Role of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in Kenya

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) is a statutory body established under the National Cohesion and Integration Act (Act No.12 of 2008).

History of the Commission

The Commission came out of the realization that long lasting peace, sustainable development and harmonious coexistence among Kenyans requires deliberate normative, institutional, and attitudinal processes of constructing nationhood, national cohesion, and integration.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission draws its existence from the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Agreement signed in Nairobi on 1 February, 2008 by the Government; Party of National Unity (PNU) and Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) delegations, and witnessed by H.E. Kofi A. Annan for the Panel of Eminent African Personalities.

This Agreement formed the basis of the National Accord that H.E. President Mwai Kibaki and the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga signed on 28 February 2008 when the dialogue was officially launched.

The dialogue sought to provide a peaceful solution to the political impasse and violence that had engulfed the country, following the December 2007 general elections and had four (4) main agendas:

  • Agenda No. 1 – Immediate action to stop violence and restore fundamental rights and liberties.
  • Agenda No. 2 – Immediate measures to address the humanitarian crisis, promote reconciliation, healing and restoration.
  • Agenda No. 3 – How to overcome the political crisis at the time.
  • Agenda No. 4 – Long-term measures and solutions (such as constitutional, institutional and legal reforms, land reform, poverty and inequity, unemployment (particularly among the youth), consolidating national cohesion and unity, and transparency, accountability, and addressing impunity).

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission was formed under Agenda No. 4, which recognized that long term issues with regard to poverty, inequitable distribution of resources and perceptions of historical injustices and exclusion of segments of the Kenyan society were among the underlying causes of the prevailing social tensions, instability and the cycle of violence recurrent in electoral processes in Kenya.

Discussions under this Agenda item therefore examined and proposed solutions to longstanding issues such as:

  • Undertaking constitutional, legal and institutional reforms;
  • Tackling poverty and inequality as well as combating regional development imbalances;
  • Tackling unemployment, particularly among the youth;
  • Consolidating national cohesion and unity;
  • Undertaking land reform;
  • Addressing lack of accountability and transparency among leaders and clipping impunity.

Mission and Vision

Vision – A peaceful, united, harmonious, and integrated Kenyan society.

Mission – Develop and sustain processes that alleviate all forms of ethnic discrimination and promote diversity through knowledge creation, capacity building, advocacy, and pertinent policy development.

Mandate of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission

National Cohesion and Integration Commission exists to promote national unity in Kenya.

In order to actualize this, the Commission facilitates processes and policies that encourage elimination of all forms of ethnic discrimination irrespective of background, social circle, race, and ideological belief(s), and by so doing, enhances the capacity for Kenyans to accept each other in appreciating the significance of diversity.

The Commission denotes the urgency to mobilize, sensitize, train, and educate Kenyans about non-violent conflict resolution processes as well as peace building initiatives that appreciate human dignity. In this regard, the NCIC signifies the efforts to:

  • Foster a general understanding of the concepts of national cohesion and integration in reference to the Constitution of Kenya (2010);
  • Address causes of ethnic discrimination, negative ethnicity, perceptions of discrimination, unequal distribution of resources and opportunities;
  • Unify and integrate Kenyans into a cohesive society guided by national values and the principles of governance contained in Article 10 of the Constitution;
  • Foster equity and social justice by building on, or complementing other on-going national processes aimed at addressing nationhood, national cohesion and integration;
  • Establish and promote principles, standards and best practices that should guide the process of national cohesion and integration, and reconciliation;
  • Provide a schedule of roles for various stakeholders in the operationalisation of the national cohesion and integration process, and establish how these stakeholders can be mobilized to play their roles effectively;
  • Provide an organizational framework for the implementation of the policy’s strategic objectives; and
  • Provide a framework for mainstreaming national cohesion and integration into national development programmes, projects, and activities including infusing cohesion principles into laws and policies as stipulated in the National Cohesion and Integration Act.

Strategic Pillars

National Identity: The National Cohesion and Integration Commission underpins the need to have a Kenyan culture that is founded on the tenets provided by the national values as stated in Article 10 of the Constitution.

Policy, Legal and Institutional Framework: The need to improve the current policy and legal state in order to achieve ethical practices in county and national leadership structures.

Investing in the Diversity of Kenyans: The Commission appreciates the diversity of Kenyans, which provides this country with strengths of proportional magnitude and submits to put in place measures that enhance ethnic acceptance and accommodation of other emerging identities.

Reconciliation and Integration: Conflicts are a part of humanity and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission underscores the need for importing and exporting capacities that promote conflict transformation in a sustained bid to define and redefine newer and meaningful tenets in inter-ethnic relationships.

Public Complaints and Enforcement: The Commission emphasizes the significance of establishing structures and systems that increase access and capacity of the public to report cohesion-threatening factors thus disallowing conditions for ethnic violence. Some of these include investigations and strong referrals to ensure successful litigation to the fairness of parties involved.

Institutional Capacity: The Commission endeavours to uphold an organization that is endowed with financial resources, skills, expertise, and technical knowledge relevant to tackle factors that threaten tranquillity and scale down cohesion.

Key Result Areas

  • A Kenyan culture that embraces national values and upholds national identity.
  • A Kenyan society that appreciates diversity.
  • Inclusive public-private sector and civil society partnerships that effectively promote reconciliation and integration in respective sectors.
  • Laws, policies, and practices that counter ethnic, racial, and religious tensions developed and applied.
  • An established interactive space between the National Cohesion and Integration Commission and the society on public complaints.
  • A Commission with structures and systems that enhance internal efficiency, while ensuring effective external reach and timely as well as quality service delivery.

