Introduction of the report of the Secretary-General on Somalia


Nicholas Kay, Special Representative of the Secretary-General 

for Somalia

Mr President

Thank you for this opportunity to brief the Council on Somalia. I am particularly pleased to be doing so with my friend and colleague, Ambassador Maman Sidikou. The AU-UN partnership in Somalia is unique, strong and essential for success.

I would like to use this briefing to take a hard look at the challenges ahead this year.

Mr President

When I look ahead to 2015, I am both excited and worried. Excited because this year will be decisive in whether and how Somalia can become a unified, peaceful and federal state. Worried, because the challenges and risks are significant – delays and setbacks will have an even greater impact this year than last.

2015 should be the year of federalism and delivery. The Federal Government’s Vision 2016 remains the plan. But timelines have shortened significantly, largely as a result of repeated political crises. First, we need to accelerate the momentum established in 2014 in the federalism process, particularly building the capacity of existing Interim Regional Administrations and establishing new ones where they do not exist. Within the next few months we need to see all the Interim Regional Administrations in place. I welcome the intention to establish without delay an Inter-regional Consultative Forum in Somalia.

Secondly, with a Constitutional Referendum expected in early 2016, the bulk of the constitutional review, including important discussions on power and resource sharing, will need to be completed this year.

Thirdly, key decisions and preparations for the 2016 referendum and elections must be made. The long delayed National Independent Electoral Commission and Boundaries and Federation Commission need to be established and operationalised urgently.

We must continue to support and build the Federal Government’s leadership and capacity. But inclusive political processes will be the key. Somalia’s regions must play a full part in statebuilding and peacebuilding processes. Minority and marginalized groups need to be included in these processes. Women’s participation and leadership at a local and national level must be promoted. I note with concern that words and good intentions have not so far translated into action when it comes to selecting women for senior roles. Traditional elders and political leaders have a responsibility to make sure this happens.

Mr President

Political infighting of the kind we saw last year could derail the whole project. The most recent crisis has delayed all key government business for over three months and left Parliament divided and distracted. I welcome the appointment of the new Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke. But I am disappointed that it has not yet been possible to reach agreement with Parliament on a new Cabinet.

Once a Cabinet has been approved, future crises need to be avoided. To do this, Federal leaders and institutions, including Parliament, have a responsibility to improve their working practices, transparency and engagement with each other. Those with the greatest power and influence have the greatest responsibility to find workable compromises. They will be held accountable by Somalis and international partners for further instability and delay.

The importance of the political process this year will raise the stakes in Somali politics. I worry that tensions will rise as the 2016 elections get closer. Somalia’s people and nascent institutions will be breaking historic new ground this year, as the country moves down the road to federalism and democracy. It is up to the country’s political leaders to guide this process responsibly, build confidence among all groups, and put aside narrow interests. A spirit of compromise is the hallmark of strength not weakness.

Mr President

The sacrifice, courage and dedication of AMISOM and the Somali National Army have had a decisive impact on security in Somalia. The UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) has played an exceptionally effective part in this success in 2014 and deserves recognition, as does the European Union for its role in meeting much of the costs of AMISOM and its deployment of the EU Training Mission (EUTM) in Mogadishu.

The campaign against AS will continue to advance in 2015. AMISOM and the Somali National Army will continue to counter Al Shabaab’s asymmetric approach. They need the right capability to defeat this. Combating terrorism also requires a more coherent regional approach, both within Somalia and in the Horn of Africa more broadly, to undermine Al Shabaab’s cross border capability, finances and intent.

Security for Somali civilians must improve. Al Shabaab is not the only threat they face. Between the UN, AMISOM and Federal and regional authorities we need to recognise and respond to the continuing potential for local inter-clan disputes leading conflict.

I am grateful for the Council’s attention to the need to secure main supply routes to liberated areas. A great deal depends on this: secure access will improve and enable military operations, allow independent and impartial, needs-based humanitarian supplies to be delivered and, crucially, allow resumption of normal commercial activity.

Stabilisation has to work this year. We need creative ways to accelerate delivery that strengthens the legitimacy of local administrations. Collectively we shall need to accept and manage the risk involved in such programmes. I look forward to greater implementation of the Federal Government’s stabilisation strategy, particularly local reconciliation and peacebuilding activities. To do this we need more secure movement within liberated areas.

