Remarks by Ambassador Egidio Ortona, the Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations at the Security Council Meeting on the application of the Republic of Somalia to membership in the United Nations, which was held in New York, on Tuesday, 5 July 1960, at 3 p.m., as a draft resolution S/4363 submitted by Italy, Tunisia and the United Kingdom were introduced.
“Italy has today the great privilege of sponsoring, together with the United Kingdom and Tunisia, a draft resolution recommending that the Republic of Somalia be admitted to membership in the United Nations.
It is indeed with joy and pride that I discharge this pleasant task, both because of the ties which have traditionally bound Italy to Somalia in the past and because of the fact that I am joined on this occasion by the representative of the United Kingdom and by the representative of the African member country of the Security Council-Tunisia.
Members of the Council are doubtless aware of the meaning of the initiative, which sees Italy, the United Kingdom, and Tunisia jointly recommending that the Republic of Somalia be admitted to membership in our family of nations. In fact, it is with a deep sense of gratification that I see my delegation associated with the United Kingdom delegation in providing the Council with the elements necessary for it to decide on such admission.
If I may be permitted a personal digression, I may say that my gratification is even deeper because I know that this is one of the last-if not the last-appearances of the distinguished representative of the United Kingdom in our Council, and it gives us particular pleasure to join hands with him on this occasion.
The newly born African republic is the result of a merger on 1 July 1960, of two Territories: one a former dependency of the United Kingdom – Somaliland – independent since 26 June, and the other a Territory entrusted to the Italian administration by the United Nations ten years ago, which attained independence at midnight on 30 June.
The union of the two Territories has taken place as the result of a free and independent choice by the populations concerned, after a conference in Mogadishu between delegations of the two Territories which took place on 17 April this year.
The attitude of the Italian Government, as the Administering Authority of one of the two Territories, on this problem since it first arose has been that this was a question of interest to the populations concerned which would have to express in complete freedom their own will. For this reason, Italy has always maintained that any merging of the two Territories would have to take place on a basis of absolute equality after both Territories had reached independence, and by legal and peaceful means so as to exclude any possibility of regrettable developments in that part of Africa.
This is what has actually happened and lam sure that my colleague of the United Kingdom will join me in emphasizing this fact. The union has been achieved through a peaceful and democratic process, and this event, which transcended the responsibility of Italy as Administering Authority, has been shown to be the result of the converging aspirations and wishes of the peoples in the two Somali Territories.
The new Republic emerging from this peaceful constitutional process is now facing the future, in full-fledged independence, free from any entanglement, and with the manifest desire of pursuing a peaceful course, strengthening its political institutions and its economic growth.
Allow Die now, as is befitting on this occasion, to elaborate on the various facts and elements which have prompted my delegation to sponsor the draft resolution before the Council. I am sure that the representative of the United Kingdom will be in a much better position than myself to brief the Council on that one of the two Territories recently merged which has been the direct responsibility of his country.
Nevertheless, I wish to pay a tribute to the outstanding accomplishments attained in all fields-political, social, and economic in the former protectorate of Somaliland under the auspices of British leadership. Such progress is self-evident and constitutes in itself a tangible asset for a further favorable development of the new State. I feel that it is more fitting on my part to concentrate my remarks to the Council on that part of the Republic of Somalia with which Italy has had such close ties through the years.
If I may recall the past, the relationship of Italy with that region can be traced back to the fourteenth century, with the famous journey of the Genoese explorer Vivaldi, who landed in Magdasor, which is to be identified with the present Mogadishu.
Since then many Italian travelers and explorers have continued to appear on the friendly Somali shores. It was at the end of the last century, however, that Italians intensified their exploration of the region, concluded agreements with the local Sultans, and finally started, in 1891, a long and happy period of association with the local peoples who under Italian stewardship were gradually able to reach higher standards of development, demonstrating, already at that time, the innate qualities of workmanship, dedication and self-respect for which they have been regarded always as an ethnical asset of the utmost importance in the African world.
