Donor nations and regional partners gathered in London last week for a British-sponsored conference. The results are unlikely to solve the Somalian quagmire.
The communiqué of the recent conference on Somalia, dominated by the International Contact Group (ICG) and the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, fell far short of expectations. The promised new approach to tackle the root causes of insecurity and lack of functional government over the last 20 years did not materialise.
The communiqué listed operational tasks before a national polity capable of pursuing the interests of the Somali people is in place. This means that south-central Somalia became subject to the alien paradigm of Prof Stephen D. Krasner, who in his paper titled ‘Troubled societies, outlaw states and gradations of sovereignty’ argued that alternative institutional arrangements, such as trusteeship and shared sovereignty, must be legitimised if international threats are to be reduced and the prospects for individuals in troubled societies improved. This view seems operationalised through the New Deal of Engagement with Fragile States adopted by the Conference.
In blatant contradiction to the statement that ‘decisions on Somalia’s future rest with the Somali people’, which is true, the London conference decided for Somalia and stripped Somalia of its indivisibility, sovereignty and polity. The participation in the conference by several delegations from Somalia and the absence of a national leader who represents the voice of Somalia did undercut Somalia’s common cause. The invitation of the ousted Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan under Ethiopian pressure was also a snub to a large segment of the Somali population and show of Ethiopia’s veto power over Somalia.
The Communiqué, released before the conference took place, failed to take into consideration most of the suggestions made by members of the Somali communities, of the opinions of many international leaders like Mary Robinson, who emphasised the humanitarian consideration over military actions, and President Ismail Omar Ghelle, who strongly advocated for the top priority of funding Somali forces over AMISOM forces.
With political mastery, to deflect any criticism from the humanitarian activists, the UK addressed AMISOM funding outside the conference. On 22 February, it pushed through the UN Security Council a resolution that increased AMISOM forces from 12,000 to 17,731 with an annual budget of $ 550-million.
The communiqué ignored a reaffirmation of the territorial integrity, sovereignty and unity of Somalia. Also, it remained silent about the illegal fishing and dumping of toxic waste off the Somali coast, the indiscriminate shelling and killing of civilians by UN supported forces and the frequent Ethiopian military incursions into Somalia.
Out of the 26 paragraphs of the communiqué, only seven paragraphs contain new information. The important tasks spelled out in these paragraphs are the following:
1. Endorsement of the unpopular UNPOS political process based on making a new constitution in the midst of civil war, regional secessions, social distrust and foreign interventions. The constituencies of the new constitution are not defined. The government of Switzerland is the major backer of the new federal constitution. This is unprecedented political misjudgment.
2. The end of the Transitional Federal Institutions by 20 August 2012. The communiqué leaves out what will follow but the list of activities detailed in it foretells a standby arrangement.
3. The introduction of a parallel Somali political process at the national and local levels. It is not clear what the relationship is between these two parallel processes.
4. The establishment of a New Stability Fund. Local areas will be supported based on the new deal for engagement with fragile states recently adopted in Busan and on the stabilisation strategies prepared by both IGAD and TFG.
5. The confirmation that Somaliland is not part of Somalia or of the TFG. On 23 February 2012, Somalia ceased to exist internationally. Over the next three years, Somaliland will receive directly from the UK about £105 million for promoting prosperity, tackling poverty and consolidating progress on stability and democracy.
6. The adherence to shady agreements like the Djibouti Agreement, Kampala Accord, Roadmap and Garowe principles I and II. These agreements violate the Transitional Federal Charter and obstruct genuine political process.
7. The stablishment of a Joint Financial Management Board (JFMB) in conflict with the Transitional Federal Charter and any national Constitution. JFMB reinforces the lack of transparency and accountability because board members are foreigners. International and domestic resources are regulated by different rules and principles. The French Republic, United Kingdom, European Union and the World Bank are the initial members of JFMB. The President, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance of the TFG will initially represent the TFG on the JFMB. This arrangement violates the Somali constitution and domestic laws. JFMB will usurp the establishment of the offices of the Ministry of Finance, Accountant General, Central Bank and Auditor General. JFMB operates only in south-central Somalia. A functional government can fight corruption.
8. A commitment to support the Regional Maritime Capacity Building Initiatives. Somalis are not aware of any of these initiatives developed and funded for European maritime security.
9. The establishment of a Regional Anti Piracy prosecutions and intelligence coordination centre in the Seychelles for Somali citizens. From this plan transpires the time-span assumed for the continuation of the Somali crisis.
10. The implementation of the Financial Action Tasks Force’s recommendations on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism. Without having a responsible, functional Somali government in place, this decision could endanger the lives of millions of Somalis for suspicion or precautious justifications.
11. Collaboration with the Global Counter Terrorism Forum and other international and regional bodies.
12. The implementation of Mogadishu Recovery and Stabilization plan. This is a much-needed plan but it could be used against national needs and goals.
13. The mplementation of the Djibouti Code of Conduct and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Somalia as the most failed state in the world lacks the authority and capacity to implement this responsibility.
14. The Establishment of a ‘Core Group of Engaged Countries’ to drive progress in support of UN, AU and IGAD efforts.
Some of the unanticipated issues in the communiqué are the pre-concluded anti-piracy agreement between the UK, Seychelles and Somaliland, the revival of the EEZ issue overwhelmingly rejected by the federal parliament, the quick approval of the increase of the AMISOM forces before the conference, the concession for the secession of Somaliland and the formation of the core group of engaged countries responsible on Somalia in the foreseeable future. The Somali people are oblivious to the substance and meaning of the plans and programs decided on their behalf by the international community and written in English. The wide information gap and the gap between the needs and interests of the international community and the Somali people will erode public confidence and support critically needed as a precondition for Somalia’s peace and stability.
Somalia’s socio-political problems, culture and experience are significantly different from many failed states. Yet it shares with them the fundamental need for governance. My expectation from the London Conference was a focus on strategic measures to rebuild Somalia’s failed state at national and local levels throughout Somalia on the basis of a new approach which encompasses the following four points:
1. A change in the current failed strategy of IGAD/UNPOS with its attendant constructs like the Kampala Accord, Djibouti Agreement, the Roadmap, Garowe Principles, and Addis Ababa Agreement between Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama and the TFG.
2. A call for the appointment by the Security Council of a powerful, credible international leader with a transparent political agenda for state building in Somalia.
3. A call for a Somali National Accord which deals with reconciliation, peace and state formation in Somalia, as the mandate of the Transitional Federal Institutions must end on 20 August 2012.
4. A pledge for the disbursement of at least 10 billion dollars in the next four years, specifically for state building. Humanitarian assistance will decrease as peace and hope expands.
Instead, divided Somalia enters another era beyond its control. Nevertheless, there is always hope for a better future.
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