Nairobi, Kenya

08 March 2017

Press remarks by the Secretary-General following his meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House, Nairobi

Thank you very much Mr. President [Kenyatta] for your kind words.

This has been an extremely positive visit and our discussions have been extremely constructive. They have allowed us to express a common perspective to all the problems that Kenya and the international community are facing today. 

I believe that the narrative of the UN about Africa has not always been the right one. Sometimes it is too much concentrated on crisis. It’s true that there are crises in Africa, as there are crises in Europe, in Asia, there are crises everywhere, but Africa must be seen more and more as a land of achievements and opportunity.

And no country like Kenya, is the symbol of that achievement and that opportunity. Not only because of its governance capacity, but because of its vibrant civil society, its business community and its free press. Kenya is an example in all aspects that can be copied, not only on the African continent, but around the world, proving that in today’s world there are countries that are moving in order to make sure that the three pillars of the UN activities can be fully met - peace and security, sustainable inclusive development and human rights.

I want to express to the Kenyan government and the Kenyan people my full solidarity in relation to the drought that effective the country. I hope that the international community will be able to match the generosity that Kenyans have always shown, namely in relation to refugees, and support the country now that the drought has been prolonged in such away that, of course, the resources of the country are themselves in difficulty to face this enormous challenge.

At the same time, I will like to say that I deeply appreciate the excellent cooperation between the government and our UN country team. Our UN country team that is here to support the government of Kenya in relation to the objectives defined by the government in the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and for making sure an inclusive process stresses the Kenayam capacity to face the challenges of the modern times.

We are also very grateful for the generosity Kenya in the way Kenya supports our offices in Nairobi - a central pillar of the UN international presence which we intend to fully support and to fully use in its capacity to help the other entities we have across the continent, and further afield.

I also want to express my deep respect and deep gratitude for what has been the Kenyan commitment to both peacekeeping and to peace-enforcing, in the case of Somalia. Kenyan forces have a played a very important role which I would like to underline here, publicly, and to express our deep gratitude at this time.

I came from Somalia yesterday. I think that we also need to look to Somalia as a land in which there is an opportunity with a new leadership that was elected, with the improved security situation in the country, even if a lot of challenges still remain, this is the moment for the international community to massively invest in Somalia. First of all, addressing the tragedy of the drought. People are dying. This must stop. The international community must act now and mobilize to support the Somali people in this very difficult situation.&nbsp But this is also the moment to support the government to build capacity to collect taxes, to develop its own security architecture to guarantee that there is a state functioning in Somalia, and, at the same time, for the international community to be more clear in the support of AMISOM – the force of the African Union that has been an extremely important element in the fight against terrorism and in creating the conditions for the government to progressively extend its capacity in the country. AMISOM needs to have predictable funding and needs to have support in it the development of its capacity in order to fully meet its objectives in fighting terrorism and creating the conditions for a future for Somalia. I came hopeful from Somalia and I hope that the international community will be able to match that hope with enhanced engagement, enhanced commitment and enhanced support.

I also want to underline that we had full agreement in relation of the analysis of situations such as South Sudan, Burundi and DRC. I must express deep personal appreciation for what President Kenyatta has done in support to the peace process in South Sudan in creating the conditions for the agreement to be established. We are still not yet there in the full implementation of the peace agreement. We still have a lot of challenges but we will be working together to make sure that those challenges are overcome.

On the other hand, our cooperation in all other aspects is exemplary and I want to underline how positively impressed from this visit to Kenya, knowing that Kenya is a very strong supporter of multilateralism and the activities of the UN.

As you said Mr. President, this is also International Women’s Day. I have seen in my past capacity as High Commissioner for Refugees, the suffering of women in the most tragic circumstances that one can imagine. I have seen women being the great victims of poverty, of conflict, of violations of human rights in different parts of the world. The protection of women in these circumstances in absolutely essential but I believe that the only way to make that protection effective is to give full priority to the empowerment of women. To give full priority to the full presence of women in government institutions, in political systems, in the business community, on the board of companies, in peace negotiations, in all aspects of society of today’s world. We do believe with a full presence of women in our societies, development will be stronger, peace will be easier to maintain, human rights will also be better protected.

I strongly encourage the programmes that the Kenyan government has in place in order to make the empowerment of women a key strategic objective of this country and this continent.

Mr. President, thank you once again for this wonderful hospitality.