|The Somali Conflict (Oxfam)|
|Part III: Mogadishu: peace-enforcement|
The description above is a review of the situation in one small part of Somalia. Many Somalis believe that the UNITAF military intervention was necessary, that it halted the conflict and reduced the numbers of Somalis dying. Certainly not all Somalis are opposed to the military operation against Aideed. Indeed, many support their actions. The great danger, however, is that the conflict between Aideed and UNOSOM will spiral out of control, increasing again the daily death rate and setting back recovery in Somalia.
The conflict between UNOSOM and Aideed at one level is a simple one of conflicting goals. UNOSOM has a mandate to pacify the country and support the establishment of transitional political and administrative structures in advance of elections in 1995. The mandate gives UNOSOM personnel the right to move freely throughout the country and make decisions on behalf of the Somali people.
At the same time, Aideed's aim is to gain power and influence for himself and his clan. This is to be achieved either through his presidency, or through an alliance of seats in the TNC and other national bodies such as the police and judiciary. Aideed was quick to test the authority of the UN. Power brokers within the UN, particularly the USA (and possibly Boutros-Ghali), appear to have decided that there is no role for Aideed in the future Somalia. They set about trying to marginalise him. After the Addis Ababa meeting they indicated their positions by supporting the Ali Mahadichaired conference rather than that of Aideed. The result is that the UN lost its neutrality, and the Somali conflict became an international conflict between the UN and Aideed.
There is a reticence among NGOs to be too critical of the UN in Somalia, in a belief that there is a need for a constructive relationship. However, while the conflict in Mogadishu between UNOSOM and Aideed continues, little progress will be achieved towards reconciliation and rehabilitation elsewhere in Somalia. Resolving this conflict is crucial. Even if there was a military solution to this conflict (and I believe the killing of Aideed is unlikely to solve anything), the means, which will involve the deaths of many Somalis, do not justify the end. There is a moral issue here that Oxfam and other agencies ought not to keep silent on.
Somalia has become an experiment for many other international political concerns. At stake in Somalia is the reputation of the UN and future peace-keeping operations, such as in Bosnia. Assuming that agencies wish to continue to have a constructive relationship with the UN, there is a need to advocate a change of approach in the UN operation in Somalia.
There are several areas where agencies might be able to influence the situation in Mogadishu and Somalia. They might consider pursuing the following:
Advocacy: Agencies should use their international standing to pressurise the UN into changing its approach in Somalia. The message must be clear:
· There is no military solution to Somalia's problems in
the long run, or in isolation from other factors.
· Dialogue is needed with all factions.
· The UN need to return to the humanitarian and political objectives of the mision.
· The full participation of the Somalis in the UN operation, at all levels, is essential.
In essence, peace-enforcement has failed, and agencies should advocate a return to the principles of peace-keeping peace-making.
Lobbying should be done both individually and through the NGO Consortium. Agencies should take these messages to their home governments. Oxfam (UK/I) should take these messages to the British government and the European Union and other inter-governmental bodies. Other agencies should seek to get questions raised in their own parliaments and assemblies.
The key country in the multilateral force in Somalia is the USA. British agencies, separately or with US agencies, should be proactive in their lobbying in the USA, to advocate a thorough evaluation of the UNOSOM operation and US policy in Somalia. Integral to this message should be the need to replace: the SRSG Howe with a diplomat, or someone experienced in humanitarian affairs, and probably an African.
In this vein, agencies might consider sponsoring non-official consultations between acme key Somali elders, intellectuals, Somali NGOs, and businessmen from within Somalia.: These consultations should not be high-profile nor be facilitated directly by the agencies, but through existing peace groups or institutes with experience, such as the Nairobi Peace Initiative, Ergada, or the Mennonites. Such consultations should happen, as much as possible, within Somalia. The objectives of such consultations would have to be clearly defined, but might include:
· to provide a forum for Somalis to meet and discuss and identify some common concerns and solutions in a relaxed environment;
· to identify individuals who might be able to influence the situation;
· to identify and empower a 'peace constituency'.
Discussions with Somaliland elders indicate that it might be possible to elicit the assistance of the Somaliland Guurti (elders' committee) to facilitate such consultations (see Part V).
It is recommended :that agencies consider initiating some workshops between Somali staff off NGOs as part of the consultations process.
Human Rights: Human rights abuses by the Barre regime have been documented as one of the causes of the Somali conflict. The continuation of such abuses only prolongs the conflict. The abuse of human rights that occurred on a large scale throughout the war has not yet been documented. There is now sufficient evidence to indicate that the UN itself has, through use of excessive force, violated international humanitarian laws and is committing human rights abuses in Somalia. The warlords have shown contempt for human rights and international laws. We expect the UN to protect human rights, not to ignore them. Agencies should therefore:
1. Urge that an independent commission of enquiry is established to investigate all events since 5 June 1993, and to investigate accusations of human rights abuses by the warlords and the UN.
2. Commission a report on the legal status of the UN in Somalia. This should clarify to what extent the UN is subject to international humanitarian laws. Who is the UN accountable to? What is the legal status of the multi-national forces operating in Somalia under the UN flag? To whom are forces like the US Quick Reaction Force accountable? What mechanisms exist to investigate incidents? What training do these forces receive in international law and human rights?3. Consider funding the establishment of a human rights monitoring office in Somalia, to document and monitor abuses by both local and international forces.4. Consider funding the documentation of human rights abuses, especially those against women, children and minorities.Consider funding local human rights organisations as they (and if they) arise, and human rights training for Somali NGOs where requested.Media: The media played a major role in promoting an international response to the Somali crisis. There has been critical press coverage of the UN operation, but, other than CNN, little television coverage. Agencies might consider encouraging investigative teams to cover the situation, to promote serious international debate on the situation in Somalia.Policy: Agencies may need to review their positions on the role of military intervention in complex emergencies. Can one enforce peace? Do short-term gains outweigh long-term effects? A military solution is not an easy or necessarily quick solution. A military solution can become part of the long-term problem. Agencies should initially commission an in-depth review of the UN peace-keeping and peace-enforcement operation in Somalia.