23 April 1997


Security Council                                            SC/6361

3769th Meeting (PM)                                         23 April 1997


   Speakers Urge Participation in 10 June National Reconciliation Conference

The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Somalia, with speakers urging all Somali faction leaders to cooperate with regional efforts towards national reconciliation and to participate in the forthcoming National Reconciliation Conference, to be held at Bossasso, Somalia, on 10 June.

The representative of Chile said some political leaders in Somalia were unable to go beyond their personal interests in order to serve the interests of the Somali people.  Such leaders were living comfortably while the people in the territories they controlled were suffering.  Those very few leaders would be left behind if they failed to heed the call of the people for national reconciliation.

The Council should ask the Secretary-General to establish a trust fund aimed at ensuring the success of the National Reconciliation Conference and call for contributions to it, the representative of Ethiopia said.  It should also emphasize the importance of close cooperation among all those working for peace in Somalia.  Any proliferation of initiatives should be resisted,

he said.

The representative of Italy stressed the need for a unified State in Somalia, with legitimate central authority and a federal system that granted local communities broad powers of self-government.  His Government had not wavered in its commitment to the rebirth of Somalia and called for continued international efforts to address the humanitarian plight of the Somali people.

A number of speakers stressed the importance of arriving at a solution that respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country.  They also urged the continuation of United Nations relief and rehabilitation assistance to the country.

Statements were also made by the representatives of Egypt, France, China, United Kingdom, Republic of Korea, Japan, Russian Federation, Sweden, Costa Rica, United States, Kenya, Guinea-Bissau, Poland, Portugal, Netherlands (for the European Union and associated States), Kuwait (for the Arab Group) and Tunisia.

The meeting, which was called to order at 3:20 p.m., was adjourned at 5:41 p.m.

            Work Programme

            The Security Council met this afternoon to consider the situation in Somalia.  It was meeting in accordance with an understanding reached in its prior consultations.


            NABIL A. ELARABY (Egypt) said that for more than four years, the Council had been meeting on the situation in Somalia.  Despite the United Nations intervention in Somalia and its dispatch of an international force under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, there had been a continuation of the civil war, costing many lives, owing to the lack of a central government in the country.  The situation in Somalia today differed radically to that in the past, owing to a number of regional initiatives.

            He said the Somali Council of National Salvation had also participated in the March meeting of the League of Arab States.  That had led to a declaration by the League on the holding of a national reconciliation conference, as well as the provision of assistance for mediation efforts.  Egypt supported the sending by the Secretary-General of a Special Representative to Somalia, to establish contacts with the Somali chiefs and the representatives of the Somali people, as well as consulting with regional States and organizations, with a view to recommending measures to be taken.

            Agreement must now be reached on the nature and role of the United Nations in Somalia, he said.  The international community, as represented in the Council, must assume its responsibility to the Somali people.  Serious thought must be given to a new United Nations initiative.  Such an endeavour could not replace any local initiatives but could only be complementary to them.  The United Nations commitment to a peaceful settlement of the crisis must be reaffirmed.  It was also extremely important that international humanitarian assistance organizations addressed the situation in Somalia.

            He said it was essential not to recognize any authority that was not representative of the entire Somali people.  The arms embargo must be strictly respected.  The Somali people must be persuaded to consider all the options open to them.  The international community must continue rendering humanitarian assistance to all areas of the country.  The main responsibility for a resolution of the situation in Somalia rested with its people; however, the United Nations must assist in that effort.

            ALAIN DEJAMMET (France) said that over the past year, regional initiatives had made possible the resumption of negotiations among the Somali factions.  Such talks could only be fruitful if all the factions participated, which was not yet the case.  Maintaining Somalia's territorial integrity was essential to any settlement of the issue.  Reinforcing the United Nations role could only be envisaged if it was gradual, and it must be accepted by the Somali leaders, who must demonstrate that they sincerely wanted to participate in negotiations to achieve national reconciliation.

            WANG XUEXIAN (China) expressed appreciation for the efforts made in recent months by the factions in Somalia to achieve reconciliation through political consultations.  The leaders of the factions should realize that the African continent was entering a new historical period of seeking peace, stability and development.  Somalia had, by comparison, fallen behind.  Years of civil war had already seriously hurt the country.  The Organization of African Unity (OAU), the Arab League, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and some African countries had made positive and useful efforts to promote political consultations and negotiations among the factions.  He welcomed those efforts. 

