Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM)

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
May 22, 2019


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you to today’s briefers.

Clearly, Somalia continues to face significant challenges on its path toward building a safe, stable, and prosperous state.  We strongly condemn recent attacks by Al-Shabaab and other terrorist elements, and express our full support to the Somali government, the AU, and AMISOM in this fight.

We are pleased that progress is underway through political security and constitutional reforms efforts with support from the UN, the African Union, and international partners.  Advancing implementation of these reform offers the country the greatest hope for sustainable stability and economic growth.

We note that none of these reforms would be possible without the contributions and sacrifices of AMISOM troop contributing and police contributing members which have provided the federal government of Somalia the necessary space and stability for the government to develop the national security architecture and implement these reforms.

Mr. President, the transfer of security responsibilities from the African Union Mission in Somalia to Somali national security forces is a top priority.  We urge the FGS to continue the efforts to generate and deploy security forces that will allow for a timely and orderly implementation of the transition plan.

We underscore the need for all parties to coordinate closely to avoid security coverage gaps that could be exploited by malign actors.

On Somalia’s 2020/2021 elections, we urge the government to finalize its draft electoral law to define a fair and transparent electoral system.  We also emphasize the need for close coordination between the government, AMISOM, and UNSOM to ensure voter security during each stage of the electoral preparation.

Mr. President, concerning constitutional reform, we stress that long-term political stability depends on defining the relationships and divisions of power and responsibility between the FGS and federal member states.

As such, we urge all governmental stakeholders to come together and finalize this critical reform.

On the arms embargo, we have encouraged Somalia to engage productively with the Panel of Experts, and will continue to do so.

Somalia appears to believe that the Security Council will eventually lift the sanctions despite a lack of engagement with the panel.

The United States will not support this view which does nothing to address the problems the sanction regime was designed to address and indeed undermines the actions of the Security Council.

Mr. President, finally, as noted by Assistant Secretary General Mueller, the ongoing humanitarian crisis affecting more than five million Somalis is an important backdrop to the political and security reforms we’ve discussed.  Since 2018, the United States has provided more than $487 million in humanitarian assistance.

We’re working with the UN and other partners to provide critical food and nutrition assistance for nearly 1.5 million people across Somalia.  We encourage continued international support on the humanitarian front.

I thank you for your attention.