23 June 2023
NEW YORK – In her first address to the UN Security Council since assuming her role as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Catriona Laing highlighted the critical themes of inclusivity and security in relation to the ongoing situation in Somalia.
In a meeting held in New York on June 22, 2023, Laing lauded the recent political advances in Somalia, stressing the appointment of the Independent Constitutional Review and Implementation Commission, the passage of multiple pieces of legislation, and successful district council elections in Puntland state. However, she underscored the need for wider inclusivity in the consultation process of future governance decisions.
Laing voiced her concerns about the lack of inclusion of Puntland, one of the key federal member states of Somalia, in the National Consultative Council (NCC) process. The NCC, during its recent meetings, has proposed key governance revisions, a fiscal federalism model, and a new electoral model.
Despite these promising strides towards democracy, Puntland’s absence from this integral decision-making process is a glaring gap that Laing emphasized. She strongly urged for an urgent start to a dialogue between the Federal Government and Puntland to rectify this discrepancy.
On the security front, Laing expressed the UN’s unwavering commitment to tackling the persistent threat posed by Al Shabaab. She praised the achievements of the ongoing Counter-Al Shabaab operations led by the Federal Government in degrading the militant group’s capacity. However, she warned that the next phase of operations, which extends further South, could potentially introduce more complicated clan dynamics and political challenges.
Despite the achievements, Laing also cautioned against complacency in dealing with the humanitarian crisis. An alarming number of civilians, predominantly women and children, continue to be displaced by the conflict, living in territories controlled by non-state armed actors.
Furthermore, her calls for inclusivity go beyond the integration of Puntland into the NCC process. She is also striving for increased representation of women in political processes and decision-making, as evidenced by her disappointment in the unrealized commitment to a 30% quota for women representation in previous federal elections.
The months ahead will be crucial to monitor how these priorities are implemented and navigated to drive Somalia towards sustainable peace and prosperity.