Expected Council Action
In October, the Council is scheduled to renew the authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) before it expires on 31 October. The AU is due to submit another 60-day report on AMISOM as requested by resolution 2036. A debate is expected ahead of the renewal with briefings by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Augustine Mahiga and AU’s Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra.
Also in preparation for the renewal, the Council’s informal expert group on the protection of civilians is scheduled to receive a briefing by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on current key protection challenges in Somalia.
Key Recent Developments
On 10 September, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected President of Somalia by the newly appointed Parliament, beating incumbent President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed by a vote of 190 to 79 in a second round of balloting. The presidential election was the final step required for the completion of the transitional period in Somalia, which under the most recent political agreements was supposed to end on 20 August.
Mohamud is considered a political moderate and appears to enjoy considerable popular support. A member of the Hawiye clan, he stayed in Somalia during the years of conflict, working as a consultant with the UN and NGOs and serving as dean of Simad University for a decade. The international community welcomed his election while also stressing that much work lies ahead. The Secretary-General congratulated Mohamud and encouraged him “to move expeditiously, to appoint an inclusive, accountable government that can begin the work of peacebuilding in the country.”
On 12 September, Mohamud was targeted by a suicide bomber while holding a press conference at a hotel in Mogadishu. He survived, but one AMISOM soldier was killed and three others wounded. The Islamist rebel group Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack.
Following the presidential inauguration on 16 September, the Council on 18 September adopted resolution 2067 to welcome the end of the transition, noting that the election of a new Speaker of Parliament and President represented “the completion of the transition in Somalia and an important milestone in Somalia’s path to more stable and accountable governance.” The resolution lays out the Council’s expectations for the next phase in Somalia and asks the Secretary-General to present options and recommendations to the Council on the future UN presence by 31 December.
On 20 September, there was another suicide bombing attack in Mogadishu for which Al Shabaab claimed responsibility. According to media reports, suicide bombers set off two explosions at a restaurant frequented by politicians and the media, killing more than 15 people, including three journalists. Council members condemned the attack in a 21 September press statement (SC/10774). In a 23 September statement, UNESCO expressed concern about the “sudden upsurge of violence targeting the media in Somalia,” including the 20 September attack, and urged the authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. According to UNESCO, 13 journalists have been killed in Somalia this year.
A member of parliament, Mustaf Haji Mohamed, was killed on 22 September by unidentified gunmen in Mogadishu with Al Shabaab claiming responsibility and threatening to “kill one-by-one” all of the parliamentarians.
Elsewhere, Al Shabaab suffered a series of setbacks as AMISOM and Somali security forces continued their offensive against the strategic port city of Kismayo. On 28 September, AMISOM confirmed that its troops had entered the city. There seemed to be widespread concern, however, about the impact on civilians of the escalation in fighting, in particular with regard to displacement. Following a meeting with Kenyan officials on 19 September, the humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, received assurances that Kenyan forces (which are part of AMISOM) would do everything possible to minimise the impact on civilians of the ongoing military operation in Somalia. AMISOM also issued a statement reiterating its commitment to the protection of civilians.
On 26 September, the Secretary-General convened a “mini summit” on Somalia on the margins of the General Assembly with Mohamud participating by video link from Mogadishu. He outlined as his priorities: stabilisation; the rule of law and good governance; economic recovery; peacebuilding and reconciliation; public service delivery; improved relations between Somalia and the rest of the world; and the unity and integrity of Somalia. In a communiqué, participants welcomed these priorities and expressed their commitment to a new “Somali-owned and led partnership”. They also reaffirmed their commitment to supporting the rebuilding of Somalia.
Human Rights-Related Developments
The UN Independent Expert on human rights in Somalia, Shamsul Bari, submitted a report to the September session of the Human Rights Council, noting that the country was poised to turn a new page, with positive opportunities for governance and human rights. A road map should be developed to show how the government aimed to improve the human rights situation, with a timeline for each activity, the report said. The focus must move beyond civil and political rights to include economic, social and cultural rights. While the right to due process must be emphasised and demonstrated to be constitutionally guaranteed, “an ordinary Somali citizen faced with hunger, thirst and the deprivation of basic requirements of life would perhaps be more keen to hear about the enjoyment of the right to food, water and sanitation, health, education and the like,” Bari noted.
A key issue for the Council in October will be the AMISOM authorisation renewal and extension of the UN-funded support package and whether the AU will present any requests for the Council’s consideration at this time.
A related pressing issue is the impact on civilians of the ongoing military operations.
Another key issue is the need for progress on the most immediate objectives for the post-transition phase in Somalia as laid out in resolution 2067, such as the appointment of a representative government, implementation of the postponed elements of the road map, development by the government of a programme to define post-transition priorities, adoption of counter-piracy laws, establishment of an Exclusive Economic Zone off the coast of Somalia and establishment of a joint financial management board to oversee Somali public finances. Allegations of corruption and misuse of donor funds seem to be of particular concern to Council members. The 27 June report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea (S/2012/544) documented “pervasive corruption within the transitional federal institutions.”
With regard to sanctions, a key issue is whether additional listings should be considered in the 751 and 1907 Sanctions Committee. The US proposed six new sanctions listings in July, but so far the Committee has agreed on only two of these.
A further issue is whether the Council, to confirm its commitment to the protection of journalists as expressed in resolution 1738, should take any action in response to the high level of violence against journalists in Somalia.
- extending the AMISOM authorisations for three months without any changes; or
- adding a provision authorising UN-funded reimbursement for a limited number of maritime assets for AMISOM.
In either case:
- requesting the AMISOM Force Commander to speak at the debate (by video link);
- organising an “Arria formula” meeting with Somali civil society representatives;
- strengthening provisions on the protection of civilians in the upcoming resolution based on input from OCHA’s briefing on protection issues;
- condemning violence against journalists while recalling resolution 1738 and urging Somali authorities to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable;
- recalling the Council’s willingness to take action against spoilers; and
- continuing to consider proposals for targeted listings in the Sanctions Committee.
Among Council members, as in the wider international community, there seems to be a general sense of relief that the transitional period has finally been brought to an end. The mood seems to be one of “cautious optimism” as members are waiting to see how the new government will tackle the many tasks ahead. The defeat of the incumbent president in the presidential election is seen as an encouraging sign that the new parliament is less influenced by money and more independent from clan politics than the previous one.
At press time, Council members had not yet begun to consider the AMISOM authorisation renewal. The AU had not indicated whether it would present any specific requests to the Council, but the UN has apparently expressed a strong preference for any review of AMISOM to be conducted in tandem with the announced strategic review of the UN presence. This would also help to ensure that the military strategy is driven by the political strategy and not the other way around, which was a concern among Council members in the past.
One contentious issue related to AMISOM that may come up again, however, is the question of UN funding of maritime assets. During the negotiations of resolution 2036 some Council members supported an additional expansion of the support package related to reimbursement of contingent-owned equipment to also cover some maritime assets, but this did not make it into the final text. India, South Africa and the US expressed disappointment about this outcome in their explanations of vote after the adoption of the resolution and may want to revisit the issue in October.
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 on Somalia
|Security Council Resolutions|
|18 September 2012 S/RES/2067||This resolution was on the end of the transitional period in Somalia, laying out Council expectations for the next phase and requesting a report from the Secretary-General by 31 December on the future UN presence.|
|22 February 2012 S/RES/2036||This resolution extended the Council’s authorisation of AMISOM until 31 October, authorised an increase in its troop strength as well as a further expansion of its UN support package.|
|23 December 2006 S/RES/1738||This resolution condemned intentional attacks against journalists, media professionals and associated personnel.|
|22 August 2012 S/2012/643||This report of the Secretary-General was on Somalia.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|21 September 2012 SC/10774||This was on the 20 September suicide bombings in Mogadishu.|
|Security Council Letters|
|23 August 2012 S/2012/666||This letter contained the most recent 60-day AU report on AMISOM requested by resolution 2036.|
|11 July 2012 S/2012/544||This letter contained the final report on Somalia of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea.|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia
Augustine P. Mahiga (Tanzania)
Maximum Authorised Strength: 17,731 troops, plus maritime and air components
Strength as of August 2012: 17,194 troops
Duration: February 2007 to present. Council authorisation expires on 31 October 2012; AU mandate expires on 16 January 2013.