Kenya – Africa: Kenya officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in the eastern cost of Africa, and lies on the equator. With the Indian Ocean to its south-east, it is bordered by Tanzania to the south, Uganda to the west, South Sudan to the north-west, Ethiopia to the north and Somalia to the north-east.
Kenya has a land area of about 586,600km sq. Inland water bodies cover some 10,700km sq, the bulk of this in Lakes Victoria and Turkana. Kenya’s population of nearly 41 million, representing 42 different peoples and cultures.
Kenya is a member of the African Union. Kenya subscribes to the AU Charter and has been an active member since it joined in 1964. Kenya has been at the forefront of regional conflict resolution initiatives and actively participated in the transformation of OAU to the African Union.
The advent of the AU was an event of great magnitude in the institutional evolution of the continent. On September 9, 1999 (9.9.1999), the Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of African Unity issued the Sirte Declaration, calling for an African Union to accelerate integration in the continent so that it could play its rightful role in the global economy.
The main objectives ofthe OAU were to:
- Rid the continent ofcolonisation and apartheid
- Promote unity among African States
- Intensify cooperation for development
- Safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member States
- Promote international cooperation
The OAU had provided an effective forum for member States to adopt positions on common continental concerns in international fora. Through the OAU Coordinating Committee for the liberation of Africa, the continent worked as one in forging international consensus in the liberation struggle and the fight against apartheid.OAU initiatives paved way for the birth ofthe AU.
Kenya and African Union
In 1999, the Assembly convened an extraordinary session to expedite economic and political integration in the continent. The Sirte Extraordinary Session established an African Union. The Lome Summit (2000) adopted the constitutive Act of the Union, while the Lusaka Summit (2001) drew the road map for the implementation of the AU. The Durban Summit (2002) launched the AU and convened the first assembly of the Heads of States of the African Union.
The AU is based on the common vision of a united and strong Africa and the need to build a partnership between governments and civil society, in particular women, youth and the private sector. As a continental organisation, it focuses on the promotion of peace, security and stability as a prerequisite for development and integration.
The objectives of the AU are to:
- Achieve greater unity and solidarity between African countries and the peoples
- Defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of member States
- Accelerate political and socio economic integration
- Promote African common positions on issues of interest
- Encourage international cooperation
- Promote peace, security and stability, democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance
- Promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights
- Promote development at the economic, social and cultural levels as well as the integration of African economies
- Coordinate policies among regional economic communities for the attainment of AU objectives
- Promote research, especially science and technology
- Work with international partners in eradicating preventable diseases and promoting good health
It is the supreme organ ofthe Union and comprises Heads of State and Government or their representatives.
Composed of ministers or designated authorities of members States.
Composed of the chairperson, deputy chairperson, eight commissioners and staff members. Each commissioner is responsible for a portfolio.
Permanent Representatives’ Committee
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Composed of Permanent Representatives of member States accredited to the Union. lt prepares the work of the Executive Council.
It was established in 2004 as one ofthe nine organs provided for in the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community signed in Abuja, Nigeria, in 1991. The Parliament is meant to provide a common platform for African peoples and for grassroots organisations to be involved in decision making on the problems and challenges facing the continent. It sits in Midrand, South Africa. The ultimale aim of the Parliament is to evolve into an institution with full legislative powers, and members elected by universal adult suffrage.
The Economic, Social and Cultural Council is an advisory body of the AU designed to give civil society organisations a voice in AU institutions and decision-making processes. Civil society members are from labour, business and prolessional groups, service providers and think-tanks in Africa and the Diaspora.
Kenya’s Nobel Prize winner Wangari Maathai was the interim president of ECOS()CC. In 2008, she was replaced by Cameroonian lawyer Akere Muna of the Pan-African Lawyers Union.
The C0urt of justice
It is the principal judicial organ of the AU with authority to rule on disputes over interpretation of treaties. A protocol setting up the Court was adopted in 2003, and came into force in 2009. Another protocol has created a Court of justice and Human Rights, which will incorporate the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights with two chambers – one for general legal matters and the other for rulings on human rights treaties. The merger protocol was adopted in 2008. The united court will be based in Arusha, Tanzania.
Specialised technical committees
They address sectoral issues and are at ministerial level:
- Committee on Rural Economy and Agricultural
- Committee on Monetary and Financial Affairs
- Committee on Trade, Customs and Immigration
- Committee on lndustry, Science and Technology, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment;
- Committee on Transport, Communications and Tourism
- Committee on Health, Labour and Social Affairs
- Committee on Education, Culture and Human Resources.
- African Central bank
- African Monetary Fund
- African Investment Bank
Kenya supports multi—lateralism through the United Nations system. Kenya prefers this approach in confronting problems at the international stage. It subscribes to UN and African Union charters and seeks to work with like minded States in the promotion of a new international political and economic order.
This is based on the conviction that the multi-dimensional problem affecting mankind must be tackled through a global undertaking.
Kenya will, therefore, undertake its responsibilities in the UN system, World Trade Organisation, IMF, World Bank and other multi-lateral institutions.