Statement to the UN Security Council regarding the Situation in Somalia
- Human Rights
- Rule of Law
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
THE SITUATION IN SOMALIA
Statement by H.E. Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Australia welcomes the opportunity to participate in this important debate. The recent enhanced international attention on Somalia, including through the London Conference – in which Australia participated – has helped sharpen our collective focus on tackling Somalia's complex challenges in a more comprehensive, considered and coordinated way.
Many today have spoken of a window of opportunity in 2012, in light of the progress, albeit fragile, in Somalia in recent months. Australia shares this guarded optimism.
Yet as we know, for Somalia to truly turn a corner towards peace and stability will require rapid, sustained and coordinated action from all stakeholders. Australia is committed to making a practical contribution.
Progress, however, depends first and foremost on the Somali political leadership and people. Developing legitimate governance structures – structures that are broad-based and representative – is a fundamental first step. The Somali people must have a say and a stake in their future.
The National Consultative Conferences in Garowe have made important progress. We welcome in particular measures to ensure women's participation in the political process. It is vital that the process is inclusive. The way must be left open for Somalis to lay down their arms and join the process. With a significant Somali community in Australia, we welcome efforts to ensure inclusion of the diaspora.
Expectations are clear – substantial progress must be made before August. A strong message has been sent to potential spoilers – further obfuscation or delay will not be tolerated. The international community has a crucial role to play in facilitating this process, through the good offices of the United Nations and African Union. Special Representative Mahiga has clearly outlined the path ahead this morning, and we thank him for his clarity.
Australia anticipates continued progress at the next National Consultative Conference to be held this month and welcomes its proposed focus on fundamental rights. We strongly endorse the London Conference's conclusion that respect for human rights must be at the heart of the peace process.
In order to ensure the space for political progress, effort must be made to consolidate and build on security gains, to create a functioning justice system and uphold the rule of law.
International support for AMISOM, and Somalia's emerging security forces themselves, is fundamental.
Australia welcomes Security Council Resolution 2036 expanding AMISOM and providing more sustainable, flexible and predictable funding arrangements for the mission. We welcome the excellent cooperation between the UN and AU, including in the development of the new strategic concept. We also welcome enhanced coordination with IGAD.
We commend regional governments for their contributions to AMISOM, and hope the mission can quickly reach its new authorised troop strength.
We must accept our responsibility to ensure AMISOM has the resources it needs to do its job. Australia is pleased to have made practical contributions, including information technology, technical support and a further $2 million to the AMISOM Trust Fund in January. We will be making an additional contribution shortly.
In addressing Somalia's challenges, international cooperation with Somali authorities will remain crucial, including through the disruption of terrorist travel and finances, as well as anti-money laundering efforts.
As we know, piracy, like terrorism, is a symptom but also a cause of Somalia's instability. Australia's forces actively participate in the anti-piracy coalition. Later this year, we will host a counter-piracy conference in Perth, an Indian Ocean city, which will consider ways to assist affected countries to address underlying drivers. The conference will draw on lessons learned from counter-piracy efforts in South-East Asia, and also focus on the emerging piracy challenges in the Gulf of Guinea where the recent UN assessment mission concluded that the 'consequences of inaction could be catastrophic'.
A vital element in the fight against piracy is ending impunity. Australia welcomes the recent Secretary-General's Report on Specialised Anti-Piracy Courts, and commends its recommendations for supporting such courts in Somalia and regional states. Australia welcomes the initiative to establish a Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence Coordination Centre in Seychelles – with which we will be cooperating closely – as well as the commitment of Mauritius, Seychelles and Tanzania to accept suspected pirates for prosecution.
Australia is assisting the UNODC Counter-Piracy Program to enhance the capacity of the judicial and corrections systems in Somalia, Kenya, Seychelles, Mauritius and other states in the region.
Since 2009, Australia has deployed two Australian Federal Police officers to assist the Counter-Piracy Program with the prosecution of pirates.
And we are assisting to strengthen the capacity of police and coastguards to undertake weapons and ammunitions management in Somaliland.
Addressing piracy requires a focus on both sea and land. Sustainable development in coastal communities will be critical in diminishing the lure of piracy. Effective fisheries management will be key, and this should be an area of particular focus in the forthcoming Istanbul conference.
Australia has committed over $60 million to Somalia since last March, as part of a broader response of $150 million in the Horn of Africa. This assistance is not just to meet basic needs but also to build long-term resilience – the key to a better future.
Engaging at a local level to support better delivery of basic services, particularly in those areas recently liberated from Al-Shabaab, will be essential to building the legitimacy of new Somali governing structures. As the focus shifts from humanitarian support to longer-term development assistance, Australia welcomes the establishment of a Local Stability Fund.
The London Conference rightly identified Somalia's ability to manage revenues and aid flows as vital to securing sustainable international assistance. The Joint Financial Management Board, established at the conference, will need to focus on strengthening Somali public financial management institutions.
Australia wishes to expressly recognise the impacts of Somalia's instability on neighbouring and regional countries, and particularly acknowledge the burden they bear in hosting large numbers of Somali refugees. The international community must assist these countries in addressing the consequences of Somalia's instability.
In conclusion, there have been many failed attempts to bring peace, stability and effective governance to Somalia. The consequences of these failures are clear. Extremism, violence and terrorism continue to threaten innocent civilians in Somalia, in East Africa and beyond. Humanitarian challenges persist. Piracy undermines important industries in regional economies, including tourism and fisheries, and adds to the global costs of trade.
The international community must not let the tentative progress of recent months dissipate. We look forward to the Istanbul conference in June. Much work remains to be done to ensure the positive trends continue and 2012 becomes not just the window of opportunity we all speak of, but a genuine turning point in Somalia's history. My own country remains committed to working with partners towards this end.