Transformative Year for Somalia- Security Council Briefing (24 Feb 2020)

Briefing by James Swan, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, during the 8731st Security Council Meeting.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and the Head of the Mission in the county (UNSOM) James Swan said, “for Somalia to navigate the remaining challenges and achieve its ambitious priorities, all Somalia’s stakeholders must work together in the national interest. This responsibility begins with Somalia’s leaders.”
Briefing the Security Council today (24 Feb) in New York, the Special Representative James Swan noted that 2020 has the potential to be a transformative year for Somalia. A number of key national priorities are due to conclude and will impact Somalia’s trajectory for years to come, which include achieving debt relief, holding one person one vote elections, finalising the federal constitution, advancing the fight against al-Shabaab, and consolidating the federal state.

Noting that in 2020, Somalia will face a critical test of its state building progress through the holding of historic one-person-one vote elections, Swan said that the new electoral code has now been approved by the House of the People and the Upper House and signed into law by the President.

However, he said, “while an important step, the new law regrettably does not address many outstanding questions necessary to implement the code. These questions relate to the locations of constituencies, how to guarantee 30 per cent of seats for women, and the modalities to enable Somalis from across the country to participate.”

He called on the Federal Parliament in collaboration with the NIEC and in consultation with the Federal Government, the Federal Member States and other stakeholders to resolve these issues urgently so that technical preparations can get underway.

Turning to the security situation, the Special Representative paid tribute to the courage of the Somali National Army and the African Union Mission in Somalia in confronting al-Shabaab.

Swan said, “it is essential that the Somali government clarify its operational priorities and generates the necessary forces to enable operations to degrade al-Shabaab, defend recently recovered areas and reopen main supply routes.”

He continued, “these must be conducted with respect for human rights and sequenced with the return of legitimate local governance, rule of law, and stabilization activities in order to be sustainable.”

On the humanitarian front, the Special Representative noted that vulnerable Somalis continue to face extreme humanitarian challenges. Back-to-back droughts, flooding, conflict and insecurity have left 5.2 million people in Somalia in need of assistance. This was before the worst locust outbreak Somalia has experienced in 25 years.

He said, “the Food and Agriculture Organization is supporting the government to mitigate the potentially catastrophic impact on food security. I call on donors to urgently provide funding and support for the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan.”

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