Expected Council Action
In July, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the sanctions Monitoring Group. The Group is due to present its final report (which was circulated to Council members in June), and the Sanctions Committee Chair, Indian Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri, will report to the Council on this and the work of the Committee.
It is unclear whether the Council will consider the proposal made by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, in her briefing to the Sanctions Committee on 23 May. She called for expanding the listing criteria under the Somalia sanctions regime to include violations against children and appointing an expert on children and armed conflict to the Monitoring Group.
It is also possible that there will be a briefing by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Augustine Mahiga. The Mogadishu consultative meeting that was initially scheduled for 11 to 16 June has now been postponed until mid-July.
At press time it was unclear whether there would be any follow-up in July to the Secretary-General’s report on the modalities for the establishment of specialised Somali anti-piracy courts. The International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia is scheduled to meet on 14 July under the chairmanship of Singapore.
Key Recent Developments
On 9 June, Somali president Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and speaker of parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden reached an agreement on transitional issues, the Kampala Accord. The accord effectively extends the transitional period for one year by delaying elections for the positions of president and speaker until August 2012 “in order to adequately prepare and complete priority transitional tasks.” (For more details on the accord, please refer to our Update Report on Somalia of 23 June 2011.)
On 24 June, the Council adopted a presidential statement welcoming the signing of the Kampala Accord. It:
- called on the signatories to honour their obligations under the accord;
- called on the Transitional Federal Institutions(TFIs) to build broad-based representative institutions and consult widely with all stakeholders, including local and regional administrations and international partners;
- welcomed the upcoming consultative meeting in Mogadishu, emphasising that the meeting should agree on a roadmap for the next 12 months with clear timelines and benchmarks (as called for by the Kampala Accord);
- warned that future support to the TFIs would depend on completion of key tasks; and
- recalled the Council’s authority to impose targeted measures.
Also on 24 June, the Somali president nominated Abdiweli Mohamed Ali to succeed Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed as prime minister, following the latter’s resignation on 19 June as called for by the Kampala Accord. Abdiweli, a Somali-American like his predecessor, served as minister of planning and international cooperation in the previous government. The Somali parliament approved his appointment on 28 June. The new prime minister now has 30 days, according to the Kampala Accord, to appoint the members of his cabinet and submit the list of names to the president, who should then forward this to the parliament for endorsement.
The security situation remained unstable. The Islamist rebel group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on 10 June that killed Somali Interior Minister Abdi Shakur Sheikh Hassan. Other developments, however, indicated a continuing weakening of the rebels, including the killing by Somali police in June of Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, Al-Qaida’s leader in East Africa and a field commander for Al Shabaab.
On 21 June, Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs Patricia O’Brien briefed the Council on the Secretary-General’s 14 June report on modalities for the establishment of Somali anti-piracy courts. The report addressed the legal and practical considerations for the establishment of such courts, including the constitutional and legal basis in Somalia, adequate criminal and procedural legislation, availability of trained judges and other personnel, imprisonment facilities, financing and timelines. It identified a number of significant challenges that would have to be overcome and indicated that Somali authorities oppose the idea of an extraterritorial court. In her statement, O’Brien underlined, however, that the Secretariat would be ready to respond with urgency to any request from the Council aimed at the establishment of specialised courts.
Human Rights-Related Developments
A key issue for the Council in July is the mandate renewal of the Monitoring Group and whether to request the Secretary-General to appoint as a new member an expert on children and armed conflict. A related issue is whether to also strengthen its focus on issues such as piracy.
Another key issue is whether to expand the sanctions listing criteria for Somalia to include violations against children or to more specifically target piracy leaders.
A third key issue is whether the Kampala Accord can effectively contain the power struggles among Somali leaders, improve the functioning of the TFIs and open the way for real progress on remaining transitional tasks and in improving security. A related issue is whether the Council should take the opportunity of its focus on Somalia in July to include political language reinforcing recent positive developments so as to help keep them on track and underline the need to implement the roadmap to be agreed at the upcoming meeting in Mogadishu.
A final issue is whether to continue in July the discussions on the proposal to establish specialised Somali anti-piracy courts with a view to making further decisions.
- renewing the mandate of the Monitoring Group without any changes;
- expanding the Somalia sanctions regime listing criteria to include violations against children (it could use language similar to resolution 1807 on the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and requesting the Secretary-General to appoint an expert on children and armed conflict to the Monitoring Group;
- expanding the listing criteria to specifically target piracy leaders;
- adopting a statement following the consultative meeting in Mogadishu in July reinforcing previous messages and expressing its intention to closely monitor implementation of the road map; and
- adopting a resolution on ways to strengthen prosecution and incarceration of Somali pirates, either through the creation of specialised courts or building on existing efforts.
The 24 June presidential statement provided an indication of the current mood among Council members. While the Kampala Accord is seen as a major step forward, there are real concerns about keeping the agreed process on track over the next 12 months.
At press time, discussions on the sanctions regime had not yet started, and it was therefore unclear whether the Council would take up any of Coomaraswamy’s suggestions. At her meeting with the sanctions committee in May, only a few Council members, including France, Germany and Portugal, explicitly supported her proposal to expand the sanctions criteria. Most members wanted more time to consider it.
As for any possible follow-up to the Secretary-General’s piracy report, Council members are clearly divided. France and Russia remain in favour of creating specialised Somali piracy courts, including an extraterritorial court, in spite of the legal and practical challenges identified in the report. The UK, on the other hand, seems to prefer a practical as opposed to a legal approach, especially through the current UN programs aimed at strengthening the capacity of Somaliland and Puntland to prosecute and incarcerate pirates. The UK sees the lack of prisons rather than courts as the most critical issue. The US also wants to build on existing efforts, but supports the idea of a dedicated court or specialised chamber in one of the neighbouring states in the region that would operate under the domestic laws of that state. Other Council members seem open to discuss different options, but emphasise the need to take into account the views of the Transitional Federal Government.
The UK is the lead country on Somalia, but Russia has taken the lead on legal issues related to piracy and drafted resolution 1976 in close coordination with France
Security Council Resolutions
Latest Presidential Statement
- The Human Cost of Somali Piracy, Oceans Beyond Piracy, June 2011.