|For information only - not an official document.|
|Press Release No: UNIS/SC/1240|
|Release Date: 3 July 2000|
Under-Secretary-General Kieran Prendergast Briefs Security Council,
Urges It Not to Give up on Somalia
Djibouti Updates Council on Somali National Peace Conference
NEW YORK, 29 July (UN Headquarters) -- Under-Secretary-General Kieran Prendergast told the Security Council today that it must “not fall prey to cynicism and despair and give up on Somalia”, as he briefed the Council on the political, security and humanitarian situation there. On the contrary, he added, it should give renewed support to the Somali National Peace Conference currently under way in Djibouti.
The Under-Secretary-General said that the Peace Conference, which had relied on Somalia’s traditional system of clans, appeared to be on the right track. The Council should call on all Somalis to participate. Further, the international community should provide material assistance to Djibouti to ease the intolerable burden the Conference had placed on it.
Following the Under-Secretary-General’s briefing, the representative of Djibouti provided the Council with an update on the peace talks, which had brought together more than 2,000 Somali delegates, elders and observers. He said the first phase had started on 2 May and ended early June, with a focus on healing and reconciliation. The second phase, dealing with political issues, had started on 15 June. His Government had made sure the Conference was fully representative -– the broadest and most participatory in Somali history -- and the process covered all important matters, past and future. It was expected to conclude on 15 July and be followed by the creation of a constituent assembly and the election of a President and Prime Minister.
The process appeared to be on track, he continued. It must succeed, since it might prove to be the last chance for Somalia. He added that the financial aspects of the Conference proceedings were proving to be daunting for his small, developing country and he hoped, therefore, that the international community would provide support.
In the discussion that followed, wide support was expressed for the peace initiative and with the need for the Council to remain engaged. Many speakers stressed the goal of unity and territorial integrity, while others noted that the peace initiative was only a first step and must be seen as progress by all parts of the country.
The representative of Mali told the Council that there was an urgent need for a comprehensive and lasting solution, based on the sovereignty and unity of Somalia. Priority must be the restoration of a State in that country. The Council must give complete support to the initiative of the President of Djibouti. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) placed great hope in the initiative.
Ukraine’s representative said the peace effort must not be allowed to fail. Such a failure would have catastrophic consequences for the unity of the country and its people. Furthermore, separatism must not be allowed to take root in Africa. In that context, the non-participation of “Somaliland” in the Peace Conference was disturbing. Only pressure from the international community on the leadership of Somaliland, as well as on the leaders of other entities and factions, would break their intransigence.
The representative of the Netherlands said his country was not giving up on Somalia, nor was it calling for statehood for Somalia at any price. He supported the Djibouti initiative and gave qualified support to the OAU doctrine of the inviolability of the borders in Africa. If entities were successful in organizing themselves and respecting human rights, however, it could not be expected that those entities would surrender to failed States. Success would have to be seen as progress in all parts of the State.
The representative of Tunisia, as Chairman of the Security Council sanctions committee on Somalia, established by resolution 733 (1992), said the committee had been reactivated and would be sending a mission to the region shortly, with a view to encouraging support for the Council-imposed arms embargo.
Statements were also made by the representatives of Malaysia, Canada, Namibia, Bangladesh, Jamaica, China, Russian Federation, United States, Argentina, United Kingdom, France, Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Ethiopia and Portugal (on behalf of the European Union and its associated States). The Observer of the League of Arab States also spoke.
The meeting which began at 10.50 a.m., adjourned at 1.25 p.m.
Committee Work Programme
The Security Council met this morning to hear a briefing on the situation in Somalia.
Briefing by Under-Secretary-General
KIERAN PRENDERGAST, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, reviewed the political, security and humanitarian developments in Somalia since his last briefing, in informal consultations of the Security Council on 23 May.
He said members of the Council would recall that on 22 September last year, President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti had put forward his plan for peace in Somalia in a speech to the General Assembly. Consultations had followed with a wide range of Somali leaders and then, on 21 March, he had convened a meeting of 50 Somali intellectuals, who were invited in their personal capacity to advise on the peace process. Following those discussions, the Somali National Peace Conference had been formally opened in Djibouti on 2 May.
The delegates to the Conference consisted of elders, traditional leaders and politically-active Somalis. All elders, with the exception of about three-quarters of the elders of the Isaak clan from the self-styled “Somaliland”, participated in that phase of the Conference. From May, until it ended on 13 June, the meeting of the elders focused on reconciliation among the clans and working out an agenda and a list of delegates for phase II of the Conference. The final list of delegates included a large number of political leaders, former officials, Somalis from the diaspora and prominent members of civil society.
