I thank the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ms. Gbeho, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mr. Souef, and the Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, Ms. Bahous, for their presentations. I also welcome the representative of Somalia.
We welcome your call to members of this Council to pay particular attention to the "Women, Peace and Security" agenda in our deliberations today. As a Somali proverb says, "the best bed to sleep on is peace". However, if peace is for the benefit of all, it is also the responsibility of all. Women are indispensable artisans of a lasting peace, in Somalia as elsewhere. Their important contributions will therefore serve as a common thread for the three points I wish to share:
First, to advance Somalia's national priorities, full, equal and meaningful participation of women is essential. In particular, the participation of female candidates for political office, as well as elected representatives, must be safeguarded so that they can contribute to political processes at all levels, free from threats or reprisals. In this regard, the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and the Action Plan for the Implementation of the Somali Women's Charter are key instruments. We encourage their full implementation.
Switzerland has long been committed to the active engagement of Somali society as a whole and in all its diversity, and to strengthening local governance. This means that the voices of women, as well as those of youth and minority clans, must be heard without hindrance and integrated into decision-making processes and public life. Such an approach is important for the constitutional review, the power-sharing discussion and the reconciliation between the federal government and the federal member states. We welcome the regular meetings of the National Advisory Council in this regard and encourage continued constructive dialogue.
Second, we remain concerned about human rights violations and abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence. It is imperative to ensure women's rights and a safe and respectful environment for women to fully participate in peacebuilding in Somalia. We encourage the authorities to continue their efforts to combat and prevent these violations. We also encourage the Parliament to pass the Sexual Violence Bill 2018 without delay.
Respect for international law must be at the heart of the response to insecurity throughout the country. We deplore the continued attacks by Al-Shabaab and other armed groups, and recognize the efforts of the government and the African Union Transitional Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) to address them. In doing so, we call on all actors to respect international law, including human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular to ensure the protection of civilians, especially in areas under military operation. We are also concerned about the current outbreak of violence in Laascaanood, which has resulted in massive displacement, with women and children being the most affected. Respect for international humanitarian law is imperative to ensure timely, safe and unhindered humanitarian access.
Third, Somalia is on the brink of famine. Climate change is clearly a major factor. Women are often the first to face it, and disproportionately affected. Thus, the humanitarian response in Somalia must be designed and implemented with the active participation of women, while being sensitive to climate effects and risks. This is currently demonstrated by the most severe drought in four decades, which further increases food insecurity. Violence due to increased competition for natural resources, heightened tensions within communities, and the forced displacement that may result are among the risks. We must continue to support the government in its response to the humanitarian situation.
The national priorities indicate a strong commitment and clear direction towards a prosperous future for Somalia to become "at peace with itself". Women will undoubtedly be at the heart of this commitment. We commend the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) for its crucial role. Switzerland continues to support Somalia and its people, but also UNSOM, in its peacebuilding efforts. We count on the united voice of this Council to act in the same direction.
I thank you all.