An official website of the United States government

Item 3: Interactive Dialogue with the Independent Expert for Somalia, Mr. Shamsul Bari
October 1, 2009

UN Human Rights Council – 12th Session Statement by the United States of America Delivered by Mark Cassayre

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States thanks the Independent Expert on human rights in Somalia, Mr. Shamsul Bari, for his detailed and informative report of September 17, 2009. We also welcome Madame Minister and her delegation from Somalia.

Mr. Bari, your report cites the tremendous problems that face Somalia, including a dire security situation, an ongoing humanitarian crisis, and severe challenges to human rights, particularly to women and children. To quote your report, “the human rights situation in Somalia has deteriorated markedly as a result of the escalation of armed conflicts since May 2009.” We were particularly troubled by extensive reports of summary executions and mutilations, indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas by all parties to the conflict, pervasive gender-based violence, and the conscription of children into the armed conflict.

Can you elaborate on these issues from your report and tell us how you intend to address the issue with the parties to the conflict going forward?

One of the tragedies of the ongoing conflict in Somalia has been the depletion of human capital in the country. As you point out, almost two generations of Somali children have not had the benefit of a full education.

Can you elaborate on what can be done to remedy this situation so that when Somalia does return to normalcy, it will have the human capital required to rebuild its institutions?

In your report you also indicate that while you were able to visit Somaliland and Puntland, the security situation prevented you from visiting southern Somalia and Mogadishu. The UN and international community need access to those areas in order to assess humanitarian needs, to determine options for the UN and international aid agencies to work in those areas, and to address human rights issues. As your report notes, focus on the security situation in Mogadishu and the south and central parts of Somalia may overshadow areas where initiatives could be successfully undertaken.

Can you identify or provide suggestions of areas in the south and central parts of the country where justice and human rights initiatives might be started or expanded? Would you consider holding a quarterly human rights umbrella meeting in Mogadishu, Hargeisa, and Bossaso to engage and train human rights activists generally and in the collection and processing of human rights abuse information specifically? Also, we would appreciate your views on the feasibility of implementing technical cooperation in other parts of the country, such as Somaliland and Puntland.

We thank you for again for the work you are undertaking.

Finally, Mr. President, the United States is very supportive of the draft resolution entitled “Assistance to Somalia in the Field of Human Rights,” which is an extremely positive cross-regional effort to address the situation in the country.

Thank you, Mr. President.