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London Conference on Somalia

Volume 541: debated on Monday 27 February 2012

This statement is also published in the names of the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development. On 23 February the UK hosted the London conference on Somalia. When he announced this initiative in November, our right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spoke of the real and pressing need to pull together the international effort on Somalia. The conference brought together 55 delegations representing over 40 countries, the United Nations, African Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and other international organisations to discuss how the international community could reinvigorate its approach towards Somalia. Somali leaders, including President Sheikh Sharif, Prime Minister Abdiweli, President Farole of Puntland and President Silanyo of Somaliland also took part.

The conference took place at a key moment in Somalia’s history. Somalia is emerging from the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. African and Somali troops have pushed Al Shabaab out of Mogadishu and other areas. The transitional institutions come to an end in August 2012, and the people of Somalia want clarity on what will follow. The situation remains precarious, and in urgent need of support from the international community.

Decisions on Somalia’s future rest with the Somali people. The Somali political leadership must be accountable to the people. The international community’s role is to facilitate Somalia’s progress and development: our strength is in unity and co-ordinated support to Somalia. The conference noted the importance of listening to and working with Somalis inside and outside Somalia, and welcomed their engagement in the run-up to this conference.

The conference focused on the underlying causes of instability, as well as the symptoms (famine, piracy, and terrorism). The international community agreed: to inject new momentum into the political process; to strengthen the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and help Somalia develop its own security forces; to help build stability at local level; and to step up action to tackle pirates and terrorists.

More specifically, the conference agreed practical measures in seven areas:

Political process—Agreement that the transition must end in August 2012, and that the political process must be broad-based and inclusive, building on agreement at the Garowe consultative meetings; the establishment of a joint financial management board to increase the transparency and accountability of transitional federal Government, and future Government, spending.

Security and justice—Agreement to create a framework for international support to develop Somali security and justice capacity.

Piracy—Agreement on the need to address the causes of piracy on land, and to build judicial and imprisonment capacity in the region; welcome for the establishment of a regional anti-piracy prosecutions intelligence co-ordination centre in the Seychelles. Ministers also signed bilateral memorandum of understanding with Tanzania on transferring suspected pirates for prosecution, with the Netherlands and Seychelles on the regional anti-piracy prosecutions intelligence coordination centre, and a regional burden-sharing statement of principles. Our right hon. Friend the Prime Minister also announced the creation of an international taskforce on piracy ransoms and welcomed the announcement from the shipping industry of funding for the UN development programme (UNDP) coastal community projects in Puntland.

Terrorism—Agreement to build capacity to disrupt terrorism in the region, including disrupting terrorists’ travel to and from Somalia and terrorist finances.

Humanitarian—The conference was preceded by a separate meeting on the humanitarian situation, chaired jointly by the International Development Secretary, Baroness Amos (United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs) and the United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister. Prominent themes included the continuing fragility of the humanitarian situation in Somalia and the need to create the conditions for voluntary return of refugees and internally displaced people.

Stability and recovery—Launch of a new stability fund to channel development support, such as for basic services, jobs, security and justice, to emerging areas of stability across Somalia. Founder members are the UK, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Arab Emirates and Denmark. Agreement to a set of principles for local support.

International co-ordination—Welcome for the international contact group on Somalia’s decision to consider restructuring to improve its effectiveness, and a recommendation to establish working groups on the political process, security and justice, and stability and development. The creation of a core group of engaged countries to drive progress in support of United Nations, African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development efforts.

We have placed copies of the Communiqué agreed by international partners at the conference and the conclusions of the separate humanitarian meeting in the Libraries of both Houses.