July 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 July 2010
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action
In July the chair of the Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller, is expected to brief the Council (resolution 1844 of 20 November 2008 on targeted sanctions calls for the Committee to report to the Council every 120 days). Heller’s briefing is likely to focus on his trip to the Horn of Africa in April.

Council members are also likely in July to review the effects of the decision in resolution 1916 that the assets-freeze provision of the Somalia sanctions regime should not apply to the payment of funds, other financial assets or economic resources “necessary to ensure the timely delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance in Somalia”. A report and a briefing from the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia on the implementation of this provision and efforts undertaken to mitigate any misuse of humanitarian aid are expected.

Also in July, the Council members seem likely to discuss Eritrea’s compliance with resolution 1907 that it cease all efforts to destabilise the Somali government. For more details on this, please refer to the Eritrea brief in this month’s Forecast.

Finally, it is unclear whether the Council will consider in July or August the Secretary-General’s recommendations on Somali piracy in response to resolution 1918. This may depend on the timing of the availability of the report. If necessary, Security Council Report will publish an Update Report.

Key Recent Developments
On 12 May the Council heard a briefing by the outgoing Secretary-General’s Special Representative Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah. Ould-Abdallah stressed that the most effective approach to improving the situation in Somalia was to continue supporting the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). He said the recovery and reconstruction conference on Somalia from 21 to 23 May in Istanbul should be seized as an exceptional opportunity.

In a Council meeting on 19 May, the president of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, said that a new approach by the international community was needed to save the TFG, which in his view was at risk of “imminent demise” and whose authority was shrinking fast. Guelleh said the first priority must be security in Mogadishu to ensure the functioning of the government and expansion of its authority.

More than fifty countries attended the conference in Istanbul. Representatives of the Somali business community and international partners were also invited to participate in practical roundtable consultations on six priority sectors: telecommunications, infrastructure, banking, livestock, fisheries and alternative energy. The outcome document from the conference, “the Istanbul Declaration,” expressed full support for the Somali Transitional Federal Institutions and, among other things:

  • encouraged the TFG to continue political reconciliation efforts;
  • emphasised the importance of strengthening Somali security forces;
  • called for renewed emphasis on economic development and economic recovery;
  • stressed the TFG’s responsibility for responding to humanitarian needs;
  • commended the role of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and called for additional troops and funding for the mission;
  • expressed concern about the increase in piracy and welcomed counter-piracy initiatives; and
  • welcomed a proposal by the Islamic Development Bank to establish a task force to be chaired by Turkey that would propose a mechanism to facilitate an immediate and coordinated international response to the basic needs of the Somali population pending stabilisation of the country.

Also in the declaration, the TFG reaffirmed its responsibility to provide security for the population, continue outreach and reconciliation efforts, avoid internal disputes, ensure efficient functioning of its institutions and make progress on the drafting of a constitution.

But many observers were sceptical that the Istanbul Conference had achieved much. The situation in Somalia did not improve. Fighting continued in Mogadishu between the TFG and insurgents with neither side gaining ground. There were also reports of renewed clashes in central Somalia between the radical insurgent group Al Shabaab and the pro-government Islamist group Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamma (ASWJ). The UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported in June that an additional 17,800 Mogadishu residents had been displaced and 24,200 had left the city since the beginning of April.

In addition, the TFG leadership appeared weakened by political divisions. On 17 May the speaker of the Somali parliament resigned, apparently as a result of a power struggle with the prime minister. Also in May, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed announced that he had dismissed the prime minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, and intended to appoint a new government. However, Sharmarke refused to resign and the president later rescinded his decision.

On 28 May, former finance minister Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden was elected speaker of the parliament. In June four ministers resigned from the government, including the ministers of defence, higher education, and international cooperation and the state minister for the presidency, reportedly to protest against Aden’s election.

There seemed to be limited progress in implementing the cooperation agreement between the government and ASWJ. On 16 June the group accused the government of not honouring the agreement. President Ahmed later reportedly rejected a proposal from Prime Minister Sharmarke to form a new government that would include ASWJ members.

On 9 June it was announced that Augustine Mahiga, Tanzania’s UN ambassador, would succeed Ould-Abdallah as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative as of 1 July. Ould-Abdallah gave a final briefing to Council members in informal consultations on 18 June. In an interview on 24 June, Mahiga said reconciliation and a more inclusive political process must be a priority together with efforts to improve security.

The International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia met in New York on 10 June under the chairmanship of Greece. 

