By: Mahad Awad, Delegate

Somali National Reconciliation Conference in Nairobi

IGAD supported by the IPF and United Nation agencies had embarked upon two major
peace initiatives for Somalia and Sudan. Guided by its Conflict Resolution
article 18A, member states committed themselves to preserve peace, security and
stability which they agreed as being prerequisites for economic development and
social progress. In accordance to the agreement that established IGAD, Member
States asserted:

Article 18A, section c) Accept to deal with disputes between Member States
within this sub-regional mechanism before they are referred to other regional or
International Organization.

Admittedly, the report of IGAD Executive Secretary to the 19th Ordinary Session
stated that IGAD does not possess the feasible mechanism to address inter-state
or intra-state conflicts due to lack of elaboration on the procedures of
intervening in conflicts. However, under Heads of State Summit resolutions, the
regional organization has assumed responsibility to assist in finding solutions
in conflicts that destabilize the region. In its 8th Summit of Heads of State
and Government, IGAD encouraged Somalia’s neighboring countries ‘to establish a
mechanism’ that make national reconciliation possible. This led to the ongoing
Somali National Peace Conference which commenced in September of 2002 in Kenya.

Although the conference achieved notable outcomes including the 27 October
Eldoret Declaration on Cessation of Hostilities, nevertheless the commitment of
Member States can at best be described as questionable. Four practical examples
clearly illustrate the lack of leadership of IGAD that may have had a negative
bearing on the outcomes of the conference.

1. Foreign Ministers of the Frontline States deliberated to establish a
committee to monitor the implementation of Eldoret Declaration. This decision
had not received the necessary effort to ensure its function. Lack of monitoring
mechanism and the absence of implementation consistency has yielded failure.

2. IGAD Foreign Ministers decided to hold monthly meeting to ensure the
success of the Somali talks and to address the issue of the absence of
Somaliland in the peace process. This decision was not implemented.

3. Many challenges facing the Somali peace process had been deferred to be
discussed at the 10th IGAD Summit which was scheduled for April, 2003. The
Summit was delayed for six months which caused tremendous postponement of the
conference activities.

4. The 10th IGAD Summit and the subsequent IGAD Ministerial Facilitation
Committee meeting of October, 2003 decided on the expansion of the Technical
Committee and renamed it to the Facilitation Committee which was to include
Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Eritrea. This resolution required
Member States to appoint their representatives to lead all aspects of the
conference. Only Kenya and Djibouti are currently running the conference. Once
again, Member States exhibited lack of seriousness in finding a comprehensive
solution to the Somali crisis.

In conclusion, it is not my assertion to question the intention of Member States
since their contribution towards lasting peace in Somalia is purely voluntary.
However, it is my view that the leadership or the lack of it, from IGAD Member
States is vital to the success of the conference. Somali groups are apparently
in conflict and will obviously show level of suspiciousness and bitterness
against each other. However, IGAD Member States must show leadership and unity.
This is a prerequisite to the success of the Somali National Reconciliation