New York, 29 July 2009
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am grateful for this opportunity to brief the Security Council.
While the situation remains fragile, there are positive developments in Somalia. As I told the Council previously, a new paradigm is being implemented. Despite multiple constraints, the Government is resisting and repelling multiple attempts to overthrow it and seize power illegally by force. It is also overcoming the two decades of skepticism over Somalia.
I believe that today we are at a turning point. It is clear that the population and its traditional leaders reject violence and those behind it. Therefore the support of the international community is even more crucial at this time. In that context I would like to recognize once again the extraordinary help provided by members of the Organization of Islamic Conference, the League of Arab States, the African Union, the European Union and the Commission, the Contact Group including the US, Norway and many others especially IGAD the sub-regional organization. They have mobilized quickly to provide critical assistance on the ground, as pledged during the Brussels Conference in April, chaired by the UN Secretary General. To facilitate this process, the Somali Government has employed the services of an international accounting firm to ensure transparency.
The Government has made significant progress in training, equipping and paying its security forces. However more needs to be done especially in the area of coordination and organization. At the same time, the political process is also moving forward. The Djibouti Agreement signed in August last year remains open to those who want to address the Somali situation through peaceful means. Recently an important agreement was signed between the Government and the well respected, religious group Ahlu Sunna-wa Al Jamma which has already shown results on the ground. There has also been the inclusion of some elements from an opposition group, and one of its leaders has become a Minister of State. That open door policy should be continued.
My understanding is that the Government would welcome members of those currently in the opposition, whether leaders or simple members of the rank and file of their groups. Somalis should discuss peace among themselves in their own country. Those who fail to join the peace process will miss an opportunity to contribute to rebuilding the country. My office stands ready to assist and help the continued discussion among Somalis.
The time has come to focus on the needs and interests of the ordinary Somali citizens who are denied food to alleviate their hunger and protection against fear. Their suffering should strike at the heart of all Somali patriots and should be the main international concern. Their country has been taken hostage by a small group interested only in their own immediate profit. Indeed insecurity is becoming a source of revenue and power.
The Somali people have endured too much – they have seen their loved ones killed and maimed, been forced to flee their homes again and again and suffered endless abuses of their human rights. Their suffering must be ended to help them to live a normal life as in many other African countries.
In this context, I condemn the abduction of all innocent Somalis and foreigners who are being held for ransom and call for their unconditional release. I appeal to all those, Somalis and non Somalis, who can help, directly or indirectly, to do so through telephone calls, emails and so on to help free the unfortunate hostages. It is impossible to see how such inhuman actions could help Somalis or the image of Somalia in any way. Likewise I condemn the looting of the UN offices in South Central Somalia as well as efforts to silence the media through intimidation, extortion and the targeted killing of journalists.
The question of justice must be seriously addressed. Fighting impunity and various abuses against civilians should remain high on the agenda. In this regard the international community should help the Somalis decide the way forward. This is why my office is organizing a meeting on this issue in the middle of next month. The Monitoring Group based in Nairobi is active in trying to identify those who might face sanctions.
Past failures should not discourage us from taking future action to help stability. In the short and medium term, there are concrete steps that can be taken by this Council:
While the Government has made important strides, it still requires immediate support, political and financial, to improve the situation. The authorities in Puntland and Somaliland also need resources to ensure the stability endures.
Support for IGAD, the sub regional organization, and the African Union in their decisions on Somalia will be most helpful. Due to their proximity, knowledge, and interest in Somalia, IGAD member states should be recognized as having a leading role on Somali issues.
The time has come for the United Nations to show it is serious about moving to Somalia. Our temporary presence in Nairobi has lasted for too long. We can only work effectively for peace with the Somalis and address pressing humanitarian needs if we are close to the victims of famine, violence and different abuses. My office and other leading UN agencies, including humanitarian ones, along with concerned diplomats and NGOs, should move to Mogadishu. The establishment of a Green Zone, similar to those elsewhere, will facilitate this process.
Continuing support against piracy. The international maritime presence has been a remarkable show of solidarity with Somalis among a large number of nations and has been effective. This maritime presence should continue while support for the establishment of the Somali coastguard is being provided. At the same time, the question of addressing the problems on land, particularly the issue of youth employment, must been taken up as a matter of urgency.
Somalia is indeed a difficult case to say the least - but challenges always exist and should not be a reason for inaction. The international community should never surrender its obligation towards the people. Effective action is needed now because if not now - then when? If the Council does not act, then who will act? We know all too well that "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil, is that good men do nothing."
People all over the world strive for peace, security and dignity – the people of Somalia are no exception. They have been denied this modest aspiration for the past 20 years. Last year's Security Council visit to Djibouti was a tremendous boost to the region – if the Council can help to restore stability to Somalia, it will go a long way towards elevating further the UN's reputation in Africa. It seems to me that now is the time for action.