            At the same time, he continued, such efforts should get firm and effective support and cooperation from the international community, including the United Nations.  The United Nations, particularly the Security Council, had the responsibility to contribute constructively to the settlement of the Somali question.  The role of the United Nations Office in Somalia should be strengthened and positive consideration should be given to the designation of a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on the question of Somalia, a United Nations/OAU joint fact-finding mission and the establishment of a trust fund.

            Sir JOHN WESTON (United Kingdom) welcomed the efforts of the Arab League, the European Union, Egypt and Italy to bring the warring factions in Somalia together.  The regional efforts by Kenya and Ethiopia were particularly important.  The Ethiopian-sponsored Sodere Declaration and the Kenyan-sponsored Nairobi Agreement could play a vital role in laying the foundations on which a political settlement could eventually be built.  Those agreements should be seen as complementary.  Participation of all the Somali parties, including those in the north-west, was necessary for the process of reconciliation to stand any chance of success. 

            He said the United Nations had shown concern and support for the regional and other efforts made to initiate political dialogue.  The Council had backed the Secretary-General's call for more resources for humanitarian relief and rehabilitation and for all States to comply with the arms embargo.  In light of the efforts made by Kenya, Ethiopia and others, there was no need for a new initiative on Somalia.  It was vital, however, to ensure that the various efforts were properly coordinated.  The main responsibility for achieving national reconciliation and for restoring peace lay with the various parties in  Somalia.  The parties also had an obligation to ensure that the valuable work of the humanitarian agencies was not impeded.

            PARK SOO GIL (Republic of Korea) said that, despite progress, the remainder of the journey to reconciliation and peace in Somalia was likely to be as unpredictable and arduous as it had been thus far.  Although the Sodere, Ethiopia, meeting was a significant step forward, it was overshadowed by the non-participation of the faction leaders Hussein Aidid and Mohammed Egal, who continued to disagree with the goals of the meeting and the process of reconciliation that had been launched.  Another cause for concern was the exclusion of Osman Atto from the meeting of faction leaders in Mogadishu. 

            The main stumbling block to peace remained the intransigence of the major faction leaders, he said.  If further progress was to be made, then efforts should focus on bringing Mr. Aidid and Mr. Egal on board the Sodere peace process.  The three Mogadishu leaders must also be brought together to reach some agreement on the restoration of stability to the capital and its vicinity.  He urged Mr. Aidid and Mr. Egal to put aside their parochial ambitions and join the national reconciliation conference at Bosasso, scheduled for 10 June. 

            He said the Council should play a pro-active role in the Somali peace process in close coordination with regional efforts.  He expressed support for the important role of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia and welcomed the decision to extend its mandate.   The international community had a responsibility to ensure the implementation of the arms embargo on Somalia, as established by resolution 733 (1992).  The illegal flow of arms was clearly a destabilizing factor in the Somali situation.  He suggested that the Council re-examine how to improve the effectiveness of the arms embargo regime as a whole.  Allowing embargo violations to continue unchecked damaged the Council's credibility and rendered efforts towards peace meaningless. 

            HISHASHI OWADA (Japan) said ongoing efforts by a number of countries and international organizations were beginning to show promise in Somalia.  Particularly encouraging was the opening of talks in Nairobi among three faction leaders -- Hussein Aidid, Ali Mahdi Mohamed and Osman Atto.  It was regrettable, however, that Mr. Atto had been excluded from the talks since the beginning of the month in Mogadishu.  Another encouraging step forward was the High-level Consultative Meeting of Somali Political Movements, which was convened in Sodere at the initiative of Ethiopia in January.  One significant result of that effort was the formation of the National Salvation Council, which had decided to convene a conference on national reconciliation in June of this year.

