Expected Council Action
In November, the Emergency Relief Coordinator for Somalia is due to report to the Council on implementation of the humanitarian exemption under resolution 1972 with regard to the asset-freeze provision of the Somalia sanctions regime and on any impediments to the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia. A briefing on the report is expected.
A briefing is also expected by the Sanctions Committee Chair, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri (India), on the work of the Committee. (Resolution 1844 calls for the Committee to report to the Council every 120 days.)
The anti-piracy provisions of resolution 1950 expire on 23 November and are likely to be renewed. The International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia is scheduled to meet in New York on 17 November under the chairmanship of The Netherlands.
It is also possible that the Council will adopt a resolution on Eritrea in response to the findings of the latest report of the Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea concerning Eritrean violations of the provisions of resolutions 1844 (concerning Somalia) and 1907 . For more details on this, please refer to a separate brief on this issue.
Key Recent Developments
On 4 October, more than 70 people were killed and 150 injured in a suicide bombing in Mogadishu. The Islamist rebel group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility and reiterated earlier warnings that it would continue to carry out similar attacks in Mogadishu and also said that even more serious bombings could be expected. The Council issued a press statement that same day condemning the attack “in the strongest terms.”
Following the bombing, the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and government forces launched a new offensive against Al Shabaab, and on 10 October AMISOM declared that the rebel group had been driven out of its last stronghold in Mogadishu. Meanwhile, Al Shabaab said its withdrawal was just a tactical move.
On 14 October, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, briefed Council members on recent developments in Somalia as part of his monthly horizon- scanning briefing. He emphasised the importance of continued involvement and support from the international community to ensure progress in the implementation of the road map to end the transition in Somalia.
On 16 October, Kenyan troops were reported to have crossed into southern Somalia. Kenya later confirmed it had launched the operation in response to a series of kidnappings on its territory believed to have been carried out by Al Shabaab. In a 17 October letter, Kenya informed the Council that it had “been compelled to take robust, targeted measures to protect and preserve the integrity of Kenya …. in the face of Al Shabaab terrorist military attacks emanating from Somalia.” It also forwarded a joint communiqué from the governments of Kenya and Somalia in which they agreed to continue working together to stabilise Somalia, cooperate in undertaking security and military operations and also strengthen cooperation in other areas.
On 21 October, Al Shabaab claimed it had killed 70 AU peacekeepers in renewed fierce fighting in Mogadishu. AMISOM, however, said only ten had been killed while two were missing.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported on 18 October there had been a marked decrease in the number of successful attacks by Somali pirates. Only 24 vessels had been hijacked this year compared with 35 for the same period in 2010, and the success rate had decreased from 28 to 12 percent.
On 24 October, the Council adopted resolution 2015 calling for additional measures to strengthen prosecution of Somali pirates. Among other things, the resolution reiterated the request that Somalia adopt counter-piracy laws as soon as possible, urged other states that had not already done so to criminalise piracy under their domestic laws and called on all states to report to the Secretary-General by 31 December on measures taken to ensure prosecution and imprisonment of pirates. In addition, the Council said it would continue its consideration of the establishment of specialised anti-piracy courts in Somalia and other states in the region with substantive international participation and support. The Secretary-General is to report to the Council within 90 days, after consulting with these states, on practical arrangements, including detailed implementation proposals for the establishment of such courts.
At press time, Council members had just received the Secretary-General’s two reports on Somali piracy (as requested by resolution 1950) and on protection of Somali natural resources and waters (as requested by resolution 1976). A briefing on the reports by Pascoe, to be followed by consultations, was scheduled for 31 October.
Human Rights-Related Developments
A key issue for the Council in November is the renewal of the anti-piracy provisions of resolution 1950, which authorises states and regional organisations to enter Somalia’s territorial waters and also take action on land in Somalia to combat piracy. A related issue is whether any further measures should be considered, in particular with regard to any follow-up to the report on protection of Somali natural resources and waters.
A second key issue is whether the humanitarian exemption to the Somalia sanctions regime is having any practical effects in terms of humanitarian access.
Another key issue is the continuing security threat from Al Shabaab and in particular its impact on the planned expansion of the UN presence in Mogadishu to facilitate international support for the implementation of the road map.
A related issue is the political and security implications of the Kenyan operation in southern Somalia.
A continuing key issue is the timely implementation of the road map and whether stronger international involvement and support is warranted to keep the process on track. A connected issue is the Council’s own role with regard to monitoring progress and whether it should request more frequent reporting.
Also an issue is the need to accelerate deployment of additional troops to AMISOM. The mission is still 2,300 troops short of its authorised strength of 12,000. (The current expectation seems to be that this will be reached by early 2012.)
- adopting a resolution renewing the anti-piracy provisions of resolution 1950 for another year and requesting a follow-up to the Secretary-General’s report on Somali natural resources, such as more robust investigations and international monitoring of illegal fishing and dumping;
- adopting a statement to signal to Somalia’s Transitional Federal Institutions that the Council is closely monitoring implementation of the road map and also to call for enhanced international support and express continuing concern about the humanitarian situation; and
- issuing a separate press statement on the Emergency Relief Coordinator’s report expressing concern about the difficult humanitarian access situation (which is expected to be addressed in the report).
Council members continue to follow the situation in Somalia closely and appeared to welcome the update provided by Pascoe in his October horizon-scanning briefing. While there is some concern about the implementation of the road map, most members seem to think current progress is more or less as expected and that while delays are already evident, the most important thing is that the process is moving in the right direction.
With regard to piracy, it seems the renewal of the anti-piracy provisions of resolution 1950 is expected to be fairly routine and no major changes are envisaged. It is possible, however, that the Council will call for some follow-up action as recommended by the Secretary-General in his report on Somali natural resources.
The UK is the lead country on Somalia in the Council, while India chairs the Sanctions Committee and Russia has taken the lead on legal issues related to piracy.
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