February 2012 Monthly Forecast

AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action
At press time, Council members were anticipating a report from the Secretary-General with more details on the new strategic concept recently endorsed by the AU for the next phase of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), including options for enhancing the mission’s UN-financed support package.

A new AMISOM resolution is expected to be adopted before 23 February, when the UK will host an international conference on Somalia in London, which many Council members are likely to attend. The aim of the conference is to promote increased international engagement on Somalia and develop a more effective approach. 

The Council is also expected to consider the Secretary-General’s report on specialised anti-piracy tribunals in Somalia and other countries in the region issued on 20 January, which provided detailed proposals on the kind of international assistance needed. A briefing by the Secretariat is expected, but it is unclear whether there will be any follow-up Council action in February.

In the Sanctions Committee on Somalia and Eritrea, the Monitoring Group is due to provide its midterm briefing as requested by resolution 2002

Key Recent Developments
On 9 December 2011, the Secretary-General visited Mogadishu together with the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. (It was the first-ever such joint visit to Somalia and the first visit by a Secretary-General since 1993.) At a press conference there, the Secretary-General said Somalia was at a critical juncture and that there was a “very limited window of opportunity.” He also stressed the importance of moving ahead quickly with the implementation of the road map for ending the transitional period in Somalia and emphasised that any extension beyond the August deadline would be “untenable.” Additionally, he announced that the UN Political Office in Somalia would relocate to Mogadishu in January to strengthen UN support for the road map. (The official relocation took place on 24 January.)

Also on 9 December, the Secretary-General issued his latest report on Somalia. Among other things, it noted that a number of the agreed deadlines on the implementation of the road map had been missed and that, as of 30 November, the mechanisms charged with monitoring implementation—the Regional Political Initiative and the International Coordination and Monitoring Group—had yet to meet. (The monitoring group held its first meeting on 9 January.)

On 13 December, the Secretary-General briefed the Council, emphasising again that the international community was facing “a moment of fresh opportunities” in Somalia and that it must consolidate gains already made, offering additional support and ensuring that the military strategy was aligned with political objectives. After the briefing, Council members held informal consultations and, in a subsequent press statement welcoming the Secretary-General’s visit to Mogadishu, underlined the seriousness of the problems in Somalia and the need for a comprehensive strategy. The statement also supported the Secretary-General’s call for faster implementation of the road map, while noting that future support for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs) would be contingent on its completion.

From 21 to 23 December, the first Somali national constitutional conference was held in Garowe in Puntland, bringing together the signatories of the road map as well as civil society. (Finalisation of a new constitution is one of the key tasks of the road map.) The conference adopted “the Garowe principles on the finalisation and adoption of the constitution and the end of the transition,” which set out a series of deadlines and next steps for the adoption of a new constitution and also decided on the details for a post-transition parliamentary structure that would reduce the number of parliamentarians from 550 to 225.

The AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) held a series of meetings on Somalia in December and January to discuss a new strategic concept for AMISOM. In a 2 December communiqué it urged the Council to “review and consider thoroughly the need to adjust the mandated troop levels of AMISOM” and reiterated previous calls “to adopt a resolution that enforces measures to control access to the ports of Kismayo, Haradhere, Marka and Barawe and an air-exclusion zone to cut off arms supplies to Al Shabaab,” the Islamist rebel group.  

On 22 December the PSC agreed that it would consider the finalised strategic concept in early January for adoption and transmission to the Security Council and requested the inclusion of “an item on Somalia and the efforts of AMISOM” on the Council’s January programme of work. The PSC met again on 5 January to endorse the strategic concept and urged the Council “to expeditiously consider and authorize the support required” for its immediate implementation. It also extended AMISOM’s mandate for another 12 months until 16 January 2013.

Key elements of the strategic concept include:

In response to the AU’s requests, the Council held a meeting on 11 January (with briefings by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, and AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ramtane Lamamra. Kenya and Uganda also spoke. Lamamra briefed the Council on the new strategic concept for AMISOM and reiterated the AU’s call for Council support.

In a press statement following the meeting, Council members noted the 5 January communiqué and underlined their intention to keep the situation under review.  They also urged the TFIs to remain united and focus on implementation of the road map while reiterating that further support would be contingent on its completion and expressing their readiness to take action against spoilers.

The political dispute that began on 13 December with the parliament’s no-confidence vote against speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden remained unresolved. In another vote on 4 January, Madowe Nunow Mohamed was elected the new speaker, but Aden’s supporters refused to accept the results. According to media reports, the Somali president also called the vote illegitimate. On 6 January, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Augustine Mahiga, expressed deep concern over the continuing dispute, while on 9 January the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which also expressed concern, said the election of a new speaker was illegal, as did the chairperson of the AU Commission, Jean Ping, on 16 January.

In a separate development, Somalia sent a letter to the Council on 4 January requesting adoption of a resolution prohibiting UN member states from purchasing charcoal from Somalia. The objective would be to cut off an important source of revenue for Al-Shabaab and also prevent further environmental degradation caused by the charcoal trade.

