Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Somalia

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
August 21, 2019


Thank you Madame President and thank you to all of our briefers today. Congratulations to Special Representative Swan on your new role. Your deep experience will be of great help to the international community in supporting Somalia in the challenging period ahead through its political and security reforms and we stand ready to support you.

Madame President, Somalia continues to face significant challenges on its path toward building a safe, stable, and prosperous state, underscored by Al-Shabaab’s recent attacks on Mogadishu and Kismayo that killed the mayor and more than two dozen people, including two U.S. citizens. Despite these attacks, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS)’s reform efforts, with support from the UN, the African Union, and international partners, offer hope that progress is underway.

We encourage both AMISOM and the Somali government to continue to work towards a conditions-based transfer of security responsibilities, and for international partners to closely coordinate in this effort. Likewise, the Somali police need ongoing capacity-building support to help stabilize areas reclaimed from Al-Shabaab.
As our UK colleague noted, Somali officials must also cooperate and engage with the UN Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts to address shortcomings highlighted by that Panel that impede Somalia’s progress.

On the political front, Madame President, the federal government’s political and governance reform, including the draft electoral law and constitutional reform, offers the best hope for sustainable stability and economic growth. The United States regrets that these important reforms have not yet been finalized or implemented, and we urge all Somali stakeholders to earnestly commit to advance these reforms.

We applaud Prime Minister Khayre’s reconciliation efforts between completing clans and the federal government and his support for the integration of local militias into Somalia’s national security architecture. Somalia’s success depends on continued, productive collaboration between Mogadishu and the member states.
The upcoming Jubaland presidential election provides an opportunity to reaffirm mutual respect between the central and state governments. We call on all parties to support a peaceful election, and to avoid any interference in the electoral process.

As the country continues to work towards a “one-person one-vote” democratic system in preparation for the presidential election in 2020 or 2021, we underscore the need for close coordination between the FGS’ electoral security task force, AMISOM, UNSOS, and UNSOM to provide voter security during each stage of electoral planning and implementation.

Madame President, we must also not lose sight of Somalia’s ongoing humanitarian crisis. Poor rainy seasons have caused widespread crop failures, deteriorating livestock conditions, and a heightened risk of drought-related diseases. An estimated 2.2 million people in Somalia face life-threatening food-insecurity, and at least 5.4 million people require urgent humanitarian assistance.

The United States is helping by providing over $670 million in funding for food, water, health, nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene since 2018. We call on the international community to also help fund the humanitarian response.

I thank you for your attention.