May 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 April 2010
Download Complete Forecast: PDF
AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action

In May the Council is expected to discuss the Secretary-General’s Somalia report, due at the beginning of the month, and review progress in Somalia in light of the “three-phased approach” endorsed by the Council in May 2009. Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah is likely to brief the Council.

Many Council members will also participate in an international reconstruction and development conference, as called for by the August 2008 Djibouti Peace Agreement, hosted by Turkey on 22 May in Istanbul.

The Contact Group on piracy off the coast of Somalia is scheduled to meet in New York on 25 May.

Key Recent Developments
On 27 April the Council, in resolution 1918, requested the Secretary-General within three months to report on options to ensure prosecution and imprisonment of pirates captured off the coast of Somalia. (Please see our 20 April Update Report for more details.)

On 12 April the Sanctions Committee for Somalia and Eritrea announced its first designations for targeted sanctions under resolution 1844 adopted in November 2008. The list includes the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab (designated for acts threatening the peace, security and stability of Somalia as well as for obstruction of humanitarian assistance), Hassan Dahir Aweys, the leader of Hizbul Islam, the other main Islamist insurgent group in Somalia, and seven other individuals.

In March the Council discussed conclusions from the Somalia Monitoring Group, which advised that violations of the arms embargo were continuing. Yemen and Ethiopia are now the main weapons suppliers, whereas Eritrea appeared to have reduced its military assistance, possibly in response to international pressure. Its political and other support for insurgents has continued.

The Group also accused certain Somali officials of visa fraud and claimed that a large share of World Food Programme (WFP) aid to Somalia had been diverted to contractors and insurgents. While the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, criticised the latter allegations and said they were not based on credible evidence, the WFP on 11 March said it was ready to “provide full assistance” to any investigation into its Somalia operations and would cease cooperation with the three contractors named by the Monitoring Group.

The chair of the Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller, briefed Council members in informal consultations on 16 March. Following the consultations, he said there was general consensus in support of the Monitoring Group’s proposal of an independent investigation of the allegations against the WFP.

On 19 March the Council adopted resolution 1916 extending the mandate of the Monitoring Group for another 12 months with the addition of three new members. It also decided that the assets freeze provisions of resolution 1844 would not apply to funds “necessary to ensure the timely delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance in Somalia” and requested the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia to report to the Council every 120 days. The exemption was apparently added to ensure that humanitarian agencies operating in insurgent-controlled territory and frequently forced to pay insurgents would not be seen thereby as violating the sanctions regime.

Overall the security situation in Somalia has continued to be serious. However, there have been some positive developments. On 15 March the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and Ahlu Suna Wal Jamma (ASWJ), the pro-government Islamist group that controls parts of central Somalia, formally signed a cooperation framework agreement in Addis Ababa. According to the agreement, ASWJ will be given five ministerial posts and its forces will be integrated into the government’s security structures. This development was widely welcomed by the international community.

On 12 April the TFG signed a memorandum of understanding with Puntland on counter-piracy cooperation.

In April, Uganda deployed an additional battalion to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), bringing the total AU troop strength to 6,100 (its authorised troop level is 8,000).

The EU launched a training mission for Somali security forces on 7 April with actual training scheduled to begin in May. The mission, based in Uganda, is expected to train 2,000 personnel.

On the negative side, the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees announced in April that the first three months of 2010 had seen some of the highest displacement rates since January 2009. An estimated 169,000 people had been forced to leave their homes, particularly in Mogadishu.

The National Union of Somali Journalists expressed concern at the increasing harassment and intimidation of Somali journalists. Nine journalists were killed in Somalia in 2009 and a growing number are in exile. Al-Shabaab has taken over or closed radio stations under its control and arrested journalists. It recently banned transmissions of BBC broadcasts. On 3 April Hizbul Islam ordered all radio stations in Mogadishu to stop broadcasting music and said they would be closed if they did not comply within ten days. On 18 April, however, the TFG issued a counter-order, announcing it would sanction any station complying with the ban.

On 7 April Hizbul Islam reportedly claimed loyalty to Al-Qaida for the first time (Al- Shabaab made a similar announcement in January) and invited Usama bin Laden to Somalia.

The International Contact Group on Somalia held a meeting hosted by the Arab League on 21-22 April in Cairo.

Developments in the Sanctions Committee
The Monitoring Group presented its report to the Sanctions Committee on 10 March. The Committee then met on 24 March with representatives of WFP and the TFG to discuss the report’s allegations. It was agreed that the most appropriate way forward would be for the WFP itself, rather than the Secretary-General as proposed by the Monitoring Group, to initiate an independent investigation and then inform the Committee of its findings. The TFG, although highly critical of the report, said it would establish an independent panel to investigate the visa fraud claims. The Committee also met on 30 March when it endorsed the recommendations of the report.

