Ambassador Robert Wood: Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Somalia


Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
June 24, 2024


Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Ambassador Swan and Ambassador Souef, for your briefings. Ambassador Swan, we’re grateful for your return to UNSOM.

I would also like to congratulate my colleague from Somalia on your country’s election to the UN Security Council next year. My delegation welcomes you to this meeting. We look forward to working closely with Somalia and the other newly elected members of the Council.

Colleagues, UNSOM plays a critical role in supporting the federal government of Somalia’s reform and reconciliation priorities. This is an essential part of the overall package of security assistance authorized by the Security Council to help Somalia achieve peace and security.

And UNSOM’s presence and mandate are all the more important as Somalia, the AU, and the international community prepare for ATMIS’s transition.

The United States welcomes the intention to establish a joint technical team to look toward future modalities and timelines for UNSOM’s transition.

It is critical that we regularly measure progress towards important benchmarks, and ensure the international presence in Somalia is fit for purpose: effectively supporting Somalia’s progress towards good governance, rule of law, constitutional review, federalization, stabilization, and democratization.

At the same time, reaching an agreement on a post-ATMIS force is urgent. There is frankly very little time to finalize the size, scope, and mandate of a new mission that can be operational by January 1, 2025.

We welcome the international consensus in support of a follow-on mission to ATMIS, and urge stakeholders to complete initial planning steps as soon as possible. Doing so is critical to maintaining stability while Somalia continues to develop its security sector.

Colleagues, the United States remains deeply concerned about political tension between Ethiopia and Somalia, and the negative impact it is having on shared security interests.

We join the AU and other international partners in reiterating our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia. Diplomatic dialogue is the way to de-escalate tensions, and the only way forward.

At the same time, it is vital that regional tensions not set back Somalia’s efforts on critical state-building initiatives or the government’s campaign to degrade al-Shabaab.

It is also critical that regional tensions not interfere with planning for and deployment of a post-ATMIS mission. We cannot risk the creation of dangerous security gaps, or the additional expenses that would be associated with whole changes in troop contributors.

I want to raise on more issue today, and that’s the issue of impunity. Let’s be clear: individuals and entities who fuel conflict in Somalia and the region must be held accountable. To that end, we were happy to see the recent designation of three al-Shabaab operatives in the Al-Shabaab sanctions regime.

We must support all efforts to hold bad actors to account, and just as importantly – if not more importantly – we must lift up changemakers across Somalia who are helping build a better future for all. This must be our charge.

Thank you, Mr. President.