President’s keynote speech – HLPF Copenhagen 19 November 2014
If you search for books on Somalia, you’ll come across a slew of titles featuring phrases like ‘the world’s most dangerous place’, ‘outlaw state’, and ‘failed’ and ‘fragile’. For decades, Somalia was synonymous with pirates, terrorists, and complete lawlessness.
But this Somalia exists no longer. It is a Somalia of yesterday, and is most definitely not the Somalia of tomorrow.
September 2012 marked a milestone for Somalia with the establishment of a new federal government, built through national consensus, and unanimously recognised by the international community. It signalled a new era of pursuing peace, stability and prosperity for ALL Somalis.
The issues we faced on appointment were legion. No institutions, no capacity, no financial resources, no legislation- nothing that anyone would recognise as delineating a ‘state’. The country was divided; with no clear path to unification and Al-Shabaab, and militia groups controlled most of the country. There was a stark lack of resources and only very basic institutional and government structures. The task ahead of us was daunting, and expectations were high.
Over the past two years we have focused on building a foundation and laying down the groundwork for stabilisation and ensuing reform. This has been guided by the New Deal Somali Compact, endorsed in Brussels in 2013.
The Somali Compact is testament to the partnership between Somalia and the international community, based on mutual accountability and shared risk between the Federal Government and international development partners.
The Somali Compact highlights the importance of Somali-owned and -led planning based on establishing joint priorities, reached through dialogue, and sustained through reconciliation.
In line with the Compact’s five Peace and State building Goals, the Federal Government – in partnership with the international community and civil society and the Somali public – have laid the basic building blocks of state reform, developed legal frameworks, governance structures, formalised Somalia’s presence in the international community, strengthened our relationship with neighbouring countries, re-structured key institutions, established forums for dialogue, developed the path for political reform and put in place the architecture for linking international support to our priorities through the New Deal Somali Compact.
We have built more than 50km of roads with solar street lights, provided health services in different regions, rehabilitated airport and ports, established youth recreational centres, provided greater access to justice, and strengthened industries for agriculture and fisheries in different corners of Somalia. The public education sector was revived – for the first time in over two decades – we addressed the sad reality that at least one generation of Somalis have never gone to school; we have put public schooling in place, enrolling an additional 78,000 new children, and revived a lost generation through vocational education centres.
We have made progress in public financial management, putting in place greater accountability measures, controls and governance structures. Progress made against the five PSGs has been detailed in the 2014 New Deal Progress Report, which we released in the lead-up to the Meeting.
We can be heartened that such distinct progress has been made in positively moving the country from failed state to a nascent, functioning state.
As we look toward the next two years, we must urgently deliver on priority legislation, the establishment of commissions, and ensure the public consultations that will enable us to achieve the three intertwined strands of Vision 2016.
We must enlarge our focus on delivering improvements that impact the lives of Somalis. This means we must ensure the roll-out of stabilisation initiatives that connect the government to citizens, defeat al-Shabaab, root out corruption, build mechanisms to capture revenue that is then used to provide schools for our children, create jobs for our young people, ensure healthcare for our families. We must extract and use Somalia’s ample natural resources for the good of all, and ensure the right environment for the private sector to flourish. To do this we require technical assistance in resource management, and we are in discussions with potential international partners, including the Government of Norway.
Somalia is at a critical juncture in its efforts to achieve security and stability. This past year has seen a rise in terrorist groups and activities around the world. Today, the reach of terrorists is not confined to just one country; it is a global issue, with global action required.
More than any other fragile state today, Somalia has significantly advanced in its fight against terror. The Somali National Army jointly with AMISOM, has launched two consecutive major operations, and we are now in control of most of southern and central regions of Somalia.
Terrorism is not defeated through military means alone. It poses a far greater ideological threat that undermines the legitimacy of our government.
We are winning the war but we must also win the peace. We can only have peace by building a government that can be trusted to deliver the services Somalis need, and that protects and advances the welfare of our people.
The key to maintaining sustainable peace and stability is the formation of a unified and federal Somalia. Vision 2016 is central to this goal. It outlines the framework for federalism through reconciliation, adoption of a revised constitution and the path to democratic elections in 2016.
Building a nation is not something that happens overnight. Look at the great democracies of our modern world and consider their long, turbulent gestations. Nation-building activities typically confront highly difficult conditions, and Somalia is no different.
In order for there to be stable peace, Somalia must normalise the expectation that individuals and groups have equality before the law, that the Government is operating in their best interests, and that individuals and groups will settle their differences through non-violent means.
Somalia has set up camp firmly in the grounds of democracy. We are investing in the rule of law to reduce human rights violations; we are establishing a market economy free from corruption, and imbuing a culture -led from the top- with tolerance and respect.
In our efforts to radically transform major aspects of state, society, and the economy in a few short years, we cannot deny that we subject our fragile society to tremendous pressure for the achievement of this transformation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Somalia is in the business of promoting real, not faux (foe) transformation. We are building a deliberative, inclusive and accountable state. But we are not just interested in the degree of state, but also the kind of state.
