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  • Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefs the Security Council on a proposed new United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, to be known as UNAMSOM.
Jeffrey Feltman, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefs the Security Council on a proposed new United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia. UN Photo/Evan Schneider

Security Council Briefing on Somalia, Under-Secretary-General Jeffrey Feltman

Mr. President,
Members of the Security Council,
Thank you for this opportunity to brief the Security Council on recent developments in Somalia and on the findings of the Technical Assessment Mission, as requested in resolution 2093.
Let me start with a brief political update. The Federal Government of Somalia has continued implementing its Six Pillar Policy for stabilization and peacebuilding in the country. Notably it has been reaching out beyond Mogadishu in an effort to realize its vision for a federal state of Somalia.
The agreement between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the Somaliland administration to continue dialogue and increase co-operation, signed earlier this month, is a welcome step forward.
Similarly, Prime Minister Shirdon’s “listening tour”, aimed at building trust and consensus between Mogadishu, existing regional administrations and fledging ones marks an important step in the national reconciliation and federal state-building process.
However, the Government’s approach to building new regional administrations is not accepted by all. An interim draft charter to establish a so-called “Jubaland State” in southern Somalia was ratified by delegates from three regions on April 2 and is expected to result in the election of a President for “Jubaland State” in the coming days. While the draft charter envisages “Jubaland State” as part of the federal system, the Federal Government regards it as unconstitutional and efforts to find a compromise have reached an impasse. A lot more work is needed to tackle the inevitable challenges that will arise in the development of a federal system in Somalia.
Mr. President,
There have been several alarming reminders of the fragile security inside Somalia. On March 17, Al-Shabaab retook the town of Hudur, hours after Ethiopian National Defence Forces withdrew. Multiple suicide bombings, carried out by Al-Shabaab, have claimed the lives of innocent Somali civilians in Mogadishu. The most recent, on 14 April, involved several, coordinated attacks, including a double suicide bombing at the Regional Court in the capital. Over 50 people were reportedly killed.
The Courthouse attacks were more sophisticated and coordinated than previous attacks in Somalia indicating external support, but have so far failed to undermine the optimism that permeates Mogadishu. However, they underscore the need to rapidly strengthen security in Somalia.
AMISOM is reaching its operational limit, in terms of holding and expanding areas under its control and innovative thinking is required to address this challenge. Additional resources, including enablers and force multipliers as well as the means to reconfigure AMISOM forces, are required if it is to maintain the impressive momentum of the past year. The anticipated withdrawal of the Ethiopian National Defence Forces will add further strain. We remain concerned by the clear challenges faced by AMISOM and Somalia’s National Forces in their current state. A better funded and coordinated strategic approach is required by the international community that recognizes that well trained and equipped Somali forces are the ultimate exit strategy for international military operations in Somalia.
Mr. President,
The United Nations has continued dialogue with the Federal Government, as well as countries of the region and partner organizations. This week I spoke with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and we discussed the importance of developing mutually reinforcing working relations with Somalia’s neighbors. Today, the Secretary-General and I had constructive meetings with His Excellency Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Foreign Minister of Ethiopia who is also here with us today, where we underscored the important role Ethiopia is playing in ensuring stability in Somalia. We urged close coordination between the Ethiopians and AMISOM regarding the Ethiopian planned withdrawal of their forces from Somalia. I have also been in contact with the African Union and the European Union to ensure a coherent approach to our support to Somalia.
Mr. President,
The United Nations is continuing to work with the Federal Government and local authorities in Somalia to establish a new UN mission to support peacebuilding and statebuilding, as requested in resolution 2093 (2013). We are now very clear on how the UN should support the Government through 2016. In his letter to the Council (S/2013/239), the Secretary-General has outlined his vision for a new United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia – UNAMSOM – the vehicle that is designed to deliver this support.
It is for this and other reasons, that the Mission’s core role will be to act as an enabler, helping to create and galvanize the political and strategic environment in which stabilization and peacebuilding can proceed, including by leveraging other parts of the UN system and international partners. Substantively, the Mission will have four key areas of focus: It will provide good offices and support reconciliation efforts and assist with mediation of politically sensitive challenges associated with the constitutional review and the question of federalism; it will help build national capacity in the rule of law and security sector and national capacity to protect and promotehuman rights at all levels of society; it will also seek to enhance the government’s lead in coordinating international assistance efforts through the New Deal framework. The Mission will also work with the Country Team and other partners on urgent issues through joint task teams such as: stabilization in newly recovered areas; maritime, economic triggers of violence and capacity development.
Mr. President,
The guiding principles outlined by the Secretary-General will be critical to the success of UNAMSOM and, indeed, the success of the United Nations system as a whole in Somalia.
Building Somali capacity and supporting Somali leadership will be central to our efforts to strengthen the peace process. In the longer-run, we hope that it would be Somali solutions that will bring an end to conflict and determine the best models for Somalia’s development. This is at the heart of the new United Nations Mission’s approach.
UNAMSOM will need to be agile, flexible and mobile to respond and adapt to evolving priorities. Limited space and resources, and the challenging security environment mean that the Mission will have a limited number of permanent residential staff, but will need resources to bring in specialized experts to support emerging priorities. It will also need a concept of support and range of security options to enable the UN to work side by side with Somalis, including in Villa Somalia. This model may be expensive in the security environment of Somalia, but if the UN is going to be relevant , will require the strong support of the Council in particular and UN Member States generally.
Collaboration and partnership will also be critical. The Mission will rely on the UN Country Team to bring programmatic support to the political and strategic advice that it will provide, while ensuring that humanitarian space is protected. A Joint Leadership Team and Joint Planning Team will guide the work associated with the UN presence in Somalia. The Mission will also have a core pillar of analysts and planners who will provide a multiplier effect, working to integrate the capacity in the mission and those of the Country Team, as well as link them with what AMISOM and other partners would provide.
We look forward to strengthening our new strategic partnership with the African Union and AMISOM through the new Mission. We acknowledge that both organizations play essential roles in supporting Somalia’s peacebuilding in all its aspects. We are committed to realizing the synergies between these roles and the UN’s mission. UNAMSOM and AMISOM planners will meet as soon as the new Mission is up and running to work out the parameters of our practical partnership on the ground. As in so many areas, the UN’s partnership with the African Union is vital to our ability to achieve our objectives, and we look forward to ongoing cooperation with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development as well.
Mr. President,
The United Nations will require a strong level of commitment from the international community if UNAMSOM is to succeed in the coordination role envisaged by the Council in resolution 2093. This means a clear commitment to working coherently and patiently to allow the Federal Government to develop its plans and build its capacities. The current spectre of fragmented and duplicative efforts at international assistance is inefficient and could be counterproductive, and risks overwhelming the nascent national capacity. The President of Somalia has told us that much and we are hopeful that the conference planned in London next month, and others scheduled for Brussels and Tokyo later in the year, will help us to agree on a framework for future coordination.
Mr. President,
The new Mission represents a fresh start for the UN in Somalia and a renewed commitment by the Council to support Somali-owned peacebuilding. Results will not be achieved overnight. If we are genuinely committed to Somali leadership, we must be prepared to let Somalis set the timelines as well as the priorities, and keep our expectations realistic. But we firmly believe that the design of the new Mission is grounded in real needs and a well thought out analysis of the objective reality in Somalia today, as well as in the great goodwill that exists in the international community. With your support, we believe we can help continue to move this daunting agenda forward.
Thank you.