            While all those endeavours represented a valuable contribution, it was essential that faction leaders now summon the political will to join together and meld the separate efforts into a unified drive to achieve a comprehensive and lasting settlement, he stated.  The international community should redouble its efforts to induce the faction leaders, particularly Hussein Aidid, to work together to enter into negotiations that included all parties.  Japan was prepared to cooperate in such mediation efforts.  The international community should also call on faction leaders to strictly abide by international humanitarian law and other norms in the humanitarian field.  They should cooperate in reopening the seaport and airport of Mogadishu. 

            SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said a peaceful settlement in Somalia required dialogue aimed at reaching agreement on a representative government.  There were now grounds to expect that consultations had resulted in an expansion of the grounds for inter-Somali dialogue.  The main responsibility for the restoration of peace there rested with the Somali people.  The Somali factions must ensure appropriate security conditions for the operations of international humanitarian organizations.  He stressed the importance of strengthening adherence with the arms embargo on Somalia

            JUAN SOMAVIA (Chile) said the situation on the ground in Somalia was such that even the United Nations could not maintain a resident office.  During the Council's previous meeting on Somalia, the tone had been one of pessimism.  However, over the past year, encouraging news had begun to emerge.  A process of consultations was beginning to bear fruit and, if all went well, there would soon be a national conference of reconciliation.

            He stressed that the Somali people were responsible for a resolution of the situation.  Some political leaders there were unable to go beyond their personal interests in order to serve the interests of the Somali people.  Those very few leaders would be left behind if they failed to heed the call of the people for national reconciliation.  Such leaders were living comfortably, while those who lived in the territories they controlled were suffering the consequences.  The attitude of the recalcitrant leaders was that the country interested them only if they could control it.

            The form of a future Somali government was a domestic matter to be decided by the people themselves, he said.  It need not take a classic Western form.  The United Nations Charter envisaged that most conflicts confronting it would be of an inter-State nature.  However, that was no longer the case.  As a result, the instruments of classic diplomacy were no longer as effective in such situations.  The Organization must build on experience in resolving such interpersonal and inter-group conflicts.  There was a great deal of experience in those areas, and it rested with the Council to make use of it.  He also expressed deep concern at the humanitarian situation of the Somali people.

            PETER OSVALD (Sweden) said the armed conflict in Somalia could not continue.  National reconciliation was essential.  Without it, the humanitarian suffering would continue and Somalia would remain a destabilizing factor in the region.  The international community must assist in the path to normalization, but the ultimate responsibility for national reconciliation rested with the Somalis themselves.  The ongoing regional initiatives had Sweden's full support, but there was a need for further coordination among those initiatives.  The latest progress made in achieving a negotiated settlement would not yield sustainable results without a focus on rebuilding the civil society at the regional and local levels.

            International assistance should facilitate the demilitarization of Somali society, he said.  The international community must sustain its commitment to peace-building in Somalia.  "In the present Somali situation of semi-peace, semi-war, international assistance needs to be closely coordinated within the framework of a shared approach on central issues."  In the recent United Nations Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal, important steps were taken towards developing such a joint strategy.

            MELVIN SAENZ BIOLLEY (Costa Rica) expressed pleasure with the progress made in Somalia, and urged the parties that had not yet done so to participate in that process.  The United Nations should support that process and establish a trust fund to facilitate the meetings among the parties to the conflict, as recommended by the Secretary-General.  He urged all States to respect the arms embargo against Somalia.  It was a matter of concern that the missions of various humanitarian agencies had recently experienced security problems recently.  Urgent steps must be taken to correct that situation.

            It was essential to deal with the humanitarian problems besetting Somalia, he said.  To provide such assistance, it was essential that the port and airport of Mogadishu be opened and the "green line" eliminated.  That line split the city and hindered access to the terminals through which such assistance must come.  The Somali parties must act in order to make that possible.  He trusted that all factions would participate in the forthcoming process of national reconciliation.

            BILL RICHARDSON (United States) said the Somali faction leaders themselves must make the difficult decisions required to reach a viable reconciliation process.  He expressed support for the efforts of regional leaders, organizations and others who had tried to facilitate negotiations.  The international community, however, could only assist the efforts of the Somalis to reach their own solutions to the crisis and to move towards peace, stability, law and order and national reconciliation.  All Somali leaders must end the divisions and work towards a broad-based national government that represented all the Somali people.

