Universal Periodic Review Process: Kenya Outlines Three Challenges Facing it to UN

Universal Periodic Review Process

Kenya’s biggest problem, according to its 3rd Report on the Universal Periodic Review Process (UPR), is the high unemployment rate, youth radicalization, and terrorist attacks and implementation of the two-thirds gender rule.

According to the report submitted at the 35th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Kenya’s delegation was headed by Ababu Namwamba, Chief Administrative Secretary and Deputy Minister.

Namwamba said positive steps have been taken by Kenya since the last UPR in 2015. He cited the decriminalization of defamation, the introduction of an alternative justice system to speed up the administration of justice, and steps to combat corruption.

He said Kenya had taken steps to advance the human rights situation in the country including the incorporation of intersex as a gender marker in the census, campaigns to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) & child marriages.

However, in its report, these are the three challenges facing the country:

Youth radicalization and terrorist attack

Kenya, in recent years, has experienced a number of terrorist attacks that continue to pose a major challenge to the security of the state.

In January 2019, there was a terrorist attack at the DusitD2 Complex where at least 20 people were killed. 

In July 2017, Pandaguo area in Lamu County was invaded by militants who attacked a police post, dispensary and a school destroying property and in April 2015, a terror attack at the Garissa University led to the death of 148 students and faculty. 

Further compounding this challenge is the fact that Kenyan youth, with the promise of economic gain amongst other reasons, are being radicalized into extremist groups like the Al-shabab. 

The GOK has thus intensified its counter-terrorism measures and strategies to ensure that lives are protected.


Unemployment Rate in Kenya remained unchanged at 11.50 percent in 2017 from 11.50 percent in 2016. 

Unemployment Rate in Kenya averaged 10.80 percent from 1991 until 2017, reaching an all-time high of 12.20 percent in 2009 and a record low of 10 percent in 1997. 

In the financial year 2017/2018, the GOK adopted strategies to create employment opportunities which include implementation of programmes for the youth, women and persons with disabilities. 

These programmes include reservation of thirty per cent of all GOK procurement opportunities for women, youth and persons with disabilities, devolution of some services and functions to counties coupled with increased resource allocation to the devolved units.

Implementation of the two-thirds gender rule

The two-thirds gender rule as provided for in the Constitution provides that both the National Assembly and Senate should not have a composition of more than two-thirds of their members from one gender. 

This rule applies to all elective bodies. However, the journey towards achieving this rule has been marred with a myriad of challenges. 

Several bills meant to increase the representation of women in elective bodies have been introduced in Parliament and failed due to lack of quorum. 

The matter is now being handled in the representation of Special Interests Group Law (Amendment) Bill 2019.

The UPR process aims to improve the human rights situations in all countries, along with addressing violations. It involves a review of the human rights records of all member states of the UN, where each state declares the actions taken to improve the human rights situations in their respective countries.