SRSG Nicholas Kay's Briefing to the UN Security Council
Mogadishu - Mr. President, Thank you for giving me the opportunity to introduce the Secretary-General’s report on Somalia. At the outset, I would like to thank the Council for its continued support to peace and state building in Somalia.
The last three months in Somalia have been eventful. When I briefed the Council on 12 September, I warned that the impact of Somalia remaining a stronghold for terrorists would be felt well beyond Somalia’s borders; “From Bamako to Bangui” was the phrase. Tragically, later in September in the Westgate Mall in Nairobi we saw a shocking demonstration of that truth.
As the Council knows, tackling the scourge of terrorism in Somalia requires a comprehensive approach. Political, military and development efforts are all needed. Somalia will be a stable partner in the region and the world when it has strong state institutions, including accountable and professional security forces, and a firm consensus among Somalis about how they wish to manage their affairs and resources. Reaching this agreement is primarily a political challenge. After twenty two years of conflict, I believe Somalis are not just ready - they are desperate to rise to that challenge.
In today’s briefing I would like to update the Council on progress and highlight some of the problems that still remain. In the last three months we have witnessed crises of a political, governance and security nature. I have worked hard with international partners and the Federal Government of Somalia to turn these crises into genuine opportunities to make progress on long-standing problems. We cannot afford to be blithe. Progress is chequered on human rights, transparency, good public financial management and efficient delivery of public services, including rule of law. But the fact that Somalia’s institutions have weathered several storms in the last months gives me confidence that our hopes are not misplaced.
On the military and security front, I am grateful to the Council for its wise decision in resolution 2124 (2013) to reinforce AMISOM and in particular to allow Somalia’s national army to benefit from a targeted logistics package when engaged in joint operations with AMISOM. Hard work is underway to implement the resolution and I appreciate the open and consultative way in which the African Union is setting about both generating the additional forces, revising the AMISOM strategy and drawing up a new Concept of Operations (CONOPs) for military and police forces. UNSOM is contributing towards this effort, particularly to ensure that support to AMISOM and the Somali Security Forces is in line with the Secretary General’s Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP). I welcome the inclusion of the EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa as a permanent member of the Military Operations Coordination Committee (MOCC) at its last meeting on 26 November in Addis Ababa. After the UN, the European Union (EU) makes the second largest financial contribution to AMISOM costs. Theirs is a vital role. As the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative, I stand ready to assist the work of the MOCC as required. I urge in particular that military and political strategies and plans be fully synchronised. To that end I am pleased that on the ground AMISOM and UNSOM have formalised a Senior Leadership Coordination Forum and I look forward to a strategic planning retreat for the two missions early in 2014, following which I hope Ambassador Annadif, the Head of AMISOM, and myself will again brief the Council jointly at the next 90-day review.
Meanwhile, I wish to use this opportunity to appeal strongly for donors and partners to contribute to the soon to be established UN Trust Fund for the supply of non-lethal support to the Somali National Army in line with resolution 2124 (2013).
Preparations are well underway to restart major offensive operations against Al-Shabaab controlled territory. I note and welcome the intention of Ethiopia to provide some of the additional forces for AMISOM. A lack of any military helicopters, however, remains a major concern. Once again I urge the African Union and its member states to come forward with utility and attack helicopters. The UN through UNSOA stands ready to receive and fund related cost for up to twelve helicopters.
Before I provide the Council with an update on efforts to strengthen Somali security institutions, Mr. President, I would like us all to focus more a bit more on the political challenges of today. Somalia’s long term success depends first and foremost on Somalis agreeing a new political dispensation. Recognising that, the Council has established the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia as a Special Political Mission. Let me recall, the immensity of the peaks to be climbed. The political landscape is dominated by several mountains stretching to the ever-closer horizon of 2016: first the need for wide-ranging national and local reconciliation; secondly, a redrawing of Somalia’s political map of eighteen regions into a lesser number of federal member states; thirdly, the finalising of a new and permanent constitution; and fourthly, democratic elections in all Somalia in 2016 (the first for nearly 50 years). On each of these tasks, the UN is actively and increasingly engaged in support of the Federal Government and in close collaboration with member states.
The New Deal Compact endorsed at the Brussels Conference on 16 September provides a vital framework for all our joint efforts on peace-building and state-building and, in particular, on the political track. For that reason, I have engaged personally and will continue to do so in support of the first Peace and State Building Goal known as “PSG1”, which is about inclusive and legitimate politics. UNSOM will continue to work under the leadership of the Federal Government to provide technical assistance and strategic advice across all the peace-building and security goals of the New Deal, and with a special focus on PSG1. In January, I am very pleased to say that we shall also be working from our new secure offices within Villa Somalia, the seat of the Government in Mogadishu, which will reinforce our cooperation.
