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20 March 2009 - Security Council debate on the situation in Somalia - Statement by Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, Permanent representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I, too, wish to thank previous speakers, in particular Mr. Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia; Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Somalia; and Mr. Ramtane Lamamra, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the African Union.

The Czech Presidency of the European Union will be taking the floor shortly, and I obviously support the statement that will be made.

The report of the Secretary-General (S/2009/132) and the presentations that we have just heard confirm that a positive dynamic has begun in Somalia. The expansion of parliament, the election of a President, the formation of a unity Government and the inclusive dialogue begun with all parties by the new Somali President to urge them to join the Djibouti process are all positive political signals. Moreover, the Secretary-General’s report indicates the initial return of internally displaced persons to Mogadishu. That is also a sign of confidence.

In addition, France highlights the fact that the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops has not created a security vacuum. In the end, that has not benefited the most radical groups, instead making it possible to marginalize them by removing their main argument for continuing the violence. Somalis should be congratulated on this progress towards peace and reconciliation. Congratulations go also to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and, of course, to his team on their tireless efforts vis-à-vis the parties.

However, every day that passes reminds us of the extreme fragility of the situation. The humanitarian situation remains very bad, with more than 3 million people dependent on international aid and hundreds of thousands still on the road to Afgooye. The conditions are all the harsher because humanitarian workers are being targeted, in constant violation of international humanitarian law: in 2008, 34 were killed and 26 abducted; since the beginning of this year, three World Food Programme workers have been killed and four briefly kidnapped. In Mogadishu itself, attacks continue against the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). We have, in this Chamber, condemned the deadly attack of 22 February against AMISOM soldiers. Two days ago, another soldier was killed and three others were wounded.

In the light of that situation, the international community obviously has an essential role to play. First, we must provide full political support to the Somali authorities and encourage them to continue their efforts to achieve reconciliation and dialogue among all parties. We must also support the establishment of a robust, well-equipped and trained Joint Security Force and a professional police force. It is important to reduce insecurity by directly controlling the essential areas of the city of Mogadishu so that the Government can establish its authority in Somalia and make a real change in people’s lives.

In parallel, we must strengthen the AMISOM forces, who fulfill their mission with great courage. Here, on behalf of France, I should like to pay tribute to Burundi and Uganda for their actions and to the African Union for its efforts to enable AMISOM to reach full deployment.

Strengthening AMISOM requires additional financial resources. Many donors already provide significant aid to Somalia and AMISOM — in particular the European Union, the African Union’s leading financial partner, including through the African Peace Facility. France has assisted in the training of four AMISOM contingents, and French officers are currently in Uganda to help the parties prepare a Ugandan contingent.

The Security Council, through resolution 1863 (2009), has taken the decisions necessary to ensure that the United Nations can provide a logistical support package to AMISOM and establish a special trust fund, making it possible to find additional resources to support AMISOM and strengthen the Somali security forces. The Secretary-General has taken an emergency measure by making available $50 million. The first ships are beginning to arrive in Mogadishu. By the end of this month, the General Assembly will debate an initial instalment of funding. We hope that the donors conference will be held soon.

The implementation of resolution 1863 (2009) is a difficult task. Indeed, we must act swiftly and pragmatically, first focusing on the logistical package, through concrete measures that can be implemented quickly so that AMISOM can make an immediate difference.

I should like to stress that the duty of the international community is not merely to deal with security issues. In addition to the mechanism of individual sanctions available to the Council, the fight against impunity is an essential aspect that we must not neglect, because the culture of impunity prevailing in Somalia is a major obstacle on the path of peace. France fully supports the approach of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in that regard.

Since this issue has been raised by previous speakers, I should also like to recall that, on more than one occasion last year, the Security Council discussed the possible establishment of a peacekeeping operation. We will resume that discussion on the basis of the report of the Secretary-General that is expected in mid-April. But we must not lose sight of the fact that, in the interests of the Somali people, what is important is a full and swift implementation of resolution 1863 (2009).

