I offer best wishes for success, on behalf of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to the co-hosts and participants of today’s meeting and thank the Government of the United Kingdom for organizing this important conference on Somalia.
What a difference a year can make.
When we gathered a year ago for the first London Conference, we were focused on a political transition that had for long seemed disappointingly distant.
Today, we are here to support the Federal Government of Somalia and its agenda of peace, unity and state-building and to help take the country to a new beginning.
Let us today remember all those who have made these achievements possible:
* The people of Somalia, who came from every clan and every part of the country to select responsible and forward-looking leaders;
* The African Union Mission in Somalia and their Somali partners, who have made so many sacrifices;
* And the representatives of the international community, who joined in solidarity with Somalia in London, Istanbul, New York and Mogadishu.
Somalia is building peace. Yet, it is still in the midst of conflict. Last month, when Al-Shabab extremists took over Huddur, they beheaded people who would not support their ideology.
Mr. President, your priorities provide the basis for this conference. Let me commend your leadership and today mention four of them.
First, security requires capable and accountable institutions. AMISOM remains critical. The United Nations is open to new options. We intend to develop benchmarks for a possible future deployment of a UN peacekeeping operation. But the goal remains for Somalis to deliver security without outside assistance.
Second, the rule of law. Police, courts and prisons are essential for security and state authority. The attacks against Mogadishu Court House and the cowardly assassination of the Deputy State Attorney last month are grim reminders of the dangers faced by Somali lawyers, judges and those who advocate justice and reject impunity. The 4 May suicide car bomb on the convoy of the Interior Ministry and a Qatari delegation is another tragic example of these perils.
Third, accountable administration of public revenues. We welcome today’s opportunity to discuss reform of Somalia’s financial management system.
Fourth, the protection of citizens’ rights. Women and children have borne the brunt of the war, not least sexual violence. The United Nations will support the Somali Government in developing protection and access to justice for victims.
The daunting responsibility of the Somali government is to deliver, among competing priorities, a Constitution and elections in the space of just three years.
The United Nations is committed to assist. We welcome the decision by the Security Council last week to establish a new Assistance Mission for Somalia, UNSOM, to be deployed on June 3.
On the eve of this new phase in the UN’s engagement, I thank outgoing Special Representative, Ambassador Augustine Mahiga, for his tireless work and his many contributions to open a new hopeful chapter for Somalia.
I am pleased today to also introduce his successor, Ambassador Nicholas Kay, who I know will ably lead the United Nations work together with the Government of Somalia.
What will make the difference between a Somalia that realizes its promise and one that backslides into war and famine?
First, inside Somalia, the difference depends on the degree of inclusive political process. I welcome the Government’s efforts to reach out in the country.
Secondly, countries from the region must promote good relations to achieve a positive outcome. I commend the efforts of Somalia and its neighbours, not least through IGAD (the Inter-Government Authority on Development), to forge a common vision.
And finally, the international community must be unified. We have in the past seen examples of uncoordinated international assistance around the world. As we prepare for a new Aid Compact, let us support Somalia and the Somali Government with one voice and with one common vision.
In closing, let me tell you that I worked in Somalia in the fall of 1992 as UN Humanitarian Relief Coordinator during the worst time of famine and conflict. It was perhaps the bleakest place on earth at the time. A similar tragedy leading to the death of 270,000 people, half of them children below the age of 5, took place in 2011. We must never let this happen again.
Today, the people of Somalia have a chance to rebuild their lives. They deserve our support in their historic mission. This is why we are in London today.