Dalsan Radio (Mogadishu)

Somalia Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed Speech to the International Labour Organization Governing Body

Addressing the International Labour Organization at their headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland the Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, said:

"Excellency, Madame Chairperson,

I thank you for giving me the floor.

I wish you a very good afternoon.

It is a great privilege for me to address the Governing Body of ILO which discusses and decides on the future of this important organisation and its crucial role in fragile states and disaster settings.

Allow me first to thank the Director General of the ILO H.E. Mr. Guy Ryder for giving me the opportunity to proactively engage with the ILO and to speak at the high-level panel on decent work in fragile states organized by the Permanent Missions of New Zealand and Timor Leste.

In this regard on behalf of my Government I would like to take this opportunity to extend our appreciation to the Governments of New Zealand and Timor Leste for the organization of this high-level and timely interactive dialog.

I would also like to commend the ILO for its commitment to respond to the challenges facing the Fragile States, such as my country, Somalia.

In September last year, Somalia signed a New Deal Compact in Brussels with the EU and broader international community to help support the peace and state-building efforts together with economic recovery. This new deal is exactly the same as the Busan New Deal.

As you would probably know, my country has been affected by an over two decade-long civil war, which paralyzed the economy, caused the collapse of public services, destroyed the country's infrastructure and disabled government institutions.

Since the formation of the first federal government, which is not an interim establishment, the security situation in many regions of the country has progressively improved by dislodging terrorist groups with the support of the African Union forces and the economy has started to recover.

However, Somalia remains one of the poorest countries in the world, where income inequality is relatively high. 70% of the population live below the poverty line and more than 25% in extreme poverty.

Somalia has vast natural and untapped resources, however, the poorly diversified economy, underdeveloped infrastructure, weak education system, lack of markets and weak capacity to manage these resources in a sustainable way, leave the economy's full potential still untapped.

The federal government of Somalia believes that broad-based economic growth both at federal & regional levels, which can deliver employment, raise incomes and reduce inequality, is critical to Somalia's future. My government is particularly committed to contribute to the creation of an institutional framework enabling sustainable economic and social development to promote pro-poor sustainable growth for job creation.

While some milestones have been achieved and post-conflict recovery appears to be gathering pace in the country, major challenges remain whose tackling are also vital for peace consolidation and the march towards inclusive development. Among them is the alarmingly high level of poverty, unemployment and underemployment, especially among the youth.

The youth population in Somalia is substantial and makes up to 40% of the total population. Of this group, 70% are underemployed or unemployed and 50% illiterate and unskilled. There is visible unemployment, particularly among young men, who can be found in the streets of Somali districts and regions.

During the armed conflicts young men and women felt exclusion from family life, society, jobs and the decision making processes as well as living under oppressive forces.

Large numbers of unemployed youths are a potential source of insecurity given their vulnerability to recruitment into criminal and violent activities by terrorist groups and warlords.

We believe that to move ahead by cultivating peace and social justice in our nation, a new pattern of development is required to meet the formidable challenge of job creation.

We think that we can respond to this challenge through three tracks that focus on 1) SHORT-TERM responses like temporary jobs, cash-for-work and labour intensive public works; 2) MEDIUM-TERM responses that focus on local recovery for employment opportunities and reintegration including the building of government capacities both at federal & regional levels, community driven development and local economic development; and 3) LONG-TERM response that focuses on sustainable employment creation and decent work, and which includes support to macroeconomic and fiscal policies, business development services and promoting labour related institutions.

This means placing decent work at the heart of peace and state building. We need integrated policies for growth with clear targets for timely and effective job creation. Employment and decent work for youth are of utmost concern for my government. This is the reason that my government is ready to conclude, sign and implement Decent Work programme for Somalia.

But the challenge has taught us one key lesson: nobody can do it alone.

We need to build trust through tripartism and social dialogue. My government is fully committed to institutionalise tripartite dialogue (between government, employers and workers) otherwise we won't achieve social peace based on social justice. This will allow us to guarantee a permanent pluralism of views rather than a common voice; helping to create dynamic and healthy society.

Within the framework of its institutional mandate, I wish to appeal to the ILO to strengthen the institutional capacities of its constituents to effectively contribute to governance for an integrated economy and a healthy labour market, particularly the federal government, the workers through the Federation of Somali Trade Unions and employers through the Somali Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Workers of Somalia are the most severely affected by the crisis in the country. Our trade unions aspire to participate in the social and economic policy making processes. Their voices need to be heard in national social dialogue as they call for a fair environment where they enjoy equal opportunities.

I ask the ILO to provide maximum support to workers of Somalia through federation of Somali trade unions so that they play leading role in the recovery of our nation.

As a sub-region we must continue to work together to strengthen the economic integration to ensure continued strong economic growth and stability in the region.

Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I want to take this opportunity to briefly update you on the most current situation in Somalia. In the past two weeks Somalia National Armed Forces in partnership with our AMISOM brothers have liberated eight key strategic towns from Al-Shabaab, with operations continuing apace.

As Al-Shabaab retreated they destroyed local infrastructure, including: water points, power plants, left IEDs and there is a growing humanitarian crisis with a particular need for food aid in the liberated regions. Just today I have received reports that food producers and distributors are being threatened by Al-Shabaab.

My government is rolling out stabilisation plans in the short term to respond to the immediate humanitarian needs and in the long-term restart local services and administrations and begin rebuilding of infrastructure. Job creation is a key part of our stabilisation plans as we must prove to the people that there is a political dividend now that Al-Shabaab has been driven out.

Investing in job creation is much more productive, sustainable and cost effective than peace-making, peacekeeping or any other conventional military operations.

While we engage in military operations we must continue to address the main challenges which allowed the collapse of the state, ultimately allowing Al-Shabaab to rise. We must make efforts to:

-Harmonise our traditional setting

-Ensure fair access to resources and fully inclusive political engagement

-Implement sustainable Somali owned state building process for peace

-Institutionalisation of protection and promotion of Human Rights in harmony with the Paris principles

-Integration of the Post Transition Human Rights Road Map, New Deal Compact, National Stabilisation Plan and Decent Work Program

I thank our international partners for their efforts in helping the security and peace building process in Somalia.

My government will not rest till all Somalis and all Somalia is free from the horrors and oppression of life under Al-Shabaab and any threats of terrorism. My government will make all efforts to help create and invest in alternative engagements for young people.

Finally, Members of the Governing Body of ILO I'm today pleased to ratify

1) Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention

2) Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention

3) Ratification of the Worst Forms of Child Labour

My country is recovering after 23 years of war, our government institutions need to be rebuilt or in some cases started from scratch and because of that I ask of you to kindly exonerate Somalia's membership fees and for its voting rights to be re-instated.

I will instruct my Ambassador to begin the demarche towards Somalia's membership of ILO's Governing Body. In this regard I'm kindly asking the ILO Secretariat to extend its technical support.

I thank you so much for your kind attention."

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