Roundtable on “Enhancing Respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in the implementation of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mandate”.
Hon. Tharcisse Karugarama, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Republic of Rwanda,
H. E. Hon. Wafula Wamunyinyi, Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Somalia,
H.E. Ambassador Rodney Kiwa, Focal Point of the African Union for Somalia
Ms Mary Baine, The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Republic of Rwanda
Excellencies, distinguished participants, Human Rights Organisations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, I am once more privileged and honored to speak before you in this important conference. First of all I would like to express my profound gratitude to the people and Government of Rwanda for the warm welcome accorded to all distinguished participants of the roundtable here in Kigali. I would also like to express my deep thanks to the African Union, in particular H. E. Ambassador Boubacar Diarra and his team for funding and organizing this important Roundtable on “Enhancing Respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in the implementation of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mandate”.
The meeting has provided us with a useful platform to exchange information, ideas, experiences and lessons learned. We all must now strive to work together, in a spirit of cooperation, to ensure the important recommendations generated by this conference are translated into reality on the ground in Somalia.
The opening speeches made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Rwanda and Ambassador Diarra set the stage for deep and meaningful discussions on the challenges AMISOM faces with regard to implementing IHL. The excellent presentations and recommendations received from the working groups have shown the way forward. All of us at this gathering now fully understand the IHL obligations accruing to AMISOM and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia as they strive to safeguard the lives of Somali civilians.
In the past couple of days, we have not only generated a wealth of information but also identified the competences, skills, and cooperation required to upholding the IHL approach. This knowledge will prove useful as we strive to change the situation in Somalia for the better.
AMISOM and TFG are engaged in a struggle to bring peace and stability to Somalia while facing ruthless extremists who have no regard for civilians or international laws. The TFG recognizes that it bears the primary responsibility to protect Somali civilians. This is a battle is for the hearts and minds of the population. Respect for international humanitarian law and all the issues round protecting innocent civilians is central to ensuring we are on the right side. I take this opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the government of Somalia to making human rights the foundation of the transition to a new Somalia and our unwavering commitment to international humanitarian law.
However, it is also true that this is not a problem that we can solve on our own. Neither is it one that poses a threat to Somalia alone. The whole world has a stake in this fight and all of us have responsibilities in helping resolve it successfully and with minimal harm to the population. The recommendations coming from this roundtable must be matched by a commitment from the international community to provide the necessary resources for their implementation. Training, equipment, extra personnel and advice is all needed if we are to turn the theory into reality.
The African Union has taken the lead in this regard. Let me take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt gratitude and sincere appreciation for their support. In particular, we are exceptionally grateful to the young men and women from Uganda and Burundi who make up the troops of AMISOM and who daily risk their lives for the safety and security of the Somali people. AMISOM troops stand shoulder to shoulder with our forces on the frontline of protecting Somali civilians. Their doctors are freely offering medical treatment to sick and wounded. The civilian component, which has now relocated to Mogadishu, is helping to further the cause of peace by facilitating the political process. In all this, AMISOM epitomizes the spirit of African solidarity. We once again salute and mourn those soldiers who have paid the ultimate price for peace in Somalia. We offer our condolences to their friends, families and assure them that their loss will not be in vain. Our nation will be eternally grateful for their sacrifice.
We also wish to thank our partners in the international community, especially the UN, US and the EU, for their continuing support for this endeavour. I appeal to them and others to ensure that AMISOM is fully equipped to accomplish its mission while at the same time minimising further loss of life, both military and civilian.
Now more than ever, Somalia is steeped in a humanitarian crisis. The country is experiencing its worst drought in a generation. It is critical that humanitarian interventions are urgently undertaken to prevent the situation degenerating into a catastrophe. I therefore appeal to the UN and international humanitarian aid agencies to ramp their provision of food aid to the Somali people and to support the TFG in our efforts to tackle the crisis.
In conclusion, the ongoing struggle inside Somalia is a battle between visions for the country’s future. The contrast is stark. Between a dark, brutal, foreign-inspired reduction of freedoms exemplified in the violence of the extremists, and a government that supports the people as they strive to reclaim their country from the anarchy of the past two decades. As we, together with AMISOM, fight to liberate our country, international humanitarian law, and the issues discussed here, will continue to guide our actions. I am confident that with the support of the international community we will prevail and Somalia will once again be able to proudly take its rightful place in the community of nations.
Once again, I would like to thank you all, for your active participation. I would also like to extend our deep gratitude to the Government of Rwanda, and the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) for their support to this successful and fruitful roundtable. I wish you a safe trip back home.
Somali State Minister at the Office of the Prime Minister
Minister Zahra M. Ali Samantar