In spite of efforts of Djibouti and other members of the international community, a number of political leaders refused to take part in the Conference, or even send observers, he said. Most prominent among them were: Mohamed Ibrahim Egal of “Somaliland”; and Hussein Aidid, Osman Hassan Ali “Atto”, and Musse Sudi “Yallow” of the Hawiye clan. Some leaders who stayed out complained about the lack of adequate consultation. Others appeared unhappy about the procedure by which delegates had been selected.
Of those who remained outside the process, by far the most serious obstacles were presented by the two “building blocs”, the self-styled “Somaliland” and “Puntland”. The latter’s’ leader, Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed, recently announced the withdrawal of the support of “Puntland” from the Conference.
As regards Somaliland, he continued, Mr. Egal had reiterated his position that all options remained open provided that he could negotiate as Somaliland with legitimate leaders from what he termed the “South”. The picture regarding Puntland, seemed a bit more mixed. There had been popular demonstrations against the Yusuf administration and in support of the Conference in some five towns in Puntland. Moreover, some members of the Puntland delegation had refused to be summoned back to Puntland and Hassan Abshir Farah, former Mayor of Mogadishu and former Minister in the Puntland administration, was unanimously elected as co-chair of the Conference.
On the other hand, he added, Hassan Mohamed Noor of the Rahanwein Resistance Army, who initially said he would not participate, subsequently joined the Conference. Djibouti was continuing its efforts to persuade certain faction leaders, particularly the Hawiye in the Mogadishu area, to revise their hitherto hostile attitude towards the Conference. There remained the possibility of further changes in the list of participants.
He said the issues on the agenda of the Conference included security, arms control and disarmament, the future of Mogadishu as capital, and the transitional arrangements. A special committee made up of representatives from each participating group had been tasked with drafting documents, including a transitional charter for Somalia. Delegates had established another special committee that had discussed mechanisms for future economic and social development. It had been agreed that all assets should be returned to their rightful owners through a procedure to be formulated by future authorities. It had been agreed that deliberations in the Conference be extended for a further two weeks, until 15 July.
He said 750,000 people across Somalia were highly vulnerable following three consecutive years of below normal rainfall and dwindling household resource capacities. Crop failure and or renewed conflict could place fragile livelihoods at risk and generate acute humanitarian crises in some regions. The United Nations 2000 Consolidated Appeal for Somalia, which requested $50.5 million, had received less than 25 per cent to date. Personal safety and security remained part of the risk of humanitarian assistance delivery in Somalia and continued to affect all aspects of those activities.
The Djibouti initiative, which had relied on Somalia’s traditional system of clans in organizing the Conference, appeared to be on the right track. The Council must not fall prey to cynicism or despair and give up on Somalia. The Security Council must encourage wide participation in the Conference by giving renewed support to the Djibouti initiative and the Conference and by calling on all Somalis to participate. The support of the Council would offer the best deterrence against the obstructions that might come from some circle whose privileges and capacity to profit from disorder were threatened by a move towards peace.
So far, he said, the Conference had been almost entirely financed by Djibouti, which was an intolerable burden. It was time for the international community to consider how to assist Djibouti in its peace initiative, especially in a material way.
ROBLE OLHAYE (Djibouti) said the people of Somalia and the Government of Djibouti were grateful for the Council’s meeting today, which was viewed as support for their efforts. The Secretary-General’s efforts and those of his Special Representative, David Stephen, had also been vital for the peace Conference.
He said he believed it would be useful to describe the Conference to Council members. Any such gathering of so many people for such a length of time involved strenuous logistical and financial efforts. There were some 2,000 Somali delegates, elders and observers. Many were transported to Djibouti by air at Djibouti’s expense. The Conference was being held some 40 kilometres from the capital in Arta. All private homes in the area had been claimed by the Government for the accomodation of participants. Food, transport and amenities for all participants were also provided by Djibouti. The Djibouti Government had also brought in 40 Somali singers, poets, composers and comedians to drive home the culture of peace and brotherhood.
The meetings were held in a large tent, he explained. No class or social distinctions were made between participants, with minority representatives and women included. There was extensive coverage of the proceedings by satellite and the Internet. The Web Site established by Djibouti, called “Somali rebirth”, received some 5,000 hits per day, thus providing evidence of widespread interest. The financial aspects of the Conference proceedings were proving daunting for Djibouti -- a small and developing country –- to meet. Thus, he called on the international community to provide support.
For over a decade, Somalia was an international concern and embarrassment, he said. The word “Somalia” had come to denote international failure and futility. Following a widespread revolt against brutal oppression and mismanagement, the country dissolved into chaos. Tens of thousands had been killed, and an air of doom as to the country’s very survival was present. With little to lose, faction leaders chose to challenge the United Nations presence there, and following the United Nations withdrawal, it returned to chaos.
