May 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 April 2009
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Expected Council Action
In May the Council is expected to discuss the Secretary-General’s recommendations in his 16 April report which concluded that a UN peacekeeping mission was not advisable at this time. In resolution 1863, adopted on 16 January, the Council said it would decide on this issue by 1 June. Consultations and a Secretariat briefing are anticipated early in May. The Council is expected to make a decision in a resolution to be adopted towards the end of the month and a debate is likely at that time.

Somalia is also expected to be on the agenda of the Council meetings with the AU in Addis Ababa as part of the Council trip to Africa from 14 to 21 May.

Key Recent Developments
The security situation in Somalia has remained volatile. At least ten civilians were killed on 11 April when fighting broke out between the insurgent group Al-Shabaab and the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) after a mortar attack on Mogadishu’s main port. In Mogadishu on 26 March, Interior Minister Sheikh Abdulkadir Ali Omar survived a roadside bomb explosion that hit his vehicle, killing one bodyguard and two civilians. A member of parliament was shot dead on 15 April, and two senior Islamic Courts Union (ICU) leaders were killed in separate incidents on 16 and 21 April. Al-Shabaab was accused by the ICU of being behind the assassinations but denied any involvement. Attacks against humanitarian aid workers continued. On 19 April a Belgian and a Dutchman working for Médecins Sans Frontières were abducted in central Somalia. On 20 April a worker for CARE International was killed by unknown gunmen in the town of Merka.

On 18 April the Somali parliament unanimously voted to institute Islamic law, thus ratifying the 10 March cabinet decision. There were expectations that this would strengthen support for the government and weaken those still opposing the peace process. A spokesman for the insurgent group Hisbul Islam reportedly welcomed the vote but said that the presence of foreign troops in Somalia was the main reason for their fighting.

Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, leader of the Eritrea-based faction of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia, on 23 April returned for the first time in two years to Mogadishu, where he was received by the leader of Hisbul Islam. While his arrival in Mogadishu was seen as a sign that he could be willing to join the peace process, he said there would be no talks with the transitional government until AMISOM left.

There was a surge in piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia in March and April despite the growing international naval presence. After falling sharply at the beginning of the year, the number of attacks reportedly doubled in March compared to February. According to the International Maritime Bureau, there were sixty attacks in the first quarter of the year. Some twenty ships and 300 hostages are currently being held by Somali pirates. The EU Maritime Security Centre reported that pirates have changed their tactics, moving further south into the Indian Ocean. Ships carrying emergency food supplies to Somalia were attacked for the first time and the World Food Programme said that the recent piracy surge now threatens delivery of food aid to the Horn of Africa.

The first Somali pirate attack on a US-flagged ship took place on 8 April against the Maersk Alabama, with a crew that had twenty US nationals including the captain, who was taken hostage. The US rescue operation which left three pirates dead, and a separate French operation to free five hostages from a French yacht that killed two pirates (and also one of the hostages), marked an escalation in violence but did not seem to deter the pirates who hijacked two cargo vessels the following week.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on 15 April announced a four-point plan to combat piracy. It included:

  • working with partners at the 23 April donors’ conference in Brussels to help Somalia develop the capacity to police its territory;
  • calling for immediate meetings of the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to develop an expanded international response with an emphasis on better coordination;
  • pressing Somalia’s government, as well as regional leaders in Puntland, to take action against pirates; and
  • working with shippers and the insurance industry to address gaps in self defence measures.

In his 16 April report the Secretary-General presented his views on a possible UN peacekeeping operation as a follow-on force to AMISOM as requested by Council resolution 1863, including recommendations on its mandate. The report outlined four options.

  • Option A would be deployment of a peacekeeping operation to take over from AMISOM, requiring 22,500 troops with the key objective of establishing a secure environment for the peace process to move forward and enable rebuilding of Somali institutions and delivery of humanitarian assistance.
  • Option B would be to stay the current course of strengthening AMISOM while building Somali security institutions. There would be no UN presence on the ground.
  • Option C would expand option B to include a light UN presence in Mogadishu by relocating elements of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and the UN Support Office for AMISOM, as well as the UN Country Team. This would require a substantial investment in security infrastructure. (The UN currently allows its international staff only to go there on missions and not permanent assignments.)
  • Option D would be to have no international security presence in Somalia either because the AU decided to withdraw AMISOM or because the mission was requested to leave by the Somali government or forced to withdraw because of security concerns.

The report advised against deployment of a peacekeeping operation at this stage and recommended an incremental approach in three phases: In phase one the current strategy (option B) would be maintained, phase two would see the establishment of a light UN presence in Mogadishu when security improved (option C), and in phase three a full-fledged UN peacekeeping operation would be established.

On 23 April the international donors’ conference, which was convened in Brussels by the Secretary-General following the Council’s request in resolution 1863, raised $213 million to strengthen AMISOM and help rebuild Somali security institutions over a period of 12 months, exceeding the initial request. It should allow for the government to establish a national security force of 6,000 personnel and a Somali police force of up to 10,000 by September 2009. Most of the funding will be used to bolster AMISOM and comes in addition to $71 million in UN assessed contributions approved by the General Assembly on 7 April.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council in May is whether to accept the conclusions in the Secretary-General’s report. If the Council decides to maintain the current strategy of strengthening AMISOM, a key issue will be whether to approve additional UN logistical support which would require more funding from UN assessed contributions and approval by the General Assembly.

