February 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 January 2006
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Expected Council Action
In February, the Council will receive the regular report of the Secretary-General on Somalia. The Sanctions Committee will receive the midterm briefing of the Monitoring Group.

Discussions will likely be on the renewed AU request, made during its January summit, that an exemption to the Council-imposed arms embargo in Somalia be granted so that African peacekeepers can be deployed.

Key Facts
In April 2005, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)-comprised of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda-decided to send a peacekeeping mission to Somalia. However, controversy regarding the composition of such a force and capacity issues have prevented its practical realisation. Various Somali factions object to troops from neighbouring states.

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has repeatedly asked the Council for exemptions from the embargo. But Council members have been reluctant, given the uncertainty about the operation and the absence of a peacekeeping plan.

In practice, the Council’s arms embargo is ineffective. The Monitoring Group reported in August 2005 that Yemen, IGAD-member Ethiopia and members of the transitional government had violated the embargo. Yemen publicly admitted to the violations given its security concerns with the state of affairs in Somalia, but Ethiopia denied it. Another IGAD-member, Eritrea, has also been identified in media reports as breaching the embargo.

Key Issues
The Council is unlikely to have any appetite for taking up the issue of direct UN involvement in the security issues in Somalia. However, increasing concern about the role of Jihadists and the growing incidence of Somali piracy attacking commercial and humanitarian shipping may in time lead to a willingness to consider the AU request, but not until there is a clear and feasible plan for an IGAD peacekeeping operation.

Similarly, the issue of reinvigorating the sanctions regime is unlikely to be very attractive (see our January Forecast Report for background.) The Sanctions Committee is therefore likely to continue to work on the issue of individual violations.

Possible options may include:

  • welcoming and supporting the reconvening of the Transitional Parliament, should it eventuate;
  • the Sanctions Committee starting active work on a list of individual violators;
  • engaging neighbouring countries in finding a balance between security concerns and respect for the arms embargo; 
  • requesting a report from the Secretary-General on developments regarding the IGAD peacekeeping operation; and
  • bearing in mind resolutions 1625 and 1631, requesting the Secretary-General to consult with the AU on ways in which the UN could provide assistance to the AU for developing a practicable peacekeeping concept.

Full forecast

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