September 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 25 August 2010
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Expected Council Action
The Secretary-General’s report on Somalia is due by 1 September. Later in the month the Council is expected to hold a debate on Somalia most likely featuring a briefing by the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative Augustine Mahiga. This would be Mahiga’s first appearance before the Council since his appointment in June. It is unclear whether there will be any outcome from the debate. However, the decision of the July AU summit to expand AMISOM could lead to proposals from the African members of the Council. 

Key Recent Developments
On 25 August the Council held a debate on Somali piracy. At this occasion the Secretary-General announced the appointment of a special adviser on legal issues related to piracy off the coast of Somalia while the Council adopted a presidential statement, initiated by Russia, that:

  • expressed the Council’s continued concern about the piracy threat and its belief that those responsible for acts of piracy must be prosecuted;
  • welcomed the Secretary-General’s 26 July piracy report and his intention to appoint a special adviser;
  • commended ongoing efforts to prosecute suspected pirates and stressed the need for these efforts to continue;
  • emphasised the need for regular review of progress relating to prosecution and imprisonment of pirates and encouraged the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia to continue discussions on possible further steps to ensure accountability based on the options proposed by the Secretary-General; and
  • requested the Secretary-General to include in his next piracy report (due by 31 October) observations on possible ways to enhance cooperation to prosecute and imprison pirates.

Somalia has continued to cause serious international concern over the past several weeks.

On 24 August, more than thirty people, including six members of the Somali parliament, were reported to have been killed in an attack by gunmen disguised as government soldiers against a hotel in Mogadishu for which the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility. The Council issued a press statement that same day, condemning the attack.

On 11 July about eighty people were killed in two separate, almost simultaneous bombing attacks in the Ugandan capital Kampala targeting locations where crowds had gathered to watch the televised football world cup final. The Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the bombings and said they had been carried out in retaliation for Uganda’s participation in the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The group also threatened similar attacks against AMISOM’s other main troop contributor, Burundi. It was Al-Shabaab’s first major attack outside Somalia and heightened international concern that the crisis in the country is spreading beyond its borders.

In a press statement on 12 July the Council condemned the attacks, underlining the need to bring to justice those responsible for “these reprehensible acts of terrorism” and reaffirming the importance of combating terrorism in all its forms.

The Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, said the attacks would not affect Uganda’s engagement in AMISOM, rejecting calls for a troop withdrawal and asserting his country’s resolve to defeat Al-Shabaab.

In early July the Somali prime minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, reshuffled his cabinet to include five ministers from Ahlu Suna Wal Jamma (ASWJ), the pro-government Islamist group that controls parts of central Somalia, in accordance with the cooperation framework agreement signed in Addis Ababa on 15 March between this group and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).

On 5 July the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) decided to deploy an additional 2,000 troops to AMISOM to reach the authorised strength of 8,000 and called on the AU Commission “to mobilise the necessary resources, logistics and equipment for the deployment.” IGAD also decided “to work with all parties, including AMISOM and the UN Security Council to raise 20,000 troops to be deployed throughout the country.”

The 25-27 July AU summit held in Kampala endorsed IGAD’s decisions and mandated the AU Commission to start planning for the deployment of additional AMISOM troops. It also requested the Commission to appoint a “High Level Personality to galvanise international support and attention for Somalia and the engagement of the population in governance processes in order to enhance the legitimacy of the TFG.” Despite calls from the TFG and Uganda to change AMISOM from a peacekeeping to a peace enforcement operation, the AU did not modify the mission’s mandate. It seems that Mahiga advised against changing the mandate in a meeting with African leaders on 25 July.

On 27 July Mahiga welcomed AU’s endorsement of the decision to send an additional 2,000 AMISOM troops to Somalia. He said the US, the EU and Algeria were ready to lift such troops and estimated that it could be done within thirty to forty days.

On 20 July the Council was briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, on compliance with resolution 1907 that imposed sanctions on Eritrea. Pascoe focused on the provisions of the resolution relating to the border dispute between Eritrea and Djibouti and said that aspects relating to Somalia would be best addressed by the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea. In informal consultations following the briefing, Council members welcomed recent positive steps taken by Eritrea, but stressed the need for verifiable information on whether, as called for in the resolution, Eritrea had ceased all efforts to destabilise the Somali government. Some members also underlined the importance of a comprehensive approach to the Horn of Africa which would include a solution to the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

In the same informal consultations on 20 July Mexican ambassador Claude Heller, in his capacity as chair of the Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee, briefed Council members on the work of the Committee. (Resolution 1844 of 20 November 2008 calls for the Committee to report to the Council every 120 days.) In connection with this briefing Council members reviewed the effects of their decision in paragraph 5 of resolution 1916 that the assets-freeze provisions of the Somalia sanctions regime should not apply to financial assets or economic resources “necessary to ensure the timely delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance in Somalia”. Council members generally agreed with the assessment of the recent report of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia that it was too early for a thorough assessment of the effects of this provision. In a press statement on the review following the consultations, the Council noted that the assets-freeze exemption remained necessary to address the situation in Somalia.

On 8 August, Mahiga announced that the UN Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS) planned to strengthen its presence in Puntland and Somaliland with international staff within the next few months. While UNPOS also wanted to move into Mogadishu, “a cautious approach” was necessary because of the security situation.

In presidential elections held in Somaliland on 26 June, the opposition candidate Ahmed M. Mahmoud defeated the incumbent Dahir Riyale Kahin. According to international election observers the elections were well organised, free and fair.

