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Kenya Granted Permanent Observer Status in the Organisation of American States
Kenya Granted Permanent Observer Status in the Organisation of American States
| June 8, 2024

US President Joe Biden speaks as Kenyan President William Ruto applauds during a White House state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 23, 2024. Photo: Handout

Kenya is poised to attain permanent observer status in the Organisation of American States (OAS), a regional alliance comprising 34 member nations across the Western hemisphere.

This decision, sanctioned by the OAS Permanent Council, grants Nairobi the opportunity to partake in crucial deliberations and forums within the organization.

While lacking voting privileges, Kenya will have a platform to engage in dialogues and contribute to shaping the regional agenda.

The OAS serves as a forum for addressing political issues, fostering democratic governance, safeguarding human rights, ensuring security, and promoting sustainable development among member countries.

Kenya’s inclusion marks the 76th entity to hold permanent observer status within the OAS. Although not the first African nation to join, Kenya joins a roster that includes Angola, Algeria, Benin, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Togo, and Tunisia.

These African nations have benefited from their involvement, gaining insights into various concerns and recommendations put forth by other member states.

Interestingly, Kenya’s newfound status coincides with preparations to dispatch its police force to Haiti as part of the Multinational Security Support Mission (MSS), endorsed by the United Nations and backed by the United States and Canada.

The deployment, slated for later this month, aims to support law enforcement and restore peace in Haiti.

However, the mission faces opposition from certain Haitian civil society groups, who perceive it as continued interference from the United States.

Kenya’s accession to the OAS as a permanent observer presents an opportunity for the country to address these concerns directly.

It empowers Kenyan diplomats to engage with fellow member states, comprehend varying perspectives on their involvement in Haiti, and contribute to discussions regarding the mission.

Meanwhile, a Kenyan lawyer has filed a lawsuit to halt the deployment, with a court hearing scheduled for June 12th.

The outcome of this hearing may influence Kenya’s participation in the MSS.

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