|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7030th Meeting (PM)
Special Representative Tells Security Council: ‘Behind the Twists and Turns,
The Crises and the Standoffs, Somalia Has the Foundations for Progress’
Representative of African Union Commission for Somalia Weighs in on Situation
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, told the Security Council this afternoon that, if asked if he was optimistic about Somalia, his answer would be a resounding “yes” — for “behind the twists and turns, the crises and the standoffs, Somalia has the foundations for progress”.
Briefing Council Members on the first progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) (document S/2013/521), he said the country was “on the brink of achieving great things, truly great things”, in terms of rebuilding a shattered State and rescuing millions of people from conflict and poverty. “We are standing on the very edge of great success,” he said, but added, “where we stand is also precarious”.
The international community, noted Mr. Kay, was united behind the federal Government, resources were available to meet its immediate needs and all sides were committed to compromise and non-violence. But, he underscored the need for focus and increased investment, saying that if Somalia slipped back or if Al-Shabaab prevailed, the security impact would be felt across Africa and beyond.
He said the heart of the political challenge was simple to describe, but difficult to solve. After 22 years of conflict, power and control of resources and revenue had fragmented. The strong centralist State had ceased to exist, and different regions and different people now held different bits of power. He, thus, prioritized the need for progress on the constitutional review and constructive engagement with the regions.
Fleshing out further the situations in the regions since the report was finalized, he said that, despite high tension in Kismayo and Jubba, agreement had been reached on 28 August setting out the interim governance security and economic arrangements. There also was progress in the tense relationship between “Somaliland” and Somalia, with an agreement on shared management of airspace a potential model for other cooperation efforts.
Urging a focus on solutions, he said he hoped to persuade the “ Somaliland” authorities to accept that UNSOM had a mandate there. Similarly, he was trying to improve the relationship between the authorities in Puntland and the federal Government, while also helping Puntland with its internal political processes.
Reaching agreement on a constitution was vital, he said, noting that the United Nations was supporting popular consultations aimed at resolving several contentious areas. He looked forward to another key building block of Somalia’s stabilization — the New Deal Compact, due to be endorsed next week in Brussels. The Compact was a Somali-led and Somali-owned set of priorities, and milestones to achieve them, and created the “architecture” for international support.
Along with politics, he said, much of his initial focus had been security. With the United Nations presence in Mogadishu dependent to a large extent on the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), that mission required sufficient and predictable funding, as well as a new concept of operations. Al-Shabaab remained a threat and the Somali military also needed strong backing to deploy and sustain joint operations with AMISOM. At the same time, a well-resourced and coherent exit strategy for both the United Nations and AMISOM was needed.
He pointed to a good relationship between UNSOM and the federal Government, and AMISOM, which he said had helped the new Mission to establish itself, while its strong relationship with the United Nations system enabled its full structural integration. He looked forward to working with the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and added that security arrangements for UNSOM staff were under review following that “dark hour” when the UN Common Compound was attacked on 19 June. He stressed the need for a fully functioning guard force capacity.
Touching on other concerns, he said that, while piracy was on the decline, onshore networks that profited from it had not been dismantled. On the humanitarian front, he reported that Somalia’s 160 confirmed polio cases accounted for half the world’s total, despite immunization efforts. The pull-out of Médecins Sans Frontières was a severe blow, particularly with the food security situation still precarious. He advised against large-scale repatriation of Somali refugees from neighbouring countries and backed the Government’s human rights road map, also calling on it to sign the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Mahamat Saleh Annadif, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, also painted the overall situation as “optimistic”, and noted AMISOM’s significant progress on both security and political fronts since its inception. He was particularly encouraged by the determination of the federal Government, whose progress was “crowned” recently by agreement with the Jubaland Administration on the establishment of the modalities of administration and governance.
Challenges remained, however, and failure to address them could slow progress or even cause backsliding, he warned. Al-Shabaab was still capable of destabilizing Somalia or derailing progress; they had attacked a United Nations compound, and on 7 September, they had bombed a well-known restaurant in Mogadishu, claiming 18 lives. They continued to train soldiers and maintain access to weapons, especially in rural areas, despite efforts to identify and cut off funding sources and stem arms flows.
Echoing a point made by the Special Representative, he worried that different regions had different interpretations of the constitutional review process. There was also poor Government capacity and a lack of administrative structures to provide services. Somalia was confronted with serious humanitarian issues, as well, including displacement, refugees and youth unemployment. Somalis were keen to see those problems solved because chronic problems caused conflict.
Stressing the importance of military support, he said the concepts guiding AMISOM were “out of date”. Support for Somali National Forces should be examined, including the provision of force multipliers, as well as timely logistical support and training. Overcoming the challenges was crucial to enable AMISOM to take “the last few steps”, which might be the most difficult ones.
Turning to recent allegations of rape of Somali women by members of Somali National Forces and AMISOM, he said that internal and external inquiries had determined that those allegations were “unfounded”. AMISOM had in place a zero-tolerance policy, an early warning system and an awareness-raising programme. It also had helped the Somali Government draft a gender policy bill, which had been submitted to Parliament.
In conclusion, he told the Council: “With a bit more efforts, we can achieve what has been achieved in Mali.”
The meeting began at 3:10 p.m. and ended at 3:50 p.m.
* *** *For information media • not an official record