The role of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission in Kenya is stipulated under the National Cohesion and Integration Act. The Act also establishes the Commission as a statutory body.
The Commission should be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and shall, in its corporate name, be capable of—
- suing and being sued;
- purchasing or otherwise acquiring, holding, charging or disposing of movable and immovable property;
- borrowing or lending money; and
- doing or performing all other things or acts for the furtherance of the provisions of the National Cohesion and Integration Act which may lawfully be done or performed by a body corporate.
The National Cohesion and Integration Act stipulates that the National Cohesion and Integration Commission should consist of:
- a chairperson nominated by the President and approved by the National Assembly;
- seven commissioners nominated by the President and approved by the National Assembly
The commissioners should, at their first meeting, elect a vice-chairperson from amongst the commissioners. The chairperson and vice-chairperson of the Commission should not be of the same gender.
In appointing members to the Commission, the principles of gender equity, ethnic and regional representation should apply.
The chairperson and members of the Commission should be appointed for a single term of six years and are not eligible for re-appointment.
The chairperson should preside over the meetings of the Commission and should be the spokesperson of the Commission.
If the office of the chairperson becomes vacant or if the chairperson is unable to exercise the powers or perform the functions of their office owing to absence, illness or any other cause, the vice-chairperson should exercise those powers or perform those functions until a substantive chairperson is appointed.
The role of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission is to facilitate and promote equality of opportunity, good relations, harmony and peaceful co-existence between persons of the different ethnic and racial communities of Kenya, and to advise the Government on all aspects thereof.
National Cohesion and Integration Commission exists to promote national unity in Kenya.
To actualize this, the Commission facilitates processes and policies that encourage the 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 peacebuilding initiatives that appreciate human dignity.
In this regard, the role of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission is to:
- promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination based on 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, coordinate 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;
- promote arbitration, conciliation, mediation and similar forms of dispute resolution mechanisms 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 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 endeavours, and recommend to the Government and any other relevant public or private body how to overcome these factors;
- 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 the 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 any law dealing with ethnicity;
- monitor and report to the National Assembly the status and success of the implementation of its recommendations;
- issue notices directing persons or institutions involved in actions or conduct amounting to violations of human rights based on 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.
The Powers of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission are as follows:
- should not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.
- should 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.
- should have the power to summon witnesses, to call for the production of books, plans and other documents, and to examine witnesses and parties on oath.
- should control, supervise and administer the assets of the Commission in such manner and for such purposes as best promote the purpose for which the Commission is established;
- receive any grants, gifts, donations or endowments and make legitimate disbursements therefrom;
- may open a banking account or banking accounts for the funds of the Commission.
For more about the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, see the National Cohesion and Integratio and visit their website at cohesion.or.ke.