A second key issue is continued international support for Somalia’s new government. This includes delivering on the pledges at the recent Brussels conference, as well as further funding to begin rebuilding the country, humanitarian assistance and support for the peace process.

A third issue is whether to convene an international peace conference as referred to in resolution 1863. The Secretary-General said in his last report that he intended to hold consultations on convening a conference that would address “capacity building, humanitarian assistance and sustainable development”.

The piracy issue is now increasingly seen as soluble only in the context of support for the Somali government and the rebuilding of its security institutions and fostering reconciliation with the Puntland authorities. The recent upsurge in piracy has demonstrated that the problem cannot be solved simply by increasing the naval presence in the region and supports the argument that establishing an effective government on land is also vital. The piracy issue may also point to the need for the Council to establish an effective targeted sanctions regime for Somalia that could interrupt the pirates’ financial networks.

A fifth key issue is ensuring respect for human rights and international humanitarian law, in particular by the new security forces through adequate training and vetting of personnel. UNPOS already has a strong monitoring and protection mandate (in resolution 1814 the Council requested the Secretary-General to establish “an effective capacity within UNPOS” for this purpose) and is providing technical support to the joint security and high-level committees established by the Djibouti Agreement.

A related issue is ensuring justice and addressing impunity, currently being dealt with in the Justice and Reconciliation Working Group also established within the Djibouti Agreement framework. The independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari, said after the donors’ conference in Brussels that accountability and transitional justice initiatives were essential.

Main options for the Council include:

  • deciding on the immediate establishment of a UN peacekeeping operation (unlikely);
  • adopting a resolution endorsing the Secretary-General’s recommendation for an incremental approach in three phases and requesting a new assessment in three to four months, and renewing the Council’s authorisation of AMISOM;
  • reiterating its call on all parties in Somalia to ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law and stressing the importance of human rights monitoring by UNPOS and other UN actors;
  • announcing an intention, as the Djibouti Agreement process develops, to assist as appropriate in establishing an independent commission of inquiry to investigate serious crimes committed in Somalia; and
  • establishing in the Somalia Sanctions Committee the list of individuals and entities to be targeted by sanctions and reviewing the recommendations of the latest report from the Monitoring Group (the Monitoring Group has now been asked to put forward proposals for the list).

Council Dynamics
Most Council members, including African countries, now seem to support the incremental approach recommended by the Secretary-General. It corresponds with the long-held position of Council members like Russia, the UK, France, other European members and Costa Rica that there must be real political progress in Somalia before a UN peacekeeping operation can be deployed. The US now appears to share this view. African members seem satisfied as long as there is strong support for AMISOM and UN peacekeeping remains the end goal. In addition some members, including the UK and France, seem increasingly to want to put an emphasis on support for Somali security forces as the only long term solution to improve the security situation in Somalia.

The UK (which is the lead country on Somalia) is expected to introduce a draft resolution early in the month that endorses the Secretary-General’s recommendation. The objective is for the Council to make a decision well in advance of 1 June in order to leave sufficient time for the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee to approve any additional support for AMISOM from UN assessed contributions, as its next session is expected to end on 5 June.

At press time there was no indication of any plans for new Council action on piracy, but the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia was expected to convene in New York at the end of the month.

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UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1863 (16 January 2009) renewed authorisation of AMISOM for up to six months, approved using UN resources to strengthen AMISOM and expressed the Council’s intention to establish a UN peacekeeping operation by 1 June 2009.
  • S/RES/1853 (19 December 2008) renewed the mandate of the Monitoring Group for 12 months.
  • S/RES/1851 (16 December 2008) expanded the anti-piracy authorisation to include action on land in Somalia and called for enhanced coordination.
  • S/RES/1846 (2 December 2008) renewed authorisation of action against piracy in Somalia for 12 months.
  • S/RES/1844 (20 November 2008) imposed targeted sanctions.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2008/33 (4 September 2008) requested detailed planning on an international stabilisation force and peacekeeping operation.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2009/210 (16 April 2009) was the report requested by resolution 1863 on a possible UN peacekeeping deployment in Somalia.
  • S/2009/146 (16 March 2009) was the report on piracy submitted pursuant to resolution 1846.
  • S/2009/132 (9 March 2009) was the most recent regular report.

Latest Monitoring Group’s Report


  • S/2009/172 (31 March 2009) was a letter from the Secretary-General informing the Council of the appointment of the fifth expert to the Monitoring Group.
  • SC/9621 (20 March 2009) was a press statement welcoming political progress in Somalia and condemning attacks on AMISOM.
  • S/2009/136 (6 March 2009) was a letter from the Secretary-General informing the Council of the appointment of four experts to the Monitoring Group.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (Mauritania)


  • Maximum authorised size: 44 international and 28 local civilians
  • Cost: $6.4 million (budget for the period 1 January to 30 June 2009)
  • Duration: 15 April 1995 to present; mandate expires on 31 December 2009

Chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee

Claude Heller (Mexico)


  • Maximum authorised strength: 8,000 troops plus maritime and air components
  • Strength as of April 2009: about 4,300 Ugandan and Burundian troops
  • Key resource contributors: China, Italy, Japan, Sweden, the UK, the US, the EU and Arab League
  • Duration: February 2007 to present: AU mandate expires on 17 June 2009 and Council authorisation expires on 16 July 2009

Full forecast

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