Ministry Statements & Speeches:
Thank you Mr President.
We welcome President Hasan Sheikh Mohamed and value the opportunity for the Council to hear your perspectives on the situation in Somalia. We also thank Mr Keating and Ambassador Tete Antonio for their updates.
Mr President, Somalia was one of the defining issues when New Zealand last served on the Security Council. Two decades later, Somalia is in a much better place, but it remains an important item on our agenda with far reaching implications for regional peace and security and the fight against terrorism.
We welcome the progress achieved through the bravery and commitment of soldiers from the African Union, neighbouring countries, international partners and Somalia itself. As a result, al Shabaab has been weakened. There were no successful instances of piracy in the past year. And most importantly, there is progress towards a functioning federal government with the prospect of a democratic transition this year.
This has come at a truly awful cost to Somalia and its neighbours and significant challenges lie ahead. Sustained political attention will be required to deal with each of these challenges and this Council must maintain its focus on Somalia. We support the analysis presented by Mr Keating and wish to highlight five points:
Firstly, we agree this year’s elections are critical. They need to be Somali-led and ensure that the Somali people are fully involved and feel ownership of the political process. We welcome the agreement reached at last week’s National Leadership Forum in Mogadishu on the details of the electoral model.
We also take note of President Mohamed’s reminder that these elections will be the first in 47 years. This is a truly remarkable event and one that we all applaud.
Secondly, other political priorities require attention. Dialogue between the Federal Government of Somalia and regional administrations has been positive but needs to go further. Key issues still to be addressed, including setting regional boundaries, completing the constitutional review, and determining the governance of natural resources. The federal project relies on strengthening institutions in the regions. Federal and regional authorities need to make progress here to avoid jeopardising the political transition. And Somali civil society needs to have a bigger role. Furthermore, for peace to be sustainable, effective service delivery for people in areas under Somali Government control is critical. There is still a long way to go in these areas.
Thirdly, a well-functioning security sector is fundamental to long term stability in Somalia. The Federal Government needs to have sufficient capacity both to prevent a resurgence of al Shabaab and other vectors of terrorism, and to provide checks on regional and clan-based conflict. We welcome the efforts by international partners to strengthen the Somali National Army and the police force. However there is an urgent need for closer coordination. The efforts will only be successful if partners’ programmes are made more coherent and if silos are broken down. Building a strong and coherent army and police forces will be essential to implementation of a successful exit strategy for the international community.
Fourth, 2016 will be a particularly important year for AMISOM (African Union Mission in Somalia). The al Shabaab threat continues to be very real and AMISOM’s role remains critical. Implementng the commitments made by AMISOM’s contributors at the Djibouti Summit will be of fundamental importance, particularly the commitments concerning command and control of the force.
Lastly, I note that New Zealand is deeply concerned about the financing challenges facing AMISOM. Continued international support for AMISOM is essential if it is to fulfil its mandate. We acknowledge the important funding that the EU continues to provide. With the reallocation of some of that funding, it will be important to work with partners in the region and further afield to ensure that AMISOM’s current funding challenges are addressed in a manner that does not undermine its operations at this critical juncture.
This situation also underlines the need to move beyond our reliance on ad hoc financing for regionally-led peace operations in Africa. New Zealand is a strong supporter of finding innovative solutions that can provide more predictable funding for such missions. This is something which we need to explore collectively. We welcome efforts to mobilise funding from within Africa and hope that the international community, including the UN, can be strategic and creative in working out how to properly support the robust missions the AU is prepared to lead.
In closing, we know that achieving what we have outlined today will be difficult. We also know that, while the Federal Government has a central role to play, it cannot do this alone. This Council, the UN system, the African Union, and other partners need to work closely with the Somali authorities in meeting these challenges. But we also remember today the great distance that Somalia has already travelled and we must all continue to support the Somali Government and people in their efforts to come together.