Kenya takes over Security Council presidency, focus on vaccine equity

Kenya on Friday assumed the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council for the month of October.

Kenya, elected by the General Assembly in June 2020 for a two-year term as a non-permanent Council member, alongside India, Ireland, Mexico and Norway, took over the presidency of the 15-nation body from Ireland.

Top on the agenda is the focus on the issues of peace and security in the region, weapons smuggling, Covid-19 vaccine inequality, ethnic identities, climate change and regional blocs relations.

Kenya’s tenure comes at a time there is growing concerns over the distribution of vaccines across the global where Africa is least considered.

Martin Kimani, Kenya’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, said on Thursday night that presiding over the Council was a big responsibility, but gave assurance that Kenya was up to the task.

Speaking exclusively to KTN News Crossfire show from New York, he said Kenya would preside over activities in a manner that builds consensus and agreement among Council members to solve security problems that are affecting the globe.

He said there were several countries in the region that were under the purview of the Security Council’s conflict resolution processes. They include South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Majority of conflict situations the Security Council deals with are in Africa and Kenya has made it its priority to safeguard African lives and to push as much as possible to ensure that there is peace and security in Africa,” said Kimani.

Kimani said while including Africa Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) as part of the UN’s Peace Keeping Mission was an ongoing debate at the Security Council, Kenya would not use its position to advance its own national interests.

“We are going to be driven by the interests of normal peace and security. Kenya’s stakes are not only our immediate national security risks, which are the most important, but our aim is also to ensure that the world understands that Kenya can stand and guide global affairs in a way that is responsible, responsive, empathetic and effective,” he said.

On the Covid-19 concerns, Kimani said African countries came together and put their trust in the Covax facility that was intended to provide access to vaccines for all countries.

He said despite all counties being signatories, the richest countries went ahead and cut bilateral deals with the drug-making companies.

“That essentially meant that this global facility was shortchanged. It was also shortchanged of the sort of contributions and commitments that they had made but never followed through on African countries that came together to try and build their own funding to buy the vaccines in the open market,” he said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) noted in a press conference on Thursday night that only nine African countries had met a target of vaccinating 10 per cent of their populations against Covid-19 by the end of September.

Dr Richard Mihigo, WHO’s programme coordinator for vaccine development in Africa, said on Thursday that just four per cent of Africa’s population was fully vaccinated. Kenya has vaccinated less than three per cent of its population.

Countries preside over the Council’s presidency for one month with the rotation set in alphabetical order by the country’s name in English. This is Kenya’s only presidency as a non-permanent member of the Security Council during its term from 2021-2022.

At the Security Council, the UN organ that maintains international peace and security, President Uhuru Kenyatta will chair events on how to appreciate diversity, the impact of illicit small arms and light weapons on peacekeeping operations, and better support and promotion of women peacekeepers and peace builders.

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