Permanent Representative Urges Easing of Arms Embargo to Permit Heavy Weapons
Somalia’s peaceful election of a new President had opened a unique opportunity to surmount entrenched insecurity, political and humanitarian challenges and create a functional State in the coming four years, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today.
Urging international support to help the Somali authorities realize that vision, Raisedon Zenenga, the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Somalia, said that country’s Federal Government and the leaders of its federal member states had concluded a political agreement on the national security architecture. That framework defined the size, structure, composition, command-and-control structure and financing for Somalia’s security forces.
“The significance of that agreement is enormous,” he said by video link from Mogadishu, offering a model for other political agreements on management of natural resources, sharing of revenue, and definition of the Federal Government’s powers, as well as those of the federal member states. Reached two months into the term of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, the accord should be coupled with an agreement defining a federal model for the justice and corrections sector, he added.
Describing insecurity caused by Al-Shabaab as the biggest challenge, he said fighting the group required offensive operations by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Army, alongside partners in a position to undertake special counter-terrorism operations. Efforts must also be made to extend State authority, address deficits in governance and resolve local conflicts, he emphasized.
In a second briefing, Francisco Caetano José Madeira, Special Representative for Somalia of the African Union Commission Chairperson and Head of AMISOM, described the 16 April national consultative forum — the first of its kind — as an “unheard of milestone” whereby regional leaders and others had agreed to establish regional security councils. The agreement to build an affordable, professional Somali security force would be a strong barrier against insecurity, he stressed.
He went on to underline the need for partnership between the Federal Government and the Somali people in pursuit of a shared national agenda. Applauding the President’s decision to extend amnesty to former Al-Shabaab combatants willing to renounce violence, he described the peaceful transfer of power in Somalia as “a major feat of unique significance”.
In the ensuing discussion, delegates expressed deep concern over the unrelenting drought-fuelled humanitarian crisis in Somalia, which many said could derail hard-won security gains. Al-Shabaab continued to disrupt relief supplies, some said, stressing that improving security should be a major priority. Egypt’s representative joined others in anticipating the creation of professional Somali security forces, and the provision of support to military and law-enforcement institutions. Senegal’s representative said AMISOM’s exit strategy must go hand in hand with the strengthening of Somali forces, emphasizing that the joint African Union-United Nations review of AMISOM would be crucial in that regard.
Other speakers hailed the formation of a Federal Government dedicated to fighting corruption, reforming the Constitution, pursuing federalism and rejuvenating the economy. The Russian Federation’s representative welcomed the President’s amnesty for those willing to lay down their arms as a progressive sign, while the United Kingdom’s delegate reminded that commitments to address constitutional issues relating to the sharing of resources must be fulfilled.
Somalia’s representative pledged the President would spare no effort in fighting the “three main enemies” of terrorism, corruption and poverty. Having appointed a Prime Minister and a Cabinet comprising six women, the most ever, he would work with Parliament to ensure inclusive and vibrant politics, conducted on a level playing field. However, the arms embargo imposed on Somalia — despite having been partially lifted in favour of the security forces — had curtailed its ability to secure heavy weapons, he said, expressing hope that it would be lifted fully. The new President wanted to change the narrative of Somalia as a failing State. “We are certain we will only go forward toward progress and prosperity,” he declared.
Also speaking today were representatives of China, United States, Japan, France, Italy, Sweden, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Bolivia and Uruguay.
The meeting began at 10:03 a.m. and ended at 12:13 p.m.
RAISEDON ZENENGA, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, briefed from Mogadishu, reporting that the tragedy emanating from the severe drought continued to unfold, with the humanitarian crisis deteriorating more rapidly than originally projected. Assessments in April had indicated critical levels of acute malnutrition among pastoral and agricultural populations and internally displaced persons in Baidoa and Mogadishu, while expected relief from the rains had not materialized. Food security was expected to decline. “The crisis is unlikely to abate any time soon,” he cautioned, noting that mortality and protection risks continued to rise, as did sexual violence in camps for the internally displaced. The need for humanitarian relief was increasing faster than the response pace, with only half of the 3 million people needing food having been reached. While $669 million had been received or pledged, there was a $831 million gap in the revised 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan. Asking for contributions, he said Somalia would continue to lurch from one avoidable humanitarian crisis to another unless its structural problems were addressed, he said.