But the period of our association with Somalia in which the Council has a direct interest, no doubt, is the period of our trusteeship on behalf of the United Nations. Italy assumed that task well aware of the great responsibilities placed upon her, of the difficulties inherent in the fact that the period of trusteeship was fixed in the Trusteeship Agreement, of the expectations of the world community as to the result of such an endeavor.
With the ratification of the Trusteeship Agreement, on 4 November 1951, the Italian Government undertook the task-among others-of fostering in Somalia “the development of free political institutions and of promoting the development of the inhabitants of the Territory towards independence; and to this end shall give to the inhabitants of the Territory a progressively increasing participation in the various organs of Government”. This Italy has striven to achieve throughout the past ten years and is proud to have done so within a period, even shorter than the one provided for in the Agreement.
May I recall that when we began to implement the Trusteeship Agreement, the political picture of Somalia was rather blurred. However, from our long association with the Somali people, we knew full well their qualities and abilities. We began our work confident that the Somalis would progress rapidly towards democratic self-government. The endeavors of the Italian Administrators were fully rewarded by concrete accomplishments in the setting up and working of democratic institutions. To prove the effectiveness of democratic machinery in Somalia, suffice it to recall that the political party previously in opposition soon became the majority party following regular elections.
During the earlier years of trusteeship, the Italian Administration was successful in establishing local institutions and in initiating the training of the Somali people in the responsibilities of self-government. Thus, while on the local level district and municipal councils were established, on the Government level a Territorial Council was set up, to assist the Italian Administration until the establishment of a full-fledged statutory and elected legislature. The Somalis had then their first real opportunity to gather in a central organ of government and to acquire a practical knowledge of national issues. Moreover, the representatives in the Territorial Council were able to train themselves in the intricacies and complexities of a modern parliamentary system.
This proved to be a most important step indeed. By 1955-as has been pointed out by many diligent observers of Somalia’s progress-Councilors had shown a growing ability to use the new instruments of government. The Territorial Council became an especially useful instrument for obtaining Somali cooperation.
By submitting all major ordinances and decrees to the Council for advice and by giving all possible attention to the requests or the wishes of the representatives, an atmosphere of mutual confidence ensued between the Italian authorities and the people of Somalia, which greatly enhanced our chances of meeting the target date of independence successfully.
As early as March 1954 administrative elections were held in thirty-five municipalities, and in April of the same year, the Municipal Council of Mogadishu was solemnly inaugurated. The event ushered in the second phase of political development: the stage when the actual exercise of power would rest in the hands of the Somalis.
Proceeding rapidly along the path of “Somalization”, the ground was prepared for general elections with a view to transforming the Territorial Council into an elected legislature. In February 1956 the Somalis went to the polls in the first political electoral experiment in their history. In May 1956 the first elected Legislative Assembly of Somalia was convened. On 7 May the first Somali Government was established.
Subsequent events indicated increasingly rapid progress in the political development of the Territory. The process of “Somalization11 proceeded regularly and speedily. Each year, more and more Somalis were taking charge of the most important and delicate posts in the Administration and exercising full responsibility in the various fields of the public life of the country.
New elections finally were held at the local administrative level at the endof1958 and at the national political level in March 1959, giving ample evidence of the degree of maturity attained by the political class of Somalia.
In the light of these developments, the outstanding event of 1959, namely, the decision to advance the date of independence of Somalia as provided for in General Assembly resolution 1418 (XIV), came as a natural and welcome consequence. The remaining steps to be taken to ensure stable political machinery in Somalia followed in rapid succession. On 25 January 1960, a law was enacted conferring on the elected Legislative Assembly full powers for the preparation and adoption of the Constitution of Somalia.
This is no doubt the salient point in the political development of any country, for it provides a clear indication of the maturity of its people, their ability to conduct their own affairs as well as to maintain peaceful, harmonious, and fruitful relations with neighboring communities.