On 5 December, the Council adopted resolution 2023, which condemned Eritrea’s violations of resolutions 1907, 1862 and 1844, and called on it to cease all efforts to destabilise other states, including through support for Al Shabaab. The resolution also imposed new restrictions on Eritrea relating to the diaspora tax, mining sector and financial services to prevent further violations. (For further details on this, please see our 1 December 2011 What’s In Blue story on Eritrea.)

On 19 January, the International Maritime Bureau reported a significant decrease in the number of successful piracy attacks off the coast of Somalia from 49 in 2010 (out of a total of 219 attempted attacks) to 28 in 2011 (out of 237).

On 20 January, the Secretary-General issued his report on specialised anti-piracy courts. It provided a detailed overview of the existing arrangements in place in the region to prosecute suspected pirates and the international assistance that would be required for specialised anti-piracy courts in Somalia, Seychelles, Kenya, Mauritius and Tanzania. The report suggested it might be helpful as a first step to assess the number of piracy incidents where suspects are apprehended and then released and the reasons for these releases as well as the anticipated number of piracy suspects likely to be transferred to countries in the region. (According to the report there were only four such transfer requests in 2011.) It also emphasised the importance of increasing prison capacity to match the number of convicted pirates.

Human Rights-Related Developments
The UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, made an official visit to Somalia from 9 to 16 December 2011. Manjoo visited camps for internally displaced people and police stations and talked with individual victims of gender-based violence. In a statement at the end of her visit, she noted what she described as the government’s “tentative” efforts to address the issues of violence against women, including a draft law by the Puntland authorities on female genital mutilation, the creation of a Task Force on Gender-Based Violence by the TFG and the appointment of women as ministers. Nonetheless, she found that in the absence of accountability mechanisms, impunity for acts of violence against women and girls was the norm. The internal conflict that had affected the country for the past 20 years could not in her view justify the lack of attention to such violence. “Somalia has the opportunity at this crucial time to promote human rights for all,” she said, “and importantly, to place the issue of violence against women on the national agenda.” Manjoo called on all stakeholders to make this a reality. She will report to the Human Rights Council in June 2012.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council in February is how to respond to the AU’s requests with regard to the new strategic concept for AMISOM.   

A related issue is the need to ensure that the new military strategy supports the political process as well as humanitarian action and promotes compliance with international humanitarian law.

Another key issue is the implementation of the road map and the Garowe principles. A related issue is the unresolved political dispute over the speaker of parliament and whether the Council should follow up on its previously expressed readiness to take action against spoilers of the peace process.  

A further issue is whether to take any follow-up action on the basis of the proposals of the Secretary-General’s report on specialised anti-piracy courts in Somalia and other states in the region.  

Humanitarian access also continues to be an issue. (On 12 January, the ICRC, one of the few international organisations operating in areas controlled by Al Shabaab, announced that it was suspending operations in southern and central Somalia due to “obstruction by local militia.”)

Options
Depending on the Secretary-General’s recommendations (the Secretary-General has indicated he wants to engage the Council in discussions on the possible inclusion in the support package of reimbursement for contingent-owned equipment and the provision of force multipliers such as helicopter units, transport and engineering capabilities),  main options for the Council include:

Council Dynamics
With regard to AMISOM, Council members are keen to get more clarity on key elements of the new strategic concept, including on command-and-control issues, coordination with the political strategy, timetables and benchmarks, definition of tasks by sector, support for TFG forces and financial costs. They expect the Secretary-General’s report to provide answers to these questions.

In the absence of more detailed information, clear Council positions have yet to emerge, but there appears to be a greater willingness than before to consider expanding the use of UN-assessed contributions to support AMISOM. At the same time, some Council members, in particular among the P5, still seem very cautious about any proposal that would significantly increase the financial burden on member states.

Some members also seem to question whether the increase in troop levels requested by the AU is too high. This seems at least partially to be motivated by cost concerns. It is therefore expected that the Council will authorise a smaller increase than requested, perhaps raising the troop ceiling to 15,000 or 16,000 troops.  

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.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/2023 (5 December 2011) condemned Eritrea’s violations of Council resolutions 1907, 1862 and 1844.
  • S/RES/2015 (24 October 2011) called for additional measures to strengthen prosecution of Somali pirates and requested a report from the Secretary-General within 90 days.  
  • S/RES/2002 (29 July 2011) extended the mandate of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea for 12 months.

Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2012/50 (20 January 2012) was the report requested by resolution 2015.
  • S/2011/759 (9 December 2011) was the latest regular report.

Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6701 (11 January 2012) was an open meeting with briefings by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs and the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security.
  • S/PV.6681 (13 December 2011) was a briefing by the Secretary-General.

Other

  • SC/10517 (11 January 2012) was a press statement noting the new strategic concept for AMISOM.
  • S/2012/4  (4 January 2012) was a letter from Somalia requesting the Council to support an international ban on purchasing charcoal from Somalia.
  • SC/10481 (13 December 2011) was a press statement welcoming the Secretary-General’s 9 December visit to Mogadishu

Full forecast