That would require building the capacity of State institutions and devising development-oriented approaches to help the Government cope, as well as improving security, generating revenue and fighting corruption, he continued. To build a functional State in the next four years, he said, would require a focus on building security and police forces, promoting economic recovery, instituting measures to manage public funds, rooting out corruption, completing the constitutional review, and fostering reconciliation. The universal elections in 2020 would be a defining litmus test of progress made to that end. In the past two months, the Government and leaders of the federal member states had taken important first steps, which had raised hopes that those priorities could be accomplished, he said, adding that leaders recognized the credibility gap that separated Government institutions from the public, and had demonstrated the commitment to work with the private sector and international partners. On 16 April, two months into President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s term, they had concluded an agreement defining the size, structure and composition of the national security architecture, in addition to command-and-control and financing arrangements based on a federal model.
“The significance of that agreement is enormous” and would catalyse efforts to reinforce governance and increase revenues, he said. It also offered a model for other political agreements on the management of natural resources, sharing of revenues and broader definition of the powers of the Federal Government and the federal member states. The National Security Architecture Agreement and the new policing model, adopted in 2016, should be complemented by a political agreement that would define a federal model for the justice and corrections sector, he said. Continuing insecurity, emanating primarily from Al-Shabaab attacks, remained the biggest challenge, he added, commending efforts by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for having provided the security “backbone” over the last decade. Fighting Al-Shabaab required a multipronged approach, combining offensive actions by both AMISOM and the Somali National Army, special counter-terrorism operations by partners in a position to do so, fostering the extension of State authority, addressing governance deficits and resolving local conflicts, while also offering incentives to elements wishing to take the President’s offer of amnesty. In the short-term, AMISOM needed predictable funding through assessed contributions, he said.
Pointing out that Al-Shabaab fed on governance shortfalls, particularly in the area of human rights, justice and the rule of law, he said that made an inclusive approach to governance and access to basic services critical to preventing violent extremism. Noting that national institutions tasked with implementing the Government’s agenda suffered severe capacity shortfalls, he said efforts relating to the national security architecture must be harmonized with arrangements for the conditions-based transition of primary security responsibility from AMISOM to the national security forces, due to start in 2018. Similarly, elaborate coordination would be needed in synchronizing the constitutional review with security and political agreements, and preparations for the 2020 elections. The absence of national security architecture, and the disorganized delivery of security support over the past eight years on the part of international partners, had contributed equally to the failure to build legitimate national security forces. A security pact between Somalia and 42 international partners had been a key agreement arising from the recent London Conference, he said, adding that a second document outlined a new partnership for Somalia, setting out a mutual-accountability framework and principles. Going forward, the African Union-United Nations review built upon the Strategic Assessment of the United Nations presence in Somalia, conducted from 5 to 15 March at the Council’s request, he noted.
FRANCISCO CAETANO JOSE MADEIRA, Special Representative of the Chairperson, African Union Commission for Somalia and Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia, described the peaceful transfer of power during the recent election as a major feat of unique significance, especially since Somalia was plagued by violent extremism and terrorism. Decisions made at the London Conference would be “game-changers” in the reality of Somalia’s near future due to the immense preparatory work and strategic decisions taken by the country’s leadership. A sustained effort for reconciliation was a permanent feature on the path to a peaceful and stable Somalia, he emphasized.
On 16 April 2017, he recalled, the Federal Government had held its first national consultative forum with the Speaker of the National Parliament, the Prime Minister and various regional leaders in attendance. They had agreed to establish regional security councils, a decision that would improve the national security architecture and an unheard of milestone in Somalia’s history. The April agreement on building an affordable, professional security force was a solid building block in the construction of a strong barrier against insecurity and instability, he said. However, military and law-enforcement alone could not achieve success.
