United Nations Security Council Briefing on the situation in Somalia

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Thank you, Foreign Secretary Hammond.  Your presence here today confirms the United Kingdom’s strong commitment to Somalia.  We also thank the Secretary General’s Chef de Cabinet, Special Representative Kay and Ambassador Tete Antonio for their briefings and Prime Minister Sharmarke for his statement.

New Zealand has had a considerable involvement with Somalia and the Somali people over the last 25 years.  A good number of Somalis came to New Zealand as refugees in the 1980s and 1990s and have settled in our country. 

The last time we served on this Council, in 1993-94, coincided with the high point of the United Nations peace-making efforts through UNOSOM II and then the sad collapse of those efforts, as Somalia descended into a state of lawlessness that made the continued presence of peacekeepers and humanitarian personnel untenable.  It was a sad and difficult time for this Council and for the United nations as a whole, for Africa, and, most of all, for the Somali people.

Thanks principally to the efforts of the African Union and the countries of the region, acting through AMISOM, and with the support of the United Nations, Somalia is now in a better - if still difficult - situation.  There is much that can rightly be celebrated, not least the fact that there is now in place a functioning Federal Government of Somalia and Government Security forces that, which together with the AMISOM troops, have managed to push back Al Shabaab and loosen its hold on much of the country. We commend the bravery of the AMISOM troops and Somali soldiers and pay particular tribute to the willingness of Ethiopia and Kenya to continue to lead the fight against terrorism in the Horn of Africa.  Thankfully as we have heard, piracy is no longer the perennial threat off Somalia’s coast that it used to be.

However, the Secretary-General’s report highlights the many difficulties that have still to be addressed across a wide spectrum – ranging from the basic need to establish security and stability across the whole of the country, to putting in place sound and representative governance structures, to reigniting economic development and to ensuring respect for the rule of law and human rights.  It is clear that Somalia has some distance to go in transitioning back to being a fully functioning state.

It is essential that the Security Council and the wider United Nations system continue to support Somalia, the states of the region and the African Union throughout this process. 

Important measures have been taken in the past few months to put that support on a firmer basis.  We note in particular the steps to harmonise the mandates of AMISOM and UNSOM following the joint UN-AU benchmarking review of AMISOM, and the recasting of the UN’s support operations for AMISOM and UNSOM through the resolution we have adopted today.  

This Council will need to continue to pay close attention to the situation in Somalia in the coming years.  Despite the many other pressing issues on our agenda, the Council cannot afford to see Somalia slip back into anarchy and violence.  As the last 20 years have shown, that would be a disaster for the whole region as well as for the people of Somalia.

On the ground, there will need to be practical measures to improve coordination as recommended in the Benchmarking Review – in particular, the proposed High Level Coordination Forum, and the trilateral memorandum of understanding between the UN, AU and Troop Contributing Countries.

We urge the newly appointed heads of AMISOM, UNSOM and UNSOS to make relationship building and cooperation between their organisations key priorities.

We also urge the other states in the region to continue to support Somalia’s process of national rebuilding. They are central to progress on federalism and to long-term political stability. They need to be part of the stabilisation and service delivery in areas recovered from Al Shabaab. And the development of a truly “national” Somali National Army requires their support – for implementation of the Guulwade Plan, and the long-term development of the SNA.

At the political level, the national consultative forum and next year’s elections will be important milestones on Somalia’s path back to nationhood. Somalia’s leaders – at both the national and regional levels – have vitally important roles to play.  Their focus must be on the good of the country and of the Somali people and not on personal or clan self-interest.  It was the pursuit of those narrow interests that led Somalia to national disaster in the 1990s. 

In that regard, the levels of corruption in Somalia are a real risk to stability, and to economic and political progress. The non-payment of Somali soldiers is a continuing example of this, and of one that will undoubtedly affect security, both in the short term and the long term.

We welcome the Federal Government’s efforts to tackle corruption, including investigating the non-payment of soldiers and urge them to continue those efforts.

Mr President, it is almost 25 years since Somalia last knew peace. Through the courage, determination and sacrifices of Somali leadership and people, AMISOM contributors, and other international partners, we now have the real possibility of a different Somalia – one of unity, stability and prosperity.   This Council must continue to play its part in making this a reality.

Finally let me thank Nicholas Kay for his contribution to Somalia’s recovery.

Thank you.


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