On 15 April the Committee chair, accompanied by Council experts from Turkey, Uganda and the US, left on a 13-day mission to the region to raise awareness about the sanctions regime and discuss some of the recommendations of the report. It included stops in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates.

 

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 24 March the Human Rights Council received a report from its independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari. Bari told the Council that as part of his primary concern for the protection and welfare of the Somali people, he would insist that efforts to end the war be made more inclusive, closely involving the governments of Somaliland and Puntland, and reaching out even to Al-Shabaab and its allies. He argued that as long as the latter were willing to denounce terrorism, they should be considered stakeholders in the future of Somalia. Somalia, speaking in the ensuing debate, said that while a political solution to the crisis was in the making, the protection of the people from further human rights violations depended on implementation of much needed technical assistance, especially for institutional capacity-building.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is whether the current “three-phased” strategy is making any difference in Somalia.

Related issues include whether the recent agreement between the TFG and ASWJ and the strengthening of AMISOM will improve security and lead to an expansion of government control and whether more can be done to encourage reconciliation.

A further issue is how to improve relations with Somaliland and Puntland.

A practical issue is whether the TFG and AMISOM are receiving the right kinds of assistance from the international community. The Istanbul conference will be important in this regard.

An important humanitarian issue is whether the Council can do more to address the suffering of the civilian population, the continuing deterioration in the humanitarian situation and the ongoing violations of international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.

Another issue is whether the long delayed sanctions designations recently issued will have any practical impact and whether additional designations should be considered in the near future, in particular relating to piracy and obstruction of humanitarian assistance. (The first designations did not target any pirates.)

A final issue is how the Council should respond to the restrictions on freedom of expression.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • simply hearing Ould Abdallah’s briefing and taking no further action;
  • holding an open debate allowing the wider UN membership to express views on the situation in Somalia in advance of the Istanbul conference;
  • adopting a statement expressing concern for the humanitarian situation and condemning violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, including those relating to journalists, in line with its thematic resolution 1738, which condemns attacks against, and calls for respect for, the professional independence and rights of journalists and media professionals;
  • delaying issuing a statement until after the Istanbul conference to include in it a call for support for the outcome of the conference;
  • continuing implementing the recommendations of the Monitoring Group; and
  • considering additional designations in the Sanctions Committee, including of pirate leaders.

Council Dynamics
The initial draft list of designations for targeted sanctions was prepared by the US and apparently contained three names in addition to those adopted that were blocked by other Council members. (One permanent member put a hold on two of these names, whereas six members put a hold on the remaining name.)

The Council designations also coincided with a 12 April executive order by US President Barack Obama relating to the situation in Somalia which imposed an assets freeze on Al-Shabaab and a list of eleven individuals. This list contains three names that are not on the Council’s list: Yemane Ghebreab, an adviser to Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki; Abshir Abdillahi, described in the media as a “notorious Somali pirate boss”; and Mohamed Abdi Garaad, referred to by some as “the pirate king of Somalia.”

On the wider issues relating to Somalia, Council positions have not changed. Members are generally supportive of the TFG and see few alternatives to pursuing the current UN strategy. There seems, however, to be some disillusionment with the TFG and the general lack of progress.

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

Selected UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1918 (27 April 2010) requested a report from the Secretary-General within three months on options to ensure prosecution and imprisonment of persons responsible for piracy off the coast of Somalia.
  • S/RES/1916 (19 March 2010) extended the mandate of the Somalia/Eritrea Monitoring Group and requested the Secretary-General to reestablish it for a period of 12 months with the addition of three experts.
  • S/RES/1910 (28 January 2010) renewed authorisation of AMISOM until 31 January 2011 and requested the Secretary-General to report on all aspects of the resolution every four months starting from 1 January.
  • S/RES/1907 (23 December 2009) imposed an arms embargo and targeted sanctions against Eritrea.
  • 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 and engage in dialogue to resolve the dispute.
  • S/RES/1844 (20 November 2008) imposed targeted sanctions relating to the situation in Somalia.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2009/684 (31 December 2009) included an assessment of progress in implementing the three-phased approach to Somalia endorsed by the Council in May 2009.

Selected Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6259 (14 January 2010) was the latest briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.

Other

  • SC/9904 (12 April 2010) was the press release from the Sanctions Committee announcing designations of individuals and entities for targeted sanctions.
  • S/2010/91 (10 March 2010) was the letter from the Chair of the Sanctions Committee transmitting the Somalia Monitoring Group’s latest report.
  • S/2010/116 (8 March 2010) was a letter from Eritrea transmitting a copy of a letter to the Secretary-General from a campaign organised by the Organisation of Eritrean Americans calling for the annulment of sanctions against it.
  • A/HRC/13/65 (8 March 2010) was a report by the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari.

 

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah (Mauritania)

Chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee

Claude Heller (Mexico)

 

Useful Additional Sources

Full forecast