In the case of Somalia, I am happy to say, there need be no doubt on that score. The Constitution of the newborn State is a document that amply endorses my contention. It testifies clearly to the democratic instincts of its people, their desire for progress, freedom, and peace.
The Republic of Somalia, by virtue of its Constitution, has solemnly resolved to repudiate war as a means of settling international disputes. It accepts, on conditions of parity with other States, all limitations of its sovereignty required by any international organization established to ensure peace among nations. The Republic gives full recognition to international law and to the binding force of international agreements.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, approved by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948 [resolution 217 (III)], is formally endorsed by the Somali State in its Constitution. Fundamental freedoms are fully guaranteed. Equal rights and responsibilities are proclaimed for all citizens without any distinction of race, national origin, birth, language, sex, economic and social status, or opinion. The political structure of the State clearly rests on the principles of universal suffrage, freedom of political opinion, and the rule of law.
Even though assured by the political and constitutional background developed during these last ten years, the independence of Somalia would hardly be on the firm ground had the economic and social foundations not been carefully prepared and developed.
I realize that there is a concern for the economic future of the country and many Press publications in these days bear witness to that fact. Indeed, the limited natural resources, the climatic conditions, the fact that because of deeply-rooted psychological and ethnical factors a high percentage of the population is traditionally nomadic, constituted-and in part still constitutes-a handicap to any development program. Let me refer at this point to some of the important economic features of the new Republic.
On the one hand, its important geographic position on the eastern tip of Africa, facing the principal maritime routes converging on the Indian Ocean to the south and the Red Sea to the north, with two traditional ports, Mogadishu, the capital, and Chisimaio, the latter, as recent surveys indicate, with great possibilities of modern development; and on the other hand, the presence of two large rivers, the Giuba and the Uebi Scebeli, navigable in parts, seem to constitute the main assets of the territory.
The traditional economy is based on agriculture and pasture. The main products are bananas, sesame, arachides, and sugar cane. Prospects of tapping oil resources can be envisaged, as the presence of two important oil companies already operating in the country seems to indicate.
Italy has spared no effort to develop in Somalia an economic and social structure which has already brought about a considerable change in the welfare of its people and which has provided new and more fruitful fields of endeavor.
The contributions made by my country, during the period of its trusteeship amount to 62 thousand million lire (roughly $100 million). Thanks to a seven-year development plan which is now nearing completion, general conditions have improved so that the balancing of both the budget and the balance of payments appear attainable within a foreseeable, if not immediate, future. The deficit in the balance of trade has decreased from 38 million somalos in 1951 to 8 million in 1959. National income during the same period has trebled. Revenues have increased from 21 million somalos in 1951 to an estimated 71 million in 1960.
The Somali people and the Italian authorities have had to overcome natural conditions that are extremely difficult, and this has had to be done with, unfortunately, not unlimited means, always having in mind the necessity of not taking too great a step which might eventually result in economic disorder. More will have to be done to ensure the entire Somali population a higher standard of living, keeping in mind the necessity of balancing steps aimed at development with the demands of economic stability•
Economic development programs are underway, covering agricultural improvements, livestock raising, promotion of water research, and assistance to the handicraft industry and trade. Public-works projects are being implemented to expand the road network; to improve port facilities in Mogadishu, Merca, and Chisimaio; for improvements to aqueducts, and the airport at Mogadishu and airstrips elsewhere in Somalia.
I might add that the assistance granted in the past is being continued now that independence has been reached, since the Italian Government, in order to avoid any difficulties in the smooth beginning of Somalia’s independent life, has offered and undertaken to contribute to the financial requirements of the Somali Government for the year 1960.
Furthermore, Italy, as well as other friendly countries, will not fail to assist in future years the people and Government of Somalia, should they so desire, in the difficult task which is now entrusted entirely to them-of meeting the nation’s needs and improving its economy.
