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The Chicago Conference on Rebuilding Somalia


From left: Yusuf Malin, Executive Director SSF, Mr. Richard Friedman, President and Chair of NSF and  Major General (Ret) Charles E. Tucker, Executive Director of WEInstitute


Hiiraan Online
Wednesday, April 18, 2012

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Chicago, IL  (HOL) - On Saturday, April 14, 2012, a daylong conference on Somalia facilitated by the Somalia Strategy Forum (SSF) with the  support of  World Engagement Institute (WEInstitute) and National Strategy Forum (NSF), was held at the Union League Club of Chicago, USA.  Other  international Organizations that played key roles in the conference were International Development Law Organization (IDLO), and  Sustainable Capacity International Institute (SCII). A large number of participants, particularly from the Somali Diaspora living in Chicago and surrounding area attended the conference.

The conference ‘overall objective was to shift the international community’s approach in dealing with Somalia’s problem from the top down state building approach to outreach, bottom-up  grass root approach.  Accordingly, the immediate aim was to establish a comprehensive strategic planning  process for Somalia’s long term social and economic development. The principal sponsors of the Conference  were Ms. Pamela Scholl, the Dr. Scholl Foundation, Mr. Nabil Y. Barakat, Wamar International Group LLC, Dr. Muhammad Munir Chaudry, Islamic Food and Nutrition of America.

The international speakers of the conference included Major General (Ret) Charles E. Tucker, Executive Director of WEInstitute, Mr. Richard  Friedman,  President and Chair of NSF, Dr. Marco Tavanti, President of SCII, Mr. Sumit  Bisarya lead legal officer for IDLO, which implements the project of “Supporting the Constitutional Review Process (CRP) in Somalia,” financed by the Government of Italy.  Prime Minister Abdiweli visited the IDLO Office in Rome in February 2012. Dr. Thomas Ginsburg, Leo Sptiz Professor spoke about the constitutional construction in Somalia.

Also, Mr. Ftih Yildiz, the Turkey Consul for Midwest regions of USA spoke about the humanitarian and stabilization activities the Turkey government is implementing in Somalia. The participants warmly welcomed and appreciated Turkey’s efforts in Somalia.

The Somali speakers included Yusuf A. Maalin, Drs. Hodan Said Isse, wife of Somali Prime Minister, Drs. Fawzia Abrar, Fowzia Abdulkadir, Ibrahim Aye , Dr. Mohamed Ali Abukar. Yusuf A. Maalin, SSF’s Executive Director, welcomed the participants and highlighted the purpose of the conference, the activities and projects his organization plans to implement in Somalia.


Mr. Arnold J. Romeo, Director of Equity Advisory Council, Chicago Commission on Human Relation

The Conference received a message of congratulations and support from Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago and former Chief of Staff of President Obama.  Mr. Arnold J. Romeo, Director of Equity Advisory Council, Chicago Commission on Human Relation delivered the Mayor’s message in which the Mayor expressed his personal commitment to help the estimated 3,000 Somali community living in Chicago as well as the people of Somalia. 

Talking to Hiiraan Online, the Chair of the WEInstitute, Mr. Charles Tucker who recently returned from a trip to Mogadishu expressed his ardent hope for improvement of the situation in Somalia. He stressed that the security situation in Somalia is incumbent upon Somalis adding that significant job creation for the youth and direct support to the development of the business community will accelerate the security improvement.

Some of the issues addressed  during the plenary and group sessions of the conference comprised  the implementation of  draft constitution, educational capacity development, health sector development, nation building through economic development, governance capacity building and poverty eradication strategies for food security. All speakers underlined the urgent need for the return of the educated members of the Somali Diaspora to Somalia in order to accelerate  the reconstruction process in Somalia.

Some participants raised serious concerns about the international approach to the Constitution making process underway and questioned the absence of well-known Somali constitutional and legal lawyers in leading the drafting of the Somali Constitution as well as the absence of right conditions for inter Somali negotiations based on constitutional making principles . Others raised the need for effective Somali led process in order to help the harmony and cohesion among Somalis for long term peace and stability in Somalia.

Talking to Hiiraan Online, Yusuf Maalin said that his SSF organization plans to train both members of Diaspora as well as graduates from the Somali education system on the required skills and attitudes for the reconstruction and development of Somalia. He also expressed his satisfaction about the successful conclusion of the conference and his determination for the implementation of its c0mprehensive strategy that covers all aspects of Somali political, economic and security system.



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