January 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 22 December 2005
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action
The Council will receive the interim report of the Monitoring Group on the arms embargo currently in force in Somalia. At this stage, however, we do not expect any strengthening of the sanctions regime or immediate action against violators.

Key Facts
Since 1991, Somalia has had no effective central government and, despite efforts by the UN in the 1990s, virtually no end to continuous inter-clan warfare. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-comprised of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda-sponsored negotiations in 2004 that led to the formation of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) under Abdullahi Yusuf. However, this arrangement cannot be considered a peace agreement in the regular sense.

Unresolved issues such as the location of the TFG and a unified national army continue to create tensions that have prevented the TFG from assuming an effective governmental role. Despite the formation of the TFG and of a National Assembly, virtually every political actor in Somalia is involved in factional politics and remains dependent on private militias.

The Council created the UN Operation in Somalia (UNOSOM) in 1992 and authorised the US-led Unified Task Force (UNITAF) to create a stable environment for the delivery of humanitarian aid. The death of US and Pakistani troops in 1993 and lack of progress in peace talks precipitated the withdrawal of UNOSOM and the establishment in 1995 of a limited UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) located in Nairobi.

In April 2005, IGAD decided to send a peacekeeping mission in Somalia, the IGAD Peace Support Mission to Somalia (IGASOM), in response to the invitation of President Yusuf. However, capacity issues among IGAD members have prevented the practical realisation of this initiative. In an effort to assist IGAD, the African Union endorsed the mission in May. However, a major issue is the composition of such a force. Various Somali factions object to troops from neighbouring states and, given that most IGAD members are neighbouring states, this is a serious problem.

An arms embargo was also established in 1992, as well as a Sanctions Committee and a Monitoring Group. The embargo is ineffective, and no measures against violations have been imposed. Challenges in this context arise from the lack of functioning customs in Somalia. The TFG has nonetheless repeatedly asked for exemptions to the embargo to allow it to increase security in the country with the assistance of IGAD troops.

The Monitoring Group reported that Yemen and IGAD-member Ethiopia had provided arms to the TFG. Yemen publicly admitted to having done so at the request of President Yusuf, but Ethiopia denied the allegations. Another IGAD-member, Eritrea, has also been identified in media reports as breaching the embargo. Both TFG and opposition groups have imported arms in breach of the embargo, according to the Group, and a military build-up is currently taking place.

The Group identified individual violators and recommended sanctions on charcoal and fishing to curb financing of arms purchases. Regarding the humanitarian impact of the proposal, the Group stated that the majority of the revenues from those activities is diverted to arms purchases, and only a small percentage thus reaches the population at large. The Group also stated that enforcing the proposed sanctions would be easier, since it would require cooperation from non-Somali third parties involved in trading those commodities.

The Sanctions Committee Chairman, Ambassador Lauro L. Baja of the Philippines, visited Kenya (where the Monitoring Group’s office is located), Ethiopia and Yemen in late November to discuss compliance with the embargo, but only in Yemen was the Chairman able to meet with senior authorities. He provided a briefing to the Sanctions Committee in mid-December.

Key Issues
The key issue is whether Council measures, in this case the arms embargo, can be permitted to be flouted so extensively. Another issue is whether to strengthen the arms embargo by targeting its financing from charcoal production and fishing.

Council Dynamics
Most Council members are concerned with the ongoing challenges to the arms embargo and see the risks to the integrity of future sanctions regimes if violators publicly and persistently flout obligations that are imposed by the Council and are binding under international law. However, there is an underlying resistance among some Council members against enforcing sanctions regimes in general. Council members as a whole will be very conscious that two of the alleged violators, Ethiopia and Eritrea, are the focus of even more difficult Council attempts at the present time to secure compliance with resolutions and commitments. There will therefore be some reluctance to press the Somalia sanctions issue too hard at this time.

But equally there will be no appetite for rewarding the Somali factions by any loosening of the arms embargo at this stage.

The expected focus of the Sanctions Committee will be on getting more information on individual violators. There is willingness to leave the customs aspect of sanctions to the Counter-Terrorism Committee, established pursuant toresolution 1373 (2001).

On the issue of IGASOM, should it ever eventuate, there is willingness in principle in the Council to consider a limited exemption to the arms embargo for IGAD troops. But the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the mission leaves a degree of scepticism at this stage.

Options
The options that may be considered when the mandate of the Monitoring Group comes up for renewal in May include:

  • targeting secondary sanctions against named individuals with specific responsibility for exports or imports of arms to Somalia;
  • picking up the recommendations of the Monitoring Group on extending the sanctions regime to fishing and charcoal;
  • concluding that, instead of acquiescing to Ethiopia and Eritrea for fear of adverse implications for the wider relationship with them, it is less dangerous to Council authority in general to send a clear message about the unacceptability of violating international law by establishing a secondary sanctions regime; and/or
  • deciding that the risk of continuing with unenforced and regularly flouted sanctions exceeds that of removing them. Just as the Council withdrew UNOSOM in 1994, it could decide to step back from Somalia completely.

Underlying Problems
Conditions in Somalia remain dire. The humanitarian situation remains grave.

Piracy, lawlessness, drug trafficking, militant Islamicists and Somaliland’s self-declared independence are important aspects of this picture.

Some Council members, and the US in particular, are concerned with the possibility that Somalia might become a safe haven for terrorists.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions
  • S/Res/1630 (14 October 2005) renewed the Monitoring Group’s mandate.
  • S/Res/1407 (03 May 2002) requested a panel of experts.
  • S/Res/954 (04 November 1994) determined UNOSOM II’s withdrawal.
  • S/Res/897 (04 February 1994) revised UNOSOM II’s mandate.
  • S/Res/814 (26 March 1993) established UNOSOM II under Chapter VII.
  • S/Res/794 (03 December 1992) authorised UNITAF.
  • S/Res/751 (24 April 1992) established UNOSOM I and a Sanctions Committee.
  • S/Res/733 (23 January 1992) imposed an arms embargo.
 Selected Presidential Statements
 Reports of Council Missions
 Selected Secretary-General’s Reports
  • S/2005/642 (11 October 2005) is the latest report.
  • S/26738 (12 November 1993) presented recommendations for UNOSOM following attacks.
 Reports of the Panel of Experts/Monitoring Group
 Letters from the Secretary-General to President of the Council
  • S/24868 (30 November 1992) recommended that UNITAF be deployed.

Historical Background

 September 2005 Somaliland held internationally monitored elections.
 June 2005 The TFG moved to Jowhar. 
 May 2005 The AU authorised IGASOM.
 April 2005 IGAD decided to send troops to Somalia.
 10 October 2004 Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed was elected president and the TFG was established. 
 July 2002 The Panel of Experts was requested.
 April 1995 UNPOS was established.
 November 1994 The Council decided to terminate UNOSOM II by March 1995. 
 February 1994 UNOSOM’s troop levels were decreased.
 October 1993 18 US Rangers were killed and their bodies mutilated, while 75 more were wounded. The US announced withdrawal from Somalia by March 1994.
 June 1993 Pakistani troops were attacked, 24 were killed.
 March 1993 UNOSOM II was established.
 December 1992 The Council authorised UNITAF.
 April 1992 UNOSOM I and a Sanctions Committee were established.
 January 1992 The Council imposed an arms embargo.
 1991 Civil war broke out; Somaliland declared independence.

Other Relevant Facts 

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of UNPOS
 François Lonsény Fall (Guinea)
 Special Adviser of the Secretary-General for the Horn of Africa
 Mohammed Sahnoun (Algeria)
 Size and Composition of Mission
 5 international civilians, 3 local civilians

Full forecast