David Miliband – 2008 Speech on Somalia


Below is the text of the speech made by the then Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, on the UN resolution on Somalia. The speech was made at the United Nations Security Council on 16th December 2008 in New York.

Thank you Mr President.

I’d like to just start by setting out an Explanation of Vote in relation to the Resolution that we have just passed before moving on to my broader statement.

The United Kingdom has voted in favour of this Resolution because we support robust action to address the serious threat to international navigation posed by piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, including to deliveries of humanitarian aid to the people of Somalia.

The authorisation conferred by paragraph 6 of the Resolution to permit States cooperating with the transitional Federal Government to use “all necessary measures that are appropriate in Somalia for the purpose of suppressing acts of piracy ” enables States and regional organisations, with the consent of the TFG, to act using force if necessary against pirate activities on land in Somalia.

This is an important additional tool to combat those who plan, facilitate or undertake acts of piracy from the territory of Somalia.  The UK considers that any use of force must be both necessary and proportionate.  These concepts include an assessment that the measures taken must be appropriate for the circumstances to which they are directed.

That concludes my Explanation of Vote and I’d like now to make a statement on the wider issue of piracy and related issues.

I am obviously grateful to our colleague, Dr Rice, for her initiative in taking this Resolution through and for securing unanimous support for it.  I think this is an opportunity to discuss both the narrow issue of piracy and the wider situation in Somalia.  I shall try to do so briefly.

The seas off Somalia are a key economic artery for global trade and for many nations represented here, but they are also essential to the delivery of essential humanitarian supplies to the people of Somalia.

The UK, and many others, are working to address the issue of piracy at sea with the EU, NATO, and Combined Task Force 150 all playing their role in seeking to escort World Food Programme vessels, deterring pirate activity and, where possible, disrupting attacks.  Others are contributing naval assets to undertake similar tasks.  The cooperation at military level amongst those contributors is demonstrating how we can work together on this difficult issue.

However, it is important that we work, not just on the military front, but with the shipping industry, either on a government to industry basis or through the International Maritime Organisation.

To support these efforts, I welcome the practical measures that we will agree in the Security Council Resolution today, that we have agreed in the Security Council Resolution today.

But as my Russian colleague has intimated, we cannot look at the issue of piracy through the prism of international trade or shipping alone.  In Somalia itself, as people are understanding from watching television or reading the newspapers today, the political humanitarian and security situations carry real risk.  The Djibouti Process has for many people opened a potential new chapter for Somalia.

It is a Somali-owned process and must remain so.  But we have a responsibility as members of the Security Council to do what we can to support it.  It will not succeed in isolation from the political process.

I hope that all those engaged in the negotiation can do what is necessary to turn it into practical reality.

The clear and shared goal is to work for a credible commitment from the TFG, the ARS and other political forces to re-energise the Djibouti political process with the aim of producing a more representative political system.

There are, however, two major areas of uncertainty that raise questions for the United Kingdom.  One is about political uncertainty, the other is about uncertainty relating to the security situation.

In respect of the political uncertainty, there is a necessity for early concrete steps to deliver a viable way forward.  Sheikh Sharif’s recent visit to Mogadishu is an important example of this.  We also need to see an orderly transition to the proper Government of National Unity and clear appointment of key Cabinet figures.

This will be vital if Somalis are to be effective in developing an indigenous security sector.

At the same time, it is clear that there are major questions relating to the security situation as well.

I look forward to learning in this Debate of the views of a range of members here, including our Somalia Delegation, about their understanding of the intentions of Governments in the region, about the future of AMISOM and about the security needs in Somalia.

We understand that the history of intervention in Somalia is one that carries a great deal of important lessons for all of us.  We will be addressing these issues, consistent with our own commitments, not just to the humanitarian situation, but also to the political support that is going to be necessary to take this forward.

Thank you very much, Mr President.