14th July 2024  admin  Category :

Mr. Mahbubani (Singapore)

I join our colleagues and you, Mr. President, in welcoming Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galaydh to the Chamber. We find his presence here very reassuring. It is a sign that things are on track. We also thank Mr. Stephen for his briefing.

I have a text, Mr. President, but I hope you will allow me to divert from it from time to time to respond to other points that have emerged.

The Council will recall that we suggested here a few months ago that it might be helpful to have a brainstorming session on Somalia. Indeed, we are very pleased that, two days ago in the informal consultations room, we had a very rich discussion on Somalia. It was not the usual exchange of written statements; there was a real, candid discussion. As I said at the end of the discussion, we hope that some of it will feed into the United Nations policy. We hope that today’s discussion will build on it by also focusing on how the international community can play a useful role in forging a lasting peace in Somalia.

Certainly, the establishment of the Transitional National Government (TNG), more than a year ago, marked a significant milestone in the search for peace and stability in Somalia. Indeed, one point that we made in the informal consultations was that we should try to imagine what Somalia would be like if we did not have a Transitional National Government. Clearly, this is an asset that we have. We are therefore pleased that, when the Security Council last met the Prime Minister, in January, the Council sent a strong signal of support and, indeed, welcomed the outcome of the Arta peace process. Now it is time to take stock to see what more can be done to encourage the budding peace process. There have been some improvements, and, indeed, in our text we quote from the report of the Secretary-General, which points out that

“The TNG inherited no personnel, buildings, archives, forces of law and order or tax-collecting capacity.”

Despite this, the report continues,

“Ministries are beginning to function and a number of buildings have been rehabilitated for their use. A judiciary is gradually coming into place, with Sharia courts and their militia being absorbed by the TNG. Personnel are gradually being put in place to take charge of a police system in the capital and police have returned to all 14 district police stations in Mogadishu under a command structure.” (S/2001/963, para. 8)

However, the report goes on to highlight that the TNG has found it impossible, for the time being, to introduce similar law and order arrangements in other parts of Somalia due to a lack of resources. While the TNG has been able to gradually establish key State institutions, in addition to a functioning administration in and around Mogadishu, more assistance is clearly required. The report has concluded that

“the completion of the Arta process remains the most viable option for lasting peace in Somalia.” (ibid., para. 57).

I hope that we will again endorse the Arta process when we come up with a presidential statement.

The Secretary-General’s report also states that

“there was broad agreement that the Somali situation required urgent attention and that the TNG could be the basis for completing the Djibouti peace process.” (ibid., para. 38)

One of the more encouraging things that Mr. Stephen told us two days ago that the people of Somalia are indeed war-weary and increasingly supportive of a national political solution that is no longer based on clan or factional affinities. As I told Mr. Stephen two days ago, we should try to build on this desire that the Somali people now have to move away from the clan-based system to a restoration of the nation and the national structure. If this is, indeed, the feeling of the Somali people, then we in the Council should send a strong signal of encouragement to the TNG and to the Somali people. As I said earlier, we hope that we will do so with the presidential statement to be adopted later. In this respect, I would like to thank Ambassador Kolby, of Norway, for agreeing to circulate a draft for our consideration.

We would like to make a few brief points with regard to the subject of today’s discussion.

First, we stress that there is a need to adopt what we call a “comprehensive” approach for Somalia. We cannot simply drift along; nor can we focus only on the provision of humanitarian assistance and neglect the other critical aspects of peace-building and the establishment of a stable Government. Members of the Council may recall that we advocated similar comprehensive solutions to other problems facing the Security Council, including the situation in Afghanistan.

That brings me to my second, related point, that we really should take a fresh look at the situation in Somalia in the light of the events of 11 September. It is now clearly in the interests of the entire international community to encourage the establishment of stable Governments all around the world. Otherwise, as has already been shown, terrorists and other extremist elements can easily exploit pockets of instability to set up their operations. If I heard the Prime Minister accurately, he mentioned that a vacuum in Somalia could, indeed, provide the sort of pockets that the terrorists are looking for. I hope that the Council will bear that in mind.

We note that comparisons have been drawn, both publicly and privately, between Afghanistan and Somalia. Robert Orr, a National Security Council official in the Clinton Administration, was recently quoted in The New York Times as referring to the present Afghanistan situation as “Somalia-plus”. By the same token, we in the Council should be mindful to ensure that Somalia does not become an “Afghanistan-minus” for the international community. Unfortunately, the parallels are compelling. Like Afghanistan, Somalia did not function as a State throughout the 1990s and, as the Ambassador of China said, it remains awash with arms. Indeed, earlier this week, when members of the Security Council met in private consultations to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, they cautioned against allowing Afghanistan to become a “Somalia 1993”. By extension, we should ensure that Somalia does not become an “Afghanistan 2001”.

Thirdly, we see the restoration of a United Nations peace-building presence as being crucial to Somalia’s recovery. We note that the Secretary-General’s report concludes that conditions are not suitable for the deployment of a peace-building office in Somalia. Certainly, we agree that the safety and security of United Nations personnel should be a fundamental principle in our considerations. There was also a long discussion of this issue in the informal consultations. While, as everyone agreed, we should emphasize the safety and security of United Nations personnel, we should also ensure that the deployment of a United Nations office is not held hostage by a warlord or two. We must find the right balance to ensure that the United Nations is able to be effectively supportive of the TNG. Here, I am pleased that Ambassador Levitte, speaking earlier, called for regular assessments of the security situation to enable us to decide how quickly we can move forward with the establishment of a peace-building office, because there seems to be a general recognition that such an office could, indeed, play a helpful role in Somalia.

Fourthly, we reaffirm our belief that a solution to the situation in Somalia must be based on respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia. Unfortunately, because these words are repeated so often, people sometimes forget that they are actually very important. Indeed, the sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and unity of Somalia must always be respected. We therefore urge all States to refrain from any military intervention in the internal situation in Somalia; Somali territory should not be used to undermine the stability of the region. Any violation of the arms embargo imposed under resolution 733 (1992) should be reported to the sanctions Committee for the appropriate follow-up.

In conclusion, Somalia has clearly been one the biggest failures of the United Nations — that is a matter of public record. As we said in January, to this day Somalia remains a stain on the conscience of the United Nations. Today, we may finally have the opportunity to turn a new page in Somalia’s history and perhaps put it on the right road. We hope that today’s discussion will help to establish that. We look forward to hearing the views of other delegations, both members and non-members of the Council, and we hope that our collective wisdom today will prevail over the ghosts of the past.

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