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Charting Kenya's Diplomatic Course: Insights from the Prime Cabinet Secretary Hon. Musalia Mudavadi

At the closing of the Kenyan Diplomatic Representatives Training -OPCS in Nairobi, Hon. Musalia Mudavadi, the Prime Cabinet Secretary and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign & Diaspora Affairs of the Republic of Kenya, shared invaluable insights and guidance with diplomats and government officials. The conversation centred on Kenya's foreign policy and the strategic imperatives essential for navigating the dynamic landscape of international relations. Emphasizing the need for alignment with global dynamics and the domestication of foreign policy, the discussion underscored fundamental principles crucial for Kenya's diplomatic engagements worldwide.

Central to the discourse was a profound reflection on Kenya's foreign policy imperatives. Hon. Musalia Mudavadi's sagacious counsel underscored the essence of adaptability and inclusivity as fundamental pillars of diplomatic efficacy. This emphasis on their adaptability and inclusivity empowers the diplomats, making them feel capable of navigating the ever-evolving international arena.

Engaging with the Kenyan Parliament

Significant emphasis was placed on the need for diplomats to engage more actively with the Kenyan Parliament. This engagement aims to ensure that foreign policy is better understood and integrated domestically. The Kenyan Parliament plays a crucial role in shaping and approving foreign policy decisions, and their understanding and support are vital for effective implementation. Educating and involving the parliament in foreign policy discussions makes the policy a national discourse rather than being perceived as solely executive-driven.

"We need to have a greater buy-in by the Kenyan parliament and legislators on our foreign policy. So that it ceases to be a foreign policy of the executive, it should become a key policy that can fast start at that parliamentary level so they can get to know what you do”.

Embracing Digital and Virtual Diplomacy

In the digital transformation era, diplomats were encouraged to continue leveraging digital diplomacy, which refers to the use of digital tools and platforms for diplomatic communication and engagement. Given the global shift towards digital communication, the use of virtual platforms for training and conducting diplomatic missions is crucial. This approach aligns with current trends and ensures efficiency and broader reach in diplomatic engagements. Hon. Mudavadi highlighted:

"Digital diplomacy, which is now the in thing. And because of that and many other critical issues, we want to continue to engage you wherever you are for the good of your SCE."

Economic and Diaspora Engagement

The conversation highlighted the importance of effectively navigating economic policies and engaging the Kenyan diaspora. Diplomats leverage the diaspora for national development through remittances and other financial engagements. Additionally, ensuring that the diaspora respects local laws and contributes positively to Kenya's image abroad is paramount. Hon. Mudavadi emphasized:

"We must also ensure that the diaspora does not inflict damage on themselves, sometimes self-inflicted damage. So we also have to campaign to get Kenyans to respect the rule of law in the nation, and this nation is perfect."

Crisis Management and Law Adherence

The diplomats were reminded of the importance of adhering to the rule of law and managing crises effectively. Competence and care in handling emergencies and legal issues involving Kenyans abroad are essential for resolving situations without exacerbating them.

Promoting Kenya's Democratic Credentials

Kenya's strong democratic history was underscored as a foundation for promoting the country's image as a stable and democratic nation. The diplomats were encouraged to highlight Kenya's consistent electoral processes and its role in regional stability. Hon. Mudavadi stated:

"The fact that Kenya has always had elections since independence should never be taken for granted because then you have solid democratic credentials of the nation."

Domesticating Foreign Policy

The need to domesticate foreign policy was a recurring theme. This involves making foreign policy more inclusive and understood by the general public and legislators. The aim is to demystify foreign policy, make it part of the national discourse, and ensure greater buy-in from the Kenyan parliament and the public.

Navigating Global Dynamics

The discussion also discussed the importance of navigating the changing global dynamics, including the rise of new economic blocs and geopolitical realities. Adapting Kenya's foreign policy to these changes is crucial for maintaining relevance and influence on the global stage. Hon. Mudavadi emphasized:

"History is critical. Very critical. But we must also tell Kenyans that we can only sometimes say that our foreign policy is anchored around a paper section. Number what? 10 of 1965. We have to start looking at Vision 2063. What are the dynamics now? When formulating our policies in the past, did we have the G20 as currently constituted? Did we have BRICS? Did we have G7? Did we have the Asian Tigers? What about the emerging Gulf states beginning to influence global events on a sombre note?

Main Message on Kenya's Foreign Policy

Integration of Foreign Policy with National Development

The meeting underscored the need for Kenya's foreign policy to align closely with its national development goals. This includes ensuring that foreign policy decisions directly contribute to national security, economic growth, and the country's overall development.

Dynamic and Responsive Foreign Policy

There was a call for a dynamic approach to foreign policy that adapts to changing global circumstances. This includes recognizing new geopolitical realities like the rise of new economic blocs and adjusting Kenya's foreign policy accordingly.

Inclusive and Educative Approach

The meeting highlighted the importance of making foreign policy more inclusive and understood by the general public and legislators. This involves demystifying foreign policy and making it a part of national discourse rather than a domain reserved for the executive branch alone.

Leadership in Regional and Global Affairs

Kenya is encouraged to take up more leadership roles in regional and international organizations, reflecting its growing stature and influence in global affairs. This includes aspiring for leadership positions in bodies like the African Union to enhance its impact and contribute to continental governance.

Advice to Diplomats on Nurturing Kenya's Foreign Policy Abroad

Hon. Mudavadi provided specific guidance to the diplomats on how to nurture Kenya's foreign policy abroad and what their work should entail:

  • Promote Kenya's Democratic Credentials: The diplomats were advised to leverage Kenya's strong democratic history and consistent electoral processes to promote the country's image as a stable and democratic nation on the global stage.

  • Engage the Kenyan Diaspora: The diplomats were entrusted with a crucial role in effectively engaging the Kenyan diaspora. Their efforts in leveraging the diaspora's economic contributions through remittances, and ensuring they respect local laws and contribute positively to Kenya's image abroad, are paramount. This underscores the diplomats' value and integral role in promoting Kenya's image on the global stage.

  • Advance Economic Interests: The diplomats were encouraged to promote business and economic interactions, navigate economic policies, and identify opportunities for Kenya to engage with their host countries through existing agreements or new avenues.

  • Crisis Management and Legal Adherence: The diplomats were reminded of their significant role and responsibility in adhering to the rule of law and managing crises effectively. Their competence and care in handling emergencies and legal issues involving Kenyans abroad are essential for resolving situations without exacerbating them. This reiteration of their responsibility instils a sense of trust and responsibility in the diplomats.

  • Uphold Kenya's Reputation: The diplomats were reminded to conduct themselves with utmost professionalism and integrity, as their actions and words could be perceived as signals of Kenya's policy positions. They were advised to maintain a high standard of conduct to uphold Kenya's reputation on the global stage.

  • Support Kenya's Bid for AU Leadership: The diplomats were encouraged to support Kenya's bid for leadership positions in regional and international organizations, such as the African Union chairmanship, through their diplomatic engagements and lobbying.

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Good job

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