Time and time again, opportunities to bring the destruction to a halt had been cynically ignored, he said. The sum total of what was really at stake was little more than the excessive egos, personal agendas and fantasies of a few, he said. Their utter disregard for the state and condition of unarmed civilians was stunning to outside world. However, such warlords were found all over Africa, if not the world.
As had often been said, the responsibility for correcting Africa’s problems lay largely with Africa, he said, but the continent could not be expected to do so alone. Where there was evidence of effort the international community should assist and such an opportunity now presented itself regarding Somalia. There had been an overwhelming response to the Djibouti President's statement at last years’ General Assembly about Somalia, and that reaction led to Djibouti formalizing an initiative.
The first phase of the peace Conference had commenced on 2 May and ended in early June, he said. That phase was exclusively about healing and reconciliation. Two hundred elders had conducted inter-clan and intra-clan dialogue to that effect. The second phase -- dealing with political issues -- was the central phase and had started on 15 June. The Djibouti President had made a frank speech to participants at the opening, calling on them to reach an understanding of the reasons for the failure of their State, and to establish a new State free from past ills, with due respect for Somali values and Islamic teachings.
Great effort had been taken to render the process transparent and comprehensive, he said. It was not aimed at undermining any regions in Somalia that had found relative peace and stability. Its objectives were, rather, peace, government and stability. It was important to guard the Conference against narrow agendas and personal politics. The warlords had contributed to the worst of Somalia’s problems. A clear separation of powers -- central from regional and within the arms of government -- was critical to a political solution, along with checks and balances.
The Conference’s approach was holistic, and focused on the single entity of Somalia, he said. It was the only forum that had tackled the most pernicious and divisive issues. Some benefitted from the chaos and thus attempted to thwart the peace Conference, he noted. There was an economic dimension, too, to the decisions of some not to attend. But, the majority could not be held hostage to the few, and they would be left behind.
Conscious of contrived or possible allegations of foreign interference, Djibouti had made sure that the Conference was fully representative. Defying all odds, people had come from all sectors and regions of the country, regardless of whether their leaders were for or against the Conference. The process covered all important matters, past and future. The list was impressive. It was expected to conclude on 15 July and be followed by the creation of a constituent assembly and the election of a President and a Prime Minister.
Standard practice in peace brokering was to concentrate on the adversaries, he said. Djibouti had reversed the practice and aimed at empowering the disenfranchised and unarmed civilians who had been betrayed. People saw the process as their last chance, and began challenging the small dictators and armed groups.
The peace process appeared to be on track, he said. That was important, as it may prove the last chance for Somalia, so it must succeed. Thus far, the Conference had been beneficial, and he could not imagine that the Somali people would ever return to the situation of the 1990s. Conference participants clearly had the will to continue until they had achieved their legitimate rights. The Conference was the broadest and most participatory in Somali history. Djibouti endorsed the draft presidential statement before the Council today, he concluded.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said this meeting was a positive initiative, and he thanked all concerned. There was an urgent need for a comprehensive and lasting solution, based on the sovereignty and unity of Somalia. Priority must be the restoration of a State in that country. Along the same lines, the Council must give complete support to efforts made to solve the crisis and particularly the initiative of the President of Djibouti. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) placed great hope in the initiative, he noted, and it deserved to be welcomed.
The Council must follow the process of national reconciliation closely, he said. The main responsibility for that reconciliation lay with the Somali people themselves. Thus, he awaited with interest the outcome of the peace Conference. Mali appealed to all Somali people to join the process.
On the humanitarian situation and attacks against humanitarian personnel, Mali was gravely concerned, he said. He called on all parties to ensure the security of humanitarian personnel and their safety. He noted with satisfaction the humanitarian coordination efforts of the international community. The return of peace would require generous support from the international community so relief and reconstruction activity could continue.
Strict implementation of the arms embargo must he ensured by the Council, he said. Violations were occurring. On behalf of the caucus of the Non-Aligned Movement, he had circulated the draft Presidential Statement that was before the Council today, and he called on all to support it.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) said the international community had been disengaged from the conflict in the Horn of Africa for far too long. The state of "no war" and "no peace" in Somalia could not be accepted on a permanent basis. The peace initiative initiated by Djibouti therefore deserved the strong support of the community. That initiative pursued a "bottom-up" approach focusing on the people, who really mattered, and not on the so-called leaders and warlords who had destroyed the Somali nation.
