New York, 23 September 2009 – The extraordinary meeting of the International Contact Group for Somalia took place on the sidelines of the 64th Session of the UN General Assembly at UNHQ, New York.
Under Secretary Generals
I am most grateful to all of you members of the International Contact Group and especially to its co-founders, Norway and the US, for the Group's very existence and for its flexibility as a forum for frank and open discussion on international cooperation on Somalia. I am also grateful for the proposal made by Italy and Kenya to convene this extraordinary meeting taking advantage of your presence here for the 64th General Assembly.
First of all, we should give the Government credit for moving to Mogadishu and managing to fund most of its expenditure thanks to the improved management of its resources In terms of security the past few months have not been easy, but the Government has managed to overcome the repeated assaults by a foreign funded and heavily armed coalition. AMISOM and the African Union's determined commitment to stabilize Somalia has been crucial. The IGAD contribution is likewise appreciated.
Second, on the political level, the Government continues to state its openness to holding a dialogue in Somalia with those parties ready to commit themselves to peace. My office and members of the international community support this approach to settling peacefully Somalia's crisis. In this respect, there are encouraging signs. Meanwhile Puntland and Somaliland have demonstrated a long tradition of solving peacefully their political problems – I am sure that this tradition will continue.
I am convinced that there will be significant progress once the international community changes its approach and actions towards the conflict. Although we should not ignore them, debating and analyzing daily events is not a substitute for sustainable policies.
This extraordinary meeting offers an opportunity to discuss some bold initiatives and hopefully to agree on concrete proposals. These initiatives should focus on the best ways and means to ensure the international community's credibility and effectiveness in its support to the Somali Government.
In that context, it would be most productive to emphasize action in the following three areas: funding of activities, addressing piracy and moving to Somalia to be closer to the victims.
As is well known, opportunity cost is most important. One million dollars received today in Somalia would have a far greater impact on stability than ten million in three months' time. After decades of repeatedly funding activities through the same mechanisms with limited results, the time has come to initiate new approaches. To that effect, I would like to suggest that some of the development partners start implementing direct bilateral economic and financial cooperation with Somalia. This direct bilateral cooperation will result in both donors and recipients drastically reducing their financial costs during the process and in a speedy delivery of resources to address urgent priorities particularly in security areas. The contract signed by the Somali Government with an internationally recognized auditing firm should be fully used.
I invite members of the Contact Group to prioritize this proposal.
Concerning piracy, we should acknowledge with thanks, the positive role played by the international maritime presence off Somalia's coast. While this contribution has yet to receive the full recognition it deserves, it is a strong signal of international solidarity to Somalia and the region. Of course there is no dispute that the root causes of piracy are on land. Measures to address piracy include strengthening Central Government and the Regional Authorities as well enabling them to provide economic opportunities for fishing communities and other rural populations. Furthermore helping Somalia to establish and train a coastguard and rebuild its navy would, of course, be welcome. The recent agreement between the Government and Puntland deserves assistance. This agreement and other piracy related measures such as the prosecution of pirates will help marginalize the problem.
Finally, after years of conflict, peace will not come overnight. Therefore, stability needs to be promoted, nurtured and defended against all kinds of internal and external spoilers. We should not allow the die hard defenders of the status quo to prevail. I plan, at the end of each month, to carry out an 'audit' of the many analyses and reports by political pundits predicting the disintegration of the Government to monitor their accuracy.
Bold action needs to be taken to bring the international community closer to the Somali people who are victims of famine, violence, violation of human rights. Establishing a secure zone for the international community's representatives in Mogadishu should remain a priority. The condemnable recent tragic events in the capital should not deter the international community from assuming its responsibility to protect the population. Today my Military advisor returned from Mogadishu where he was in a delegation assessing the security situation with the Government and AMISOM. Providing needed resources to the AU and AMISOM and supporting IGAD are prerequisites for effective action for the return of stability in Somalia.