Kenya set to join Organisation of American States as observer

Friday June 07 2024

Kenya's President William Ruto (L) and his US counterpart Joe Biden during a joint Press Conference at the White House in Washington DC, US. PHOTO|PCS


Kenya is set to be admitted to the Organisation of American States (OAS), a regional bloc of 34 countries in the Western hemisphere, in what could allow Nairobi a permanent observation status to the body whose members include Haiti.

A decision reached on Thursday by the OAS Permanent Council said it had agreed to formally invite Nairobi to present its diplomats for accreditation, allowing them to attend the bloc’s key meetings, but not take a vote on decisions.

The Permanent Council, a committee of representatives from member states, said on Wednesday that they had agreed “to grant the Republic of Kenya the status of permanent observer to the Organisation of American States (OAS), in accordance with the provisions of resolutions AG/RES. 50 (I-O/71) of the General Assembly and CP/RES. 407 (573/84) of this Council Permanent,” referring to earlier criteria for admittance.

Read: US expected to designate Kenya as non-Nato ally

They also agreed “to request the Secretary-General to notify the Republic of Kenya and, subsequently, the organs, agencies, and entities of the OAS, including the specialised Inter-American organisations, of the adoption of this resolution CP49959E01.”

The 34-member bloc, including the US, is headquartered in Washington and often acts as a forum for Western hemisphere countries to discuss political issues in the wider Americas region.


It helps them build cooperation “and advance a common regional agenda on democratic governance, human rights, multidimensional security, and sustainable development,” according to the OAS website.

Once formally admitted, Kenya will join 75 other countries and organisations with permanent observer status. But it won’t be the first African country. OAS already admitted Angola, Algeria, Benin, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Togo and Tunisia.

Sitting on this body, however, could allow Kenya to hear directly local concerns, suggestions or objections on its involvement in Haiti.

Kenyan police are set to be deployed later in June in Haiti as part of the Multinational Security Support Mission (MSS).

Endorsed by the UN, funded by the US and supported by Canada, the MSS is supposed to help return law enforcement in Haiti.

Read: Why Haitians do not want a UN mission

However, the mission has not been entirely supported. Critics, especially some Haitian civil society groups, have said MSS is part of continual interference from the US.

A Kenyan lawyer, Dr Ekuru Aukot, also sued to stop the deployment. The court set a hearing for June 12.