The UN Security Council chair for the month of October, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, has urged countries to embrace diversity and to respect and appreciate people from all backgrounds, regardless of their identity. He said that many differences in the world today emanate from grievances that are not well-managed.
President Kenyatta chaired the Council’s high-level session on ‘Peacebuilding and sustaining Peace: Diversity, state building and the search for Peace’, on 12 October at the UN headquarters in New York.
“Many nations today seem unable to embrace diversity. We have created a global system that escalates differences between nations and also within nations. A system that believes that there is a race, society or gender that is weak, or better, or religions that are closer to God than others.
Consequently, many of the conflict situations brought to the UN Security Council are directly or indirectly as a result of poorly managed identity-defying grievances,” said President Kenyatta, while urging countries to avoid this dangerous trend.
Kenya currently holds the monthly rotational presidency of the Council for the month of October 2021, having assumed the position as a non-permanent member on 1st January. There are 3 African non-permanent member countries at the Council currently – Kenya, Niger and Tunisia
The Council, whose primary responsibility is to maintain international peace and security, has 15 Members. This includes 5 permanent members: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and 10 non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the UN General Assembly.
Many speakers at the Council session acknowledged the necessity of managing diversity, especially in conflict situations. They also called for political cohesion that strengthens public confidence in institutions and provides people with the sense that the State fully embraces diversity.
Peace at national level
While addressing the media after the Council session, President Kenyatta urged countries to place constitutional and legislative safety nets on political competition to guard against the exploitation of identities and enmity between people, regions or nations.
He called for education systems that encourage critical thinking and strong awareness of the importance of contributing to peace and unity.
At the multilateral level, the Kenyan president called upon the UN and its peace initiatives to embed the appreciation of diversity and cohesion as a core deliverable in capacity building to strengthen states.
He emphasized the need for a collaborative approach between member states and the UN system, mainstream media and tech companies that own social media platforms to counter hate speech and incitement.
Asked by journalists what was Kenya’s position on the situation in Tigray region of Ethiopia?
President Kenyatta said Kenya’s position was that of the African Union: calling for an immediate ceasefire, national dialogue and for all parties to engage and find a political solution to end the suffering of Ethiopian people, but most important at this point, to ensure humanitarian access.
“We need to urgently have all parties come to the table to ensure all humanitarian corridors are open and that the people, who are the greatest sufferers, receive much needed aid and humanitarian assistance,” he said.
Earlier in the Council, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “without including a wider scope of the different voices in every step of peace building, any peace will be only for a short while.”
Mr. Guterres, while contributing to the open debate on ‘Peacebuilding and sustaining Peace: Diversity, state building and the search for Peace’ hosted by Kenya said, “peace is not found on paper. It’s found in the people. Especially the diversity of people from different backgrounds who come together to plan common issues for the sake of the country.”
Moreover, the UN Secretary-General said, “although equality lacks in all countries, the situation is greater in countries in which the social services like health, education, security and rights are absent.”
He added that the COVID-19 pandemic has promoted inequality and has been a setback in the development and benefits of peace.
On his part, the Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame said peacebuilding “is not just a purely technical enterprise, it is deeply political and human, and must take account of the emotions and memories that various parties bring to the negotiating table.”
For more information on COVID-19, visit www.un.org/coronavirus