Statement delivered by Ambassador Byrne Nason at UNSC Briefing on Somalia
Statement22 February 2021
Thank you Madam President,
At the outset I wanted to express our sincere sympathy to Italy following the violent incident in the DRC which claimed three lives including the life of the Ambassador of Italy. We unreservedly condemn the perpetrators of this brutal attack on a UN convoy and express sincere sympathy to our colleagues.
Thank you to our briefers today for their insightful remarks and welcome to Minister Abdirizak today.
We have heard today that Somalia stands at a critical juncture. We had hoped that at today’s meeting, we would have been able to congratulate Somalia on successful elections. Instead, the Constitutional term of the President of Somalia has ended without agreement on an inclusive political arrangement for an electoral process, which would ensure a peaceful political transition. We regret this. We are further disappointed that, despite recent commitments made on 9 February 2021, the leaders of the Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member States have yet to come together to resolve the outstanding electoral implementation issues.
Minister Abdirizak, I know that you agree with us on this.The longer this political stalemate continues, the further Somalia moves into a state of political uncertainty. In the week when we are due to renew AMISOM’s mandate, the significant gains made in fighting Al-Shabaab are now under threat. The streets of Mogadishu in the past few days rang with the sound of heavy weaponry, fired not against Al-Shabaab but in pursuit of political advantage. We saw the FGS deploy security forces against demonstrators.
This violence is unacceptable. It threatens the peace, security and stability of Somalia. It puts civilians at risk.
I urge the leaders of Somalia to put the interests of their people first and immediately re-engage in constructive dialogue. I can do no better than to reiterate the words of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission: the stability of Somalia is at stake. There is a need for “dialogue and compromise”. As trust between the parties has further diminished in the wake of the violence in Mogadishu, we see the role of the African Union as critical to convening the parties and finding consensus on the implementation of the electoral model agreed on 17 September 2020.
The sustainability of Somalia’s political future depends on being inclusive. Ireland continues to call for a credible and inclusive electoral process that safeguards freedom of expression and ultimately best serves the national interest. Let me stress, in particular, that despite the stressful conditions, maybe because of them, we once again reiterate the importance of following through, implementing, the 30 per cent women’s quota throughout the entire process.
AMISOM and Somali National Security Forces risk their lives in the line of duty. Too frequently, they pay the ultimate sacrifice. We welcome the successes in reducing the number of vehicle borne IEDs, which was the result of increased effectiveness of security operations. Equally, the disruption of supply chains and the enforcement of the arms embargo are key in countering IEDs. However, there are still far too many people dying at the hands of Al Shabaab and others in attacks such as that on the Afrik Hotel on 31 January. We condemn these in the strongest possible terms.
To move beyond this context, we need to see sustained momentum on Somalia’s security transition. There is broad agreement, including around this Council table on one thing for sure: that we need a phased handover of primary security responsibilities by AMISOM to Somali authorities. This will involve adapting our collective approach to countering the asymmetric threat of Al-Shabaab, including through the use of non-military means such as financial disruption. It also means addressing the governance and justice gaps which have created space for Al-Shabaab to continue to extend its reach, including to areas not formally within its control.
The way forward for Somalia’s security transition is complex but clear. It involves cooperation between all stakeholders and taking into account the realities on the ground. In this week’s renewal of the AMISOM mandate, the Security Council must lay out the path, and the milestones, towards this transition. These should include enhanced Federal Government and Federal Member State cooperation, agreement on implementation of the Somali Transition Plan, the completion of the AU Independent Assessment, and progress on force generation, among many others.
None of this, however, will be possible without political consensus on a way forward for Somalia, that addresses underlying divisions in Somali society, and puts an end to the political leveraging of Somalia’s security personnel and resources.
We all have the same goal and that is a safer Somalia for all Somalis. We must work together to achieve this.
Human Rights remain central in our collective consideration of next steps, as must the protection of civilians. Reports of a rise in conflict-related sexual violence, alongside attempts to introduce the regressive Sexual Intercourse and Related Crimes Bill are of particular concern. Protecting women and girls from sexual and gender based violence has to be a priority. I join the Secretary General in calling for the Federal Government to enact the 2018 Sexual Offences Bill and to ensure accountability for perpetrators of sexual violence. The use of arbitrary arrest and detention, including of journalists is also a concern.
Finally, as outlined by Jim Swan earlier, Somalia faces complex and multifaceted humanitarian challenges including from looming drought, the on-going threat of Covid, and desert locusts. The SG’s report describes how the number of people in need in Somalia is expected to increase to 5.9 million in 2021. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to assist.
However, the Somali leadership must also recognise that the time spent arguing about election modalities and the use of armed violence is time and resources lost to protecting the lives and livelihoods of Somalis, and a drag on building the prosperity and security of the country. I therefore again call on all parties to quickly find consensus on the holding of inclusive elections so that we can put the focus firmly back where it belongs: ensuring the security, safety and health of every Somali citizen.
Thank you, Madam President.