The challenge in Somalia is to create legitimate institutions and processes. Their effectiveness depends on it. The willingness of individuals to comply with the government’s decisions depends on whether they think the government is legitimate.
We are seeing the beginnings of an effective state in Somalia: basic services such as education, health and protecting people’s security are beginning. Our ‘degree’ of statehood is clearly improving, by the day, by the week, by the month and by the year.
However, we must be sure that improvements in the degree of state also help to improve the ‘kind’ of state we are creating in Somalia. For as long as we have basic services and public goods delivered primarily through third-party actors: be they international or national NGOs, the visibility of the government is reduced. For as long as the funding supporting these activities is bypassing country systems, the capacity of the government is reduced.
For as long as the reporting of these activities is exists independently of the government, the planning ability of the government is hampered.
As we have now witnessed in other post-conflict countries, legitimacy is not an automatic by-product of well-meant and well-funded international intervention.
I said earlier that we are not just interested in the ‘degree’ of state, but also the ‘kind’ of state we are creating.
Legitimacy is created through accountability, ownership and sustainability of delivery of the expectations of society.
We must acknowledge a set of tensions that exist today in Somalia, between the production of the state, and its legitimacy, and between short-term ticking of goals with long-term sustainability.
As we move into delivery mode, particularly in regard to Vision 2016, it is essential that the partnership we work within does not just develop the degree of state, but also the kind of inclusive, democratic and accountable state that best serves the interests of its people.
The Constitution, federalism and preparing for national elections in Somalia must be safely carried in the hands of Somalis, with the support of international partners. This may mean that sometimes, pace may be slower than anyone would like, but we are running the long race in Somalia. This requires stamina, purpose and commitment, rather than short-term speed that would mean we fall before the finish line.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have come to Copenhagen with a desire to be frank, to look at our achievements, but also to look at the challenges and gaps. And so, in the spirit of this, I would like to propose today, that we must re-examine our commitment to Somali-led, Somali-owned. Nowhere is this more important than in relation to the Partnership Principles, which are the foundation piece of the ‘new’ deal. These principles provide a kind of safety net that allows both the Federal Government and our international partners to assume some level of risk, knowing that we are committed to the same goals, based on mutual accountability.
The Partnership Principles must be fully implemented. I am encouraged by the work just beginning which will help us monitor our adherence to these principles.
It is heartening that the process of alignments to Somali Compact priorities has begun. International partners have gradually commenced working within the Somali Development and Reconstruction framework. This is a significant step in ensuring that activities are planned transparently, in full cooperation with state entities to ensure transparency, complementarity, and avoid duplication in the development sector.
Importantly, the work that has begun on establishing benchmarks for the use of country systems must be concluded as quickly as possible. In the spirit of mutual accountability, we acknowledge that further work is required to strengthen transparency and accountability.
In closing, let me reflect briefly on the current political circumstance in Somalia. There can be no denial that the last few weeks have seen a degree of political uncertainty in Somalia. This uncertainty has been, in many circles, re-labelled as a ‘constraint’ and an impediment to progress.
I want to be clear that no one wants progress more than I do. The list of priorities is not shrinking. We have much to do, and I know that we have little time.
Going forward, federal institutions, including the Parliament, the Council of Ministers, Government ministries, and leaders- be they national or local, elected or traditional – must work together, in the spirit of unity for the good of Somalia. This is not the time for delay.
We have a huge agenda in front of us. We have not failed on the side of ambition, and we must not fail to deliver on our ambition. This will require leadership and vision. Reconciliation must not lead to compromise, and continuity should not be confused with progress. As President of Somalia, I pledge that I will accept nothing less than competence and integrity moving forward the agenda of Somalia.
The Federal Government is committed to inclusivity and is taking concrete steps to engage Somali people, including women and minority groups in the political process of nation-building. Our success requires the support of our international partners, but most of all it demands the ownership and commitment of the Somali people.
The next two years will be focused on activity execution: delivering on the three state-building priorities: federalism, review and adoption of a new Federal Constitution and delivering credible national elections in 2016.
National unity cannot be delivered through external intervention; processes may be supported by our international partners, but ultimately, to ensure credibility, national unity must grow out of national leadership and commitment which we all are pursuing.
As we move through the agenda today and tomorrow, we will hear from my colleagues in the Federal Government and our international partners about progress against the Peace and State-building Goals and next steps. We ask today that these plans are grounded in creating a state that is self-sustaining, suitable to Somalia and accountable to the Somalis we serve.
I recognise and extend my gratitude to the Prime Minister, the Council of Ministers, ministries, agencies and Government staff for their hard work and dedication and request their continued efforts in terms of implementing their roles. These are the institutions that Somalia is looking to seeing deliver.
I acknowledge the commitment and sacrifice of our Somali defence institutions and grieve the loss of our soldiers and security staff who have died in the pursuit of peace. We acknowledge the wounding and death that our AMISOM colleagues have suffered.
We welcome and acknowledge the staunch support of our international partners and look forward to their continuing engagement.
As we continue towards democratisation, this is not time for scepticism. We have laid out our plans and we need to stand together to execute and deliver.
I can assure you that we will not relax. We will focus on moving forward in the next few months in the achievement of Vision 2016.