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Foreign Policy

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Submitted By petrovich
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Growth and development of foreign policy



There have been vast changes and developments in the foreign policy agenda that have seen Kenya as a country, transition through many regimes that had their individual differences since independence. Since the attainment of independence, Kenya has had fairly smooth international and regional relations that have been ensured by the various statutes and values put in place to make sure that Kenya grows in all dimensions, economically, socially, politically plus other aspects that are cupped under the bigger ones mentioned above. In the current global space we are in today that is so competitive and complex, strategies have to be put up that promote the many interests of Kenya. It should be noted that since independence Kenya has had four sitting presidents including the current one, this has a close relationship of the way the foreign policy agenda has revolutionized.
It will be noted that since independence Kenya had quiet diplomacy that can be considered to have been of a low profile approach in terms of foreign affairs especially international ones. In this immediate post-independence period there was active involvement in regional peace diplomacy. The architectures of these polices then had the central idea that the future of the country strongly stood on the belief that regional stability and security in our environment is the basis for national prosperity and survival. Therefore, there was need to realign the international relations with global powers relations since then and also now there was as is still emergence of multi polar world order and economies that greatly influence global affairs.
Kenya being a central and integral entity in the African continent, it is intrinsically important that its national interests are fundamentally interlinked with the continents stability, unity and prosperity. On this note, the foreign policy makers have placed great emphasis on collaboration cooperation and setting up links. All this have ensured beneficial bilateral and multilateral ties and relation with the rest of the world. These mutual relations that run from west to east are set in order to secure the social and economic priorities of the country.
Initially at the onset of independence, there was an attempt to unite the three east African countries, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda lead to the formation of East African Common Services Organization (EACSO). The organization aimed at creating a common currency, a common market for goods and a common court for the three countries that would be controlled by a centralized administration to provide transportation, communication, tax collection, social services, university education and scientific research. However, these plans were not realized due to individual divergence in economy and nationalism, this was in 1965. Then again in the wake of 1967 a new organization was formed this was the East African Community (EAC). This was under the treaty for East African Cooperation. The EAC was marred by multiple challenges some of which were Tanzania’s shift to socialism and then Uganda was under the dictatorial rule of Idi Amin. This led to the dissolution of the community in 1983. Later in 1993 another cooperation was formed by the then three respective presidents East African Cooperation (EAC). All of these formations have been the products of policies that have been structured under certain guidelines. These guidelines are the objectives and principles of the foreign policy. The Kenya’s foreign policy objectives are: 1. Protect Kenya’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; 2. Enhance partnership with the Kenya Diaspora and descendants; 3. Advance the economic prosperity of Kenya and her people; 4. Promote and protect the interests of Kenyans abroad; 5. Enhance regional and global peace and security; 6. Project Kenya’s image and prestige; 7. Promote international cooperation and multilateralism; and 8. Promote sub-regional and regional integration and co-operation.
Under these objectives there have been pillars that have anchored the formulation of the Kenyan foreign policy on the wake of global emerging issues like international terrorism that has become a global security threat and climate change (global warming). These factors have specifically lead to the changes and more integration of international relations and also the elevation of the environmental agenda as one of the pillars of foreign policy.
Another major factor that led to a major policy transition is the expansion of the space for regional and continental diplomacy. It was in 2002 under the reawakening of the African union that saw the creation of structures like the AU peace and Security that have helped to stabilize regional conflicts and Kenya has played a leading role in providing troops and aid especially in the upper north of Africa, Somalia and Sudan. Through this, the relations of Kenya and other African countries have been peacefully diplomatic hence the peace diplomacy pillar of the Kenya foreign policy. Similarly on this peace pillar Kenya became a member of numerous regional institutions like the East African Community (EAC), Inter Government Authority on Development (IGAD), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the African Union whose aim is to ensure peace in Africa.
