Expected Council Action
In January, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, is expected to brief the Council in an open meeting. This is likely to be followed by informal consultations. A regular Secretary-General’s report on Somalia is due by 1 January.
Also in early January, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Legal Issues related to Piracy off the Coast of Somalia, Jack Lang, who was appointed last August, is due to present his recommendations to the Secretary-General. Lang was tasked with identifying “any additional steps that can be taken to achieve and sustain substantive results in prosecuting piracy.” These are expected to be shared with Council members.
The authorisation for the AU Mission in Somalia and the approval of the AMISOM support package expire on 30 September.
Key Recent Developments
On 22 December 2010 the Council adopted a resolution extending the authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and lifted the mission’s authorised troop strength from 8,000 to 12,000. It asked the Secretary-General to continue to provide a logistical support package for AMISOM for a maximum of 12,000 AMISOM troops, comprising equipment and services.
The December resolution therefore only partially responded to the request presented by the AU to the Council in October for an increase in AMISOM’s authorised strength from 8,000 to 20,000 troops, authorisation of an enhanced support package for the mission from UN assessed contributions (including reimbursement of troop allowances at UN rates and of contingent owned equipment), imposition of a naval blockade and a no-fly zone over Somalia and effective implementation of sanctions. (For additional background on the AMISOM authorisation please refer to our 8 December 2010 Update Report.)
In November 2010, the Council considered the issue of piracy off the coast of Somalia. The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, briefed the Council on 9 November on the Secretary-General’s latest report on this issue. The meeting also featured a briefing by the Executive Director of the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, on its counter-piracy programme to assist countries in the region.
On 23 November 2010, the Council adopted resolution 1950 renewing for another 12 months the anti-piracy provisions of resolution 1897. The resolution contains new language stressing the need for a comprehensive international response to address piracy and its underlying causes. It also calls on states to criminalise piracy under their domestic laws and to prevent financing of piracy. On the issue of prosecution, the Council reaffirmed its interest “in the continued consideration of all seven options for prosecuting suspected pirates” presented by the Secretary-General last July and taking into account the activities of the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser “with a view to taking further steps to ensure that pirates are held accountable”.
Also in November 2010, the chair of the Eritrea/Somalia Sanctions Committee, Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller, briefed Council members in informal consultations on the work of the Committee. In a press statement after the meeting, the Council reaffirmed that the humanitarian exemption established by resolution 1916 in regard to the assets-freeze provision of the Somalia sanctions regime remained necessary.
In Somalia, there were some positive developments on the political front. On 27 November 2010, the parliament approved the cabinet proposed by the new Prime Minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, who took up his post on 31 October 2010. The new cabinet has been reduced significantly in size (from 37 to 18 minsters) and includes only two ministers from the previous government.
On 1 December 2010 in Nairobi, Mahiga and Mark Bowden, the UN humanitarian and resident coordinator for Somalia, launched the 2011 humanitarian appeal for Somalia, amounting to approximately $530 million. In a 9 December press conference in New York, Bowden described the situation in Somalia as a “chronic catastrophe” and also expressed concern about the risk of drought, which might lead to deterioration in the situation.
In a statement issued on 11 November 2010, six independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council condemned the public execution on 27 October of two teenage girls in central Somalia. The experts—the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari, and the Special Rapporteurs—on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; on freedom of religion or belief; on the independence of judges and lawyers and on violence against women, its causes and consequences—described the executions as the latest manifestation of the “appalling human rights crisis that is plaguing the country.” The executions were reportedly carried out in public by a firing squad of Al-Shabab insurgents in Beledweyne. The six experts called on the parties to the conflict “to immediately refrain from committing acts of extrajudicial executions, torture, stoning, decapitation, amputations and floggings as well as other human rights violations, including with regard to freedom of religion.”
The experts said they were deeply concerned that in Mogadishu and in southern and central regions judicial institutions had ceased to function. They called on all parties to respect their obligations and to protect civilians, noting that “all parties in the conflict are bound to comply with the terms of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and of customary international humanitarian law, especially common article 3 which prohibits violence to life and person—in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture.”
Shamsul Bari also drew attention to constant reports of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape and female genital mutilation, the lack of educational opportunities for young girls and boys and to violations of the freedom of religion, including the destruction of places of worship and cemeteries of Sufi Muslim groups. Bari expressed particular concern that only ten percent of Somali children currently attend school.