However, limited in their material resources, the Somalis face the future not only with hope and confidence, but also, and above all, with determination, for they are industrious, keen, persevering, and ingenious people.
Much progress has also been achieved in the social field and sound foundations have been laid, which afford high hopes for further favorable developments.
Health standards have been raised consistently and health facilities expanded. Intensive action in the field of hygiene, social medicine, professional training of public-health personnel, and improvement in nutrition, begun by the Italian Administration, is now being pursued most effectively by the Somali authorities.
Similarly, the Somalis have shown not only keen interest, but also great ability in improving educational standards, so that all endeavors in this field have met with a success that justifies utmost confidence in future progress.
As for the field of labor, the caliber of work has been so improved through better training that results most beneficial to the economy of the nation should ensue. Measures for the social protection of workers afford the Somali worker further incentive and higher confidence.
I have touched briefly on these points because I felt it necessary to indicate to the Council the path of progress on which Somalia has the firmest intention to proceed, progress which has been amply and generously appreciated by the Trusteeship Council.
In this respect, I am especially gratified to acknowledge the continuing and increasing interest shown by the United Nations through its competent organs, especially the technical assistance programs, in the future progress and welfare of the recently-born State. The presence of the Legal Counsel of the United Nations, Mr. Stavropoulos, at the independence ceremonies in Mogadishu has in this context a most significant and propitious meaning.
I trust that I have succeeded in providing the Council with a picture of the Republic of Somalia-a picture to ‘which the distinguished representative of the United Kingdom will, no doubt, add with his knowledge and eloquence-in order that the Council may be fully aware of the indeed high qualities of this state that recommend it for admission to membership in our organization.
However, the elements that I have offered would hardly be complete if I passed over in silence the feelings of the Italian people for the Somali people. The ties of friendship developed in so many years of fruitful cooperation between Somalia and Italy are such that the termination of any agreement can by no means end an association which we know to be in the very hearts and minds of our peoples.
The new relationship, on the basis of full equality in status, will doubtless provide fertile ground for a fruitful political and economic cooperation between Italy and Somalia, which remain united by common ties and understanding derived from years of joint endeavors.
There is in the Sistine Chapel a fresco by Michelangelo showing the Son slowly detaching himself from the Father. There is still only a tenuous link between them. It is barely visible because it pertains more to the spirit than to the body. I think that this could well describe what Italy hopes to have achieved in discharging the task entrusted to it by our Organization vis-a-vis the Somali people: the injection into their minds of the great spiritual motivations of our Charter, such as respect for human dignity, social progress, peace, and security.
I know that in Italy on 1 July, when the Italian flag was lowered in Mogadishu many minds went back to the memories of the past and to the efforts that Italy has made in Somalia as the last region in Africa where we have concluded our work of stewardship. These minds were certainly moved by such an event, but I am sure that at the same time they were pleased and happy that it should take place in a context so deeply tinted by the noble motivations of the United Nations.
On that day, I can assure you, these minds, just because they are fond of the memories of the past, were looking to the future, with the intention of furthering also in other ways, with other means and along new avenues, close cooperation between Italy and the countries of Africa.
It is in this spirit of friendship for Africa, and because of the unity of purpose existing between Italians and Somalis, that I once again commend to the Council the proposal before it, for I know that it constitutes a recognition that the Republic of Somalia fully deserves, a recognition which will amply prove to be also to the benefit of our Organization.”
From the official records of the 871st Meeting of Security Council on the admission of Somalia to membership in the United Nations, 5 July 1960, New York
- The UNIQUE Case For The International Recognition Of Somaliland
- The World Can Learn From How Somaliland Overcame Militias
- Somaliland: The Little Country That Could By David Shinn
- Somaliland Is A Beacon Of Democracy In An Unstable Region
- Masuuliyiinta Xidh-Xidhan Iyo Dareemada Dhagarta Xambaarsan Ee Laga Soo Werinayo Dhinaca Madaxtooyada
- Somaliland Declaration On The Origin Of African Borders