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Norway regrets claims by a UN report linking Norwegian development efforts to commercial interests in Somalia

Norway has for many years provided extensive assistance to Somalia both humanitarian, as well as to support efforts for peace and reconciliation and for reconstruction and development of a country who has suffered so much from hungers and wars. 

This has been a consistent policy aiming towards a more stable and peaceful Somalia, in which the Somali people may begin to enjoy security and hopes for a more prosperous future.

It is therefore with serious concern that we understand the Monitoring Group in its Report to the Security Council is conveying some conspiratory allegations, found on the internet, implying that Norwegian assistance to Somalia is a cover to promote the commercial interests of some Norwegian oil companies. This is both unfounded and untrue.

We have previously noted that such allegations in particular have been furthered by some groups against the legal assistance that Norway has provided to Somalia in order to help the country comply with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. However, this is an assistance that was requested both by the then UN Special Representative for Somalia, as well as by several subsequent Somali Governments, in order for Somalia to gain proper and legal rights over its own coastal and continental shelf resources. Norway also has assisted a number of other African coastal states in the same field, without ever having experienced any similar kind of allegations.

The notion that Norway in this connection somehow should have been collaborating with Kenya to gain access to an area of the continental shelf that rightly belongs to Somalia is also totally unfounded. When submitting the necessary documentation to the “International Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf” in 2009, both Somalia and Kenya jointly confirmed an understanding which guaranteed that the submission would not, and could not, in any way, prejudice the future drawing of the maritime boundaries between the two countries. Not issuing such an understanding would in fact have prevented the Commission from considering any Somali data relating its continental shelf.

We are aware that the Norwegian oil company Statoil has showed some interest in possible future oil concessions in Kenya, but the Norwegian Government has always advised the company not to apply for such concessions in any areas where there may be a potential legal dispute, and when realizing that this was the case with the mentioned L26 block, Statoil decided not to get involved.

The case with the company DNO International ASA is slightly different. Although the company has its HQ in Norway, it is an international company with mostly foreign owners, mainly from the Middle East, and the Norwegian Government has no ownership in the company. When the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs became aware of the company’s intention to get into the mentioned and disputed area of Somaliland, the Ministry even warned about the risks that this might entail.

To imply that the Norwegian Government’s assistance to Somalia may be “a cover for commercial interests” is therefore totally unfounded. This do of course also apply to the cooperation that Norway presently is involved in with the Somali Federal Government, and with other international partners to set up a Special Financing Facility, in order to help speed up the government’s reconstruction efforts. This SFF is seen as a temporary funding mechanism until the World Bank and other multilateral donors may take over this responsibility, and it is based on the so called “New Deal” principles, in which the Somalia government will have full responsibility for the use of the funds, while the donors may be monitoring that the funds are used properly and not disappear through corruption etc.

 

 

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