Through Djibouti's efforts, he said, there was now a glimmer of hope that at long last the civil war in Somalia could be brought to an end, enabling the country to recover from an exceptionally complex crisis which had led to the collapse of the State and destabilized the Horn of Africa. It was thus heartening to hear that, in the past month or so, Somalis from every walk of life had been increasingly involved in the Djibouti-initiated peace process.
Although the Somali National Peace Conference, now in its second phase, was a significant step forward, it had been overshadowed by the conspicuous non-participation of the faction of leaders who continued to disagree with the objectives of the meeting and the process of reconciliation. Presumably that was because they were no longer at the centre of the process. The intransigence of the faction leaders was clearly the main stumbling block to peace. Those leaders should realize that they had had their chance to resolve the conflict, had failed miserably and that now the people's patience was at an end. Nevertheless, since no lasting peace would be possible without internal reconciliation, every effort should be made to bring those leaders on board the current peace initiative.
As part of that challenge, he continued, it was imperative for the international community to deny those leaders the means to wage war. The arms embargo on Somalia must therefore be continued and maintained more vigorously. He condemned the continuing acts of violence against humanitarian personnel and called on all armed groups to fully cooperate with humanitarian relief efforts and guarantee the safety and freedom of aid workers. He believed it was fitting and timely for the Council to pronounce itself once again on the issue of Somalia and reiterate its strong support for the efforts of the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), the Organization of African Unity and endorse the peace initiative.
ROBERT FOWLER (Canada) thanked the Under-Secretary-General and the people and government of Djibouti. Canada remained deeply concerned by the continuing instability in Somalia and its negative impact on the security and well-being of the entire population.
Canada firmly supported the lead role played by IGAD and the initiative of the Djibouti President, he said. It could therefore support the statement submitted by Mali, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement. He urged the President of Djibouti to continue his efforts to find a solution.
His country welcomed the Sanctions Committee’s decision to undertake a fact-finding mission to neighbouring countries to assess difficulties encountered in implementing the arms embargo, he said. He also expressed deep concern at the ongoing human rights abuses, which were committed with impunity, and called on all faction leaders to promote rights and freedoms. Attacks against humanitarian workers, notably in the south and centre, were unacceptable and only inhibited further their ability to protect vulnerable populations. He reminded Somali leaders of their obligation to ensure such workers safety, security and freedom of movement.
GERHARD THERON (Namibia) said that unless the Council showed the resolve to fully support the efforts of the Somali people to rebuild their country, the situation there would remain a cause for concern for the international community for the foreseeable future. His delegation was troubled by Somalia's lack of central authority, the deep divisions between antagonistic warlords and other faction leaders, as well as violations against the arms embargo. “The Somali people have suffered too long,” he said, "and it's high time that favourable conditions are created for them to decide the future of their country."
It was, therefore, time for the Council, which was charged with maintaining international peace and security, to reassert its authority and address the situation in Somalia, he said. The Council must support the peace process in Somalia in order to restore stability and prosperity there. In that regard, his delegation welcomed and fully supported the Djibouti initiative for convening the Somali National Reconciliation Conference to enable the Somali people to discuss their own futures with a view to creating structures for normal State functions. He therefore strongly believed that the Council should likewise endorse that initiative as the only viable mechanism for the peaceful resolution of the situation in Somalia. He also called upon the international community to provide financial support to the Government of Djibouti to fulfil this task.
He said he was very concerned by reports that arms continued to flow freely into Somalia, despite Council resolutions imposing an embargo. He therefore commended the efforts of the Chairman of the Sanctions Committee on Somalia to identify ways to strengthen the sanctions regime and also called upon Member States, particularly neighbouring countries, to assist the Committee by providing information on arms embargo violations. He was, however, encouraged by the excellent job of the humanitarian agencies that had been able to deliver assistance to the needy, despite the difficult conditions in Somalia. There was concern, however, that nearly 750,000 people were now considered highly vulnerable after three consecutive years of drought. He called upon the donor community to provide adequate financial resources to the humanitarian agencies to enable them to meet the challenges ahead.
F.A. SHAMIM AHMED (Bangladesh) said the current meeting was timely in light of the ongoing Somalia National Peace Conference, and thanked the representative of Djibouti for providing the Council with an update on the talks.
The prolonged suffering of the Somali people must stop, he said. Essential features of Somalia today were the 30,000 deaths, near total destruction of social and economic infrastructure, a vast majority of school children unschooled and raging famine-like scarcity. The efforts of President Guelleh of Djibouti deserved complete support and admiration, and Bangladesh fully supported his initiative in seeking a resolution to the crisis.
