Henry Bellingham MP, speaking at the EU-Africa Summit in Tripoli, Libya, on the subject of Peace and Security
I would like to add my thanks to the Brother Leader and the Libyan Government for their hospitality and warm welcome to this Summit.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, as we near the end of the African Union’s year of peace and security, I welcome the emphasis the Tripoli Declaration places on the importance of conflict prevention. Africa’s peace and security challenges have lessened in number over the past decade, but some of the ones that remain have got worse. The Declaration rightly makes clear that peace and security remains a cornerstone of EU-Africa cooperation: effective and committed international cooperation is crucial to confronting Africa’s peace and security challenges.
I also welcome the work the African Union does to foster stability on the continent. The ability to deploy a full spectrum of capabilities from mediation to peacekeeping and peacebuilding continues to grow ever stronger and has achieved real impact in a number of countries including Somalia, Guinea and Niger.
Sudan and Somalia are two pressing examples where the support of the international community is crucial and I very much welcome the specific mention of these countries in the Declaration.
We are less than 50 days before the referendum on self-determination for Southern Sudan. I strongly support the clear signal that the Declaration gives to the importance of a peaceful and credible referendum that reflects the will of the people of Southern Sudan.
The process towards a credible, timely and peaceful vote is crucial to the completion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the longer term stability of Sudan and the region. I strongly support and welcome the efforts of President Mbeki in his efforts with the parties to agree on the number of outstanding issues that remain. It is vital that these are agreed, particularly on the issue of Abyei. But we cannot forget Darfur, where I continue to call for a peaceful and inclusive political settlement. Access for humanitarian workers and peacekeepers must also improve.
Whatever result the people of Southern Sudan decide, I am keen to encourage joint thinking about how North and South Sudan work together in the long term. The international community must not abandon its obligations to see the Comprehensive Peace Agreement conclude and succeed.
In Somalia, the UK continues to support the Djibouti peace process and the AU and UN in their efforts to contain the threat that conflict in that country poses. I pay tribute to the victims of the shocking Kampala bombings, a sombre reminder that we are all affected by the terrorist threat that emanates from Somalia. This is not simply an East African problem, or even an African problem.
I would also like to pay tribute to AMISOM, which stands against Al Shabaab and provides space for Somali politicians to resolve their differences. This is why the UK is committed to supporting a rise in troop numbers. I can confirm that I have instructed that the UK table this issue in the UN Security Council today, with the intention of a positive resolution by the end of the year.
However, we all know that while security is essential to improving the situation in Somalia, there cannot be a purely military solution. Political reconciliation is vital to Somalia’s future security. The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia has spent too long this year indulging in squabbling and in-fighting. It is not acting like a credible government. To convince the watching world, it now needs to make every effort to reach out politically and to bring groups into a broad coalition for peace and stability. A centrally imposed solution will not work in Somalia, even if it were possible. Instead we should work with local and regional areas of relative stability to deliver services and entrench security.
I would like to thank Kenya and the Seychelles for the leading roles they have taken in accepting and prosecuting pirates. They cannot carry this burden alone I hope other regional states will contribute to this effort.
But there are encouraging examples of effective international cooperation. I particularly welcome the example set by the work that the AU Commission and ECOWAS continue to do with the UN, regional mediators, and other key players in the International Community to help safeguard stability in West Africa. The exceptionally close collaboration of all these people has so far succeeded in keeping potentially volatile elections in Guinea and Cote D’Ivoire on track. This example of cooperation at the regional and pan-African level is a model that I hope can be repeated across the continent with the full support of the EU and other international partners.