After independence there arose domestic and regional differences that almost tore the country apart as there were ideologists who had the view that Kenya should moderately forge through a cost benefit dimension and others who reasoned that liberation and idealism was a better way. Initially the international system was bi-polar and there were questions on which side Kenya would lean on in this system. The moderates viewed that leaning in the west presented a better chance while the more radical side had a different opinion so they preferred both the east and the west. Notably, this two opposing sides were in government, so there was looming crisis between 1963 and 1967. Hence, parliament passed a document in 1965, Sessional paper No.10. Titled African Socialism and its Application to Kenya passed by the legistrature. This document to date put Kenya on the capitalist side therefore aligning to the west. This document was on a greater scale championed by the moderate camp headed by the then president Kenyatta and Mboya. This gravely angered the radicals, the likes of Odinga and Oneko. At this period also there were was a lot of political heat in east Africa at large, Tanzania had united with Zanzibar, there was a coup in Uganda, crisis in Congo that Kenyatta had tried to help solve but failed and still Kenya had its own problems to take care of like the shifta war and the mutiny of some soldiers made Kenyatta rise to the occasion. At this time Britain was the only foreign ally affiliated with Kenya and Kenyatta badly needed her support and on the same instance Britain wanted her interests protected in Kenya. Just to briefly mention, there was another problem that led to the initial development of the foreign policy in Kenya in both regional and international relations. The ‘shifta’ war in the north eastern district of Kenya had insurgents from Somalia had a plan to foment discord in countries that had a vast Somali population like Ethiopia and Kenya. Notably, Somalia had attained independence three years earlier. So, in combating a common enemy Kenya and Ethiopia had a pact that hold up to today to share troops, since the Kenya military was weak and Britain also came in handy in training soldiers and also in helping out in the war. Another factor that forcefully made this countries unite and seek western powers reinforcement was that the USSR was supporting Somalia. Therefore, today Kenya holds that territorial integrity is core to its foreign policy.
The rivalry that ensued between Kenyatta and Odinga also had a great impact on the direction that Kenya foreign policy took since it had a lot to do with major ideologies that were meant to shape the then amorphous structure of the country. Odinga and his allies-the radical lot, who were pro-communism were viewed by Kenyatta as potential threats to his presidency. The radicals had the view that after independence, the entities that would be left behind by the whites would unanimously be handed over to the Africans, the land, the factories, the shops, buildings virtually everything. They thought that idealism would run the country, a system that Kenyatta was opposed to. So Kenyatta had to seek closer ties with the west that any other side since at least he and them had mutual interests.
Kenya’s relation with the West since 2002 has been jolty as the new Kibaki administration that took power was keen on expanding international partners. In the earlier past the Kenyan administration had majorly ventured in the West and the cooperation was quite smooth. However in 2002, Kenya sought out China which has a policy of not conflating human rights with other foreign policy. This saw china to be a productive associate and since the Kibaki assumption to power we saw great infrastructure development that was in partnership with the Chinese government. The jettisoning of the western relations that in a way interfered with internal running of the government was now stopped. This interference was one of the reasons that led to the birth of change in resolution of Kenya’s foreign policy in the structure of international system. A major factor that facilitated Kenya’s fallout from the America’s human rights crusade is that, that crusade bore the meddling of internal affairs of other states by the US in a bid to democratize the world thus china having a relativist stand on human rights was a safe haven for Kenya and since then the over reliance of Kenya on the US for aid considerably ceased. With that happening, the foreign policy shifted from the west to the east. This slow by slow shift of to the east may be viewed as the early competition between the US and the Communists just that this time it is the Chinese who are posing this threat. Moreover since the millennia the foreign policy has considerably majored on international economics.
Another pillar that has greatly influenced the change and development of Kenya’s foreign policy is the diaspora diplomacy. In the yester years very little or zero action was being taken to incorporate the people living in the diaspora in the national development agenda. It has majorly been geared on the development agenda. It seeks to harness the potential of people living abroad to tap to their skills and resources for national developments. A pillar that has been greatly championed by the immediate government.
What then can we say of the Kenyan foreign policy, is it norm driven or is it based on the practical approach of theories that have been tried before? Initially Kenya was virtually not inclined to any superpower at the heat of the cold war but later a short period after that, there were delegations to the United Soviets Socialist Union to facilitate aid agreement and foster trade while at the same time British projects were going on in Kenya. This double dealing can be traced up to today where Kenya has partnerships with both the west and the east. It may be noted therefore, that the Kenyan foreign policy was geared at ensuring that the interests of the country were laid and where there was economic and political gain regardless of what the norms stipulated. The Kenya’s foreign policy is also greatly informed by Kenya vision 2030, ideologies of the ruling parties, sessional papers and circulars. It should be noted that since independence regimes have also been a driving factor of the foreign policy but the immediate post-colonial era was a major determinant. Foreign policy direction has played a vital role in shaping the economy and political field of Kenya. This international cooperation has also boosted the way other foreign investors engage Kenya in world business for example in the recent past the World Trade Organization summit was held in Nairobi- Kenya, this is an indication that the foreign policy in universally congruent to the international system.

Howell J (1968). The journal of modern African Studies. Cambridge University Press

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