The process of federalism is underway, but needs to be accelerated. Different regions have had different starting points, and several have begun discussions on the formation of the units that will make up the federal state. The overall package of power and resource-sharing is still however to be decided.
We are supporting politically and practically the Jubba Interim Administration and Federal Government to move ahead with the 28th August Addis Ababa agreement.
We must not lose the momentum in the Jubba process. Success there will set the stage for reconciliation and state formation processes elsewhere in Somalia. Broad-based meetings in Baidoa and Beledweyne mark the beginning of the process of state formation in other regions too.
On democratisation and elections, at the Federal Government’s request, a UN Needs Assessment Mission visited Somalia last month. Conceptual and technical planning is underway. There is no time to lose to prepare for the 2016 elections. We need to get to them step by step and there are risks of slips and fatal accidents at each step.
In Mogadishu, two crises have posed significant challenges in the last months. One – the voting out of the Prime Minister – has been a political crisis which has led to a slowing of progress on vital state-building tasks. The other – the resignation of the Central Bank Governor - has been a body blow to international donor confidence. Both pose serious questions, which have not yet been fully resolved. But both also give some cause for optimism.
The removal by Parliament of Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon was handled in the end according to the provisional constitution and Parliament’s own rules of procedure. In years gone by, such political disagreement would often be resolved by fighting and the spilling of blood. In today’s Somalia, debating and voting settled the matter – a sign that Somalia’s institutions are coming of age. The priority now is to establish a new Government quickly, one which brings Somalis together and which has the skills and integrity to deliver what people need: peace, jobs and public services. It will then be important that Parliament, Government and the Presidency continue to work in harmony, respecting fully the Provisional Federal Constitution.
On the other crisis, the resignation of Ms. Yussur Abrar, Governor of the Central Bank, on 30 October drew stark attention to the need for more robust public financial management and transparency. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has responded rapidly and consultatively to this challenge. On 27 November he appointed Bashir Isse Ali as the new interim Governor following careful consultation. I have brought the international community and donors together on several occasions to address this crisis, including a series of meetings with the President. I welcome the active role being played by the World Bank and more recently the International Monetary Fund in assisting the Government to put in place the necessary measures to restore both Somali and international confidence in public financial management. With the right political leadership by the President and Federal Government of Somalia, I am confident words will be turned into actions.
Respect for human rights lies at the heart of any sustainable political progress. The Prime Minister of Somalia briefed the UN Human Rights Council on 24 September, which I also attended. We heard two things there: powerful testimony to the severe human rights problems faced by many Somalis and strong commitments from the Federal Government to address them by building stronger institutions and human rights mechanisms. Some progress has been made since September. The FGS announced on 26 November the creation of a Directorate for Human and Minority Rights and the Rule of Law. The Directorate will take the lead in the finalisation and implementation of the Government’s Post-Conflict Human Rights Roadmap. Meanwhile, Parliament is yet to deliberate on the Bill on the establishment of the Human Rights Commission, a national institution required by the Constitution and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) still awaits ratification.
This is not the place for a detailed account of the human rights situation, but the handling of cases of alleged rape and sexual violence have continued to cause concern despite the clear commitment by the President and Government to ensuring due process. Part of the long term answer to many of the challenges faced by women is to ensure women’s full representation and participation in local, regional and national decision-making processes. On 4 December, we celebrated in Mogadishu the Somalia Open Day on Women, Peace and Security. Forty women’s representatives from across Somalia presented a statement to the President of Somalia on their concerns and engaged in an open debate with him. As the UN we shall actively support women’s full participation in Somalia’s complex political processes of the coming years.
Somalia’s political map consists not only of southern and central Somalia. Formal relations between the Puntland State of Somalia and the FGS remain suspended. Puntland, however, continued with preparations for upcoming indirect presidential elections in January.
I have visited Puntland twice in the last three months to try to help ensure January’s elections are peaceful, credible and yield a result which everyone respects. UNSOM is working closely with international partners who will continue to stay engaged.
In Somaliland, differences have developed between the Government and the opposition. Opposition figures have on occasion been arrested or prevented from travelling. We shall keep watch on the situation in Somaliland, which is heading into general elections in 2015. But since Somaliland continues to reject UNSOM’s mandate, our operations there remain on hold.
While Somalia’s problems are increasingly being addressed through political processes, building capable security institutions and forces remains equally important.
