Just recently, Kenya and Djibouti engaged in a hot contest for a coveted UN seat, where Kenya ended up on top. There are several reasons as to why Kenya ended up as the winner of the non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Here are seven solid reasons why Kenya easily floored Djibouti to bag the UNSC non-permanent seat:

1.To begin with, Kenya’s candidacy for the seat in the Security Council had a full endorsement by the African Union (AU). On august 22, 2019, the Egyptian Permanent representative to the African Union, Osama Abdel Khalek, chaired a session in which the AU Permanent Representatives Committee voted for the two contenders, in a secret ballot. Kenya garnered 37 votes against Djibouti’s 13 votes.


Kenya’s landslide win meant that Nairobi had easily attained the two-thirds majority required to vie for the UNSC seat as the official AU endorsed candidate. After the defeat, Djibouti agreed to back Kenya’s bid, only to suddenly backtrack on her promise. The country decided to face Kenya in an election at the United Nations General Assembly, without the blessings of the AU.

With the backing of the African Union, Kenya was seen to be in the best position to loyally take care of Africa’s interests at the Security Council. Djibouti’s sudden change of heart to go for the same seat was also suspiciously regarded by many as being driven, either by regional rivalry and malice, or by some unseen external powers that did not have Africa’s interests at heart. This put to doubt Djibouti’s ability to loyally serve Africa’s interests at the United Nations Security Council.

2. Kenya has previously served twice as a member of the powerful UN Security Council (Between 1973-74 and 1997-98). Her return will maintain a record of serving in 24-year intervals. This means that, compared to Djibouti, Kenya has more experience in dealing with issues related to the UNSC.

3. Kenya brings to the table her experience of supporting unstable governments in the Horn of Africa (HOA) region, particularly Somalia and South Sudan, and in assisting refugees whose majority are from the two countries, as well as other neighboring countries like Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda and Burundi. The country is currently host to Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps, which are among the biggest camps of their kind in the world.

Kenya’s record in maintaining Peace and security in the region and globally speaks plainly for itself. Some of the main highlights in support of this included:

•The successful formation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia (in October – November 2004) in Nairobi. The TFG lasted until 2012 when the first ever democratic elections, since the death of President Siad Barre, were held in Somalia.

•The successful signing of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on January 9, 2005, in Nairobi marked the end of the longest running conflicts in the African continent and subsequently gave birth to the world’s youngest state – the Republic of South Sudan.

The current situations of tension in the two countries (South Sudan and Somalia) are likely to receive keen attention from the United Nations Security Council during Kenya’s term as a member of the UN Security Council.

4. Kenya is a major stakeholder and strategic partner in the global fight against terrorism, which forms one of the top peace and security headaches of the UNSC. This reality has seen the country endure hit after hit from terrorist groups with global links.

The deadliest terror attacks to ever happen on Kenyan soil were the august 7, 1998 United States Embassy attack (Carried out by the Osama Bin Laden led Al-Qaeda terrorist group), where 213 people died and the 2 April, 2015 massacre of 148 people by the Somalia-based Al-Shabaab terror group, in Garissa University College.

With a seat at the UN Security Council, Kenya gets a shot in the arm that will give her more impetus in her efforts towards fighting against terrorism in the region.

5. Kenya is regarded as a haven of peace is a region that has been rocked with instability for decades. The fact that important affiliates of the United Nations such as the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and UNHABITAT have had their headquarters in Nairobi for several years now, is a solid vote of confidence, on the country’s competence and reliability in handling United Nations matters.

6. As a major partner in the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) Kenya is playing an important role in boosting the UN and AU efforts in the stabilization of the Federal Government of Somalia. A stable Somalia means more peace and security in the region.

Kenya, also has a history of contributing troops to peacekeeping missions across the world. Good examples are the past missions to Namibia, Croatia, Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and many other war-torn hot-spots across the globe.

7. Lastly, Kenya is a thought leader in the Eastern Africa region. The many international conferences organised in the country, including the recent Blue Economy Conference held in Nairobi (Which was a brainchild of Kenya) and many more are enough testimony bout the country’s capabilities.

Out of the 193 UN member states, Kenya needed to garner at least 128 votes, in order to have the requisite two thirds majority vote to win the seat. Djibouti almost upset Kenya’s chances when, in the first round of voting, the small but strategic state from the Horn of Africa managed to get 78 votes against Kenya’s 113.

This denied Kenya the threshold of 128 votes required for the two-thirds majority win, forcing the United Nations General assembly to go to a second round of voting. It is at this point that Kenya won decisively, garnering 129 votes against Djibouti’s 62.

Djibouti is located in the Horn of Africa (HOA) and just like Kenya, She is a member of the Intergovernmental authority on Development (IGAD), meaning that the two countries have several interests in common.


Given that some of our closest neighbors are known to have voted against Kenya, shows how petty sibling rivalry, mistrust and selfish interests of the member states within the East African Community (EAC) and IGAD keep putting ugly barriers in the way of prosperity of the larger Eastern Africa and Horn of Africa regions.

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