UN Security Council on historical visit to Somalia [Op-Ed]

Published: August 14, 2014

UN Security Council on historical visit to SomaliaThroughout my career I have had a strong interest in Africa: its complexities, richness and challenges. My first job in the UK Foreign Service was as a junior member of staff working on Namibia. Since then I have served as Deputy High Commissioner in South Africa and as the director of Africa policy. I have visited over 30 African countries. I was determined to bring the Security Council to Somalia and I am delighted to have now realised that ambition. As President of the UN Security Council for the month of August it is a privilege for me to have led the Council on its first visit in twenty years to Somalia. It was an honour to meet President Hassan Sheikh and his Government today in Mogadishu.

As many of you will know, the United Kingdom is deeply committed to supporting the people of Somalia. My Prime Minister, David Cameron, has hosted two international conferences aimed at ensuring that the international community supports a Somali-led recovery from years of unspeakable tyranny. As the UK’s Ambassador to the United Nations I have spent a lot of time working with colleagues on the Security Council and beyond: ensuring that the people of Somalia truly have the UN which they deserve. I am proud of what we have achieved. Over the last two years we have ensured that the UN has increased its support for the African Union’s military mission, who, fighting alongside their brave Somali colleagues has pushed back Al Shabaab. We have created a new UN Mission – UNSOM – led by the inspirational Nick Kay. UNSOM is now providing vital support and assistance to the people and government of Somalia.

But I know there is more work to do. Our visit has reinforced to me the scale of the challenge which remains. Al Shabaab is down. But not out. The Federal Government faces huge challenges in providing basic services to ordinary Somalis across the country. We have learned more about just how difficult it is to rebuild a country after two decades of civil war. We have listened as inspirational women spoke of the importance of their participation in all levels of society. We have heard the concerns of parliamentarians and civil society as to security, and their hopes for a more stable future. We are now at the half way stage between the end of the transitional arrangements in 2012 and elections in 2016. There remains much work to be done before 2016, including a review of the constitution and finalising the arrangements between the government in Mogadishu and the Federal States. I was truly inspired by the unity of purpose on display between the President and Prime Minister, Executive and legislature, and between the AU and the UN. This augers well for the future. During our visit President Hassan Sheikh reiterated his commitment to keeping up the momentum in Somalia’s development. You can be reassured that the United Kingdom will continue to lead the international community and the United Nations in supporting the people of Somalia’s journey to peace, prosperity and democracy.

Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall-Grant
UK Permanent Representative to the United Nations