Kenya’s international policy has avoided extreme positions either to the right or left, East or West,North or South. Emphasis has been on pragmatism, non-alignment, peaceful co existence and cooperation with other nations, regardless of their political and economic inclinations, and the avoidance of military or open confrontation.
The conduct of foreign policy in Kenya is the prerogative of the head of State, the President.
Kenya and Regional Integration
International and regional cooperation form a major component of foreign policy. Kenya participates in regional initiatives – she is a member of East African Comniunity, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa COMESA, ACP-EU, Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, among others.This is out of the realisation that the development of Kenya is tied to her neighbours in the region.
Foreign policy evolves according to emerging frontiers. The emergence of China and India as economic giants has presented new opportunities. Dealing with economic powerhouses such as China, India, South Korea and Malaysia is set to be one of the new issues in Kenya’s foreign policy.
The forces of globalisation have altered the environment and conduct of international relations. Globalisation has cut unit costs and expanded markets. New anchors for Kenya’s external relations will have to be identified to deal with the security threats generated by transnational criminal activities like money laundering, human and drug trafficking and international terrorism.
Terrorism is another key issues.Terrorists have attacked Kenya at least twice — August 7, l998 and November 28, 2002. As international terrorism evolves into one of the biggest threats to global security,foreign policy has to devise new approaches for harnessing global cooperation to deal with it.
The collapse ofthe racist regimes in southern Africa towards the end ofthe 20th Century, particularly the demise of apartheid South Africa, signaled the end of the anti—colonial struggle as a major agenda for African countries. As a result, the African Union (AU) was formed in 2002 to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), whose main agenda had been the struggle against colonialism in Africa.
Other initiatives following the transition include the creation of new continental peace and security mechanisms and the formation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) aimed at stabilising Africa’s socio-economic development.
Kenya’s foreign policy will have to adjust to the emergence of regional economic blocs as critical tools for economic development and political integration. While playing a leading role in the revival of the East African Community (EAC), which initially collapsed in 1977, Kenya was also a key player in the formation of two other regional groups – IGAD and COMESA in the 1980s.Through such regional initiatives, Kenya has found critical entry points for environmental, peace and economic diplomacy, which have helped shape its foreign policy.
UN agencies in Kenya
Alongside regional obligations, Kenya is the only country outside Europe and North America that hosts the headquarters of UN agencies. As home to HABITAT and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Kenya is a vibrant member of the comnmnity of nations. Accordingly, foreign policy and international relations are tailored to fit local realities and expectations.