Djibouti’s approach was significant, he said, as it placed the Somali people at the centre of the peace process; previous efforts, which had focused on power sharing by the warlords, had failed. He was pleased to note that the initial objective of reconciliation among clans had proven largely successful, and that work on the core issue had begun. It was disturbing to see attempts at blocking the process by those whose criminal behavior and disrespect for human rights was the prime reason for the current state of affairs in the country. The Council should condemn reported efforts to prevent those who wished to attend the peace conference from attending.
One factor contributing to the worsening situation was the wanton smuggling of arms, he said. The outbreak of conflicts elsewhere in the Horn of Africa had a catalytic effect on those imports. All States must cooperate to make the arms embargo more effective.
The combined effect of drought, disease and environmental degradation meant an endemic humanitarian crisis, he said. The international community should do everything possible to ameliorate this. In that regard, ensuring the safety of aid workers was essential.
M. PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said the problem of Somalia was the most intractable faced by the international community over the last 10 years, and there had been little progress. Inter and intra-clan rivalries had brought untold suffering to the people of Somalia, and that had affected the will of the international community.
Against that background, Jamaica commended the initiative of Djibouti, she said. The hallmark of the Conference had been the participation of civil society. It was a bold stroke to go beyond the warlords, and she hoped that the consultations would result in a compromise that would reflect the needs and aspirations of the Somali people. It was important that a strong signal of support for the initiative be made by the Council and that moral and material support be provided. It should also support the work of regional organizations and neighbouring States.
She regretted that some leaders rejected any peace proposal, preferring to continue the misery of the people. She called on all to reject violence and to participate in the Conference. Somalia would need the help of the international community as it sought reconciliation and rebuilding. The United Nations must be involved and must maintain close contact with the brokers of peace. The groundwork must be laid for sustainable peace.
She expressed Jamaica’s concern about the dire humanitarian disaster -– the cumulative effect of conflict and infrastructure failures. Nearly 1 million people were at risk of food shortages. The United Nations system had been trying to provide assistance, and she urged those countries that were able to do so to contribute generously to the inter-agency consolidated appeal. She also paid tribute to the humanitarian workers who had acted selflessly and with perseverance, in trying circumstances.
PETER VAN WALSUM (Netherlands) said his country was not giving up on Somalia, nor was it calling for statehood for Somalia at any price. It would endorse the European Union statement to be made by the representative of Portugal. He added that the Netherlands supported the initiative of Djibouti.
The Netherlands gave qualified support to the OAU doctrine of inviolability of the borders in Africa, he said. If political entities were successful in organizing themselves and respecting human rights, it could not be expected that those entities would surrender to failed States. Success would have to be seen as progress in all parts of the State. That achievement of that success lay with the Somali people.
WANG YINGFAN (China) said the last few months had seen new developments in the situation in Somalia. Progress achieved so far was the result of joint efforts of all sides, and reflected the hope of the participants in the Djibouti Conference. He hoped they would achieve an understanding on all aspects of Somalia’s transitional process. He noted that the entire population of Djibouti supported the Conference under way there and congratulated the President of Djibouti for his initiative.
He urged those Somali factions who had stayed away from the Conference to manifest political wisdom and join the other participants. Further, he called for the effective implementation of the Council arms embargo on Somalia.
SERGEY V. LAVROV (Russian Federation) said the reason for the plight of Somalia was deep-seated inter-clan fragmentation and the ambition of certain leaders, which was main obstacle to peace. There had been no lack of peace initiatives, but their viability depended on the level of support they received. The main issue was whether or not it would be possible to include the broadest sector of Somali society.
The Russian Federation viewed the peace conference in Djibouti favourably, and hoped for positive results, he said. It was like a ship controlled by the Somali people themselves. It was important that interested States continued to ensure a favourable environment for the dialogue, he added.
The active work of humanitarian organizations must continue, he said. He shared others’ concern about their treatment. The Russian Federation’s participation as an observer at the IGAD was proof of its concern. It was involved in the partners’ forum of IGAD on Somalia and on the Sudan. As an old friend of the Somali people, the Russian Federation would continue to work for their defence and for the restoration of their country.
VOLODDYMYR YEL'CHENKO (Ukraine) said the latest peace effort in Somalia must not be allowed to fail after having advanced to its current stage. That would have catastrophic consequences for the unity of the country and its people. Also, separatism must not be allowed to take root in Africa. In that context, the non-participation of Somaliland in the Djibouti Peace Conference, and the recent accusations by its leaders against Djibouti, were increasingly disturbing.
He said his country supported the idea that only the mounting pressure of the international community on the leadership of Somaliland, as well as on the leaders of other entities and factions who continued to defy the ongoing peace efforts, could help break their intransigence and obstruction.
