Foreign relations of Kenya

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Kenya maintains relations with various countries around the world. Its closest ties are with its fellow Swahili-speaking neighbours in the African Great Lakes region. Relations with Uganda and Tanzania are generally strong, as the three nations work toward economic and social integration through common membership in the East African Community.

Kenya's relations with other states vary. The government of Ethiopia established political links in the colonial period with Kenya's then British administration, and today it is one of several national bodies with a diplomatic presence in Nairobi. Relations with Somalia have historically been tense, although there has been some military co-ordination against insurgents.

Elsewhere, the Kenyan government has political ties with China, India, Russia and Brazil. It also maintains relations with Western countries, particularly the United Kingdom, although political and economic instabilities are often blamed on Western activities (e.g. colonialism, paternalistic engagement and post-colonial resource exploitation).


Country Formal relations established Notes

Relations between Kenya and Ethiopia date back to 1954, when the Ethiopian authorities under Haile Selassie I established an Honorary Consulate General in the British Kenya Colony. In 1961, prior to Kenya's independence, Ethiopia appointed its first Ambassador to Kenya and six years later Kenya opened an Embassy in Addis Ababa.[1]

The border between the two countries is based on a treaty signed by Ethiopia and Kenya on 9 June 1970, which determines the present-day boundary, abrogating all previous boundary treaties. This border has been subjected to demarcation.[2]


Relations between Kenya and Somalia have historically been tense. Agitations over self-determination in the Somali-inhabited Northern Frontier District culminated in the Shifta War during the 1960s.[3] Although the conflict ended in a cease-fire, Somalis in the region still identify and maintain close ties with their kin in Somalia.[4]

In October 2011, a coordinated operation between the Somali military and the Kenyan military began against the Al-Shabaab group of insurgents in southern Somalia.[5][6] The mission was officially led by the Somali army, with the Kenyan forces providing a support role.[6] In early June 2012, Kenyan troops were formally integrated into AMISOM.[7]


From 1961 to 1965 the two states, along with Tanzania, were united in the East African Common Services Organization, a common market with a loose federal structure.[8]


Country Formal relations established Notes
  • Canada has a high commission in Nairobi.[9]
  • Kenya has a high commission in Ottawa.[10]
 Mexico15 March 1977
  • Kenya is represented in Mexico from its embassy in Washington, DC.[11]
  • Mexico has an embassy in Nairobi.[12]
 United States12 December 1963

After Kenya's independence on 12 December 1963, the United States immediately recognized the new nation and moved to establish diplomatic relations. The embassy in Nairobi was opened on 12 December 1963.


Country Formal relations established Notes

Chinese-Kenyan relations date back to 14 December 1963, two days after the formal establishment of Kenyan independence, when China became the fourth country to open an embassy in Nairobi.[14] Military exchange between the two countries has been increasing in the past decade. General Liu Jingsong, commander of the Lanzhou Military Region, led China's first military delegation to Kenya in December 1996; Major General Nick Leshan, commander of the Kenyan air force, paid a return visit in 1997.[15] Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki visited Beijing in August 2005.[16]

  • India has a High Commission in Nairobi.
  • Kenya has a High Commission in New Delhi.
  • Iran has an embassy in Nairobi.
  • Kenya has an embassy in Tehran.

Relations between Pakistan and Kenya were established in the 60's, when Pakistan expressed its support for Kenya in getting independence from British rule. Ever since, relations between the two nations have been warm; with both countries having had discussed previously in the Pakistan-Kenya Joint Ministerial Commission session which was hosted in Nairobi in 2004, about boosting bilateral trade and economic relations.[19] But since South Sudan gained independence in 2011 Islamabad changed her stance and supported Kenya instead and rejected Juba's claims.


