Briefing to the Security Council by Raisedon Zenenga, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia

17 May 2017

Briefing to the Security Council by Raisedon Zenenga, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia

Mr. President,

When SRSG Keating addressed this Council two months ago, Somalia’s new cabinet had just been announced and the Secretary-General had just visited the country at a time he aptly described as a moment of both tragedy and hope.

The tragedy, emanating from the severe drought, continues to unfold. The humanitarian crisis has deteriorated more rapidly than was originally projected. Assessments conducted in April indicate critical levels of acute malnutrition among pastoral and agricultural populations, and also among internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Baidoa and Mogadishu.

The expected relief from the Gu rains has not materialized. The rains arrived late and a substantial loss of livestock has already occurred. Food security is also expected to further decline. The crisis is unlikely to abate any time soon.

Mortality and protection risks, especially for women and children, continue to rise as drought conditions force nomads to migrate from rural areas to towns. Sexual violence in the IDP camps is on the rise.

The scaled up response by humanitarian agencies has averted a famine thus far, but the crisis is unlikely to abate any time soon. The needs for humanitarian assistance are increasing faster than the pace of the response. So far, only half of the 3 million people in need of food have been reached.

A total of $669 million has been received or pledged for the ongoing humanitarian effort, leaving a gap of $831 million in the revised 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan. Donor contributions and commitments therefore need to be further scaled up.

In parallel, steps must be taken to build Somalia’s capacity to withstand recurrent humanitarian crises triggered by extreme climatic conditions. Somalia will continue to lurch from one avoidable humanitarian crisis to another, unless resilience is fostered by addressing the country’s structural problems. Investment in capacity building of relevant State institutions and development-oriented approaches should be prioritized to enable the country to better cope with future humanitarian crises. Improving security, generating revenues and fighting corruption will also increase resilience.  

Mr. President,

Somalia now has a unique opportunity to overcome its current fragility and build a functional state in the coming four years. To realize this vision, the country needs to make progress on the following priorities: (1) building security and police forces that are capable of protecting its population and that can start taking over responsibility for security from AMISOM; (2) promoting economic recovery so that it can generate revenues, create jobs, start delivering basic social services, and reduce the country’s over-dependence on donors; (3) instituting appropriate measures for effective management of public funds, coupled with rooting out corruption which is as great a threat to stability as the prevailing insecurity, and accelerating progress towards arrears clearance to secure IFI financing through the HIPC process; (4) completing the review of the Constitution and deepening federalism; and (5) fostering reconciliation and resolving the many longstanding local conflicts in the country.

The universal elections in 2020 will be a defining litmus test of the progress made towards building a properly functioning state.  

Mr. President,

In the past two months, the Federal Government and Federal Member States leaders have taken important first steps, which reinforced the prevailing hope that these key peacebuilding and state-building priorities can be accomplished during the current term of the new Government. They have demonstrated the will to secure political agreements that are essential for such progress to materialize. The leaders recognize that the current credibility gap separating government institutions from the general population needs to be addressed. They have also shown the necessary commitment to work with the private sector and to engage constructively with Somalia’s international partners.

On 16 April, just two months into President Farmaajo’s term of office, the leaders concluded a political agreement on the long-awaited National Security Architecture. The agreement defines the size, structure, composition, command and control, as well as financing arrangements for Somalia’s security forces, based on a federal model.

The significance of that agreement is enormous:  it provides the framework for the accelerated development of acceptable, accountable, affordable and able security forces. It will also have a catalytic effect on efforts to reinforce governance and to increase the generation of revenues. In addition, it provides a model for other essential political agreements on such key issues as the management of natural resources, revenue-sharing, and the broader definition of the respective powers and responsibilities of the Federal Government and the Federal Member States. The agreement makes it possible for international partners to support Somalia’s security sector in a more coherent manner.

The National Security Architecture agreement and the New Policing Model which was adopted last year, should now be complemented by a political agreement defining a federal model for the justice and corrections sector.

Mr. President,

As we welcome the advent of a new chapter in Somalia and the unique opportunities it has unlocked, we are not oblivious of the scale and complexity of the hurdles facing the Somali Government during the long four-year journey that lies ahead. 

Continued insecurity, emanating primarily, but not exclusively, from Al Shabaab attacks, remains the biggest challenge. We applaud AMISOM for providing the backbone of security in Somalia over the past ten years. Its joint efforts with the Somali security forces, with support from international partners, have made possible the progress achieved in the country to date. However, Al Shabaab still has sufficient capability to disrupt and impede the peacebuilding and state-building process.

Fighting Al Shabaab requires a multi-pronged approach, combining AMISOM and Somali national army offensive operations, special counter-terrorism operations by Somalia’s partners who are in a position to do so, fostering the extension of state authority, addressing governance deficits and resolving local conflicts, while at the same time providing incentives to elements that wish to take advantage of President Farmaajo’s offer of amnesty.  

Support to AMISOM to carry out effective operations must accompany and complement implementation of the National Security Architecture agreement. It is not a question of choosing one over the other. Therefore, in the short term, AMISOM needs predictable funding, ideally through assessed contributions.