He said that although the very process of the restoration of national government and the State in Somalia was in the hands of the Somalis, the Security Council and the international community must be ready to provide practical support to those efforts. Such support should include being prepared to recognize the provisional government of the country after its formation by the future Transitional Assembly. That step would be crucial towards a lasting settlement in Somalia. The international community should also be prepared to provide support to the process of national reconciliation, and to assist Somalis in solving the problems of national reconstruction and reconciliation.
NANCY SODERBERG (United States) said while some basic steps had been taken in Somalia, there were still many hurdles ahead. Even if the current discussions in Djibouti produced a blueprint for an interim government, that was only the first and perhaps easiest step towards the rehabilitation of Somalia. The task of transforming such a structure into a functioning, effective, permanent and representative government would be far more difficult. Only the commitment of the Somalis themselves could ensure its success. Once they had demonstrated, through solid achievements on the ground, that they were making the process work, the international community could then review how best to support their efforts.
She said that given the previous failure of overly ambitious efforts to rebuild Somalia, the United States was committed to an incremental, long-term approach that would seek to rebuild the Somali polity from the bottom up through support for regional entities that emerged from the participatory processes. Such efforts would offer the best hope for the creation of a stable, durable and democratic Somalia and should be seen as complementary to the work being done by the Somalis at Arta. The United States had also focused its assistance on areas of relative stability, including Somaliland and Puntland.
She said her country's unconditional food aid distribution was increasingly being replaced by "food for work" activities. Disaster assistance projects were also placing greater emphasis on activities that had a mitigation focus and transnational nature, as opposed to pure relief. In the end, any effort to rebuild Somalia must be an all-inclusive process that enjoyed the support of existing regional entities, was based on a legitimate participatory process, was derived from Somali society and rejected the predatory violence of warlords.
OSVALDO NARSICO MARSICO (Argentina) said the active participation of United Nations Members would help facilitate the search for a solution to the Somali problem. The Council was dealing with a complex issue that had lasted too long. Somalia was a homogenous country, but that had not prevented the breakdown of the State.
Argentina was concerned that past efforts to find a solution to the Somali problem had yielded meagre results. The time had come for the Somali syndrome to be overcome, and for the Council and others concerned to find a solution. The Djibouti peace initiative should be the instrument for progress to be made. The Council must support that process and he commended Djibouti for its efforts.
The task of rebuilding Somalia must involve all sections of Somali society, he said. There should be no obstacle to the Conference under way in Djibouti. He reiterated his Government’s concern about recent violence in the southern region of the country. Humanitarian assistance was vital given the deteriorating situation of the Somali people, he stressed. He paid tribute to the humanitarian workers in the country, some of whom had lost their lives and called for the respect of the territorial integrity and unity of Somalia.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) expressed concern that some elements of Somali society were not represented in the Djibouti initiated peace process. He, therefore, encouraged all regions of Somalia to take part in it. Only that would create the environment for a lasting political solution to the problems in the country. The peace process was an important political initiative and it should not be allowed to lose momentum. The longer the talks continued, the greater the chance that different elements of Somali society would become involved.
He said Djibouti's efforts should not be seen as a quick fix. They constituted a process towards a lasting and viable solution to a complicated and entrenched problem. As such, the United Kingdom urged that country to proceed cautiously. The imposition of a government without the broadest possible consultation of all groups might only result in undermining the relative peace and stability in some self-determined areas, for example the northern regions.
He said his country agreed with the Secretary-General's call for the international financial institutions to exercise flexibility in dealing with the unique situation presented by Somalia. Those institutions should engage in negotiations with administrations in stable areas as a first step. They should, nevertheless, look carefully at issues of transparency and accountability before making financial commitments. Further, the grave humanitarian situation was deeply disturbing, and proper protection for humanitarian workers must be provided. Noting that weapons still continued to flow into Somalia, he underscored that governments must comply with the arms embargo established by Security Council resolution 733 (1992).
SAID BEN MUSTAPHA (Tunisia) paid tribute to the President of Djibouti on his initiative and efforts to help Somalis find peace. He repeated Tunisia’s commitment to a settlement of the crisis that took into account the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia. Participation was the key to success, but financial support from States and intergovernmental organizations was also needed.
The Conference in Djibouti was, in itself, progress towards that peace, he said, and reflected the determination and commitment of the Somali people to reconstruct their country and to establish a national authority. He appealed to those Somali groups that had not yet joined to avoid hampering those who wished to participate. All sectors of Somali society must participate.
For several decades now, Somalia had only seen destabilization, he said. At least one generation had experienced only that destabilization, and had known no chance to build for their futures. Tunisia had worked tirelessly to assist Somalia to reconcile, so Somalis could live in peace and be aware of their shared destiny. This aim was impossible outside the framework of a shared national identity.
