Despite the efforts of the African Union, the United Nations and the international community,

Despite the efforts of the African Union, the United Nations and the international community, international policy towards Somalia is not succeeding. After 20 years of sliding backwards, Somalia needs a step-change in effort – both from the international community, but also Somalia’s political leaders.

On 23 February senior representatives from over 40 governments and multi-lateral organisations will come together in London with the aim of delivering a new international approach to Somalia. They will discuss how the international community can step-up its efforts to tackle both the root causes and effects of the problems in the country.

We are now holding intensive discussions with our international and Somali partners and key stakeholders (including civil society) to agree practical outcomes.

On the political track, the current transitional institutions in Mogadishu run out in August.  After seven years of minimal progress, they must not be extended. The London Conference should agree on a way of helping the Somali transitional government to ensure that whatever political arrangement succeeds the transition is representative and legitimate.

On security, African Union forces have pushed Al Shabaab out of Mogadishu to create political space and Kenyan action has also put Al Shabaab on the back foot. But African forces have insufficient regular funding for UNSC-mandated actions. So the Conference should support a sustainable funding package for African nations who have shown great courage in volunteering to take part in peacekeeping operations.

The success stories in Somalia are in the regions. Puntland and Galmudug have established local peace deals, and set up administrations. The Conference should agree a coordinated international package of support to Somalia’s regions that complements work on peace and stability at the national level. This will include a set of principles to guide how we support these areas, and the establishment of a multi-donor Fund designed to respond rapidly to facilitate local level peace agreements, develop local administrations, and improve service delivery in order to demonstrate to local people that there is a tangible dividend to peace. This will help to extend the legitimacy and reach of government.

Piracy off the Somali coast is an affront to the rule of international law. We must break the piracy business cycle. So the Conference should push for transfers of convicted pirates from regional states like the Seychelles to Somalia; maintain tough arrangements to catch, try and imprison pirates and continue to develop regional maritime capacity within Somalia.

We must make it harder for terrorists to operate in and out of Somalia. The Conference should agree the areas we need to develop to disrupt terrorism across the region, including stopping the movement of terrorists to and from Somalia, disrupting the flow of their finances, and delivering effective intelligence gathering, investigation, criminal prosecution and detention against them.

On the humanitarian front, the Conference provides an opportunity to highlight the need for donors to continue to respond generously and on the basis of needs; invest more in livelihoods and basic social services and to work towards greater consensus on more durable solutions for refugees.

Finally, we want London to be the start not the end of a process. So we want the Conference to agree how we handle Somalia issues in future: a reformed International Contact Group; UN and African leadership; and more of us deploying diplomats and staff into Somalia, not just basing ourselves in Kenya.

There are complex issues that will not be solved overnight. We will need to build on and support the work of the UN, AU, NGOs and the vital role of civil society in Somali and we will require sustained political commitment and concrete action, including from Somalia’s political leaders. Even with sustained commitment progress will be slow, but we hope that this conference will serve at a catalyst and that in time it will be seen as a turning point

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