Delivered By: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates
I thank Deputy Special Representative Gbeho, AUC Special Representative El-Amine and UN Women Executive Director Bahous for their comprehensive briefings. We also welcome Somalia’s participation in this meeting.
Over the last six decades, Somalia has endured profound challenges, from conflict to climate shocks, piracy, poverty, and famine. And yet, against overwhelming odds, the Somali people have cast aside the narrative of a ‘failed state’ and have, instead, charted their own course towards peace and stability. While challenges remain, in recent months Somalia’s leadership, since President Hassan Sheikh’s election, has demonstrated its commitment and ability to keep the country on an upward trajectory and should be commended.
As we meet today Somalia is at a critical inflection point, which represents a unique opportunity to end the cycle of conflict in a country that has been on the Council’s agenda for over 30 years. This year could augur well for Somalia if the Council and the international community seize the moment. Building peace is more than preventing war, it is also about establishing an architecture that supports the country as it rebuilds itself. The international community needs to follow suit by helping consolidate the sustainable peace Somalia deserves and is striving to achieve.
With this in mind, I would like to focus on three elements:
First, there is a need to support the ambitious frameworks put forward by Somalia since the elections towards more inclusive political, security, justice and economic reforms. We are encouraged by Somalia’s efforts to foster national unity, in particular by strengthening the relations and coordination with federal member states. Stable governance will require Somali stakeholders to stay resolutely committed to resolving differences through dialogue. In the context of the recent incidents in Las Anod, we welcome the ceasefire and reiterate the importance of restraint.
Second, Somalia’s most significant security challenge continues to be terrorism. For a decade and a half, Somalia has fought against the spread of Al-Shabaab’s extremist ideology and violence. With the support of the UN, the AU and other partners, Somalia continues to strengthen its capacity to counter terrorism. The UAE remains committed to assisting in whatever way it can in those efforts.
However, the international community must recognise that, as its methods grow more sophisticated and more lethal, Al-Shabaab’s reach and influence pose an existential threat to Somalia and to international peace and security. Over the last 4 months, Al-Shabaab killed over 500 people, including civilians, international peacekeepers, and it continues to subject women and girls to sexual violence as a tactic of domination. As we have heard from Ms. Bahous, the brutalization of women in territory controlled by Al-Shabaab continues unabated. This is reprehensible and it shows the importance of addressing the impact of extremist ideologies on the lives of women and girls. Our approach as a Council must never be described as gender blind.
Much more needs to be done to assist the Somali government’s efforts to combat Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups. At the national level, this entails strengthening national counter-terrorism capabilities, such as effectively securing the areas formerly controlled by Al-Shabaab, as well as ensuring the inclusive delivery of public services. This is critical to curtailing Al-Shabaab’s influence and to preventing a vacuum that they could exploit. At the regional level, leaders have demonstrated that they are rising to the challenge, including most recently at the Mogadishu Summit, and the Council should step up and support this cooperation. Additionally, the partnership with the AU and the work of ATMIS remain a key multiplier in bolstering Somalia’s security and stability. And finally, at the international level, the Council needs to rethink its counterterrorism approaches. The current two-track system, which essentially applies the council’s counter-terrorism framework only when addressing those who are listed by the Council as Da’esh or Al-Qaida affiliates, has to be redesigned. The Council’s tools to combat terrorism must be brought to bear in a consistent and predictable manner. Bridging this gap will help Somalia and other countries around the world, counter terrorism more effectively on their soil.
However, counter-terrorism strategies will not be enough on their own. The consolidation of stability will only be viable if paired with sustainable development and improved economic prospects for Somalia.
The country is experiencing the longest and most severe drought in recent history. The Secretary-General’s report highlights how Somalia is on the brink of famine. The UAE is gravely concerned about the fate of over 20 million people currently experiencing food insecurity and almost two million children facing acute malnutrition. Scaling up humanitarian assistance will be the test of the international community’s commitment to Somalia. Assistance needs to be gender-responsive, sensitive to Somalia’s complex challenges, and should encompass both immediate relief efforts, but also longer-term support for development and resilience.
The UAE remains steadfast and unwavering in its support for the people of Somalia and takes note of the position put forward by Ghana on the A3 position in that regard and align ourself with that.