            He said Somalia suffered from chronic food deficits and remained at risk of another humanitarian crisis.  The United Nations remained engaged in providing humanitarian and development assistance in Somalia wherever it was possible to do so safely and where there was a commitment by the community to their own development.  His country supported the recent efforts to facilitate peace in Somalia.  It was critical that international efforts to advance national reconciliation be consistent with each other, so that factions could not play one against the other. 

            NJUGUNA MAHUGU (Kenya) said that in December 1996, 27 political parties, meeting in Sodere, had resolved to establish a National Salvation Council, which would form a transitional authority for Somalia.  Unfortunately, the

27 parties had not included major factions and, as a result, the outcome was rejected by the Hussein Aidid faction.  Such efforts encouraged dialogue, but could only serve as a foundation.  The leaders of the factions would have to resolve the problem of Somalia themselves.  They must make an extra effort to accommodate and be flexible.  Any meaningful effort must be all inclusive to accommodate all parties. 

            He urged the international community to keep the issue of Somalia on its agenda and to continue to respond to the needs of the people of Somalia.  The need for humanitarian assistance would remain as long as the political problems remain unresolved.  The Somali leaders must respect international humanitarian law.  He stressed that the prospects for peace in Somalia had never been greater.  The international community should seize the opportunity to facilitate negotiations and dialogue.  All efforts aimed at securing peace should be complementary with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) initiative, which was already in place.  The planned Bossasso conference should be provided with material and financial support to ensure its success. 

            ALFREDO LOPES CABRAL (Guinea-Bissau) said Somalia continued to distinguish itself by the myriad number of factions vying for power.  The leaders demonstrated a resolve to wield political power based on religious or ethnic supremacy, which had led to the destruction of their country.  The faction leaders must admit that no single faction could win control.  The leaders should learn from leaders in other parts of the world who had transcended personal concerns.  The Somali people continued to suffer and looked to the Council to help in the alleviation of that suffering.

            He said contacts among Somali leaders must be encouraged to continue.  A Special Envoy for Somalia should be appointed.  He commended the regional initiatives, particularly by President Daniel arap Moi of Kenya.  The results achieved in the January Sodere meeting must be consolidated.  No one could replace the Somali leaders in finding peace, but the role of the international community must not be overlooked.  The arms embargo must be uniformly applied.  Regarding the humanitarian situation, assistance must not be delayed and full access to the city of Mogadishu was crucial in that regard.  A mechanism was needed to respond to the most urgent needs of the Somali people, who should not be abandoned because of the actions of the faction leaders. 

            ZBIGNIEW WLOSOWICZ (Poland) said the Council had never been indifferent to the difficult, complex and sensitive situation in Somalia.  Only national reconciliation could bring peace and stability to Somalia.  It was the responsibility of the leaders of that country to seek dialogue and political solutions.  The situation in Somalia had not significantly changed since the meeting last year on the issue.  Certain developments might, however, lead to national reconciliation.  The meetings in Nairobi and Sodere were significant steps forward, but they must be followed by concrete deeds.  In particular, the solemn declaration of 3 January by the majority of Somali factions would have to be put into operation.

            One cannot question the will of the international community to help Somalia, he continued.  There were many examples of other States' concern, such as those of IGAD, OAU, Ethiopia, Kenya, Egypt and Italy.  It was clear that the international community would maintain or even increase its level of involvement provided that all Somali factions, especially those of Mr. Aidid and Mr. Egal, used the momentum created in Nairobi, Sodere and Cairo.  He underlined the importance of full observance of the arms embargo under resolution 733 (1992).

            The Council President, ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal), speaking on behalf of his country, said that although Somalia was not considered a success story for the United Nations, the final chapters had yet to be written.  "We should not give up and deal with Somalia as if it were a lost cause.  Indifference must not prevail over hope."  As stated by the Secretary-General, the best hope for restoring peace in Somalia lay in the negotiation of a political settlement that entrusted power to a broad-based government in which all of the principal factions would be represented.  Experience had shown that national reconciliation was possible when the main players to a conflict agreed on some form of power-sharing.