Developments in the Sanctions Committee
On 12 August, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes briefed the Sanctions Committee on the July report of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. The World Food Programme and the UN Children’s Fund also participated. Members of the new Monitoring Group for Somalia/Eritrea, which was reestablished in July, met with the Committee for the first time and presented their work plan.


Human Rights-Related Developments
The Human Rights Council’s independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari, recently urged the international community to pay due attention to the protection of civilians in Somalia and ensure accountability for gross human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations. In a statement on 10 August 2010 immediately after his visits to Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, Bari said he was deeply disturbed by the “continuing endless reports of civilian casualties—many of them women and children—caused by ongoing fighting in the south-central region and in Mogadishu”. Noting that there were generations who had known nothing but violence and conflict, he warned that “law, without enforcement, is of little consequence to victims at the hands of the perpetrators”. Bari called on the international community to help make perpetrators accountable. He counselled that to be effective in the protection of civilians, the international community, including the UN and the AU, needed to work in unison to be effective and to ensure accountability for violations that might amount to crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is whether to respond to increasing evidence that the conflict in Somalia may be spreading beyond the country’s borders.

Another key issue for the Council in September is whether there is a need to update the UN strategy and whether the current “three-phased” approach is making a difference in Somalia.

A further issue is the future of AMISOM and whether the Council should now respond to the AU’s call for a significant increase in troops to be deployed in Somalia. Related issues are possible financial dimensions of such a decision and its impact on UN strategy.

The TFG’s ineffectiveness continues to be an issue. A related question is whether the TFG is receiving the right kinds of assistance from the international community.

Improving TFG’s relations with Somaliland and Puntland is another important issue linked to strengthening Somali government authority. It remains to be seen whether the announced strengthening of UNPOS’s presence in these regions will have a positive impact in this regard.

Another key issue is whether more can be done to encourage reconciliation with moderate elements among the insurgents.

Monitoring progress in the constitution drafting process is also an important political issue as the transitional period will be coming to an end in August 2011.

A key humanitarian issue is whether the Council should take up more directly 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. (Also AMISOM has been accused of such violations.) A related issue is whether the Council should address the TFG’s violations against children as evidenced in the Secretary-General’s April report on children and armed conflict.

Options for the Council include:

  • simply listening to the briefing and holding a debate where Council members state their national positions;
  • inviting non-Council members to present their views in an open debate;
  • adopting a presidential statement that would reaffirm some of the Council’s previous messages and in particular express support for the new Special Representative, urge the Somali leadership to overcome political divisions, welcome IGAD’s decision to immediately deploy the additional troops needed for AMISOM to reach its currently authorised troop level, express serious concern about the humanitarian situation and protection of civilians, call on member states to contribute to humanitarian funding for Somalia, call for the immediate cessation of all violations against civilians and call on Somalia to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
  • indicating in a presidential statement that it would consider, if requested by the AU, any proposal for increasing the AMISOM authorised troop level;
  • inviting the Secretary-General’s Special-Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to brief the Sanctions Committee; and
  • 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.

Council Dynamics
A draft presidential statement on piracy was circulated by Russia on 11 August. It was mostly uncontroversial as Russia avoided favouring one option over another of those presented by the Secretary-General in his piracy report. (For more background on the piracy issue, please refer to our August Monthly Forecast.) There are, however, differences of view between members like the US and the UK who would prefer this issue to be dealt with exclusively in the piracy contact group and others who want to ensure that the Council stays involved.

On the wider issues, members are concerned by the regional security implications of the Kampala bombings and also see political divisions among the Somali leadership and the TFG’s lack of effectiveness as a major problem. There are hopes that the new Special Representative will be able to bring about progress on key issues.

IGAD’s call for a troop increase of 20,000 in Somalia is being approached with some caution. Some Council members first want to see AMISOM reach its current authorised strength of 8,000 troops and then assess how this will affect the security situation.

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

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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/2010/394 (26 July 2010) provided options for addressing Somali piracy.
  • S/2010/327 (22 June 2010) was a report on Eritrea’s compliance with resolution 1907.
  • S/2010/234 (11 May 2010) was the latest regular report on Somalia.
  • S/2010/181 (13 April 2010) was the latest report on children and armed conflict.

Selected Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6362 (20 July 2010) was the briefing on Eritrea’s compliance with resolution 1907 by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs.
  • S/PV.6313 (12 May 2010) was the latest briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative.

Selected Letters

  • S/2010/372 (12 July 2010) was from the chair of the Sanctions Committee transmitting to the Council the report of the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia on the implementation of paragraphs 4 and 5 of resolution 1916 and on impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia.
  • S/2010/361 (7 July 2010) was from Ethiopia conveying the 5 July IGAD communiqué.
  • S/2010/357 (1 July 2010) was from the Secretary-General informing the Council of the appointment of six of the eight experts to the Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea, including Matt Bryden as the coordinator.
  • S/2010/350 (30 June 2010) was from Eritrea welcoming the Secretary-General’s 22 June report on Eritrea and confirming its support for the Istanbul declaration on Somalia.

Selected Council Press Statements

  • SC/10012 (24 August 2010) condemned the attacks against a hotel in Mogadishu for which the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility.
  • SC/9988 (20 July 2010) was on the review of paragraph 5 of resolution 1916.
  • SC/9980 (12 July 2010) was on the Kampala bombings.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Augustine Mahiga (Tanzania)

Chairman of the Somalia Sanctions Committee

Claude Heller (Mexico)


  • Maximum authorised strength: 8,000 troops plus maritime and air components
  • Strength as of August 2010: about 6,300 Ugandan and Burundian troops
  • Duration: February 2007 to present: AU mandate expires on 17 January 2011 and Council authorisation expires on 31 January 2011

Full forecast

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