November 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 2 November 2009
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action

In November the Council is expecting a report on implementation of resolution 1846 of 2 December 2008 which authorised states and regional organisations to enter Somalia’s territorial waters to combat piracy. A Council debate with a briefing by the International Maritime Organization is a possibility.

The anti-piracy provision of resolution 1846 and that of resolution 1851 (which expanded the authorisation to allow action on land) expire on 2 December and Council action to renew these authorisations is likely in November.

In addition, the Council is expected to hold consultations on Somalia sanctions and receive a briefing from the chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee, Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller. The Council decided in resolution 1844 of 20 November 2008 to review the targeted measures of the sanctions regime within 12 months of its adoption.

Key Recent Developments
In his report to the Council of 2 October, the Secretary-General concluded that there had been some progress on political and security objectives in Somalia. But he also noted that insecurity remained a critical challenge, and that the humanitarian situation had worsened dramatically. He indicated that the second phase of the incremental approach endorsed by the Council (which calls for a UN “light footprint” in Mogadishu) would be implemented through deployment of international staff on short-term missions due to security concerns. He urged the international community to fulfil pledges already made and increase its support.

On 8 October the Council was briefed by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, and by the Director of the UN Support Office for the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Craig Boyd. Pascoe focused on the need to support the Somali government in the key areas of security, political dialogue, piracy, development and humanitarian assistance. Boyd reported on progress in implementing the support package for AMISOM approved by the General Assembly in June 2009 ($138 million) but noted that the security situation might slow its delivery. He also confirmed that Burundi and Uganda have offered one additional battalion each to AMISOM, while Djibouti has offered a special forces unit.

On 1 October fighting broke out in Kismayo for the first time between the two rebel groups Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam (which has been allies in the insurgency against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG)). Al-Shabaab claimed victory, but there were reports of continued clashes in other parts of the south. While the groups themselves seemed to play down the conflict and agreed on a truce, new fighting reportedly erupted on 21 October when Hizbul Islam attacked Al-Shabaab near Kismayo.

Civilians continued to be caught in the violence. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 145 people were killed in September in Mogadishu, Kismayo and Belet Weyne, and twenty were killed just in the first week of October in the fighting between Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam. An attack by Al-Shabaab against the Mogadishu airport on 22 October, just as Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was preparing to board an aircraft for Uganda, reportedly killed over thirty people but left the president unharmed.

At the end of a week-long visit to Somalia, Walter Kälin, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on the human rights of internally displaced persons, on 21 October expressed shock at the level of violence against civilians. He said that serious violations against international humanitarian law and human rights law were being committed with total impunity in Somalia. He urged humanitarian agencies to shift their operations from Nairobi to relatively safe areas in Somalia like Puntland and Somaliland.

The International Maritime Bureau, in its latest quarterly report on piracy released on 21 October, concluded that there had been a significant increase in the number of global piracy attacks in 2009 compared with 2008, mostly due to piracy activity off the coast of Somalia. Worldwide, the 306 attacks so far this year have already surpassed last year’s number of 293. However, there has been a decrease in the number of successful piracy attacks. Approximately one in six ships was successfully hijacked in 2008, but this was reduced to one in nine this year. A more ominous development, however, is the fact that Somali pirates have extended their reach beyond the Gulf of Aden and the eastern Somali coast to areas further out into the Indian Ocean, as well as the southern part of the Red Sea.

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 1 October the Human Rights Council (HRC) held an interactive dialogue with the Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Somalia, Shamsul Bari, to discuss his most recent report covering the period from March to August 2009. This recommended that ending impunity must be a key priority for the government and urged establishment of an independent national human rights commission. Bari emphasised that timely and tangible implementation of technical cooperation was the only viable way to solve Somalia’s human rights crisis. He reiterated his characterisation of Somalia as one of the worst humanitarian crisis in the world and said that the situation had deteriorated since his last report in March. Subsequently, in a resolution, the HRC stressed the need to implement technical assistance and institutional capacity-building programmes in Somalia, urged all parties to refrain from violence against the civilian population and to actively prevent abuses of human rights. The HRC also decided to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert for one year.

 

Developments in the Sanctions Committee
The Somalia Sanctions Committee met on 21 October and heard the midterm briefing of the Somalia Monitoring Group. The briefing focused on overall security threats, violations of the arms embargo and obstruction of humanitarian assistance. The Committee was also briefed on political developments by the deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Charles Petrie. It seems agreed that the Monitoring Group’s final report is due in February 2010. (The mandate of the Monitoring Group was renewed by the Council last December, but its members were not appointed by the Secretary-General until March.) A trip to the region by the Chairman of the Committee to support the work of the Monitoring Group planned for November has apparently been postponed until early 2010 because of security and political concerns.

