- Human Rights
- Rule of Law
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you, Mr President, for the UK's leadership on Somalia. I welcome the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Fowzia Adan – we admire her singular contribution and history. And thank you for the briefing from the Deputy Secretary-General.
As we know, this is a pivotal time in Somalia's history. A time of great hope and optimism. Equally, a time at which gains remain fragile – but also a unique window of opportunity, which we must open further.
The opportunities are significant. Somalia's most representative government in twenty years is in place in Mogadishu. A government that has outlined strong plans on security, justice and financial management – plans which the international community must remain genuinely committed to support.
The security gains made by the Somali national security forces, AMISOM and strategic partners have been impressive. We would like to recognise the great sacrifices made by AMISOM contributors and Somali security forces. We commend the leadership of the African Union.
The new UN mission (UNSOM) has a strong mandate to support the Government to advance peace and reconciliation, and to coordinate donor support. It responds to the Government's call for "one door" to knock on. Close cooperation with the AU will be decisive to the mission's success, and we welcome proposed UN-AU consultation mechanisms. We express our strong support for Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Nicholas Kay, and take this opportunity to thank former SRSG Mahiga.
Somalia's economy is picking up, investment is beginning to flow, and the diaspora is returning.
This is a cause for optimism.
But the challenges are immense, and sustained international support will be required.
On the political front, Somalia is moving towards the goal of national elections by 2016. This involves building up state institutions – often where central government structures have not been relevant for a generation; advancing reconciliation; developing a federal system; and undertaking a constitutional review process and referendum. UNSOM must respond flexibly to the Government's needs for support in these areas.
We know that establishing a federal system will not be easy. Inclusive processes will be needed to build consensus. Relationships between Mogadishu and local and regional administrations will be vital. We welcome the re-opening of dialogue between the Federal Government and Somaliland.
Tensions in the Juba regions, where rival leaders have each been declared 'President' of 'Jubaland' in processes the Federal Government does not recognise, are of particular concern. A solution is urgent, to avoid the unraveling of recent gains. We welcome the Government's commitment to pursue reconciliation in these regions, and the role being played by the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD). We urge UNSOM to use its good offices in support. The Council must pay close attention to this issue, and we would welcome a dedicated briefing on this subject.
More broadly, Somalia's relations with its neighbours will be vital, particularly given the intertwined nature of their security challenges. We recognise the role these neighbours play in assisting refugees, and urge continuation of work underway by Kenya, Somalia and UNHCR to develop a framework for voluntary refugee returns.
Humanitarian needs in Somalia remain acute, with over 3.8 million people reliant on humanitarian aid to meet their basic food, nutrition, health and shelter needs. Support for strengthened federal institutions must be complemented by ongoing humanitarian assistance. There is an urgent need to build resilience at the community level.
The human rights situation remains of grave concern. Levels of sexual and gender-based violence, particularly (but not only) in IDP camps, are alarming. There can be no impunity. Protection and promotion of human rights are at the heart of building a new Somalia; we welcome the Government's intention to adopt a Human Rights Roadmap. We also welcome the joint communiqué on the prevention of sexual violence signed by the Government and the UN in London. Implementation will be vital. We will be looking to UNSOM to take forward its strong mandate to assist the government's human rights capacity and to monitor and report in this field.
Turning to security: – although diminished, Al Shabaab remains a threat, as evidenced by recent attacks against civilians in Mogadishu, as well as the organisation's ability to regain territory where a security vacuum emerges. It is critical that we support the Government to deliver a peace dividend in recovered areas.
AMISOM is clearly overstretched. The mission is unable to continue the commendable progress it has achieved in recovering territory – particularly given the change in the Ethiopian presence – with its current resource levels. Its lack of enablers and resourcing constraints risks its long-term success.
We think the time has come for an in-depth analysis of AMISOM's needs in relation to force numbers and configuration; enablers; and financing. We look forward to the forthcoming joint DPKO-AU review. We urge close cooperation between the UN and AU on this exercise, in the spirit of the revised AMISOM strategic concept produced in 2011-12, which was an excellent example of the two organisations working together.
We also look forward to the results of the forthcoming exercise on benchmarks for when it might be appropriate to deploy a UN peacekeeping operation in Somalia. It will be vital that AMISOM TCCs are consulted closely in these processes.
Of course, the end goal is for Somalia to assume responsibility for its own security. Re-building the security services will be a long-term endeavour, but work to consolidate the 'nucleus' of these forces is urgent. UNSOM has a vital role in helping the government to coordinate international support in this sector. We welcome the Government's development of a four-year plan to build a civilian police service.
It is vital that Somali security forces are properly resourced to do their job. The partial suspension of the arms embargo earlier this year responded to the Government's request in relation to weapons imports, while keeping in place safeguards aimed at ensuring these do not fall into the wrong hands. We stress the importance of compliance with the reporting requirements.
Handling of disengaged combatants is a particular challenge. This is critical to ensuring defections continue and that defectors are properly screened. We encourage development of a legal and policy framework.
We welcome the decline in piracy incidents off the coast of Somalia. But again, these gains could be easily reversed. We encourage the development in the long term of a coastguard, in line with the Somali maritime strategy. The drivers of piracy are, of course, land-based, and a sustainable solution lies in governance and the rule of law in Somalia.
In conclusion, Mr President
We all have a stake in Somalia's success. The conflict has had significant, broader implications – for terrorism, piracy and refugees. Like others, we pledge our support to the Federal Government's efforts to ensure that the page is turned, that gains are consolidated, and that Somalia continues down its new path towards peace, stability and prosperity.