Jennifer Kohnke

Waging Peace in Somalia

The UN's Special Representative for Somalia is back on the ground in Mogadishu for the first time since 1995, and he reports that the prospects for peace are now stronger than at any time in two decades. But capitalizing on the opportunity requires the global community’s engagement and political will to see the transition process through to completion.

MOGADISHU – Later this week, an important high-level conference on Somalia in London, sponsored by the British government and attended by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will present an unprecedented opportunity to take stock of – and reinvigorate – the international community’s engagement in Somalia. The meeting could not come at a better time – these are momentous days in the Horn of Africa.

In early December 2011, Ban traveled to Somalia and announced that the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) would move its headquarters to Mogadishu. There was no shortage of doubters, but I am pleased to say that my office has now relocated from Nairobi, and for the first time since 1995 a Special Representative of the Secretary-General is based in the Somali capital.

This encouraging sign caps a year of remarkable progress and transition in the Somali peace process. Continuing attacks by the insurgent group al-Shabaab, as well as piracy and kidnappings, may dominate the international news, but for the first time in many years, Somalis have a real reason to hope for a better future – that is, if the international community and the Somali authorities can capitalize on this moment of opportunity. Let me explain.

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