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Negotiating a Blueprint for Peace in Somalia


The peace process in Somalia is at a critical point. Talks that began with great promise are in danger of collapsing unless the mediators, the international community and the Somali factions themselves provide stronger leadership. The Somali public's flagging interest and support for the process needs to be revived, and improvements are required in the negotiating process or the parties will be unable to tackle the many difficult outstanding issues. Unfortunately, the international community has remained reluctant to throw its full weight behind the peace talks, to take a tough line with those who are undermining it or generally to express a unified position on preferred outcomes.

This in turn has exacerbated the many deep divisions within both the warring Somali factions and Somali civil society. Without new energy and focus, the peace talks will likely fissure along all-too-predictable lines – federalism, the role of clans, and land and property issues, and how to tackle the problem of breakaway Somaliland, all of which would ensure that the country would remain without a meaningful central government.

Many at the talks continue to have largely unrealistic expectations that foreign donors will shower funds upon the country if any accord is reached, whatever its flaws – an expectation that has little to do with financial realities in Western capitals.

Who participates, and whether on the basis of faction or clan affiliation, will be critical not only to the outcome of the negotiations but also to their actual and perceived legitimacy. Both the faction leaders and civil society representatives at the talks are self-appointed. Ultimately, what matters most is not who "deserves" to sit at the table, but rather who possesses authority and legitimacy in sufficient measure to implement an agreement and deliver a lasting peace. Unless this is resolved, there is a real risk that the current negotiation will produce another "government in exile", unable to provide a working administration inside the country that represents the general will.

More than a decade of war and lawlessness has already taken a terrible toll in Somalia. With new leadership in place from the IGAD states that sponsor the talks, the initiative still has important potential. Yet, there are no quick fixes when a country needs to be fundamentally reinvented, just as there are no acceptable excuses for allowing the opportunity for peace to pass.


To the Chairman of the IGAD Technical Committee:

1. Engage a small group of highly respected Somalis to serve as advisors and, as a matter of urgency, travel to Somalia for consultations with local leaders and the general public in order to restore public interest and confidence in the peace process.

2. Seek the support of concerned donor governments in managing differences between regional powers and request the Technical Committee members, together with representatives from the IGAD Secretariat, the African Union, the United Nations, and concerned governments to send a fact-finding mission to develop recommendations on how to address the Somaliland issue.

To the IGAD Technical Committee:

3. Establish two new Reconciliation Committees: one to address human rights, war crimes and transitional justice and the second to liase with the United Nations Sanctions Committee or other mechanisms established to strengthen the arms embargo.

4. Ensure that additional technical expertise is available during this phase by requesting concerned governments to provide resource persons to work with the Reconciliation Committees and by inviting Somali experts to assist those Committees.

5. Re-launch Phase 2 of the conference by:

(a) revisiting the Terms of Reference for each Reconciliation Committee that has been established on a particular issue in order to ensure that they add up to a comprehensive blueprint for peace and governance; and

(b) requiring committee work to proceed seriatim – e.g. other committees should hold off until the Constitutional and Federalism Committee has revised its product (see recommendation 7 below) and then proceed on the basis of the new drafts.

6. Ensure that sufficient time and resources are available for small teams from each Reconciliation Committee to consult inside Somalia and develop an information strategy employing radio, television and newspapers to engage the Somali public in the conference proceedings.

To the Constitutional and federal Committee:

7. Revise both constitutional drafts by:

(a) reviewing them with expert assistance to ensure that they are as complete as possible;

(b) sending a team throughout Somalia to brief the public and canvass views; and

(c) revising the drafts on the basis of the team's findings.

To the Economic Recovery Committee:

8. Revisit and develop the initial proposal for including a model of revenue collection and management for the duration of the interim period, ensure that it takes into consideration transfer payments or subsidies for poorer regions, and if there is insufficient data to develop projections of national revenue, send a team throughout Somalia to research the current revenues of authorities and factions.

To the Land and Property Disputes Committee:

9. Send a team to areas of Somalia most seriously affected by land and property disputes to brief local leaders, elders and authorities, to gauge their reactions to the Committee's proposals, and to seek their advice, and then revise the draft on the basis of these consultations and estimate the cost of the resulting proposal.

To the Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) Committee:

10. Invite, via the IGAD Technical Committee, military advisors and/or attachés from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, IGAD member states and concerned Western governments in order to brief them on the proposal, seek their input and obtain their commitment to provide international support.

To the Conflict Resolution Committee:

11. Identify elders and eminent persons whose involvement is required for national, regional and local conflict resolution efforts.

12. Request the Technical Committee to dissolve the Conflict Resolution Committee and then reconstitute it to include these elders and eminent persons.

13. Prioritise regional and local conflicts currently requiring the Committee's attention, as well as areas where tensions or conflicts might emerge as a result of the peace process, then dispatch fact-finding teams to these areas to consult with local leaders.

To donor governments, specifically the European Union and its member states, the United States, and Arab League Governments:

14. Enhance diplomatic support for the process, in order to demonstrate commitment to its success and to assist the Chairman in managing regional differences.

15. Follow through on commitments to impose sanctions on individuals or groups who obstruct the peace process or violate the United Nations arms embargo.

16. Consider concrete measures, such as stronger support for the newly established international committee to monitor the ceasefire and support for DDR efforts if an accord is reached.

To the United Nations Department of Political Affairs, specifically the Political Office for Somalia:

17. Provide greater leadership by calling attention to individuals, groups and governments who obstruct the peace process or violate the arms embargo and develop and recommend to the Security Council a pragmatic regime of targeted sanctions to be applied against offenders.

Mogadishu/Brussels, 6 March 2003


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