Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at the UNSC Briefing on the Situation in Somalia
Statement12 August 2021
Thank you very much Mr. President and thank you to our briefers for their invaluable insights. It is great to see the Special Representative in the chamber this morning, and I welcome the AU representative, Ambassador Madeira among us virtually. I also extend a welcome to Ambassador Abukar. I was particularly struck by the heartfelt presentation by Ms. Ahmed today.
Since our last meeting, I have been encouraged by the step-by-step progress we are seeing being made in Somalia towards the implementation of an agreed electoral model. And I want to commend the leadership of the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Member States in setting aside their differences in the past, working together, and putting the country and the Somali people’s interests first. This is the cooperation we wanted to see and it is essential for long-term stability in Somalia. It is essential, and I urge Somalia’s leaders to maintain this positive momentum, resolve outstanding issues in a spirit of consensus and compromise, and hold inclusive elections without further delay. This is vital to deliver on the demands of the people of Somalia for democracy and to tackle the major challenges the country faces. Time is now of the essence.
At this crucial moment for Somalia’s political future, it is all the more critical that we see the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in the election process. Reports, and we heard from the briefings this morning, that women candidates have been intimidated, harassed, abducted, and killed in the past. It is imperative that we all work to ensure the safety and security of women running for office and to plan for the protection of women during the elections.
I am very concerned that there is still no established concrete mechanism established to ensure the minimum 30 per cent quota for women in the electoral process. As Ambassador Abukar knows, we have spoken many times about this quota - this is not rhetoric. I appreciate that you also discussed it with our Foreign Minister when you met in Mogadishu recently. The appointment of Goodwill Ambassadors and the presence here today of Ms. Gabale is very welcome. I think it is very disappointing, as Ms. Ahmed qualified, the establishment of a mechanism is elusive and challenging. I want to reiterate her calls for the establishment of concrete mechanisms to ensure the 30 per cent quota is met without delay. We need to see this commitment translated into practice.
I am also very alarmed by the reports of increased conflict related sexual violence, especially against women and girls, as outlined by SRSG Patten and SRSG Gamba recently. I have read and listened to these reports in detail, and to put it frankly, they are horrifying. The Irish Foreign Minister, Mr. Simon Coveney directly heard searing testimony on the tragic impact of conflict-related sexual violence from women activists in Mogadishu last month. The impact of violence on women must be addressed and Ms. Ahmed reminded us all of that today.
These acts are utterly unacceptable, and must immediately cease, whomever the perpetrators. I echo the call by SRSG Patten and Gamba for a swift adoption of a new national action plan on ending sexual violence in conflict. I welcome that the Human Rights Policy for the Somalia National Armed Forces was adopted in May. I call on all Somali authorities, however, to take immediate steps to protect women and girls from all forms of sexual and gender based violence including enacting the original 2018 Sexual Offences Bill.
It is also deeply shocking that children continue to be killed, abducted and recruited with apparent impunity. The Secretary General's report highlights the alarming scale of ongoing grave violations against the children of Somalia by all parties, including Al-Shabaab, clan militias and Federal Government and federal member state armed forces. I call on all parties to prevent and end all grave violations against children, and to hold the perpetrators accountable.
The recent political impasse has diverted attention away from tackling the threat of Al-Shabaab. But we haven’t looked away. The reality is that Al-Shabaab are the only ones to have gained from the electoral impasse. I condemn in the strongest possible terms their continued attacks on civilians, government officials, and security forces.
The distraction of the political impasse has also aggravated the effects of a dire humanitarian crisis in Somalia. The negative impact of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are further exacerbating the serious humanitarian situation and having a disproportionate impact on the vulnerable, as always women and girls. While international partners need to step up funding and support in Somalia—and in that context it is indeed regrettable to see contribution to the 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia at its lowest level in six years—the Government must also refocus on addressing humanitarian access constraints and address the fundamental challenges facing the people of Somalia.
In conclusion I want to address AMISOM, and we heard in great detail from Ambassador Madeira today. The AU, through AMISOM, plays a major role in promoting peace and security in Somalia. I sincerely commend the bravery and sacrifices made by both AMISOM and the Somali security forces to promoting peace in Somalia. As a member of the EU, which has proudly contributed to AMISOM and Somali security over decades, I want to encourage the FGS, the UN and the AU to work to follow the timelines set out in resolution 2568. For the future security of the people of Somalia, it is absolutely vital to continue to work together towards the progressive transfer of security responsibilities from AMISOM to Somali security forces. This must happen as soon the security and political situation allows, and in a manner which prioritises the safety and security of all Somali citizens. Finding consensus between all of Somalia’s partners and Somali leaders on how best to achieve this is now critical and urgent.