|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Welcoming Launch of Assistance Mission in Somalia, Deputy Secretary-General
Says UN Remains Open to Discussions on Long-Term Options for Security
Following are Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson’s remarks, as delivered, to the Security Council’s open debate on Somalia, in New York, 6 June:
I want to begin by thanking the United Kingdom for convening this meeting during its Council presidency and for your Government’s active role on Somalia, most recently by hosting the London Conference on 7 May this year.
The Secretary-General and I have been following developments closely. Somalia has held a special place in my heart since I worked with the country in 1992 as the first United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator. Those were very dark days, as you know. It is a source of deep satisfaction that today, we welcome the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Somalia, [Fowsiyo Yusuf Haji Adan], representing a Government committed to lead the nation to peace, unity, development and a life of dignity for all.
Somalia still faces many challenges, as we all know. But, we must remember how far we have come — we very much thank the women and men of the African Union Mission in Somalia, AMISOM, as well as the Somali National Security Force and their allies.
I pay tribute to their commitment and courage risking their lives to bring peace to Somalia. They have made progress possible. We must not allow any reversals of these hard-won gains.
This week, we passed a major milestone in the United Nations’ engagement in Somalia by launching the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, UNSOM, in Mogadishu. The Secretary-General’s new Special Representative, Nicholas Kay, has already met the Speaker of Parliament and the Prime Minister pending President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s return to the country.
UNSOM will support political dialogue, peacebuilding, and the protection of human rights. However, meeting the major peacebuilding challenges successfully primarily depends on the efforts of the Government of Somalia. Foremost among these challenges is the establishment of a well-functioning federal structure. A parallel challenge is cooperative relations between Somalia and its neighbours, based on mutual and complementary interests.
Eight months since its formation, the Federal Government of Somalia has established its political programme and presented plans for stabilization and peacebuilding. It has begun reaching out beyond Mogadishu to realize its vision of a federated Somalia, demonstrating commitment to dialogue with other regional administrations. A process has been launched to review the Provisional Constitution ahead of elections planned for 2016. I commend the Government for its efforts, which deserve full and continuous international support.
Realizing a Federal State in Somalia is a complex and demanding task. We see the high stakes in the recent rise in tensions in Kismayo following the declaration of a regional State in early April. On 15 May, 500 delegates to a conference in Kismayo selected a president of what was called “ Jubaland State of Somalia”. This administration is regarded by the Federal Government as illegal and unconstitutional.
The process has also been criticized for being insufficiently inclusive. Since then, six other candidates have declared themselves president of the new entity. While there have, so far, been no reports of military confrontation, the situation remains volatile.
These issues, related to the unity and federalism of Somalia, can only be resolved through dialogue among the Somalis themselves. This requires patience and pragmatism on all sides. The United Nations stands ready, if requested, to provide good offices in full respect of the lead role of the Government of Somalia.
At the same time, Somalia needs the support of its partners, its neighbours and its friends. The efforts being made by the leaders of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia to develop trust and cooperative relationships are essential and must continue. There is agreement that a strong and stable Somalia is in the interests of all. This recognition should guide regional efforts to address outstanding issues and potential sources of friction.
In this regard, I fully support the statement of the extraordinary Summit of IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority for Development] last month, which recognized the lead role of the Federal Government in addressing the situation in Kismayo. The summit also recommended that the Government convene a reconciliation conference with the support from IGAD and the United Nations.
Meanwhile, AMISOM has a critical role to play in ensuring security and freedom of movement for all those engaged in the peace process.
As in so many countries across the continent, partnership of the United Nations with the African Union is vital to reaching our objectives in Somalia. With the deployment of UNSOM, we will work together on political strategy, peacebuilding and stabilization, as well as protection of human rights. The new Mission’s impact will also depend on effective security arrangements in close collaboration with AMISOM.
Here, I wish to call attention to the Secretary-General’s statement, in his report, that AMISOM is reaching its operational limit in terms of holding and expanding areas under its control. In order to keep the momentum of the past year, the Mission needs additional resources for ground and air mobility, including helicopters and armoured personnel carriers, as well as the means to reconfigure its forces. I urge Council members to give positive consideration to these requests.
In addition, we remain open to discussions on long-term options for the security track, together with the African Union and the Federal Government of Somalia. In follow-up to the Security Council's request, DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] will undertake, jointly with the AU [African Union] and in close consultation with the Somali Government, an exercise to review the deployment of AMISOM and establish benchmarks for the possible future deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation.
Over the long term, Somalia must assume its own responsibilities through integrated, accountable and effective security institutions. This requires a well-funded and coordinated strategic approach. I welcome the pledges of support of more than $300 million made at the London Conference. I appeal to donors to live up to their commitments.
At the London Conference, I was impressed by the resolve of Somalia and its neighbours to forge positive relationships in the region. This is essential to address mutual interests and build a more stable and prosperous region for all. We discussed the scope for economic cooperation between Somalia and its neighbours, as well as the need to create an environment conducive to the safe and voluntary return of refugees.
I wish to underline the importance of coordinated and common positions of States in the region in support of processes led by the Federal Government of Somalia, as exemplified in IGAD’s recent communiqué. I strongly encourage all partners to continue their dialogue and to work closely together for Somali State-building and peacebuilding in this spirit.
Somalia will require sustained and generous international support to continue on the path of progress. This means a clear commitment to the Federal Government to rapidly develop its plans and build its capacities.
We should all agree on a framework for future coordination, building on the London Conference and on the side meeting on Somalia at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. I welcome the launch of the “New Deal” and look forward to the development of a new aid compact, with Somalis in the centre, accompanied by unified funding mechanisms.
In closing, as we enter a new era of United Nations engagement in Somalia, I express appreciation to outgoing Special Representative Ambassador Augustine Mahiga for his many contributions to help lay a foundation for Somalia’s path to lasting peace.
I also congratulate Special Representative of the Secretary-General Kay on his new role, and look forward to his engagement on the political process, as well as the other areas of UNSOM’s mandate. I thank all those in Somalia and at United Nations Headquarters who have worked hard to ensure the deployment of UNSOM on time.
We are committed to delivering on the Security Council’s vision for a dynamic new United Nations presence in Somalia, grounded in respect for Somali leadership and Somali ownership.
UNSOM has already set up its Headquarters in Mogadishu and will establish its presence across the country, notably in areas recovered from Al-Shabaab, as well as in Garowe and Hargeisa. The Mission will support political dialogue and advise the Government on peacebuilding and State-building, including coordination of international assistance. UNSOM will be an integrated Mission, offering “one door to knock on” for Somalia’s engagement with the United Nations.
I appeal to the Council to support UNSOM and help it fulfil its mandate, also by providing the necessary resources to the Mission itself and to Somalia.
I call on all to come together in support of the new Government in its efforts to bring peace and stability to the people of Somalia. The Secretary-General and I firmly believe that with the continuous support and firm commitment of its partners, Somalia can achieve its vision: a country in unity and at peace with itself and its neighbours, living under the rule of law, and on the path to economic stability and decent living conditions for all. Thank you.
* *** *For information media • not an official record