NEW YORK, 23 APRIL 1997
STATEMENT BY AMBASSADOR ANTÓNIO MONTEIRO, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF PORTUGAL, TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL 3770th MEETING (the situation in Somalia)
The President: I shall now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of Portugal.
The President of the European Union will address the Council later on in a statement that Portugal fully supports.
When we consider the situation in Somalia, it seems easy perhaps too easy to succumb to the notion that the international community can do little more than try to deliver the most essential humanitarian assistance. The recent past cautions us to tread carefully. But we must not underestimate the virtues of persistence. The international community and the United Nations in particular still have means at their disposal with which they could make a relevant contribution to shaping events in Somalia.
Although Somalia is not considered a success story for the United Nations, the truth is that the final chapters have yet to be written. We should not give up and deal with Somalia as if it were a lost cause. Indifference must not prevail over hope. We concur with the Secretary-General when he says in his February report on Somalia
that the best hopes for restoring peace to Somalia lie in the negotiation of a political settlement entrusting power to a broad-based Government in which all the principal factions will be represented. (S/1997/135, para. 51)
In Africa and elsewhere other experiences show that national reconciliation is possible if and when the main players in a conflict agree on some form of power-sharing. Therefore, Portugal considers that the Nairobi and the Sodere meetings are very important steps in the right direction, and welcomes the proposal for a National Reconciliation Conference, which is scheduled to take place in Bossaso. We call upon all the directly interested parties to participate in this initiative. Failure to do so will only contribute to prolonging the agony of the Somali people and to delaying the dawn of peace in their country.
As the President of the Security Council stated on 27 February 1997,
full responsibility for achieving national reconciliation and for restoring peace rests with the Somali people. (S/PRST/1997/8)
This simple and fundamental message should not be forgotten by the leaders of the Somali factions, in particular those who refuse to revitalize the political dialogue in Somalia.
In this context, we must commend all Member States that have contributed to mediation efforts in Somalia, in particular Italy, Kenya, Egypt and Ethiopia. The Organization of African Unity (OAU), the European Union, the League of Arab States and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development have also been instrumental in this process, and fully deserve public recognition. Strict coordination of these efforts is required. Unity of both purpose and action is vital if we want to persuade the Somali factions to walk in the right direction.
If a serious political dialogue is re-established among the main Somali factions, we sincerely hope that a national reconciliation package will include the following measures: respect for human rights, and an end to the appalling situation still prevailing in the country; the establishment of, and strict adherence to, the rule of law; the creation of a national army and a national police force; and the promise of elections, whenever feasible, to ensure the primacy of democracy. In our view, respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia is also a key element. Indeed, territorial integrity is an indispensable part of national unity.
Ideas have been floated with regard to the creation of a joint United Nations/OAU fact-finding mission to examine what more could be done to help the people of Somalia to restore peace in their country, and on the possible designation of a Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to support the peacemaking efforts of interested regional States. We are open-minded about the latter idea, although a fresh assessment of the situation should be provided. On the former, we agree with the Secretary-General that it is not evident that a joint fact-finding mission would, at this time, add significantly to their efforts.
I would also like to emphasize the importance the Portuguese Government attaches to strict compliance with the embargo imposed by resolution 733 (1992) on all deliveries of weapons and military equipment to Somalia. The resumption of the political dialogue in Somalia would certainly enable the international community to respond in a positive way to the appeals of the United Nations to ensure continued relief and rehabilitation efforts in Somalia. As the Sodere declaration states,
the rebuilding of Somalia is of such a magnitude as to call for massive international aid in support of reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction. (S/1997/135, para. 42)
The political and economic tasks ahead truly confront the Somali people with a formidable challenge. But their leaders must understand that if they act wisely the results will be too good to miss. Peace will be their reward.
I now resume my functions as President of the Security Council.