Browse » Countries » Kenya


Border countries: Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan

Kenya is involved in the non-international armed conflict against al-Shabaab in Somalia. Furthermore, in November 2022 Kenya has deployed its forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in order to support DRC troops fighting in Goma.


Following a series of incursions by al-Shabaab inside Kenya, Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011. W. Ross, ‘Kenya’s Incursion Into Somalia Raises the Stakes’, BBC, 17 October 2011. For a discussion of the legal grounds used to justify the intervention, see V. Hadzi-Vidanovic, ‘Kenya Invades Somalia Invoking the Right of Self-Defence’, EJIL Tallk! Blog, 18 October 2011. In February 2012, the Kenyan troops in Somalia became part of the AMISOM missionSee the information provided by AMISOM, Kenya – KDF, although they also continue to operate outside AMISOM. Insofar as Kenyan armed forces continue to operate outside AMISOM, Kenya continues to be a party to the non-international armed conflict in Somalia. In this sense, see also Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in Somalia, UN doc S/2016/1098, 22 December 2016, §10. Formal authority for the AMISOM mission appears to be with the African Union; only AMISOM, but not the troop contributing countries are a party. See T. Ferraro, ‘The Applicability and Application of International Humanitarian Law to Multinational Forces’, 95 International Review of the Red Cross 891/892 (2013) 591ff. For an overview on questions relating to operations under the auspices of international organisations and the determination of parties to the conflict, see ‘contemporary challenges – intervention by foreign forces, including peacekeeping operations’ and ‘contemporary challenges - multinational forces: who is a party to the conflict’ in our classification section. In addition, the non-international armed conflict in Somalia has spilled into Kenya with al-Shabaab committing terrorist attacks in Kenya, notably the 2013 Westgate mall attack and the 2015 Garissa University attack, and undertaking raids against civilians and security forces. In September 2015, Kenya initiated Operation Linda Boni to expel al-Shabaab. Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea pursuant to Security Council resolution 2244 (2015): Somalia, UN doc S/2016/919, 28 September 2016, §§43ff; S. Cherono, ‘Kenya: Head of Operation Linda Boni Moved in Wake of Al-Shabaab Attacks’, All Africa, 19 July 2017; B. Sanga, ‘Mixed Fortunes of Operation Linda Boni as Locals Cry Foul’, Standard Digital, 17 June 2017. For an overview of border incursions, see ‘Somalia Profile – Timeline’ BBC, 21 November 2016; 'Who are Somalia’s al-Shabab?', BBC, 9 December 2016.

In March 2020, Somalia cut diplomatic ties with Kenya, as it blamed Kenya for interfering in the internal affairs of Somalia. The Information Minister Osman Dubbe specified that: ‘Kenya continues meddling in our internal political affairs and it has ignored our previous calls to stop violating our sovereignty. We, therefore, declare that we have cut ties with Kenya over its poor violations on Somalia’s sovereignty.’ Diplomatic relations between the two countries severed when Somaliland President Musa Abdi made a diplomatic visit to Kenya where he met President Uhuru Kenyatta. At least nine killed near Somalia-Kenya border as tentions rise, AfricaNews, 25 January 2021.

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

On 2 November 2022, Kenya announced the deployment of peacekeeping troops to DRC in order to fight in Goma, as a reaction to alleged support by Rwanda to members of opposition groups in Kivu. On 12 November, the first contingent of Kenyan soldiers arrived in North Kivu. A few days later, on 17 November, the second contingent arrived in Goma, for a total of 900 soldiers deployed. Kenya to send soldiers into Democratic Republic of Congo’, DW, 2 November 2022; ‘Second contingent of Kenyan troops arrive in DRC to battle rebels’, Africa News, 17 November 2022; ‘Can Kenya bring peace to eastern Congo?’, The Economist, 2 February 2023.

Last updated: Tuesday 14th February 2023