By Anita Amendra, Project Manager, Sustainable Communities, IofC UK
Four senior members of the Somali diaspora in London, associated with Initiatives of Change, joined world leaders at the Istanbul Conference and Consultations on Somalia, which were held from 26 May to 1st June, under the theme: 'Preparing Somalia’s Future: Goals for 2015'.
Turkey is one of few nations to establish an embassy in Mogadishu. Diplomatic, economic and humanitarian initiatives were commenced during Somalia's drought in 2011.
High level representatives from 57 countries, international and regional organisations, and representatives from Somali society, including youth, women, business community, elders, religious leaders and the diaspora were among the Conference attendees.
Following a London meeting last February, the conference raised issues of water, energy, roads and sustainability. The main strategy was to target key areas of social development, economic reconstruction, reconciliation, transitional justice, rebuilding and peace and security.
The conference recognised that Somali leaders, with international community support, face a huge challenge in ensuring a stable and secure environment in the recovered areas affirming that: 'Respect for human rights must be at the heart of the peace process'. Somali authorities were called upon to 'follow through with their commitment to uphold human rights and the rule of law, and put an end to the culture of violence and impunity, and bring about accountability'.
It was agreed that, 'for genuine peace to take hold in Somalia, Somali people should seek dialogue, reconciliation and political cooperation including in establishing inclusive, accountable and legitimate governance'. Gratitude was expressed for the wide-scale and strong Somali participation, particularly women.
The Conference stated, 'The international community’s role is to support Somalis to provide leadership and ownership in rebuilding a functioning state and local governments that can provide security, ensure the rule of law and respect for human rights, provide basic social services and create an enabling environment that allows for economic opportunity for all its citizens'. On-going public consultations and civic education process in order to allow the Somali people to have their voices heard and participate in the political process were commended.
It was reiterated that 'the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia requires a comprehensive approach on land as well as at sea that addresses the root causes of the phenomenon and combines development, capacity-building, rule of law, deterrence and prosecution'. There is a crucial need for continued political cooperation, through a transparent and inclusive process that facilitates the development of effective governance and stability.
Participants agreed on the need for capacity building in the public and private sectors, and for institutional development to ensure government can establish a socially responsible and business-friendly regulatory environment. They recognized the importance of 'diversification of energy sources, improvements in the quality and scope of the transport infrastructure in a way that supports economic development and investment in urban water supply, rural water supply, water resource management and water governance'.
The conference emphasized that 'August 2012 is the beginning of a new phase of peace-building, in which all Somalis would contribute to peace and have their voices heard' and affirmed that 'Somalia has made considerable progress towards achieving stability, security and reconciliation: an opportunity has arisen which should not be missed.'
Photos by Mohamed Al-Hadi