This means that combating piracy is all the more necessary. Since the first operation to protect World Food Programme (WFP) vessels undertaken by France in November 2007, the fight against piracy has greatly expanded. The European Union, together with many other international partners, is playing a major role, through its Operation Atalanta, to secure the supplies on which so many Somalians depend. Operation Atalanta has allowed the secure transportation of more than 100,000 tons of food aid. The European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy has expressed his support, in principle, for the protection of United Nations convoys.

It is on the ground in Somalia that the root causes of piracy must be resolved, but the fight against piracy is also a matter of urgency. We welcome the fact that so many nations and organizations are participating in this fight. Food deliveries by WFP quadrupled between 2007 and 2008.

I would like once again to express our full support to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. I would like to reiterate to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Somalia that he can fully count on France to help his Government to respond to, as he so eloquently stated, the need for peace and the will for liberty that motivate his people.

Mr. Takasu (Japan): I would like to thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for his statement. We acknowledge, as stated in his briefing that significant progress has been made recently in the political process in Somalia. We have also witnessed very proactive efforts by the new President, Prime Minister and cabinet members in urging opposition groups to participate in the peace process.

However, the prospects for realizing a more inclusive peace process remain dim. Hostilities against the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) continued to be carried out by rebel groups. The international community must continue to support the efforts of the new Government to promote an inclusive political process.

A major area of concern is the unstable security situation. The attack on AMISOM in February resulted in the loss of 11 Burundian soldiers, and recently four United Nations aid workers were abducted and subsequently released. In these difficult circumstances, AMISOM continues to secure strategic installations in cooperation with the joint security forces. Japan appreciates and commends the troop-contributing countries Burundi and Uganda for their important role in the Mission.

The troop-contributing countries need every support in terms of logistics, training and equipment. It is important that the United Nations logistical package for AMISOM, proposed in the letter by the Secretary-General dated 19 December 2008 (S/2008/804), be speedily approved in accordance with the relevant United Nations rules and procedures, with adequate oversight and transparency.

An international donors conference will be organized to seek support for AMISOM and for the capacity-building of Somali institutions, in accordance with resolution 1863 (2009). Building the capacity of Somali security institutions, including the joint security forces, is essential for stabilizing the security situation. Given the difficult situation on the ground, it is important for the international community to formulate the best possible way to assist Somali people in pursuing both a quick response and accountability at the same time. Japan, for its part, has provided assistance for humanitarian needs and security sector enhancement in an amount totalling $64.5 million over the past two years.

Acts of piracy off the coast of Somalia pose a threat to the international community, seriously affecting safe passage and therefore requiring urgent action. In terms of the efforts of the international community, just a week ago, on 13 March 2009, the Japanese Government approved the deployment of Japan Self-Defence Forces to take measures against acts of piracy at sea off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden, in accordance with provisions of the existing law allowing maritime security operations on an emergency basis. Two destroyer ships have departed from Japan on this mission. The Japanese Government has also submitted a new draft law on the penalization of acts of piracy and measures against acts of piracy for approval by our Diet.

As was discussed in the series of meetings of the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia, it is important to strengthen partnerships, including through United Nations efforts for information sharing, in order to improve coordination between the various activities of Member States and the countries in the region. Japan will continue its active participation in the coordinated measures to address Somali piracy issues, drawing on its experience in Asia, such as the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against ships in Asia.

Finally, we agree with the Secretary-General that it is important to take a multi-faceted approach to resolving the unstable situation in Somalia. The members of the transitional parliament have been moving back to the capital. The integrated approach requires a truly inclusive political process that incorporates various opposition groups, clan leaders, civil society and other relevant stakeholders for nation-building.

It will also be essential to assist institution-building in Somalia, such as efforts to strengthen governing capacity and infrastructure, for the sake of long-term stability. The international community must strengthen cooperation and interaction with Somalia, and we should mobilize the necessary support and resources.

As for the future transition of AMISOM to a United Nations peacekeeping operation, Japan looks forward to examining the report of the Secretary-General that is due by 15 April in order to determine the most appropriate course of action. We hope to receive a detailed and realistic assessment from the Secretary-General on the security and political situation on the ground.

(translation from the French)

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