Statement by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on the Situation in Somalia
Statement25 May 2021
Thank you very much Mr. President and like others, I would like to thank you for bringing us back here today. In our case, it’s our first day here since we elected almost one year ago, so we are delighted to be here. And I also want to thank our briefers this morning. We were glad that the Foreign Minister Abdirizak, was able to join us today.
Mr President, since our last meeting, I am encouraged that Somalia has stepped back from the decision to extend the mandates of both the Parliament and the President. I think it is no exaggeration to say that this decision was vital for the safety of the Somali people and for the stability of the country. Restoring the 17 September agreement now we believe provides a pathway to elections. Squandering this opportunity would be unforgivable. Momentum has been regained and must be capitalised on now
The next step is simple. Somalia’s leaders must place the country’s interests above their own. And we welcome the good and the breaking news this morning that the preliminary talks are underway and that we may have some positive news. We welcome the leadership of the Prime Minister in those talks. Of course, the talks are a very good start but there remains an urgent need for compromise and agreement on next steps, by all parties.Somalia’s political future still depends on timely and inclusive elections. We urgently now need to see clarity from Somalia on how we achieve this.
It is crucial that all parties engage in these talks in good faith and work to find consensus on the electoral process in a timely manner. Any solution, we have said it before and we will say it again, must ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of women at every stage of that process. As we have done before, we urge the Minister, who was with us earlier, to ensure that the 30% minimum quota for women’s participation be respected. Crucially, there must also be a full and unambiguous rejection of violence. The use of armed actors to manipulate the electoral process cannot be accepted. Those who resort to the use of violence for political gain must be held accountable.
The African Union plays and important role in ensuring peace and security in Somalia. We heard that this morning from the representative. We are therefore deeply disappointed that Somalia has rejected the offer to deploy an African Union envoy. We call on Somalia’s leaders to reconsider their approach and constructively engage with the African Union to find a way forward.
The recent political impasse has contributed to a deteriorating security situation. We have heard that today. This includes the diversion of military resources away from operations against Al-Shabaab, increased clan violence, and the splitting of the Somali National Army along clan lines. At the same time, the threat of Al-Shabaab remains serious in the region. In reality, Al-Shabaab are the only ones to have gained from this electoral impasse. Their attacks on civilians, government officials, and security forces are reprehensible. The federal government must refocus and step up its efforts to protect civilians.
The distraction of the political impasse has also exacerbated the effects of the grave humanitarian crisis in Somalia. As the Covid-19 pandemic rages, we hear that the country is facing critical water shortages alongside flash flooding and other climate related impacts.
The reports of conflict related sexual violence recently outlined by the Special Representative Patten are horrifying and alarming. We call on the Federal Government to take steps to protect women and girls from all forms of sexual and gender based violence by enacting the original 2018 Sexual Offences Bill and by holding perpetrators of sexual violence accountable. I also want to say Mr. President that it’s also deplorable that children continue to be killed, abducted and recruited with impunity. I call on all parties to prevent and end all grave violations against children.
Before I conclude Mr. President, let me say a word about AMISOM. In the context of the security challenges, which we have heard about today, the role and the future of the mission remain vitally important. Through AMISOM, the African Union has made significant gains in laying the path for stabilization in Somalia. We welcome the revision of the Somali Transition Plan and we call for it to be fully endorsed and importantly for its implementation to be accelerated.
It is clear that the continuation of a post-2021 African Union mission in Somalia will be needed. As a member of the European Union, which has proudly contributed to AMISOM and Somali security over decades, our view is that the post-2021 mission must be in line with the needs on the ground, and supportive of Somalia’s security transition. We look forward to receiving the African Union’s independent assessment and to the joint UN-AU report in September.