UNSOM is playing an ever more important role in assisting the Federal Government to coordinate international support to the security sector. We provide advice and technical assistance for the Government’s Defence Sector Working Group, the Somali Police Force’s Strategic Planning Team, and the Justice and Corrections Steering Committee (JCSC), which met for the first time on 24 November in Mogadishu. We are making this progress, unfortunately, against the backdrop of the assassination of four judges between 6 and 30 November, which highlights the importance of putting in place, without delay, enhanced judicial security structures and systems.
UNSOM has prioritised making progress on supporting the Government’s efforts to receive disengaged combatants from armed groups, especially Al Shabaab. The second Government-endorsed Disengaged Combatants Transitional Centre opened in Beledweyne, central Somalia in November. Onsite preparations for a third Disengaged Combatants Transitional Centre in
Baidoa are also being launched this month under the management of the IOM.
Somalia has not faced only political crises. Humanitarian agencies have focused on responding to two new emergencies in November and December. This followed a tropical storm that made landfall on the Somali coast on 10 November, prompting the Puntland State authorities to declare a natural disaster emergency. The humanitarian community conducted rapid land and joint aerial assessments and initiated a response. According to humanitarian partners, a large majority of the 4,000 to 5,000 affected households had been reached with most urgent humanitarian assistance 10 days after the storm struck. Mid- to long-term needs are currently being assessed.
Seasonal rains, which started at the end of September, have contributed to flooding, especially in and around Jowhar Town in Middle Shabelle Region. 11,000 households are estimated to have been affected. The situation was compounded by the outbreak of clan fighting in early November, which displaced an estimated 3,000 households and hampered access to those in need. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Philippe Lazzarini visited the still flooded area on 5 December and subsequently the Common Humanitarian Fund has allocated nearly US$1.2 million for emergency health support and safe water.
Humanitarian partners are also looking at contingency plans to ensure preparedness and response for the possibility of increased food insecurity in Somalia. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network in late November warned of a likely deterioration in food security in parts of Somalia in the coming months due in part to the climactic shocks mentioned just now.
Following the signing on 10 November of the Tripartite Agreement, between Kenya, Somalia and the UNHCR to support the voluntary return of Somali refugees, UNHCR will offer assistance to an estimated initial 10,000 Somali refugees opting to repatriate three selected areas of origin during a six-month pilot phase from December 2013 to May 2014.
On 1 January, UNSOM becomes an integrated mission and the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator post will also take on the role of Deputy Special Representative (DSRSG). This will be an important milestone. But integrated work is already underway. We have launched the preparation of an Integrated Strategic Framework (ISF) to guide all our work. Meanwhile, UNSOM and UN agencies, funds and programmes are working in joint teams on rule of law and security institutions through the Global Focal Point initiative and on constitutional review, elections, DDR, human rights and planning. After 1 January, one thing will not change: humanitarian work will continue to be done in strict accordance with humanitarian principles and based on needs.
Integration of our activities will be helped greatly when the UN agencies, funds and programmes begin to return to their compounds in Mogadishu in the coming weeks. After the attack on the UN Common Compound on 19 June, extensive security reviews and additional measures have been put in place to allow this progressive return. Mogadishu remains a risky place to work and Al Shabaab has shown a consistent intent to target international partners, including the UN. That intent still exists. I welcome the request by the Council in resolution 2124 (2013) to be presented with detailed proposals for an additional UN Guard Unit to be deployed to protect UNSOM in Mogadishu. I believe that without such a Guard Unit, we shall lack sufficiently robust security measures to allow us to operate consistently in Mogadishu at full strength and without interruption. A recent Reconnaissance mission to Mogadishu determined that the Guard Unit would need to comprise 410 personnel, and the Secretary-General will shortly request your concurrence for this deployment.
What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.
None of the crunches and crises that Somalia has faced in the last three months has turned out as bad as prophets of doom predicted. The Central Bank crisis should lead to tighter financial oversight. The no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister has tested parliamentary institutions and found them strong. Even the horrific Westgate attack has galvanized international support both to AMISOM and the Somali National Forces. My heartfelt condolences go to the victims of that terrorist attack and of many in Somalia, in Beledweyne, Mogadishu and most recently Bossaso, as well as of many smaller incidents. Such cruel violence only strengthens our determination.
I thank the Council for its unswerving support for our work in Somalia. It would be fair to say we are all in the business of silver linings. The new emerging Somalia deserves your support. The UN will continue to back the voices of hope, not despair, of opportunity, not crisis.