Promoting the rule of law is an important part of the peace dividend in newly recovered areas and a key part of state building more broadly. This year we need to help extend basic access to justice sector institutions – police, justice and corrections – to the regions.

In 2015 we also need to set the foundations for a sustainable Somali defence sector. Implementing commitments made in September at the London Security Event will be key: coherent support to 10,900 SNA onjoint operations with AMISOM, the development of a plan for the defence sector, coherent national security architecture and militia integration into national security forces. All this must be politically realistic – guided by and “with the grain” of the federalism process. It must also be financially sustainable.

Mr President

Somalia remains one of the most dangerous places in which the Council has mandated operations. I pay tribute to the work and sacrifices of AMISOM and Somali troops over the last year. We were all saddened by the loss of life in the 25 December attack inside the Mogadishu International Airport. I thank the Council for their heartfelt statements of support and solidarity.

I am also most grateful for the professional work of the UN Guard Unit, provided by Uganda. In 2014 it has allowed us to expand our presence in Mogadishu. Without it, we could not achieve the mandates you have set for UNSOM and UNSOA. But as we have expanded, the Guard Unit has been stretched to the limits of its capacity. In 2015 the demands on the UN will only increase. We shall need to expand our presence in the regions to support stabilisation and Vision 2016. This will require a further expansion of the Guard Unit. I hope the upcoming joint AU-UN Review can address this issue amongst other things.

Mr President

The UN, AU, IGAD, EU and other international partners are working ever more closely together to ensure coherent support to progress in Somalia. IGAD will continue to play a critical role in political processes, particularly at regional level.

Delivering progress this year will require even closer collaboration and accountability between the Federal Government and international partners. The Copenhagen High Level Partnership Forum in November reaffirmed that the New Deal Somali Compact remained the right framework for this. Partnership and mutual accountability needs to be translated into concrete actions and must be extended to all areas including aid flows, human rights, public financial management.

Somalis need to see the coordination and financing mechanisms established in 2014 deliver in 2015. Jointly agreed sectoral flagship programmes must be funded and implemented. I appeal to member states and other partners to contribute to the UN multi-partner trust fund (MPTF).

Somalis also need to see an improvement in human rights and the protection of women and children this year. I welcome Somalia’s recent ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We must also build the key institutions, particularly the national Human Rights Commission. Promoting and protecting human rights must underpin and become a core part of what existing federal and sub-federal institutions deliver.

Meanwhile we must not be complacent about the humanitarian situation. In 2014, thanks to early warning and early action, we were able to prevent a deterioration of one of the direst and most enduring humanitarian crises in the world. But Somalia is still teetering on the edge. In 2015, we must see concerted action by the Federal Government and international partners to pull it back from the brink. This means both an ongoing life-saving emergency response and implementing longer term, durable solutions.

Mr President

2014 saw important progress in key areas: the campaign against Al Shabaab, the state-formation process, and the establishment of some key institutions. This progress was the result of partnership: between Somalis, and between Somalis and the international community. I am heartened that international partners remain united and committed to peace, security and development in Somalia.

Over the last four months, Somalia’s increasingly secure return to the community of nations has been marked by an unprecedented series of high-level visits, including by the Secretary General with the Presidents of the World Bank and Islamic Development Bank, the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, the Secretary-General and Presidency of the League of Arab States, and most recentlythe Turkish President. The IGAD Council of Ministers meeting in Mogadishu on 10 January – the first since 1985 – was a major signal of commitment and confidence. I applaud the recommendation to hold an IGAD Summit in Mogadishu in 2015. It is clear that peace and security in Somalia matters to the region, to Africa and to the world.

Mr President

Despite all the bumps in the road I still get a palpable sense from Somalis I meet across the country that progress is both urgent and possible. We now have more work to do this year than last. The Compact and Vision 2016 remain the right frameworks. The planned High Level Partnership Forum in May in Mogadishu will be a critical opportunity, if necessary, to adjust our plans to meet our targets by September 2016.

For Somalis to have a lasting peace, they need to build a sustainable and inclusive state. Politics this year must be more inclusive than last – at national and regional levels. The main responsibility lies with Somali political leaders – in and outside Government, in the regions and in Mogadishu. I pay tribute to their hard work and daily courage. The UN and other international partners stand firm in our own commitment. I remain inspired by the dedication and bravery of the UN family in Somalia and I thank the Council for its unflinching support.

Nicholas Kay
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and
Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM)