May 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 April 2012
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Expected Council Action
In May, the Council is expected to consider the AU report on the implementation of the mandate of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) (due 18 May), as requested by resolution 2036, as well as the Secretary-General’s regular report on Somalia (due 30 April). Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Augustine Mahiga, and Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe, are expected to brief. Council members are also likely to hold informal consultations. At press time it was unclear whether there would be any outcome.

Many Council members will also likely participate in the international conference on Somalia to be held on 31 May and 1 June in Istanbul under the theme “Preparing for Somalia’s Future: Goals for 2015”. The conference aims to agree on a set of concrete actions to enable a smooth end to the transition and build consensus on longer term international assistance to Somalia in the areas of state-building and economic development. 

Key Recent Developments
The Council last discussed Somalia on 5 March. Following an open debate with briefings by both the Secretary-General and Mahiga, the Council adopted a presidential statement welcoming the 23 February London conference on Somalia and expressing support for its communiqué.

Additionally, the statement reiterated key messages relating to the political process and emphasised the need for continued international support for AMISOM and the development of Somali security forces. It also stressed the importance of effective governance, encouraged international support for reconstruction and economic development, as well as continued humanitarian assistance and expressed concern about the continuing threats of piracy and terrorist attacks by the Islamist rebel group Al Shabaab and others.

On 26 March, signatories to the roadmap for ending the transition in Somalia met in Galkayo. The participants agreed to some changes to the principles agreed at the second Somali national consultative constitutional conference held in Garowe from 15 to 17 February (Garowe II). The size of the National Constituent Assembly was reduced from 1,000 members to 825, to be nominated by a group of 135 traditional leaders apportioned according to the 4.5 clan formula allotting 30 leaders to each of the four majority clans and 15 leaders to the minority clans.

The Somali leaders responsible for selecting the 825 members of the National Constituent Assembly held a preliminary meeting on 25 April. At the meeting the leaders also discussed the recently finalised draft constitution. Adoption of the constitution by the National Constituent Assembly has been set for 22 May. (This is in accordance with the timeline set out in the roadmap.)

There was also a meeting on the end of the transition for Somali civil society representatives in Entebbe, Uganda, from 23 to 27 March, at which they reconfirmed their commitment to the roadmap and selected an ad hoc committee to serve as a core interlocutor for the transitional process.

The AU submitted its first report on the implementation of AMISOM’s mandate under resolution 2036 on 20 March. The report noted a significant improvement in the security situation in Mogadishu and its environs. It expressed concern, however, over Al Shabaab’s increasing use of improvised explosive devices and suicide bombs. Also according to the report, the total strength of AMISOM is expected to reach 17,530 troops out of an authorised 17,731 by mid-May.

On 30 March, the AU convened a consultative meeting in Addis Ababa on efforts to strengthen the Somali security sector. Participants included representatives of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), AMISOM troop contributing countries, other interested countries and the UN. Discussions centred on the support needed by Somali forces, their command and control architecture and their restructuring. An AU-led working group was established to bring together all stakeholders and follow up on the conclusions of the meeting.

On 5 April, 100 Ugandan and Burundian troops were deployed by AMISOM to Baidoa, in advance of a contingent of 2,500 troops. The move represents the first time AMISOM has operated outside of Mogadishu since its establishment in 2007.

Security has remained precarious. A suicide bombing on 4 April, for which Al Shabaab claimed responsibility, killed at least eight people during a ceremony at Mogadishu’s recently reopened national theatre. Though Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali was present at the time, he was unhurt by the bomb. Special Representative Mahiga expressed outrage over the attack. It was also strongly condemned by Council members in a 5 April press statement.   On 9 April, another bomb exploded in the market of the town of Baidoa (from which Somali and Ethiopian forces expelled Al Shabaab in February), killing at least 11 people. In a separate attack on 17 April outside a UN compound in Baidoa, a suicide bomber killed at least one Somali soldier and injured many others. Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for both attacks.

The political situation remained difficult. The national theatre bombing exposed a climate of continuing mistrust between various factions within the TFG as President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed was accused of withholding information from the Prime Minister and others regarding inadequate security arrangements at the event. (A board of inquiry was established on 22 April to investigate the attack.) A rift has also been growing between the TFG and certain members of parliament who have called for early presidential elections in contravention of the schedule set out in the roadmap. At a meeting on 18 April with Ahmed and Ali, Mahiga urged all parties to resolve their differences.

The EU on 23 March extended the mandate of the EU Naval Force counter-piracy mission operating off the coast of Somalia (Operation Atalanta) until December 2014. The Council also expanded the mission’s area of operations to include coastal territory and internal waterways.

On 29 March, the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia met in New York. In a communiqué following the meeting, the Contact Group noted significant developments in counter-piracy efforts by the international community, but emphasised the continuing threat of piracy and called for a comprehensive approach combining counter-piracy activities and wider efforts to stabilise Somalia and promote the rule of law.

On 3 April, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network predicted below average rainfalls in the Horn of Africa, prompting fears of a renewed humanitarian crisis in Somalia in the coming months.

Sanctions-Related Developments
On 28 March, the chair of the Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Hardeep Singh Puri (India) briefed Council members in informal consultations on the work of the Committee. (The chair is required to report to the Council every 120 days.) The Committee received a mid-term briefing from the Monitoring Group for the sanctions regime on 3 February, and on 17 February announced the addition of one individual to the sanctions list. On 18 April, the Committee met with Ambassador Araya Desta of Eritrea, having invited him to present Eritrea’s views on the sanctions and the work of the Monitoring Group.  


Human Rights-Related Developments
During its March session, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution without a vote in which it expressed its continued serious concern about the human rights and humanitarian situation in Somalia. It strongly condemned the grave and systematic human rights abuses against the civilian population, particularly by Al Shabaab. The HRC also urged all parties to take immediate steps to protect and end abuses and violations committed against children. It called for consolidation of progress made at the 23 February London conference on Somalia at which respect for human rights was acknowledged as being at the heart of the peace process. The HRC requested the Secretary-General to submit to the HRC at its September session a report assessing UN support for efforts in Somalia to end human rights abuses and combat impunity.

Key Issues
A continuing key issue for the Council is progress in implementing the roadmap for ending the transition by 20 August in accordance with the principles agreed at Garowe I and II and beyond, in particular with regard to adoption of the constitution in May.

Another key issue is the implementation of the new strategic concept for AMISOM as endorsed by the Council in resolution 2036, including deployment of additional troops, expansion of the mission’s area of operation and securing additional resources. A closely related issue is whether there has been progress in stabilising and expanding government control in areas recently taken over by AMISOM and Somali security forces.

A further issue is how best to support the upcoming Istanbul conference on Somalia in order to ensure a successful outcome that can help achieve long-term peace and stability in Somalia.

Main options for the Council include: 

  • listening to the scheduled briefings, but taking no further action until after the Istanbul conference;
  • adopting a statement looking forward to the Istanbul conference, encouraging stakeholders to maintain their focus and momentum with regards to ending the transition, supporting the work of the Special Representative as well as the work of the UN Political Office for Somalia and AMISOM and addressing specific concerns relating to progress toward ending the transition, political infighting, the security and humanitarian situation, stabilisation in liberated areas and piracy;
  • addressing more specifically the issue of potential spoilers, discouraging those seen as impeding the transitional process;
  • addressing possible conditions for holding dialogues between all stakeholders in Somalia in order to advance national reconciliation; and
  • expressing support for enhanced efforts to combat impunity for violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.

Council Dynamics
There appears to be little controversy regarding Somalia in the Council at the moment. Since the adoption of resolution 2036 last February, Council members seem to have reached consensus on the major questions. They welcome the progress that has been made on the political front towards ending the transition as well as with regard to implementation of the new strategic concept for AMISOM, but also continue to caution that there is still a lot of work to be done. 

A looming source of potential discord for the Council, however, concerns its role in encouraging or supporting forms of national dialogue and national reconciliation in Somalia that would include representatives of Al Shabaab. While many Council members are presently opposed to engaging Al Shabaab at all, changes in the political and security environment in Somalia in the coming months could bring this issue to the fore. Turkey has offered to play a mediating role between the TFG and Al Shabaab and intends to include the issues of dialogue and reconciliation in the agenda for the Istanbul conference.

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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UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/2036 (22 February 2012) authorised an increase in AMISOM’s troop ceiling as well as an expansion of its UN support package and imposed a ban on importing charcoal from Somalia.
  • S/RES/2010 (30 September 2011) extended the authorisation of AMISOM until 31 October and expanded the logistical support package for the mission from assessed contributions as recommended by the Secretary-General in a 21 September 2011 letter to the Council (S/2011/591).

Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2012/4 (5 March 2012) welcomed the 23 February London conference on Somalia and fully supported its communiqué.

Secretary-General’s Report

  • S/2012/74 (31 January 2012) was a special report on Somalia, including recommendations on AMISOM’s new strategic concept.

Meeting Record

  • S/PV.6729 (5 March 2012) was the open debate on Somalia following the 23 February London conference.


  • SC/10602 (5 April 2012) was a Council press statement condemning the 4 April suicide attack in Mogadishu.
  • S/2012/176 (23 March 2012) contained the 30-day AU report on AMISOM requested by resolution 2036.
  • A/HRC/RES/19/28 (23 March 2012) was the HRC resolution on Somalia.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Augustine Mahiga (Tanzania)


Maximum authorised strength: 17,731 troops, plus maritime and air components
Strength as of 20 March 2012: about 9,961 Ugandan, Burundian, and Djiboutian troops
Duration: February 2007 to present. Council authorisation expires on 31 October 2012; AU mandate expires on 16 January 2013.

Full forecast 

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