Kenya’s month-long chairmanship of the UN Security Council ended this weekend.  The East African country had been elected for a non-permanent Security Council seat, for the 2021-2022 biennium, in June 2020, prevailing over Djibouti. Alphabetical rotation on a monthly basis brought the country to the chairmanship of the body in October 2021. This month was the first security council held in attendance in the post-covid era.

During the chairmanship, Nairobi issued two presidential decrees, an act of the security council that, unlike the resolution, is not legally binding and is signed by the chairperson of the council. The first was issued after a conference chaired by Kenya’s foreign minister, Raychelle Omamo, on the issue of natural resources in the Great Lakes region. The minister wanted to focus on this region because, in her view, there is a strong connection between expropriation of natural resources and conflicts in that area. According to Omamo, the Great Lakes area (in the Rift Valley, around the East African Fault) needs to preserve its natural resources from “an unregulated model of extraction and exploitation” that does not create any benefits for the area but rather increases and exacerbates conflicts. The minister, however, hopes that in the meantime other types of resolution of conflicts between the nations in that quadrant will be used.

The other presidential act issued followed another lecture by President Kenyatta concerning the relationship between the United Nations and other regional political organisations, with the African Union at the forefront. It stated that it wanted to strengthen relations with the African Union on the basis of shared values and a common desire to seek a diplomatic resolution of conflicts on the continent. It also promised an acceleration of assistance to the continent in the fight against the pandemic. The commitment of the African Union countries in collaborating and strengthening this fundamental institution in recent years was also mentioned and welcomed.

Omamo also held an inter-ministerial debate on the theme of conflict management and prevention, attended by 60 delegations. At the centre of this debate was the search for a way to overcome the old models of conflict resolution, with particular reference to those in the Middle East, above all in Palestine. This was followed by a discussion on the presence of women in the context of international politics. According to the minister, the role of women in conflict resolution is largely underestimated but in fact extremely present and states should invest more in it.

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