Sunday, 10 April 2011

Institutional actors in Kenya's foreign policy..


Dear Friends.

          Its time to lay matters bare in regards to the key actors in Kenya's foreign policy formulation and implementation,there has to be an unusual way of looking at issues, don't you think?
And in the same spirit I ask. Who are the institutional actors in kenya's foreign policy ?
 Foreign policy of a country refers to the course of action designed by a state to achieve its objective in the international arena. It is a sum total of country’s intention towards other states and non-state actors in the international system.
Actors in foreign policy are institutions, individuals or groups that influence behavior in the states’ relations. On the other hand, institutional actors are structures or mechanisms of social order and co-operation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community.
The institutional actors in Kenya’s foreign policy include the head of state – presidency, parliament ,ministry of foreign affairs ,judiciary and other ministries like the Ministry of finance,defense,trade and commerce that are also presumed to be empowered to speak and act on issues of foreign  relations that concern specific tasks of their ministries.
In the formulation and conduct of foreign policy, the head of state is the top diplomat because he/she represents the state in the international conferences and summits. The head of state a credits diplomatic envoys, sign credentials given to the head of diplomatic missions, authorize a delegate to sign a treaty on his/her behalf. In many states, the formulation and implementation of foreign policy begins and ends with the head of state. The head of state appoints ambassadors who represent him/her in other states and all these envoys report directly to the head of state making him/her a central figure in the foreign policy formulation, conduct and implementation.
            Parliament plays a major role in the foreign policy. Some of the key functions of parliament, with regard to foreign policy, involve proposing, deliberating and deciding about public policy. Foreign policy is an externalized public policy. The effectiveness of the public policy, the only thing that differentiates them is the territory.
This means that the parliament formulate policies and establish committees/ structures. This include: foreign relations committee that oversee the implementation of foreign policy.
            A part from the members of executive arm of the government, the judiciary and legislature also play a part in the foreign policy in one way or another. The foreign policy decisions such as ratification of important treaties are sanctioned by the parliament, which is the representative of the people. In this way, legislators can be seen as actors in the sense that they determine whether or not a given foreign policy is to be pursued.
        Judiciary interprets inter- state agreements as well as legislations dealing  with foreign relations. This helps the policy makers to understand the implications of a course of action about to be fallen, hence leading to the making of informed decisions. A legal decision by the judiciary is binding and the judiciary acts as advisory body for both the executive and the parliament in the foreign policy decision making process.
            The minister for foreign affairs acts as a spokesperson of the state on matters pertaining to external relations in this case; he/she handles foreign relations making him/her an important actor in foreign policy. His/her ministry is mandated with the responsibility of dealing with matters related to the actions of states and non-state actors in the international system. The ministry co-ordinates the work of ambassadors and heads of missions, it obtains also information which is used in foreign policy decision making. It is the foreign ministry that is in charged of diplomatic mission in foreign countries and this makes it an important actor in Kenya’s foreign policy.
            Other government departments also play a great role in foreign policy. These include the ministry of finance, commerce and trade, and the ministry of defense. The ministry of finance is concerned with issues such as foreign aid and exchange rates. The ministry of commerce deals with issues such as imports and exports and exports and matters to do with international trade. The ministry of defense acts in matters pertaining to safeguarding the country from external aggression.
            In summary, Kenya’s foreign policy is a product of the co-ordination works of many actors which include heads of state, parliament,foreign affairs ministry, judiciary and other government port-folio which directly or indirectly affects foreign policy formulation, conduct and implementation.


By Ombado Obado


  1. This is wonderful.Thanks because it has been of great assistance in my research.