Strategic Objectives

  • To build and strengthen the capacity of state and non-state actors in fostering national identity.
  • To facilitate the mainstreaming of cohesion and integration in the Kenyan socialization structures (schools, churches, mosques etc.) and counties.
  • To create and effectively coordinate collaborative structures that address reconciliation and integration in Kenya.
  • To monitor the development of laws, policies and practices and their implementation at the national and county levels.
  • To investigate and put in place strategies that address discrimination and hate speech based on ethnic, religious, racial, and national origin, and to make appropriate recommendations to government and other organizations.
  • To build and strengthen capacity of NCIC to provide quality, efficient and effective services to Kenyans.

Core Values

Professionalism -Objectivity in addressing issues of ethnic discrimination

Integrity -Accountability and transparency

Affirmative action for the marginalized and the minorities- The Commission appreciates groups that are vulnerable and are faced by more challenges, and affirms to generate policies and strategies that enhance their dignity and humanity towards equal opportunities.

Inclusivity -The Commission commits to treat people from all occupations resident in Kenya with fairness by according them equal opportunities.

Respect for Diversity -The commission makes commitment to recognize, respect, and appreciate the uniqueness of individuals as well as communities while undertaking to deliver what is espoused in its mandate.

Organizational Structure

In addressing inequality and consolidating national cohesion and unity under Agenda No. 4, the National Dialogue and Reconciliation process paved the way for the drafting and presentation to parliament of the Ethnic and Race Relations Bill in November 2008.

On enactment, this bill became the National Cohesion and Integration Act No. 12 of 2008 that established the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), mandated to promote harmony, peaceful co-existence and national integration.

However, much as the title changed, the body of the law addresses itself to matters of ethnic, racial, and religious discrimination and victimization.

This Act stipulates that the National Cohesion and Integration Commission shall consist of:

Powers of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission

Without prejudice, the Commission shall:

  • Promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or race;
  • Discourage persons, institutions, political parties and associations from advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices on the ground of ethnicity or race;
  • Promote tolerance, understanding and acceptance of diversity in all aspects of national life and encourage full participation by all ethnic communities in the social, economic, cultural and political life of other communities;
  • Plan, supervise, co-ordinate and promote educational and training programmes to create public awareness, support and advancement of peace and harmony among ethnic communities and racial groups;
  • Promote respect for religious, cultural, linguistic and other forms of diversity in a plural society;
  • Promote equal access and enjoyment by persons of all ethnic communities and racial groups to public or other services and facilities provided by the Government;
  • Foster arbitration, conciliation, mediation and similar forms of dispute resolution mechanisms in order to secure and enhance ethnic and racial harmony and peace;
  • Investigate complaints of ethnic or racial discrimination and make recommendations to the Attorney-General, the Human Rights Commission or any other relevant authority on the remedial measures to be taken where such complaints are valid;
  • Investigate on its own accord or on request from any institution, office, or person any issue affecting ethnic and racial relations;
  • Identify and analyze factors inhibiting the attainment of harmonious relations between ethnic communities, particularly barriers to the participation of any ethnic community in social, economic, commercial, financial, cultural and political endeavors, and recommend to the Government and any other relevant public or private body how these factors should be overcome;
  • Determine strategic priorities in all the socio-economic, political and development policies of the Government impacting on ethnic relations and advise on their implementation;
  • Recommend to the Government criteria for deciding whether any public office or officer has committed acts of discrimination on the ground of ethnicity or race;
  • Monitor and review all legislation and all administrative acts relating to or having implications for ethnic or race relations and equal opportunities and, from time to time, prepare and submit to the Government proposals for revision of such legislation and administrative acts;
  • Initiate, lobby for and advocate for policy, legal or administrative reforms on issues affecting ethnic relations;
  • Monitor and make recommendations to the Government and other relevant public and private sector bodies on factors inhibiting the development of harmonious relations between ethnic groups and on barriers to the participation of all ethnic groups in the social, economic, commercial, financial, cultural and political life of the people;
  • Undertake research and studies and make recommendations to the Government on any issue relating to ethnic affairs including whether ethnic relations are improving;
  • Make recommendations on penalties to be imposed on any person for any breach of the provisions of the Constitution or of any law dealing with ethnicity;
  • Monitor and report to the National Assembly the status and success of implementation of its recommendations;
  • Issue notices directing persons or institutions involved in actions or conduct amounting to violations of human rights on the basis of ethnicity or race to stop such actions or conduct within a given period and; do all other acts and things as may be necessary to facilitate the efficient discharge of its functions.

In the discharge of its functions under the National Cohesion and Integration Act, the Commission:

  • Shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.
  • Shall publish the names of persons or institutions whose words or conduct may undermine, have undermined, or contributed towards undermining good ethnic relations, or who are involved in ethnic discrimination or the propagation of ethnic hate.
  • May enter into association with such other bodies or organizations within or outside Kenya, as it may consider desirable or appropriate, and in furtherance of the purpose for which the Commission is established.
  • The Commission shall have power to summon witnesses, to call for the production of books, plans and other documents, and to examine witnesses and parties on oath.

For more about the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, visit their website at cohesion.or.ke.

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