UN: Kenya elected to the Security Council for two years

AFP New York headquarters building

Text by: RFI Follow

The epilogue to a long diplomatic battle between Kenya and Djibouti, after a second vote, Nairobi was finally elected as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. A first poll on Wednesday could not decide between the two countries. Kenyans will sit in this influential and prestigious position from January to replace South Africa.


Read more

With our correspondents in New York and Nairobi ,   Carrie Nooten and Sébastien Németh

The situation could have frozen for several days in a row after the ballot boxing of Djibouti and Kenya for the election of the African seat to the Security Council. But Kenya activated enough supports in the few hours that separated it from the second round to reach the required quorum, and win by one vote. It must be said that the country has more diplomatic skills than Djibouti: Nairobi is the headquarters of the United Nations Office in Africa, and also hosts the headquarters of two UN programs.

President Uhuru Kenyatta also maintains close relations with three permanent members of the Security Council, both with Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping's China. And even if the vagueness surrounded the nomination of the African candidate, many diplomats retained that Kenya was the official candidate of the African Union. To convince other countries, he had put forward his stabilizing role in a troubled Horn of Africa, as well as his reception of Somali and South Sudanese refugees.

Facade fair play

Kenyatta described Djibouti as a "  valiant opponent  ", adding that this victory demonstrated "  the growing profile  " of Nairobi. Handsome player, the head of Djiboutian diplomacy, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, congratulated Kenya and said that it was only a postponement.

Despite the apparent fair play, this harsh campaign could leave its mark. To avoid tensions, candidates are traditionally proposed by consensus , with prior support from the African Union. However this time, Djibouti contested the support of the AU in Kenya, considering it illegal.

Some experts now fear consequences, because even if the UN vote is by secret ballot, many countries where organizations have publicly declared their support. Somalia, which has a border dispute with Kenya, supported Djibouti. For a similar reason, Eritrea supported Kenya. In the end, some fear a weakening of African diplomacy, or even of the Igad regional organization to which the two countries belong.

It will be the third time that Kenya has served on the Council, following terms in 1973-74 and 1997-98.

Newsletter Receive all international news directly in your mailbox

I subscribe

Follow all international news by downloading the RFI application


  • Kenya
  • Djibouti
  • UN
  • African Union

On the same subject

UN: India, Mexico, Norway, Ireland elected members of the Security Council for 2021-2022

Who from Kenya or Djibouti will sit on the UN Security Council?

Djibouti and Kenya oppose non-permanent seat on the Security Council