Offensive operations by AMISOM and the Somali forces will yield sustainable outcomes only if they are planned in a coordinated manner and conducted in compliance with human rights and international humanitarian law. The current humanitarian crisis should be taken into account; vulnerable populations should be properly protected; and arrangements for “holding and building” recovered areas, including local administrations acceptable to the local communities, should be put in place.  

Vigorous implementation of the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy is important as we continue to enable AMISOM operations and contribute to the accelerated building of Somali security forces.

Al Shabaab feeds on the existing shortfalls in governance, particularly in the areas of human rights, justice and the rule of law, and the delivery of basic services.  An inclusive approach to governance and access to basic services is therefore critical to preventing and countering violent extremism.

We welcome the Federal Government’s efforts to mediate between the Galmudug State and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a. The dialogue must continue. Reconciliation with Ahlu Sunna is critical to the viability and security of Galmudug State, including its efforts to address the threat from piracy.

While it is premature to talk of a return to the peak era of piracy off the coast of Somalia, recent incidents of hijacking of ships remind us that the progress achieved so far is reversible. Robust counter-piracy efforts, including increased patrolling of Somali waters should continue, accompanied by greater support to build the capacity of Somalia’s maritime law enforcement services.

Mr. President,

The Somali institutions responsible for implementing the government’s agenda over the next four years suffer from severe capacity shortfalls. The target dates set out in the political agreement on the National Security Architecture and other plans will not be met without substantial and coherent support from international partners. The work related to the National Security Architecture must be harmonized with arrangements for the conditions-based transition of primary responsibility for the country’s security from AMISOM to Somalia’s security forces, which is expected to start in 2018. This will require a high degree of coordination that surpasses the current capacity of the country’s institutions.

Similarly, timely progress in reviewing the Constitution, synchronized with both the painstaking process of securing political agreements on key issues, and the preparations for the 2020 elections in a challenging political and security context, requires elaborate coordination among the concerned Somali institutions and reinforcement of their capacity.

Mr. President,

Such cohesion is imperative, not just among the relevant Somali institutions, but also among the many international partners that deliver support to Somalia’s security sector and to key political processes. We must acknowledge that the absence of an agreed National Security Architecture and the disorganized delivery of security sector support by international partners over the past eight years have contributed, in equal measure, to the lack of progress in building capable and legitimate security forces in Somalia.

This is why, Mr. President, the outcome of the London Conference on Somalia, which took place six days ago, and the joint AU-UN review of AMISOM and Somali security forces, which is currently under way, are so important.

The London Conference provided a unique opportunity for Somalia to present its agenda to international partners and reach agreement on the framework for cooperation to realize key priorities, anchored in the principle of mutual accountability. This is captured in two key agreements that came out of the Conference.

One is the Security Pact between Somalia and 42 international partners. The Pact endorses the National Security Architecture agreement, sets out milestones for the rapid development of Somalia’s security forces, and recognizes that AMISOM remains critical to securing Somalia while also expressing support for a conditions-based transition from AMISOM to Somali security forces, with clear target dates linked to the agreed milestones. It also outlines a coordination and implementation mechanism to ensure coherent delivery of support by international partners.

The second document defines a New Partnership for Somalia. It sets out a mutual accountability framework, as well as specific partnership principles and enabling actions, based on which Somalia and its international partners will work together to meet the priority political, security and economic recovery goals identified in the National Development Plan. 

Somalia and its partners agreed to meet again in October, to follow up on the commitments made in London. At that meeting, they will consider a financing strategy for the national security architecture, in line with the Comprehensive Approach to Security.

Thus, the London Conference gave added momentum to the efforts to advance Somalia’s key priorities.

Mr. President,

Turning now to the joint AU-UN review. The review is focusing on five key tasks: 1. Establishing a baseline assessment of AMISOM and the Somali security forces; 2. Identifying the necessary tasks for AMISOM within the framework of a comprehensive approach to security; 3. Identifying the range of security actors that play a role in Somalia and make recommendations on the preferred relationships and division of responsibilities between them; 4. Making recommendations on AMISOM’s future size to facilitate a smooth conditions-based transition to Somali security forces; 5. Developing recommendations on what a conditions-based transition should look like; and 6. Identifying the required support to AMISOM and the Somali security forces, tied to the transition plan. 

The findings and recommendations of the review will be presented to the Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council for their consideration. 

The joint review builds on the strategic assessment of the UN presence in Somalia, which was conducted from 5-15 March, at the Council’s request. In his letter of 5 May, addressed to you, Mr. President, the Secretary-General transmitted the results of the assessment. I wish to emphasize the Secretary-General’s observation in the letter that, as the mandate of UNSOM is adjusted according to new priorities,  some elements of the UN’s support to Somalia over the next four years will create demands for increased resources. We therefore trust that the Security Council and other relevant legislative bodies will support the recommendations of the strategic assessment and continue to provide the necessary resources required to enable the UN system to support Somalia’s ambitious undertakings. 

Mr.  President,

I wish to thank all members of this Council for their strong and united position on supporting Somalia’s peacebuilding and state-building agenda, and for the support the UN team in Somalia has received from you so far.

Thank you.