He emphasized the need to build a strong partnership for peace between the Government of Somalia and the Somali people — including civil society, youth organizations and academia — in the pursuit of a shared national agenda. Applauding the President’s decision to extend amnesty, he encouraged Somalis who had fallen into Al-Shabaab’s hands to renounce violence and join their brothers and sisters in rebuilding their country. All national and international partners should help to build the infrastructure that the President would need to accommodate Somalis renouncing violence and reintegrating into society. Securing supply routes was an important way to extend the State’s presence throughout the country, bring the Government closer to the people, and reduce their exposure to Al-Shabaab’s ideological narrative. Somalia should have well-trained and available forces to liberate its towns and cities while undertaking joint, coordinated operations to contain the Al-Shabaab militants.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom), recalling the Secretary-General’s revised humanitarian response plan seeking $1.5 billion for Somalia, called for collective efforts to address the country’s needs, citing progress on the political and security fronts, and welcoming international support in that regard. The conclusion of the electoral process, which had culminated in the appointment of a new Government, was a crucial milestone as authorities set out the priorities of tackling drought and corruption, building security capacity, reviewing the Constitution, implementing the federalism project and rejuvenating the economy. Commitments to address constitutional issues relating to the sharing of resources must be fulfilled, he emphasized, pointing out that international efforts coordinated by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) would be required to support Somali decision-making. The United Kingdom agreed with the emphasis on supporting federal member states in order to foster more inclusive politics across the country, he added. Noting that the security pact agreed in London charted a path for Somali-led security institutions, he underlined the need for international coherence in implementing the Somali vision of security, and for strong political will to implement reforms.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said the establishment of the new Government, as well as steps to realize the people’s aspirations, establish State institutions and defeat terrorism constituted a new start towards building a strong and stable Somalia. Urging accelerated implementation of the London security agreement and the new partnership, he said terrorism posed a real danger, requiring international and regional efforts to fight Al-Shabaab. Egypt looked forward to implementing the 16 April agreements on establishing strong and professional Somali security forces, he said, emphasizing that support must be provided to military and law-enforcement institutions, as well as for the delivery of basic services and the constitutional review. There was also need to intensify international efforts, notably by the United Nations and in accordance with Somali priorities, as well as regional efforts to help Somalia address the humanitarian effects of drought.
WU HAITAO (China) noted that since the end of 2016, Somalia had successfully held elections, established a new Government and achieved a peaceful transition of power. AMISOM and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) had made positive contributions in those areas, but Somalia still faced challenging humanitarian concerns, with 6.2 million people lacking food, he said. Somalia had a long way to go for lasting peace, security and economic development, he emphasized, urging the international community to provide more humanitarian support. He welcomed the security agreement and the new partnership accord adopted during the recent London Conference.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) recalled the Secretary-General’s use, during the London Conference, of a phrase not heard enough in relation to Somalia — “good news”. With much still to be done, there were hopeful signs that a new foundation was being laid in Somalia, she said, adding that the goal was to support Somali-led reform so as to build a stable and democratic country. Somalia had a new leader, described last week in London by the United States Defense Secretary as “willing to put personal comfort aside” and carry the dangers of his role, she recalled. Somalia had also created a vital new national security architecture, which the London agreement would support with more coordinated international involvement. United States support of that agreement and the new architecture came with expectations, she said, emphasizing the need to tackle corruption and undertake actions to ensure transparency and accountability. Due to ongoing threats from Al-Shabaab, however, it was not appropriate to consider a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Somalia, she emphasized.
