10th April 2013 Nairobi, Kenya
Somalia and the G8: Push to start
This week, as part the UK’s Presidency of the G8, Foreign Ministers will meet to discuss the need to encourage the International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to re-engage in Somalia. The G8 countries are some of the largest shareholders in both the World Bank and the IMF. As a result, the UK is using its Presidency of the G8 to propose that G8 countries support two things.
Firstly, in the short-term, to support the steps needed for IFIs to re-engage with Somalia; and secondly, to support a longer-term process leading eventually to arrears clearance (Somalia is approximately £459 million in arrears, with a total external debt of over £2 billion) and full engagement of the IFIs with Somalia.
With one of the lowest levels of GDP per capita in the world, Somalia needs to create a stronger economy and more sustainable growth in order to help improve both security and living standards. However, for twenty years, the conflict, instability and absence of a legitimate government in Mogadishu has meant that the International Financial Institutions (principally, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank) have been unable to provide any tangible, sustained support to Somalia.
Engagement by the IFIs is a key element in Somalia’s recovery from conflict and state collapse. Not only will this support build and grow the economy – creating more jobs and more opportunities for the Somalis – it will also support the foundations on which a successful and increasingly stable Somalia will be built.
In the short term, the active support of the IFIs can help stimulate the economy by bringing in vital technical expertise and advice, providing small-scale funding and support Somalia’s leaders strengthen their focus on economic governance, security and political stability. Once these building blocks are in place, the IFIs can, together with the Federal Government, put together a plan for longer-term engagement, bringing in full-scale technical expertise and financial support to deliver on the more ambitious projects that will help to rebuild Somalia.
However, the process is reciprocal. IFI re-engagement is contingent on the commitment of the Federal Government of Somalia continuing to make progress on strengthening transparency and accountability (both to Somalis and its partners) – key building blocks for Somalia’s future that will also be discussed at the Somalia Conference on 7th May in London
Re-engagement and support from the IFIs could help the Somali government strengthen their capacity to deliver on their priorities. G8 engagement on the IFIs in Somalia would set a high level of foreign policy, financial and political ambition that meshes entirely with the broader set of objectives for next month’s Somalia Conference in London.
This week the Foreign Ministers will also discuss preventing sexual violence in conflict, an issue that is unfortunately relevant to many countries, including Somalia. Under our Foreign Secretary’s Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, the UK has been working hard to push this issue up the international agenda because we believe more can and must be done to stop these acts occurring. We are looking for the G8 to endorse a new international protocol on the investigation and documentation of sexual violence in conflict to help improve the evidence base from which prosecutions for sexual violence in conflict can be drawn.
For Somalia we know this is a problem, and one the Government are keen to address. In the coming weeks we are looking forward to co-hosting a women’s event in Mogadishu with the Government of Somalia to discuss these and other issues that affect Women in Somalia today. The Prime Minister and the President have declared their strong stance on ending this violence and making the culture of impunity a thing of the past; the UK stands ready to support to see this desire become a reality.
Although the processes will be long, the UK is intent on pushing on the agenda’s now – and give Somalia the start it so desperately needs.