BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – During his visit to the Caribbean, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta urged the seven-member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) to support his country’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for the period 2021-22.
“Kenya’s candidature is informed by the critical role the UN Security Council plays in the maintenance of international peace and security. Kenya has continued to play a leading role in peace, security and conflict management in the Horn of Africa region and other parts of the world.
“We, therefore, seek and look forward to the support of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States for our bid,” Kenyatta said on Friday during talks with OECS leaders.
The meeting was also attended by the host Prime Minister Mia Mottley and the Secretary-general of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Irwin Larocque.
Kenyatta had earlier visited Jamaica and held bi-lateral talks with Mottley during his three-day visit here.
He told the regional leaders that when the decision was made for his first Caribbean visit, his “desire was clear: to engage with each Caribbean country.
“When this became logistically impossible to achieve, I opted for the second-best option, to try and have a space for the exchange of views on our common destiny and shared future. This desire is driven by the force of history, the reality of today and imperative of the future,” he said, adding that the visit, the first by a resident of Kenya to the West Indies offered him a unique opportunity for meeting and discussing with regional leaders.
He said earlier this week he had the honour of attending, as a special guest of the Jamaica government, the island’s 57th anniversary of political independence from Britain and together with Prime Minister Holness launched the decade of people of African descent.
“Each of these events has strengthened my belief for the need to strengthen the links between CARICOM in general and Africa in general and Kenya, in particular,” he said, adding that it also presented an opportunity “to rekindle our historic heritage of the global African community that subscribed to the Pan-African ethos.
“These values are not new. Our forefathers were bound by them as they worked for the African cause. The entire of free Africa today, particularly the Sun-Saharan Africa, is forged on this anvil of African solidarity and Pan Africanist.
“We in Africa consider our Brothers and sisters in the Caribbean as our diaspora or the 6th region of Africa. Within the African Union, the African Diaspora, consists of peoples of African origin living outside the continent; irrespective of their citizenship and nationality; and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union.”
Kenyatta described his meetings with Holness and Mottley as “very constructive engagements” focused on enhancing cooperation in diverse areas between the two regions, serving also as a catalyst for rebuilding the global African family, in the service of the development and integration.
“This is an imperative especially in the current and foreseeable world – characterized by narrow nationalisms, growing trade war between the East and the West, the European crisis and the evident marginalization of the development agenda – and with it the African agenda. If we are to shape the evolving global trends we must take charge of the course of history. It seems to me that the moment for that is with us”.
Kenyatta said he was inviting the Caribbean countries to establish diplomatic missions in Kenya and in United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN-Habitat to facilitate and deepen frequent consultations, as well as follow up on environmental and human settlement matters.
“Your individual Countries diplomatic presence in Nairobi, the global headquarters of United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and UN-Habitat, will enable you to participate directly in addressing environmental challenges that call for collective international action, informed by scientific research and technical innovation.
“This process of regular consultative dialogue and active engagement focused on matters of mutual interest in the international arena, will result in symbiotic benefits on matters peace, security, and development.”
He said on the economic front, there are enormous opportunities between the countries of both regions to expand trade relations, noting that Intra- African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) trade stands at less than 20 percent.
“This situation needs to be changed if the promise of our solidarity is to be meaningful to our people. We need to create the right environment to encourage each region’s private sector to invest and trade at all levels – large, medium and small size enterprises. As government, we can support these through enabling connectivity and movement of people, goods, and services. “
He said through Kenya any business from CARICOM into the African market, and gain access to an African population of 1.2 billion.
“We also have large diasporas across the world that can be leveraged. So far, diaspora remittances outweigh most of the financial aid for many countries. The diaspora resource can become entry points to the countries of their settlement. “
Kenyatta said that an immediate matter that is of concern to both Africa and the Caribbean is the Post-Cotonou negotiations within Europe. The existing agreement is due to expire next year.
“We should focus on South-South cooperation and the strengthening of the ACP relationship. Kenya and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States play key roles in the Post-Cotonou negotiations. Let us work, invest, develop and deal with global challenges together as a group. We must strive to speak in one voice. This partnership, if implemented well, will be a force to reckon in the years to come.”
He said he was also encouraged by the position adopted by the OECS in crafting of the framework of the negotiations for the successor agreement between ACP member states and the European Union.
“ We must speak with one voice on issues that concern us. In this regard, I urge that we consult closely and pay close attention to the substance of the ongoing post Cotonou negotiations.
“The next session of the Summit is scheduled to take place in December this year in Nairobi. I hope to these you all in Nairobi and I very much look forward to fruitful deliberations as we push the ACP agenda forward,” Kenyatta said, noting that “despite the ACP-EU relations having some positive impact in our regions, we have not yet harnessed its full potential”.
He said in order to address this gap, he is proposing that trade, investment, tourism and culture cooperation between Caribbean Community and East African Community be crafted through a regional free trade agreement under appropriate World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
“Through this route, our respective countries stand to gain from the benefits of trade and most preferably through a duty-free, quota-free trading mechanism. The most fundamental question we need to ask is, must African, Caribbean and Pacific countries relate through Europe?
“I believe that the current discussions to have direct links between Africa Union and Caribbean Community and by extension Organization of Eastern Community States are important and highly welcome, this should also be extended to the Pacific region. There is need for us to engage and share ideas on a regular basis as ACP countries.”
In seeking support from the region for a position on the UN Security Council, Kenyatta said that it has been 25 years since the “Security Council reforms” item was first placed on the UN General Assembly agenda.
“All of us are in agreement that the reforms are necessary in order to ensure that the body is representative, responsive, efficient and above all effective. However, long-standing differences on the nature of reforms have held back substantive progress.
“Kenya and Africa as a whole, are committed to the UN Reforms and in particular the need to correct without further delay, the historical injustice that some regions continue to endure. We believe our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean and Pacific will continue to be part of the journey that speaks cohesively with one voice in unity of purpose on all aspects of the reform process,” he said, adding “this is crucial if we must have equity and justice in the world we are living in”.