Following the euphoria surrounding the end of the Roadmap process and the creation of a new and credible government in Somalia, the United Nations has just completed a “Strategic Review” that aims to create a new architecture that will enable the World Body to respond to the changing realities in Somalia. Simultaneously, the African Union is undertaking a review of its own, to align AMISOM with the evolving situation on the ground. The two reviews will be closely coordinated and discussions between the senior management of the two entities, in which I participated over the past few weeks, have been highly constructive.
Some of the key challenges for which the Government is seeking UN and AU support include: Security, Rule of Law, Rebuilding a credible judiciary, Decentralisation and local/regional administrations as well as comprehensive capacity building of Somali Institutions (including the Somali National Army and Police Forces). The UN has committed to align itself along the “six pillars” plan announced by the President. The new mission will concentrate on State- and Peace Building. This will mean a new way of engaging with the Somali authorities, leaving behind us an era when we dealt with Somalia as the archetypical “Failed State”. As the President told the UN Review Mission: “If you don’t start treating us as a viable State, we will never become one”.
The new shape of the UN Mission for Somalia will ultimately be decided by UN Principals in New York after receiving the review report and after their recommendations find their way into a Security Council Resolution early next year. Close consultations have taken place with the African Union to ensure complementarities and avoid overlap between the two Organisations.
One clear feature of the new presence of the UN will be the immediate move of senior management from Nairobi into Somalia. The UN will also reinforce its presence (including political presence) in the regions. Most importantly, however, is that the UN will heed the President’s call to “come out of the bunker” and adjust its security management in a way that allows for much more intensive interaction with the government and civil society and reducing its dependence on highly visible security convoys.
No one denies that the road ahead will be complex, arduous and long. But the International Community — including the donors — are convinced that we cannot afford to miss the best opportunity in decades to help set Somalia back on track. The ambitions of the new administration match the challenges ahead, and they are well aware of the risk that all gains are reversible. What they ask for is space to think through and implement the new strategy laid out by the President in his “six pillars.” The President himself has admitted that “mistakes may be made” in the process, but that this is a normal part of the growing pains of a new administration. Peace building is a complex business, but not giving this important initiative a chance brings even bigger risks.