            He welcomed the proposal for a national reconciliation conference, which was scheduled to take place in Bossasso, and called upon the directly interested parties to participate.  Failure to do so would contribute to prolonging the agony of the Somali people.  A national reconciliation package should include respect for human rights, strict adherence to the rule of law, creation of a national army and police, and the promise of elections, when feasible, to ensure the primacy of democracy.  Respect for Somalia's territorial integrity was indispensable to national unity.

            He emphasized the importance his Government attached to strict compliance with the arms embargo on Somalia.  The resumption of political dialogue in Somalia would enable the international community to respond positively to appeals that it ensure continued relief and rehabilitation efforts there.  The rebuilding of Somalia would call for massive international aid in support of reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction.

            JAN BERTELING (Netherlands) spoke on behalf of the European Union, as well as Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Norway.  He said that since the withdrawal of the United Nations Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM II) from Somalia a little more than two years ago, the conflict between the factions had continued.  Some progress towards reconciliation had been achieved recently.  Today's debate was testimony that the international community had neither forgotten nor abandoned Somalia.  Efforts to alleviate the country's humanitarian situation continued.

            He said the Union restated its full support for the efforts of regional and other interested States, as well as international and regional organizations, to promote direct political dialogue and facilitate a broad-based political settlement in Somalia.  However, the results of those and other efforts had not been inclusive, as in every case one or more important players had refused to participate.  That pointed to the need for coordinating the various regional peace efforts.  However, the ultimate responsibility for achieving national reconciliation and for restoring peace rested with the Somali people themselves.

            The Union called on all Somali factions to cease immediately all hostilities and to cooperate with efforts for peace and national reconciliation, he said.  It encouraged all States to contribute generously to appeals from the United Nations for assistance to Somalia to ensure continued relief and rehabilitation efforts, including those aimed at strengthening civil society.  It was also important that there be scrupulous adherence to the Council's arms embargo on Somalia.

            FRANCESCO PAOLO FULCI (Italy) said that since January 1991, Somalia had been a country without a government, laws, public order or public services, and without any food security.  It had become a country in which life itself had become of little value.  The country had disintegrated before the very eyes of the international community, and United Nations efforts to address the situation had been to no avail.  In the vacuum, Somali civil society had struggled to reorganize at the local level.  Fortunately, elders had continued to be a source of legitimate authority.

            He stressed the need for a unified State, with legitimate central authority and a federal system that granted local communities broad powers of self-government.  His Government had not wavered in its commitment to the rebirth of Somalia.  It had tried very hard to keep alive the flame of hope for a better future for Somalia.

            Developments in recent months were somewhat encouraging, he said.  The Nairobi understandings of 15 October, the Sodere agreements of 3 January and the Mogadishu meeting of 20 January testified to the efforts of several countries and to the renewed focus of the Somali factions on the need for peace.  Now, more than ever, regional and international efforts for national reconciliation must be coordinated and intensified.

            From 4 to 18 April, the National Salvation Council met for the first time in Mogadishu, he said.  Not all of the factions attended.  However, the decisions taken at that meeting, particularly the one to convene a national conference, seemed to move in the right direction.  "It is high time that all sides, particularly the National Salvation Council and Hussein Aidid, took one step back and showed some flexibility so as to reach a pragmatic agreement on a new institutional arrangement", he said.

            He said it was satisfying to learn that for the second time since the

20 January arrangement by Italy's envoy, Hussein Aidid and Ali Mahdi met on

10 April.  More meetings must follow, in which Osman Atto must also join.  "When the history of this period is written, these men should be proud to be remembered as peace-makers and not war-mongers."

            He said Italy remained committed to doing its best to alleviate the humanitarian plight of the Somali people and last year contributed approximately $9 million in emergency aid.  The international community should enhance the process of national reconciliation in Somalia by making appeals, exerting influence, and providing all the assistance it could muster.  Nevertheless, in the final analysis, the fate of the Somali people rested in their own hands and in the willingness of their leaders to look beyond their differences towards a future of peaceful development.