All Somalis must feel discomfort at comparisons made between other crises and theirs, he said. The country was inhabited by a noble people with fine potential, but it was now used in the press as a leitmotif for failure. That was painful to Africans and Arab States.
He had reactivated the Security Council sanctions committee to recharge the arms embargo, he said. That committee’s approach was not punitive, but was rather a means to contribute effectively to saying the language of weapons must yield to dialogue, which could alone lead to a national solution and reconciliation. In the committee, all Member States of the United Nations and regional organizations would participate to see the embargo was observed. To encourage that cooperation, the committee planned to send a mission to the region, he said.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), President of the Council, speaking in his national capacity, said the holding of another debate on Somalia demonstrated the issue’s importance and showed the resolve of the Council to solve all crises -- there were no forgotten crises on the Council’s agenda. The Council must learn from its past difficulties and find a way for the rebirth of Somalia.
He referred to a number of regional initiatives taken to resolve conflicts in Africa: the Lusaka Agreement over the Democratic Republic of the Congo; the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) initiative on Sierra Leone; the OAU peace accord on the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict; the initiative of the IGAD member States on Somalia; and the current Djibouti initiative, also on Somalia.
Unlike previous efforts on Somalia, he said, the Djibouti initiative had not required dependence on the warlords. It had given voice to civil society -– to intellectuals, party leaders and others. They had all been given the opportunity to express their views and their weariness of the prolonged conflict in their country. The time had arrived for the international community to support the Djibouti initiative, including with funds to ensure its success.
ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya) said the United Nations had neglected the Somali crisis for a long time because of a wrong perception. He hoped the Security Council meeting would mark a new beginning in efforts to help bring about a resolution of the Somali crisis. The international community must support the Djibouti Conference and must encourage all Somalis to participate in it.
Libya had had an interest in Somalia for a long time, he continued. It had undertaken initiatives to resolve its problems. It had also contributed towards improving relations between it and its neighbours. Libya was the only country with diplomatic representation in Somalia. It had provided financial support for the Djibouti Conference. It supported the unity, independence and territorial integrity of Somalia, and rejected attempts at its fragmentation. The United Nations should not let Somalia down and should support the Djibouti process, he said.
ABDALLA SALEH AL-ASHTAL (Yemen) said his Government had an interest in Somalia because events there had an impact on Yemen and its people. There were many Somalis in his country. Yemen had contributed to finding solutions to Somalia’s problems and had occasion to invite Somali faction leaders to Sanaa for talks. The Djibouti initiative should be supported by the United Nations and the international community. He commended the President of Djibouti for his initiative, which also involved the region. He noted that the people of Somalia were responsible for the resolution of the crisis in their country. They could not be helped if they did not help themselves in the first place.
He called upon Member States to abide by United Nations resolutions on Somalia and ensure that the crisis did not spill over into neighbouring countries. The looting of Somalia’s natural resources should stop, he said.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said today's meeting was a contribution to the return of Somalia to the international arena, and important in view of the Djibouti initiative. Egypt’s position on Somalia had been constant. It supported the unity and independence of Somalia and was opposed to dividing the country and establishing autonomous entities in Somalia.
Because it believed in the unity of Somalia, Egypt was keen to balance its contact with all provinces, and provided assistance to all, he said. It believed the solution to the ongoing crisis was the responsibility of the Somali’s themselves, including Somali civil society. United Nations intervention must be in the form of support for its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Therefore, Egypt supported the Djibouti initiative, he said. It presented an adequate framework for a solution, and could guarantee the return of peace and stability in Somalia and contribute to stability in the Horn of Africa.
The Conference had been successful in its first phase, he said. The participants had settled many differences between warring factions and clans, and thus taken a positive step towards reconciliation. He hoped the second phase would find a settlement for the political questions in a way that would guarantee a calm transition.
The process required serious international assistance, he said. It was important that the international community provide all necessary assistance, including pressure on those who failed to attend. Assistance must increase. International efforts for demining must also be made and the Council-imposed arms embargo must be seriously implemented.
HUSSEIN HASSOUNA, Permanent Observer of the League of Arab States, said the League firmly believed in the Security Council’s role in preserving international peace and security. Somalia joined the League of Arab States in 1974, he said, and thus the League could not abandon the Somalis. It must support them fully to ensure they found a way out of their predicament, and restored sovereignty over their territory.
The solution to the problem lay in the Somali hands, he said. Their efforts should be supported to allow them to arrive at a solution. Thus, the Council meeting was welcomed. He hoped its conclusions would expedite the solution to the Somali predicament. That would not come by good wishes alone. All international and regional efforts must be coordinated.