Key Issues
The security situation remains the key issue, along with the need for increased international support for the Somali government to build up its security forces as well as support in other key areas including political dialogue, anti-piracy measures, development and humanitarian assistance which suffers from underfunding. Ensuring support for AMISOM to reach its authorised troop level of 8,000 is also important.

Another key issue is the increase in piracy. While international anti-piracy operations clearly have had some effect, there seems to be agreement that further efforts are needed, in particular in the areas of capacity-building both on land in Somalia and to help countries in the region prosecute suspected pirates.

A related question is whether the Council should simply renew the anti-piracy measures which expire on 2 December or whether any new measures could add value. Any Council action to support new initiatives is likely to come from the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia which has become the main forum for counter-piracy discussions. (Forty-five countries participated in its last meeting in September.)

A major ongoing issue is the regional context involving Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia. It remains to be seen whether the Council is willing to attempt to formulate a comprehensive response to both the crisis in Somalia and its regional aspects. An initial test is its approach to outstanding sanctions issues.

In addition, new regional security concerns have emerged. Al-Shabaab recently threatened to attack the capitals of Uganda and Burundi in retaliation for the alleged shelling by AMISOM in Mogadishu on 22 October which reportedly killed over twenty civilians. While AMISOM denied the accusations Burundi and Uganda announced new security measures, including monitoring of Somalis living in their countries.

A major underlying issue is the suffering of the civilian population and the continuing deterioration in the humanitarian situation.

Options
Main options for the Council in November include:

  • reinforcing the current sanctions regime for Somalia by establishing the first list of individuals and entities subject to targeted sanctions;
  • expanding the sanctions regime to target violations against international humanitarian law or directed specifically against women and children (as is the case in a number of other Council sanctions regimes);
  • addressing the issues relating to Eritrea, including both its role in Somalia and its non-compliance with the Council’s demands in resolution 1862 on the Eritrea-Djibouti border dispute; and
  • renewing the anti-piracy provisions of resolutions 1846 and 1851 and reaffirming its support for the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia .

Council Dynamics
The open debate in October demonstrated that there is strong support among Council members for the current UN strategy on Somalia and much agreement on key issues. A few countries, however, most notably Uganda and China, still seem to favour a quicker transition to a UN peacekeeping force than others.

Discussions continue among Council members on Eritrea’s role in the region. Some Council members, including the US and the UK, appear ready to act. It seems, however, that divisions among African countries are making it difficult for African Council members to take a position. Views also differ on whether to pursue the issue through the Somalia Sanctions Committee, which could be seen as a less confrontational approach, or establish separate measures for Eritrea.

On piracy issues, discussions among Council members have not yet started as members are awaiting the Secretary-General’s report, but renewal of the anti-piracy measures is not expected to be controversial.

The UK is the lead country on Somalia in the Council.

Selected UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1872 (26 May 2009) renewed authorisation of AMISOM until 31 January 2010, approved its funding from assessed UN contributions and requested the Secretary-General to implement the phased approach recommended in his 16 April report.
  • S/RES/1862 (14 January 2009) demanded that Eritrea withdraw its forces within five weeks to the positions of the status quo ante in its border dispute with Djibouti.
  • S/RES/1853 (19 December 2008) extended the mandate of the Monitoring Group tasked with monitoring the sanctions regime for Somalia and requested the Secretary-General to reestablish the group for a period of 12 months.
  • S/RES/1851 (16 December 2008) expanded the antipiracy authorisation to include action on land in Somalia and called for enhanced coordination.
  • S/RES/1846 (2 December 2008) authorised states and regional organisations to enter Somalia’s territorial waters to combat piracy for a further period of 12 months.
  • S/RES/1844 (20 November 2008) imposed targeted sanctions.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Selected Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6197 (8 October 2009) was the briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs (B. Lynn Pascoe) and the Director of the UN Support Office for AMISOM(Craig Boyd).

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2009/19 (9 July 2009) reiterated the Council’s support for the Djibouti Peace Process and the TFG and expressed concern at foreign support of insurgents.

Other

  • A/HRC/12/44 (17 September 2009) was the report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia.
  • S/2009/461 (15 September 2009) was a letter from the AU transmitting to the Council a declaration adopted at the AU Special Session on the Consideration and resolution of Conflicts in Africa held in Tripoli on 30 and 31 August.
  • S/2008/769 (10 December 2008) was the latest report of the Monitoring Group for the Somalia sanctions regime.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (Mauritania)

Chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee

Claude Heller (Mexico)

AMISOM

  • Maximum authorised strength: 8,000 troops plus maritime and air components
  • Strength as of October 2009: about 5,200 Ugandan and Burundian troops.
  • Duration: February 2007 to present: AU mandate expires on 17 January 2010 and Council authorisation expires on 31 January 2010.

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