Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has spoken of his appreciation of IDLO’s record in his country – by his own admission, “not an easy place to work in”. His comments came during a meeting in Rome with IDLO Director-General Irene Khan, on Sept. 17.
Ms. Khan briefed the President on IDLO’s contribution to Somalia’s Constitution-making process: the Organization’s assistance – with both drafting and popular consultation on the document – has been warmly received by many Somalis, from experts to refugees. The IDLO Director-General also expressed hopes of reaching a host country agreement with Somalia. The technical step would help ground IDLO more solidly in the country, paving the way for the opening of an office in Mogadishu: as of now, Somalia-focused activities are largely conducted out of neighboring Kenya. President Mohamud welcomed the suggestion.
The President was visiting Rome on his way back from Brussels. The day before, that city had hosted an EU-sponsored Conference billed as heralding a “New Deal” for Somalia. It aims to increase Somali ownership of development aid, as federal institutions become more established. Nearly $2.5 billion was pledged toward reconstruction in the period to 2016, when one-man-one-vote elections are supposed to mark a qualitative leap in state-building.
Somalia remains a fragile, brittle country – one where, in the words of its own President, “everything needs to be built from scratch after a decade with no substantial reform”. Under the New Deal, the justice sector – judicial structures, human rights, access to justice – will be a key objective and measure of success. IDLO’s news editor, Andre Vornic, asked President Mohamud for an overall assessment of the Brussels Conference.