Developments in the Sanctions Committee

In April the chair of the Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Heller, accompanied by Council members Turkey, Uganda and the US at expert level, visited Eritrea, Kenya and Yemen. The objective was to raise awareness about the Somalia and Eritrea sanctions regimes and discuss some of the findings and recommendations of the Somalia/Eritrea Monitoring Group’s latest report. (The original itinerary included stops in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Yemen and the United Arab Emirates, but was revised as a result of the disruption of air travel following the volcanic eruption in Iceland.)

In June the World Food Programme informed the Committee of the findings of a 2009 investigation of its operations in Somalia and expressed its intention to keep the Council informed of the current investigation undertaken in response to the Monitoring Group’s allegations of diversion of food aid to Somali insurgent groups.

At press time the Secretary-General was expected to re-establish the Monitoring Group, as requested by the Council in resolution 1916 of 19 March, within the week. It seems that the delay was mainly due to opposition from the Somali government to the proposal to re-appoint Matt Bryden as the Group’s coordinator.

Human Rights-Related Developments

The Secretary-General’s latest report on children and armed conflict of 13 April concludes that the recruitment of child soldiers became more systematic and widespread in Somalia in 2009. Al-Shabaab, Hizbul Islam and the TFG are all listed in annex I, which identifies parties that recruit or use children, kill or maim and/or commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children. The TFG is also designated as a persistent violator, having been on the list for more than five years. The report expresses concern about the high number of child casualties and victims of sexual violence, the closure of schools and hospitals and deterioration in humanitarian access in Somalia in 2009. The TFG has denied the allegations.

In a presidential statement on children and armed conflict adopted on 16 June, the Council expressed its readiness to adopt “targeted and graduated measures” against persistent violators.

Somalia has yet to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child although it announced its intention to do so last November.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council in July is the situation with regard to humanitarian access in Somalia and whether the provision in resolution 1916 regarding the assets-freeze exemption is working. A related issue is whether alleged misuse of humanitarian aid, as previously suggested by the Monitoring Group, is a problem.

Another key issue is implementation of the Somalia sanctions regime and in particular whether further action should be taken as a follow-up to the recommendations in the Monitoring Group’s latest report and Ambassador Heller’s trip to the region.

A related issue is whether the Council should address the TFG’s violations against children.

Options
The report from the Humanitarian Coordinator will influence discussions among Council members in July, but some possible options include:

  • simply listening to the briefings and taking no further action;
  • issuing a press statement on the review of the assets-freeze exemption of resolution 1916, expressing concern for the humanitarian situation and calling for unimpeded access;
  • inviting the Secretary-General’s Special-Representative for children and armed conflict to brief the Sanctions Committee;
  • revising the targeted sanctions regime for Somalia to include as a designation criterion the recruitment and use of child soldiers or other violations against children; and
  • continuing implementing the recommendations of the latest report of the Monitoring Group.

Council Dynamics
Council members seem pleased with the appointment of Mahiga as the new Special Representative. There are hopes that he will be able to re-energise the UN’s approach to Somalia.

There appears to be genuine interest in Bowden’s report and in particular its assessment of the practical applications of the assets-freeze exemption. Council members are looking for more clarity as to how the exemption works and whether it has the desired impact. Some members believe it might be too early, however, for a thorough assessment.

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

UN Documents

Selected Security 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 re-establish 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/1844 (20 November 2008) imposed targeted sanctions relating to the situation in Somalia.

Latest Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2010/234 (11 May 2010) indicated that the Secretary-General intended to review implementation of the UN strategy for Somalia.
  • S/2010/181 (13 April 2010) was the latest report on children and armed conflict.

Selected Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6316 (19 May 2010) was a meeting in which the president of Djibouti, Ismail Omar Guelleh, presented his views on the situation in Somalia and Djibouti’s border dispute with Eritrea.
  • S/PV.6313 (12 May 2010) was the latest briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.

Other

  • S/2010/272 (27 May 2010) was a letter from Turkey transmitting the outcome document of the Istanbul Conference on Somalia.
  • S/2010/225 (3 May 2010) was a letter from the chair of the Sanctions Committee transmitting a letter from Eritrea.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Augustine Mahiga (Tanzania)

Chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee

Claude Heller (Mexico)

Useful Additional Sources

  • Communiqué of the International Contact Group on Piracy off the coast of Somalia, 10 June 2010.
  • Somalia’s Divided Islamists, International Crisis Group, 18 May 2010.

Full forecast

 

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