Somalia’s first peace and reconciliation colloquium opens in Mogadishu

11 Feb 2018

Somalia’s first peace and reconciliation colloquium opens in Mogadishu

Mogadishu – The issue of fostering peace and national reconciliation in Somalia was the topic of discussion today at a gathering of renowned local and international experts, researchers and academics in the capital, Mogadishu.

“(The experts) have been assembled to share their knowledge and their expertise and to figure out how collectively that experience can be geared to the extraordinary challenge Somalia faces,” the Secretary-Generals’ Special Representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, said in remarks at the opening of the so-called ‘Colloquium on Peace and Reconciliation in Somalia.’

The first of its kind in the country, the gathering seeks to generate a body of research that will enhance efforts at conflict prevention and reconciliation, which are widely considered to be prerequisites for lasting stability in Somalia. The event is co-hosted by the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS), the Government of Norway, and the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

The meeting will see those gathered discuss related themes stemming from expert briefing papers that were prepared by organizations from within and outside Somalia, and critically examine the dynamics of conflict in the country while also exploring options for curbing violence. Plans are underway to publish the portfolio of papers in book form later this year.

Colloquium participants will also identify practical steps for promoting peace and reconciliation initiatives at the national and regional levels.

Participants in the opening session of a three-day colloquium on peace and reconciliation pose for a group photo in Mogadishu on 11 February 2018. The event is co-hosted by the Federal Government of Somalia, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and the Government of Norway. UN Photo

At today’s opening, the FGS’ Minister of Interior, Federal Affairs and Reconciliation, Abdi Mohamed Sabriye, expressed his government’s commitment to achieve a lasting peace, and welcomed the contributions of the assembled Somali and international experts to that endeavour.

“We intend to make good use of your efforts and implement the recommendations that will come out of your deliberations over the next two days,” said Minister Sabriye. “Your years of experience and knowledge of conflict resolution and management will be beneficial to Somalia in the effort to reduce and eventually eliminate violence.”

In his remarks, the Head of the Somalia Team at the Embassy of Norway, Vebjørn Heines, noted that the Scandinavian country’s efforts to resolve conflict and promote reconciliation in Somalia date back to 1995 when the Norwegian government hosted a peace conference on the Horn of Africa country.

“All these years after, I think we still have a way to go, in order to ensure that our choices and actions are well informed,” Mr. Heines noted.

“This initiative in our view is exactly what has been said by the Minister and by [Special Representative Keating] – to give the Government, the national partners and the international partners, including the UN, a body of research and recommendations that will improve the ability to prevent conflicts,” he added.

The Somali and international experts and researchers have been divided into working groups that will focus on topics such as al-Shabaab, national reconciliation, and business and development.

Their recommendations will be presented on the third and final day of the colloquium.