State-Building in Somalia: For Whose Benefit?


State-Building in Somalia: For Whose Benefit?

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Resolution 2093 adopted by the UN Security Council on March 6, 2013 endorses a long overdue partnership mission between the Federal Government of Somalia and the international community in the pursuit of peace and state-building.

It is somewhat more significant than previous resolutions for a number of reasons. For one, it ends more than two decades of avoidance on the part of the international community in addressing the problem of statelessness of Somalia in comparison to other African failed states. It reaffirms the commitment of the US government towards stability and peace in Somalia. It merges the conflicting strategies pursued by the individual or group members of the international community for their self-interests while moving supervision of Somalia’s peace-building agenda from the regional level to the global through the United Nations.

When one looks closely at the Resolution, it addresses five key issues: the African Union forces in Somalia (AMISOM), the human rights and protection of civilians, the lifting of an arms embargo imposed on Somalia from 1992, the role of the United Nations in Somalia, and the violations of the ban on the charcoal export. While the Resolution is ambitious in scope and provides concrete endorsement on the part of the international community in stabilizing the country, some of the principal challenges may actually come from the international community itself. The Federal Government must also a take a more active role and hold itself accountable if Somalia is to become successful in state-building.

Resolution 2093 provides hope in realigning the efforts on the part of the international community to support the Somali government. The US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Susan E. Rice stated that it answers President Hassan Sheikh Mohamed’s call for “one door to knock on.” The Resolution dissolves the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and establishes a full United Nations Mission headquartered in Mogadishu with the responsibilities of supporting Somali ownership of the state-building agenda and the efforts of the Federal Government to manage and coordinate the international assistance, particularly on security sector reform. The AMISOM forces’ deployment has also been renewed until March 6, 2014, in which troops are ordered to carry out their tasks in the name of the sovereignty, political independence and unity of Somalia while enforcing accountability.

There is a call for more action to protect against human rights abuses of civilians, especially the protection of women, children and journalists, and requires the Federal Government to implement all signed action plans to end the use of child soldiers, increase women’s participation in decision making bodies, enforce the prohibition of forced displacement of civilians in any part of the country, and to afford justice to all victims. Some structuring and deadlines have been made clearer for progress in Somali security issues. In regards to lifting of the arms embargo, the international community is urged to provide increasingly coordinated support to the Federal Government so that it can implement the internationally approved Somali National Security Sector Reform Plan (SNSSRP).

According to some reports, six Somali military brigades of roughly 11,000 forces have been trained under the European training program conducted in Uganda or under programs offered by Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Sudan, Italy and other countries. These forces will need command and control centers, buildings, training, uniforms, modern arms, regular salaries to continue with facilitating the departure of foreign forces from Somalia before March 6, 2014. The arms embargo remains on all non-state actors and forces not under the Federal Government’s jurisdiction and control. As far as violations of the charcoal exports ban is concerned, the Resolution orders the full cooperation with a Task Force appointed by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. The Council awaits the recommendations of the Federal Government of Somalia based on the findings of the Task Force for resolving the charcoal issue.

There is no doubt that the Resolution is ambitious, and while the UN Security Council created and passed it with the best intentions, there are still limits to what the international community can do, and whether or not its actions benefit the Somali people. Different nations with different interests in Somalia could bring more hindrance than help in state-building efforts. Cedric de Coning’s commentary entitled “Understanding Peace-Building as Essentially Local,” explains the dilemma facing the Federal Government in dealing with the powerful international partners and explains how “each international partner acting independently and rationally according to its own self-interest contributes to undermining the resilience of the local government that the partner wants to support.”

It has been reported that most of the energy and time of the Federal Government is spent catering to the needs of the international community rather that the needs of the Somali people. There is also a lack of significant international financial support tailored to the urgent priorities assigned to the Federal Government, which means international support has yet to transform into financial contributions for implementing the interdependent components of the state-building mission. The limited financial and human resources capacity of the Federal Government to produce strategic political, economic, institutional and security plans quick and large enough to encompass the preferences of each nation involved in the state-building effort is a great obstacle.

UN Resolution 2093 outlines what the international community will do in coordination with the Somali government, but more importantly, it offers a chance to unite the people if the government becomes more accountable in state-building. Somalia has its fair share of domestic turmoil, such as the tension between tribalist federalists and national federalists, the ambiguity of federal member states, secession claims of the Northern Regions, and clan power-sharing in the Federal Government.

While the international community can assist with the state-building, the country should not be held hostage to the disastrous past political power abuses which deserve investigation and determination of culpability, punishment and compensation. The Federal Government must continue to tackle the reconciliation among Somalis with an honest political dialogue, and implement policies and actions with the aim of achieving the shared goal of one nation, one people. In his unique constitutional responsibility, the President of the Federal Government in collaboration with other leaders must strive to secure the unity, social harmony, political integration, national defense and respect of the rule of law throughout the country.

In state-building, the value of citizenship, which in turn grows into patriotism, freedom, equality, justice, sense of altruism and respect of the Islamic values, must be instilled in the conscience of all Somalis by Somalis for a better future.

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