stronger: Transforming the Economy Post-Covid-19 which will ensure the needs and concerns of women and girls are taken into consideration.

Within the continent therefore, it will be important to ensure that Covid-19 recovery and response address the needs of both women and men equally in line with AU Guidelines on Gender Responsive Responses to Covid-19.

Kenya is also an action coalition leader in the Gender Based Violence Action coalition of the Generation Equality. The GEF process aims to rally member states across the world to renew their commitments to women and girls made through the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. Kenya has leveraged the leadership role to highlight the impact of Gender Based Violence (including in humanitarian and conflict settings) as a shadow pandemic during Covid-19

Q: What achievements does Kenya seek to attain by the end of its chairship?

A: By drawing attention to the issues on peace and security such as political instability, disruption of socio-economic development and the effect of climate change on peace and security, Kenya aims to engage diplomats in finding long-term solutions to these situations bearing in mind the impact that Covid-19 has borne on the fragility of some of these situations.

Through working with other AUPSC members, Kenya hopes to promote peace, security, sovereignty and territorial integrity, strengthen its diplomatic representation and promote its image internationally as well as enhance cooperation between the African Union, Regional Organizations and the United Nations.

 

Q: Lastly, what does it mean for Kenya to be assuming chairship of the AUPSC, two months after assuming its membership on the United Nations Security Council?

As a country, we are extremely proud to have been endorsed by the AU for membership on the United Nations Security Council. Our Foreign Policy is built on five diplomacy pillars, which include: peace, economic, diaspora, cultural and environmental diplomacy pillars.

As such, Kenya values the need for peace and stability as these are essential conditions for development and prosperity. Therefore during the month of March, Kenya will seek to advance its national peace agenda as well as gather grievances from member states on matters of peace and security that need to be aid within the UNSC.

 

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