            MOHAMMAD A. ABULHASAN (Kuwait), speaking for the Arab Group of States, said the international community must act to frustrate the merchants of war in Somalia, in a conflict whose first victim was a people whose only fault had been not to obtain a serious and consistent position from the international community.  The Arab Group, therefore, welcomed the recent political developments in Somalia.  He paid tribute to the efforts made by Italy's mediator to intensify consultations among faction leaders in order to reach agreement aimed at reopening the airport and harbour in the capital.  That, in turn, would reinforce stability.  The Arab Group supported all such efforts.

            The Arab States' efforts in Somalia were based on respect for Somalia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said.  It called on all Somali factions to cease hostilities forthwith and cooperate with all international and regional efforts aimed at achieving peace and national reconciliation.  It encouraged States to contribute generously to appeals made by the United Nations, in order to continue emergency assistance and rehabilitation efforts in Somalia.  He urged the Somali factions to take steps to convince the international community that they desired peace, he said.

            SLAHEDDINE ABDELLAH (Tunisia) said the conclusion by the factions of agreements in the meetings in Nairobi and Sodere was an encouraging development.  It suggested that the signatories wanted to end the fratricidal war and allow Somalia to rejoin the international community.  National interest was being placed above clan interest in the two agreements.  He paid tribute to the various efforts being made on behalf of peace in Somalia.  Such efforts must continue and intensify in order to consolidate progress already made.  The League of Arab States and the OAU had emphasized the importance of the involvement of all Somali factions.  The National Conference on Reconciliation must go forward with the participation of all parties.  Coordination of the regional efforts was necessary.

            A Special Envoy for Somalia would be useful to support mediation efforts, he stated.  The role of the United Nations was crucial in mobilizing regional efforts towards peace.  The arms embargo must be strictly observed.  A trust fund was important to help implement the Sodere and Nairobi agreements.  The path to national reconciliation would also be determined by humanitarian assistance.  The factions must work together to create conditions for reconciliation and reconstruction.

            DURI MOHAMMED (Ethiopia) said that for the first time since the adoption of the Nairobi Declaration of 1994 a promising sign of progress towards peace in Somalia was finally visible.  It began in October last year when the President of Kenya brought together leaders of the three major Somali groups in Nairobi.  At the same time, Ethiopia, as mandated by the heads of State and governments of the OAU and IGAD, began consultations with all Somali factions in order to set in motion direct consultations and negotiations among all Somali political movements and factions.

            As a result, he continued, leaders of Somali political organizations were able to meet for high-level consultations in Sodere.  After eight weeks of negotiations, agreement was reached on a common course of action to resolve the crisis.  The Sodere meeting was conducted with a spirit of give and take on the part of the Somali leaders, by putting the interests of their nation and people above sectarian and individual interests.  In spite of all efforts to include all parties, one of the factions regrettably did not participate in the high-level consultations. 

            He stressed that the primary responsibility for the solution of the problem in Somalia lay in the hands of the Somalis themselves.  The role of the international community was to assist and facilitate their efforts, he said.  In their Declaration in Sodere on 3 January, the leaders placed national objectives above clan interest.  The political movements established at their Sodere meeting a National Salvation Council, with a mandate to embark on a preparatory course of action that would lead to the establishment of a Transitional Central Authority or Provisional Central Government.

            In pursuing that mandate, he said, the Somali political movements agreed to convene a National Reconciliation Conference in Bossasso, Somalia, to be followed by a concluding national conference to announce formation of a Transitional Central Authority.  Preparations were currently under way in that direction and leaders had agreed to convene the National Reconciliation Conference on 10 June 1997.  He expressed the hope that those leaders who had not joined the process could come on board. 

            He said the role of the United Nations and the Council in ensuring the success of regional efforts for peace in Somalia was particularly important at the current critical stage.   A number of measures should be taken.  The Council should call upon all Somali parties to cooperate with the efforts of the OAU and IGAD and make clear that any faction's non-cooperation would not be tolerated.  The United Nations should also expand its relief and rehabilitation assistance to maintain and advance the present momentum for peace.

            To ensure the success of the National Reconciliation Conference in Bossasso, he said, the Council should request the Secretary-General to establish a trust fund and call upon Member States to contribute.  The Council should also emphasize the importance of close cooperation and consultation among all those working for peace in Somalia.  Any proliferation of initiatives should be resisted by the United Nations and the role of the Council was crucial in that regard.

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For information media. Not an official record.