History would record that the Council of the League was the first body to discuss Somalia internationally in 1991, he said. Its resolution became a guideline for addressing the Somali crisis and for other action. The League had also welcomed the arms embargo resolution from the Security Council. It affirmed its readiness to cooperate with others to put an end to both political and humanitarian aspects of the crisis. The League had additionally made tangible contributions. It also hosted a meeting of heads of Somali clans and other meetings.
As proof of the importance the League gave to the issue, Somalia had remained on its agenda, so it could follow up developments, he said. Since the outbreak of Somali conflict, the total aid provided by Arab States was over $150 million. The League had further provided medical assistance and materials since 1993, and scholarships for Somali students.
In March 2000, the League welcomed the Djibouti initiative, he said. As an affirmation of its support, it participated in the inaugural session of the Conference. Djibouti had made a great effort in underwriting the conference. The League called for all States to provide financial assistance to the Government of Djibouti, to allow the Conference to achieve the desired results. The Secretariat of the League had already provided financial support.
What the League expected of the Security Council, he said, was the adoption of the Djibouti initiative and strong international support for the process, as well as a mechanism to guarantee its implementation. It should also urge all actors that had not yet done so, to come on board. It also expected enforcement of the Security Council resolution establishing the arms embargo, and the reactivation the sanctions committee.
The League further also expected coordination between the United Nations and regional organizations in tackling the problems, he said. The United Nations must work to rebuild confidence between Somali parties, and between Somalis and the United Nations, to ensure the success of the settlement. The Council’s actions should confirm respect for the uniformity and territorial integrity of Somalia, and urge all States to refrain from interfering in its internal affairs.
It should call on the parties to respect the provisions of international humanitarian law, he said, and support the establishment of a trust fund to finance peace in Somalia and to provide support for its social and economic development. The League also expected the Council to provide assistance in demining. Further, it must give the necessary importance to the question of Somali refugees and set up an international committee to provide them with assistance. Finally, the League expected the Security Council to consider the Somali question periodically, since, at last, there was light at the end of the tunnel.
FISSEHA A. TESSEMA (Ethiopia) said the tragic situation in Somalia was a serious threat to the nation itself, as well as to the peace and stability of its neighbours and the Horn of Africa region in general. In that context, the seventh summit of heads of State and government of the IGAD, held in Djibouti on 26 November 1999, condemned the actions of third parties who, in collaboration with terrorist groups, sought to destabilize the situation in Somalia. The summit also emphasized that the country could not be allowed to be a haven for all sorts of criminals and terrorist groups, who intended to make the whole region both lawless and outside the rule of the law.
Efforts by countries of his region to promote peace in Somalia had not yet brought the desired result, he said. That was due mainly to the lack of commitment by Somali leaders, and the failure of external actors to coordinate peace efforts and initiatives. The experience gained over the years had shown that peace and stability in Somalia would be elusive as long as certain elements continued to resist the ideas of local accommodation, power-sharing and broad-based grass-roots participation in the political life of the country. Attempts by some to create a monopoly of power without accommodating others had proven futile, and had undermined the aspiration of Somalis for peace and national reconciliation. That situation could not be allowed to continue.
He said the time had now come for the international community to send a clear message to all those concerned that the people of Somalia could not be held hostage to narrow political interests. Needless to say, the primary responsibility for peace and national reconciliation in the country lay with its people and leaders. The international community and countries involved in the peace efforts could only make important contributions if their efforts were undertaken in a coordinated manner. Parallel initiatives should be avoided. The international community and the United Nations should continue their support for the ongoing peace process by providing political, financial and material support. To that end, he called on the Security Council to establish a trust fund, as recommended by the Secretary-General, to support the efforts of Djibouti.
ANTONIO MONTEIRO (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, and Iceland, said the Union supported the Djibouti initiative, and welcomed the full involvement of civil society. The integrity and unity of Somalia must be taken into account in determining a solution to the crisis, and he hoped the Conference would provide substantial momentum for peace
The Union called for efforts to ensure the security and safety of humanitarian workers and deplored the attacks and the killing of humanitarian personnel, he said. Such actions also hampered distribution of aid to those most in need. It was also concerned about the flow of arms in contravention of the arms embargo. It was essential that all States cooperate with the embargo.
The Union would continue to support Somali, he said. It had been constantly involved in Somalia, and it had focused its attention recently on those areas where infrastructure did not exist. The Horn of Africa was experiencing a crisis affecting millions. It was time for the international community to make a strong commitment to the Somali peace process. The ultimate responsibility, however, rested with Somalis themselves.
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