ANNE GUEGUEN (France) described the progress made in Somalia since 2007, most recently in the electoral process, as “reversible”, saying that national priorities centred on the signing of an agreement on federalism, delivery of public services, addressing the effects of drought, improving the rule of law and ensuring respect for human rights. There was also need for greater transparency in the management of international assistance. While the geographic diversification of AMISOM’s funding had not taken place, “we should not stop here”, she said, noting that the Mission’s withdrawal should not simply follow a national timetable but be linked to the security situation. AMISOM must increase its operational effectiveness with improved mission-support capacity and enhanced coordination, she said. Urging greater engagement by Somalis themselves, notably the “Darwish” security forces, she said they must be more involved in controlling liberated areas of the country.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) said the past months had restored hope for Somalia’s future, and Somali ownership was the key to continuing the process. Concerning security, he welcomed the results of the London Conference and the launch of the new partnership for Somalia. The threat from Al-Shabaab was serious, and Italy would continue to support Somali ownership of the security sector through the bilateral training of national police, he said. Somalia should tackle the root causes of radicalization, including poverty, as well as lack of education and job opportunities.
PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) said he expected the new Government to focus on reconciliation, restoring statehood and enhancing security and socioeconomic development. The President’s declaration of a state of emergency and amnesty for those willing to lay down their weapons demonstrated his progressiveness, he said, adding that the National Security Council could be a promising forum for collective decision-making. It was a move in the right direction. Expressing serious concern over the security situation, he said it was far from stable due to unremitting forays by Al-Shabaab, which had expanded beyond Somalia’s borders and was coordinating with other terrorist groups in the region. On piracy in the Gulf of Aden and in the North-Western Indian Ocean, he noted that there had been five pirate forays in the March-April period, a level of activity not seen since 2012, and which was linked to the worsening economic situation, due to the drought. He urged continuing coordination of anti-piracy efforts through the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. Turning to the review of AMISOM’s mandate, he said it must enhance the effectiveness of African peacekeepers, and cautioned that its rapid withdrawal could cause the security situation to collapse. As for the embargoes against arms and charcoal, he said they had been effective in cutting supply channels to extremist and terrorist forces, but called for greater effectiveness in that regard, pointing out that the partial lifting of the arms embargo for the national security forces had proven to be a good decision.
OLAF SKOOG (Sweden) emphasized the need to consolidate and build upon Somalia’s recent political and security advances, noting that important peacebuilding and State-building tasks remained. “The building of trust and constructive relations within, and between, the federal member states and Central Government will be key,” he said, adding that strengthening the capacity of local governance and institutions must also be a high priority. Going forward, it would be essential to configure United Nations support for Somalia in an appropriate manner, and the strategic review of AMISOM would also be important in ensuring well-calibrated and well-coordinated support. In that regard, it was crucial to base the Mission’s projected drawdown on conditions, and to synchronize it with a corresponding strengthening of Somalia’s security forces. Voicing concern over the prevailing drought, he warned that it could have severe security and political implications. He went on to outline the conclusions reached by the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, chaired by Ethiopia, calling for their implementation and for the allocation of sufficient child-protection capacity to AMISOM.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said a coordinated effort was important for the support given to Somalia, and the basis for such coordination had hopefully been laid recently at the London meeting. Positive momentum for peace and security had grown, and it was important to honour the pledges made by translating them into concrete support. He said he was also mindful of the humanitarian crisis in Somalia due to drought, adding that an urgent response to that crisis was first and foremost a matter of saving lives and preserving recent gains. Further complicating the crisis was the situation of Somali refugees and displaced persons.
EDUARD FESKO (Ukraine) emphasized the critical need to scale up the humanitarian response to the drought. Improving the security architecture was also vital to preventing Somalia’s relapse into conflict and to facilitating broader political and economic development. Expressing support for a conditions-based transition from AMISOM to the Somali security forces he said the political process also required special attention, as did the consolidated efforts of all actors. He echoed calls to advance Somalia’s constitutional review, describing it as critical to a “one person, one vote” system in the next elections. Strengthening local governance, pursuing reconciliation and establishing an inclusive administration in Galmudug were also crucial tasks, he said.
