Roundtable on “Enhancing Respect for International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in the implementation of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) mandate”.
H. E. Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Republic of Rwanda,
H. E. Ambassador Boubacar Diarra, Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia.
Mr Patrick Koyi, IGAD Facilitator Office 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,
Let me take this opportunity to thank the People and the Government of Rwanda for hosting this important conference on International Humanitarian Law and the warm welcome accorded to me and my delegation here in Kigali. I will also want to thank African Union (AU) and in particular Ambassador Diarra, the SRCC and his office for organizing this important conference.The roundtable, which brings together international experts, human rights organizations, media and other stakeholders, clearly demonstrates your commitment to International Humanitarian law and desire to protect the people of Somalia., and, in particular civilians. We in Somalia are glad to have the opportunity to discuss the issue of civilian casualties in a transparent way. I am sure, we are all here to learn from each other with a view to generating common understanding to the way forward and how we can all better protect civilians under extreme and difficult circumstances. AMISOM and TFG are fighting to bringing peace and stability to Somalia while facing ruthless extremists who have no regards to civilians or international laws.Let me take this opportunity by offering my heartfelt gratitude and sincere appreciation for the ongoing support of the United Nations, the African Union (AU) and the International community to Somalia. In particular, we are exceptionally grateful to the young men and women from Uganda and Burundi who make up the African Union troops and who offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety and security of the Somali people. We salute and mourn those soldiers who died 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.Our Government and AMISOM on a daily basis face threats in the form of violent attacks, suicide bombings, and roadside bombings. The extremists hide behind civilians and fire at our forces from residential neighborhoods. However, TFG and AMISOM are fully aware of what is expected of them and share a commitment to minimizing the danger to civilians. It is difficult to bring peace and stability when the enemy is using suicide bombings and all sorts of tactics against you. I also want to thank Gen. Nathan Mugisha for his leadership during his tenure as the AMISOM Force Commander in Somalia. Gen. Mugisha made a real difference to the people of Mogadishu. He has made vast improvements towards partnership working with us (TFG). AMISOM Forces have made great sacrifices to the people of Somalia and have been instrumental in providing humanitarian assistance to Somalis in Mogadishu. They manage one of the busiest hospitals in Mogadishu, freely offering treatment for all sorts of diseases and injuries suffered by local residents. AMISOM has also been helping the Banadir Administration with regards to service delivery. I would also like to welcome his successor Gen Fred Mugisha and we will look forward to working with him and I can assure you that we will be your credible partner.
Excellencies and distinguished participants,
In Somalia, it is increasingly evident that progress in security sector development is indispensable in meeting the vastly complex set of risks, threats and challenges of consolidating political progress. Our Government is faced with many competing challenges which include extremism, chaos, piracy, lawlessness, people fleeing from their homes, internal displaced people, droughts and famine.For the first time in our history, Somalia has successfully fulfilled its international obligation by submitting a National Report on the situation of the human rights situation in the country within the framework of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to the 11th session of the Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on 3rd May 2011. Somalia’s UPR report addressed the enormous challenges and constraints that we are facing, in the fields of poverty, droughts, and insecurity. Insecurity in the country is aggravated by the lack of fully functional institutions. The consequent limitation on implementing the rule of law impacts on the Government’s ability to meet its obligations in the area of human rights. The Government of Somalia has frequently reiterated its commitment to make human rights the foundation of the transition to a new Somalia and reaffirmed its unwavering commitment to the international humanitarian law. In order to enhance the protection of the human rights of all people within its jurisdiction, the Government has proposed that Transitional Federal Parliament ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. Somalia’s National UPR Report, which was adopted at a plenary session of the Human Rights Council, received 155 recommendations from the Working Group of the United Nations Human Rights Council. These recommendations included, the establishment of national human rights institutions, training in human rights and international humanitarian law for both the Government and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, as well as amnesty to persons who have participated in the armed conflict. The lack of effective government over the course of the last 20 years has resulted in a culture of lawlessness and chaos. As Somalia strives to rebuild its armed forces and security institutions with the help of AMISOM and the international community, our soldiers and policemen receive training in international human rights and humanitarian law. In the continuing effort to safeguard the rights of Somalis, the government appreciates the help, support and, yes, criticism that we receive from organizations involved in human rights.
Our country is currently facing extreme droughts and famine. The rain season ended and we are not expecting rain before September, therefore, the situation will deteriorate for the coming months. I would like to appeal to the international community to urgently provide humanitarian assistance and aid to the people of Somalia in order to avoid humanitarian catastrophe. Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your participation and looking forward to taking part of your lively discussions during the session. I hope that all your contributions, exchanged of ideas will further enhance the protection of our civilians whilst improving the security situation in Somalia.
Somali State Minister at the Office of the Prime Minister
Minister Zahra M. Ali Samantar