With the transitional period (laid out by the 2004 Transitional Federal Charter of Somalia) due to be completed by August 2011, Somalia is now entering a critical phase. A key issue for the Council is completion of remaining transitional tasks, in particular the drafting of a new constitution, which, according to the Charter, should be adopted by popular referendum during the final year of the transitional period.
A related issue is whether the new Somali transitional government will be more effective than previous ones in expanding state authority, promoting reconciliation and dialogue with those outside the Djibouti peace process and actually improving the situation for the Somali population by insuring the delivery of basic services.
Another key issue is whether there has been progress in strengthening Somali security institutions and developing a national security and stabilisation plan.
A further issue is whether the Council’s decision to increase AMISOM’s authorised troop strength will have a positive impact on the overall situation in Somalia. A key question in this context is whether additional troops, once deployed, will be able to make a difference on the ground by improving the security situation and provide support for the political process.
A closely related issue is how the AU and current and potential troop-contributing countries to AMISOM will respond to the Council’s reluctance to expand funding for the mission from assessed contributions and whether there will be willingness to actually deploy the additional 4,000 troops with voluntary contributions remaining the main source of funding. It remains to be seen whether the Council’s promise in its 22 December resolution to keep the AU financial request under review will lead to new initiatives by African members in January.
Another related issue is whether voluntary contributions can realistically be relied upon as a major source of funding for AMISOM based on experience so far and whether the Council’s call for the lifting of national caveats will have any impact on donors.
Finally, the extremely difficult humanitarian situation and the ongoing violations of international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law also remain key issues. A related issue is whether AMISOM is doing enough to address continuing accusations that its troops are also committing violations against civilians.
The key underlying issue is that the Council’s decision on AMISOM appears not to have resolved the stark difference between African countries that seem determined to deal with the root causes of the Somali problem by use of force on land—but lack the resources—and the wider international community, which seems to lack a clear sense of strategy for Somalia and prefers spending perhaps much more on anti-piracy operations than the likely cost of the AU request for additional AMISOM funding.
A related underlying issue is the relationship between the AU and the UN. The question of UN financial support for AU regional peacekeeping missions authorised by the UN has been part of the discussions to strengthen this relationship, and has proven highly controversial in recent years. When the Council last considered this issue in October 2010 it adopted a presidential statement reaffirming its commitment to strengthening its partnership with the AU Peace and Security Council and expressing its determination to continue working to ensure more predictable funding for AU peacekeeping operations, but the case of AMISOM demonstrates that there is no agreement on how this can be done. (For more details on this issue please see our November 2010 Forecast .)
- picking up in January the issues left unresolved in December;
- using the expected meeting in January as an opportunity to reiterate key messages to the Somali government, in particular on the importance of completing all transitional tasks;
- issuing a request, through the Eritrea/Somalia Sanctions Committee, for a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict; and
- commencing consideration in the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict of the Secretary-General’s latest report on children and armed conflict in Somalia.
It appears that negotiations on the renewal of the AMISOM authorisation were difficult. African members were clearly disappointed that the resolution (the UK had the lead on the drafting) did not provide for any change in the funding mechanism for the mission. While France, the US and Russia firmly supported the UK position, other members, including China and Japan, argued that there should be some willingness to compromise. Austria argued in favour of stronger language on the protection of civilians.
Council dynamics are likely to change in January with the new composition of the Council. In particular, South Africa is expected to take a strong interest in the situation in Somalia and is likely to take over Uganda’s role as the leading African voice in the Council on this issue. During its last term on the Council from 2007 to 2008, South Africa was among the group of members pushing for the Council to assume financial responsibility for the operation in Somalia. On the issue of targeted sanctions, however, South Africa appears more cautious than Uganda.
At press time it was still unclear which Council member would take over the chairmanship of the Eritrea/Somalia Sanctions Committee from Mexico.
The UK is the lead country on Somalia in the Council.
|Selected Security Council Resolutions
|Selected Presidential Statements
|Latest Secretary-General’s Reports
|Selected Meeting Records
|Selected Council Press Statements
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General
|Augustine Mahiga (Tanzania)
|Maximum authorised strength as of 22 December 2010: 12,000 troops, plus maritime and air components
Strength as of December 2010: about 7,100 Ugandan and Burundian troops.
Duration: February 2007 to present: AU mandate expires on 30 September 2011