Kenya on Thursday evening won the Africa seat at the UN Security Council after garnering 129 votes against Djibouti's 62 votes in the second round of voting.
Some 191 member states voted on Thursday.
In the first round of voting on Wednesday, Kenya had 113 votes against Djibouti’s 78, with 192 out of 193 member states voting. Venezuela was barred from casting its ballot as it is still in arrears for its membership in the UN. However, under the Rules of Procedure of the General Assembly, countries seeking a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council must garner at least two thirds of the votes to win – in this case Kenya needed at least 128 votes.
India, Mexico, Ireland and Norway were elected earlier on Wednesday.
The victory, after months of lobbying, means Nairobi can, from January 2021, return to the UN’s most powerful organ after 23 years. Kenya will be part of key decision making on global peace and security.
Some of the decisions may include sanctions, authorising use of force to preserve peace as well as electing judges of the International Court of Justice.
Working alongside the five permanent members with veto powers (Russia, UK, US, China and France), Kenya will join nine other non-permanent members and could get a chance to preside over the Council’s sittings, an influential opportunity to influence agenda.
Kenya’s win also serves to assure the world of the legitimacy of the African Union (AU) in endorsing candidates from member states to “act in its name.” The AU had endorsed Kenya for the seat, but Djibouti rejected this decision and went ahead to conduct parallel campaigns for the only seat allocated for Africa.
This year’s vote was historic, happening in the midst of a pandemic. Delegates representing 192 member countries, who were all required to wear face masks, were called in one by one to cast their ballots. In addition, this year, there was no plenary session during the vote - part of the rules made to reduce public gatherings as a measure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus Covid-19.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta termed the win “a demonstration of the country's growing profile and influence in the community of nations as a steadfast and dependable development partner.”
In a statement to media houses, he thanked the African Union for endorsing Nairobi and giving it a chance to vie for the seat. He also thanked Djibouti for being a worthy opponent.
President Kenyatta said Kenya will “voice Africa's position in the Security Council”.
Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh congratulated Kenya on its win. He said he hopes Nairobi will bring “valuable debate” to the Council.
- Additional reporting by Valerie Koga.