FODÉ SECK (Senegal) said national, regional and global efforts were required to help Somalia address terrorism, violent extremism, drought, humanitarian crisis and piracy. “We can still be hopeful,” he said, adding that following the formation of two parliamentary chambers, the President’s election, and the adoption of the National Security Architecture, a political agreement of the same dimensions could be found to ensure a functional State with a Government able to organize the 2020 elections on the basis of “one person, one vote”, and ensure good representation of women and inputs from Somalia’s dynamic diaspora. The joint review of AMISOM was crucial, and the Mission’s exit strategy must go hand in hand with strengthening the Somali security forces. He expressed concern over the security situation, given the persistence of Al-Shabaab and the growing footprint of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in the region. Senegal welcomed the Government’s decision to tilt reform of the security sector towards a federal security model, while emphasizing that the fight against corruption and the need to improve human rights must continue priorities. He voiced support for Somalia’s zero-tolerance policy on the diversion of aid and commitment to act against perpetrators, while urging continued support for tackling the challenges of public financial management, for increasing revenues and completing institutional reforms.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said international partnerships were vital for holding elections under a “one person, one vote” formula, and urged continuation of that political process in parallel with the building of State institutions, review of the Constitution and the promotion of inclusive dialogue. Voicing hope that the upcoming “Operation Juba Valley Corridor II” would contribute significantly to neutralizing the Al-Shabaab threat, he encouraged stakeholders to work together in building a strong national security architecture incorporating the necessary reforms for the Somali National Army and the police force to assume greater responsibility from AMISOM during the transition. Going forward, the Security Pact adopted at the London Conference should be considered a road map for strengthening the fight against Al-Shabaab, he said, adding that support must also be provided for Somalia’s National Development Plan and for international humanitarian efforts to combat drought.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY (Bolivia) said that, due to the recent elections, women and young people enjoyed greater representation in Parliament, adding that “one person, one vote” elections would be held by 2020. Challenges still to be met included the fight against terrorism and the need to combat piracy, he said, pointing out that Al-Shabaab continued to restrict humanitarian access to people in areas under its control. Welcoming the holding of the London Conference, he said that he recognized the important contributions of regional partners in the transition to a secure and stable Somalia. The humanitarian situation and the worsening drought added to Somalia’s problems, with 6.2 million people facing food insecurity, he said, stressing that millions required immediate assistance to survive, and that the lack of social security networks and basic services increased the country’s vulnerability.
LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay), Council President for May, spoke in his national capacity, saying Al-Shabaab remained a potent threat despite the efforts of UNSOM, AMISOM and the Somali security forces. Its militants had demonstrated adaptability and resilience, he said, expressing concern about the group’s preparedness to use violent methods to hinder the delivery of assistance and associated humanitarian activities. The Somali security forces should be strengthened to work with AMISOM in combating Al-Shabaab, he emphasized, pointing out that years of conflict and insecurity had exacerbated the current humanitarian situation. Coordination efforts must be redoubled to satisfy immediate needs, he said.
MOHAMED RABI A. YUSUF (Somalia) said the conclusion of the electoral process on 8 February had marked a change of direction for his country. The President had pledged to improve security, maintain democratic institutions and spare no effort in the fight against the “three main enemies” — terrorism, corruption and poverty. He had also appointed a Prime Minister and a Cabinet with six women members, the most ever, and would work with Parliament to ensure that politics were inclusive, vibrant and conducted on a level playing field. He went on to describe the new National Security Council, comprising all federal member states, as a forum for discussing broad matters of national importance.
The national security architecture and the security pact agreed at the recent London Conference on Somalia would help the country improve its national army and police. However, the arms embargo — despite partial lifting — had curtailed the Government’s ability to secure heavy weapons, he said, expressing hope that the embargo would be fully lifted and that command-and-control systems would be improved. Once supply routes were restored, the Government would build local administrations, alongside the federal member states, he said. On the humanitarian crisis, he said there was an elevated risk of famine, underlining the need for early donor contributions to save lives. Support was also needed for economic reforms that would be critical to breaking the crisis cycle, he said, stressing that the new President wanted to change the narrative of Somalia as a failing State. “We are certain we will only go forward towards progress and prosperity.”