The Philippines and Kenya have forged a historic agreement to strengthen ties between both countries. Under a Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation(JCBC)[20]

 Saudi Arabia
  • Kenya has an embassy in Riyadh.[21]
  • Saudi Arabia has an embassy in Nairobi.[22]
 South Korea7 February 1964[23]

Diplomatic relations between the South Korea and Kenya were established on 7 February 1964.[24]


Country Formal relations established Notes
  • Greece has an Embassy in Nairobi and an Honorary Consulate in Mombasa.
  • Kenya is represented in Greece through its Consulate in Athens Greece and through its Embassy in Rome, Italy.

Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs about relations with Kenya
Consulate of the Republic of Kenya in Hellenic Republic

  • Russia has an Embassy in Nairobi.
  • Kenya has an embassy in Moscow.

Turkey has an embassy in Nairobi and from mid 2012 Kenya does have an embassy in Turkey but an ambassador is yet to be appointed.[25]

 United Kingdom

In 1895, Britain established the East Africa Protectorate (British East Africa), centred in present-day Kenya and the larger African Great Lakes region. Four years later, the British founded the settlement of Nairobi as a simple rail depot on the railway linking Mombasa to Uganda.[26] The town quickly grew to become the capital of British East Africa in 1905, with Lieutenant Colonel J. Hayes Sadler as the first governor and commander in chief.

In 1920, the East Africa Protectorate was transformed into a British crown colony, the Kenya Colony. In 1952, the present Queen, Elizabeth II, ascended to the throne whilst visiting Kenya on her and the Duke of Edinburgh's tour of the British Empire and Commonwealth. Two years later, Britain founded the Nairobi Securities Exchange as a voluntary association of stockbrokers in the European community registered under the Societies Act.

Kenya was granted independence in 1963, and relations with Britain have remained constant. Kenya is a part of the Commonwealth of Nations, a successor to the empire which aims to promote mutual co-operation, democracy and other cultural values and ties with each member state.

  • Kenya has a high commission in London.[27]
  • United Kingdom has a high commission in Nairobi.[28]

Kenya and the Commonwealth of Nations

Kenya has been a member state of the Commonwealth of Nations since 1963, when it was a Commonwealth realm. The nation became a Commonwealth republic in 1964.

See also


  1. "Ethiopia – Kenya relations", Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (accessed 9 October 2009)
  2. "Ethiopia – Kenya Boundary", U.S. State Department International Boundary Study, No. 152 – 15 October 1975
  3. Rhoda E. Howard, Human Rights in Commonwealth Africa, (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.: 1986), p.95
  4. Godfrey Mwakikagile, Kenya: identity of a nation, (Godfrey Mwakikagile: 2007), p.79.
  5. "Somalia government supports Kenyan forces' mission".
  6. 1 2 Joint Communique – Operation Linda Nchi
  7. "Kenya: Defense Minister appointed as acting Internal Security Minister". Garowe Online. 19 June 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
  8. East Africa Living Encyclopedia Kenya – Foreign Relations
  9. High Commission of Canada in Nairobi (in English and French)
  10. High Commission of Kenya in Ottawa
  11. 1 2 Embassy of Kenya in Washington, DC
  12. Embassy of Mexico in Nairobi (in Spanish)
  13. US embassy in Nairobi
  14. "Kenya, China Mark 40-year Diplomatic Ties". Xinhua News Agency. 11 December 2003. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  15. "Kenya: Bilateral Relations". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China. 12 October 2003. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  16. "China to promote cooperation with Kenya: Chinese premier". People's Daily. 19 August 2005. Retrieved 2007-11-07.
  17. Israeli embassy in Nairobi
  18. Kenyan embassy in Tel Aviv
  20. In the full history find out wiki page on Foreign relations of the Philippines
  21. Embassy of Kenya in Riyadh
  22. Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Nairobi (in Arabic and English)
  25. Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs about relations with Kenya
  26. Roger S. Greenway, Timothy M. Monsma, Cities: missions' new frontier, (Baker Book House: 1989), p.163.
  27. High Commission of Kenya in London
  28. High Commission of the United Kingdom in Nairobi

External links

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