The UN’s Somali-led path to supporting peace and state-building

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In many ways, Somalia has opened new chapters this year: a new government has assumed office, the state formation process has concluded, and Somalia has launched its first National Development Plan (NDP) in over thirty years. While the country and its international partners have worked tirelessly to avert a famine across the country, opportunities abound to support Somalia as it continues its journey to longer-term stability and prosperity. With a new chapter of the country’s history commencing, the UN is also launching its new cycle of support to Somali, through a new Strategic Framework for 2017-2020.

Since 2013, development efforts were guided by the New Deal Somali Compact, which structured programming along five peace and state-building goals – inclusive politics, security, justice, economic foundations, revenue and services – and gender and capacity development as cross-cutting issues. With the Compact coming to an end in 2016, both the national and the UN’s priorities were revised.

With Somalia developing its first National Development Plan for the period from 2017 -2019, and with a New Partnership for Somalia agreed between Somalia and the International Community, the UN has re-evaluated its strategic priorities and planned activities in Somalia and developed a new strategic framework that allows it to support Somalia as it seeks to implement its national priorities.

How did we do it?

The UN started the process with a Strategic Assessment Exercise in October2016, which assessed the UN’s progress and achievements over the past four years against its previous framework.

For this to be a meaningful and reflective exercise, the UN Somalia engaged in a range of outreach activities to gather inputs on themes, issues, challenges and hopes of Somalis – and what that would mean for the UN’s role and mandate. Three main questions were asked in over 30 consultations to government counterparts (federal and regional), national UN staff, civil society, NGOs, donors and key partners, and to thousands of online followers:

  1. Where would you like to see Somalia (realistically) in 2020? What is your vision?
  2. What are the indicators of success for that vision?
  3. What role should the UN play in working towards that vision?

As a result, over 530,000 people were reached via consultations and online through social media and provided more than 1,000 inputs on the three posed questions, which were internally discussed in special working groups. The Strategic Assessment process concluded in a report, whose findings and recommendations, together with the National Development Plan and the New Partnership for Somalia, formed the basis of the UNSF.

So, what is the UNSF?

It’s a strategic plan to guide the UN’s work in Somalia. A UN framework like this exists in every country where the UN has an established presence.

The framework is a collective commitment to a strategy and actions in support of a country’s national development priorities and in support of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For Somalia, the UNSF is aligned to the NDP, which states the national priorities. UN Strategic Frameworks aim to ‘leave no one behind’ and to create accountability towards human rights, gender equality & women’s empowerment, sustainability and resilience.

The UNSF is structured along five Strategic Priorities:

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The five Strategic Priorities are underpinned by human rights, gender equality and women’s empowerment, and youth engagement and empowerment, who are crosscutting issues of the UNSF.

How is this important for Somalia and Somalis?

Since the UNSF is aligned to national priorities, as manifested in the NDP, the UN Somalia is aiming to directly contribute to achieving those national priorities over the coming four years. The UNSF will guide funding and programming towards those priorities. Furthermore, the UN is also applying the partnership principles of the New Partnership for Somalia (NPS) throughout the UNSF. Through the NPS, the International Community commits to align support for Somalia’s development with the NDP, and ensure that the partnership between Somalia and the international community be based on the p principle of mu­tual accountability.

Moreover, the input we received during the Strategic Assessment Exercise directly fed into our discussions on what our future priorities should be and have even shaped our mandate. How so? For example, due to strong demand from the public, we have actively adopted good governance, transparency and accountability as one of our new focus areas. Another example is the strong call for greater collaboration with Somali civil society and in particular youth groups, which has translated into stronger partnership principles and mechanisms that are adopted in the UNSF and that seek to transform engagement with civil society into sustainable partnerships.

The process of developing this UNSF has been one of the most inclusive and locally led strategic processes within the UN and has been recognised as good practice. With the official signing and launch of the UNSF, together with the Federal Government of Somalia, it’s now time for us to move forward and support Somalia’s ongoing peace and state-building trajectory.

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