February 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 January 2013
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AFRICA

Somalia

Expected Council Action 

In February, the Council will consider the Secretary-General’s report on Somalia (due 31 January), which will provide options and recommendations for the future UN presence in the country. A briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman is expected. 

The Council is also likely to start discussing the future of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and is expecting a separate report on the AU’s strategic review of the operation.

Also in February, the Monitoring Group assisting the 751/1907 Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee is due to present its mid-term briefing to the Committee and 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) in preparation of the AMISOM renewal.

At press time, it was unclear whether there would be any outcomes in February or whether the Council would wait until March to adopt any decisions. The Council authorisation of AMISOM does not expire until 7 March.

Key Recent Developments

The Council has not considered the situation in Somalia since November. On 7 November, it adopted resolution 2073 renewing the authorisation of AMISOM for four months and expanding the UN logistical support package for the mission to include funding for an additional 50 civilian personnel. While the adoption was unanimous, several Council members gave explanations of their vote, expressing disappointment that the resolution did not fully address issues of concern to them. The UK, as the penholder, had initially proposed a much more comprehensive text but decided after protracted negotiations to withdraw it.

On 21 November, the Council adopted resolution 2077 renewing for 12 months the authorisation for international counter-piracy action to be carried out within Somali territorial waters and on land in Somalia.

In Somalia, the security situation continued to improve as AMISOM and the Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) expanded their areas of control. AMISOM has been fully deployed since the end of November, with a troop strength of 17,709. (The authorised troop ceiling is 17,731 uniformed personnel.)

According to OCHA, humanitarian access also continued to improve with a marked reduction in the number of attacks on personnel and fewer reports of interference with implementation of aid programmes. However, overall access is described as “extremely challenging”, with the security situation remaining a key obstacle.

Al-Shabaab is still considered a major threat and has relocated to new areas, including Puntland and Somaliland. According to the latest report of the Panel of Experts assisting the Democratic Republic of the Congo Sanctions Committee, Al-Shabaab is also collaborating with the Ugandan rebel group Allied Democratic Forces.

On 18 January, Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, expressed deep concern about the killing of several children during military operations conducted by AMISOM near the southern town of Leggo on 15 January and urged the AU to further strengthen its efforts to minimise child casualties in its operations. AMISOM said civilians had been caught in crossfire as its forces repelled an attack by Al-Shabaab and announced it would conduct an investigation.

Attacks against journalists continued. (Eighteen journalists were killed in Somalia in 2012.) On 18 January, a journalist working for Radio Shabelle was killed by unidentified gunmen, the first victim this year. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga condemned the assassination and called on the government to expedite the establishment of the task force announced last November to investigate the killings of Somali journalists with a view to bringing those responsible to justice. Shamsul Bari, the Human Rights Council’s expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, also condemned the murder and called for a prompt, effective and thorough investigation into the assassination.

There were also concerns about the government’s commitment to press freedom following the arrest of a Somali journalist on 10 January after he interviewed a woman who claimed she had been raped by government forces.

During a meeting with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Washington, D.C. on 17 January, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the US had decided, for the first time since 1991, to officially recognise the Somali government. This will allow new types of US assistance to Somalia and will also facilitate additional support through other channels, such as the World Bank and the IMF. 

On 14 January, the AU Peace and Security Council extended AMISOM’s mandate for another six months, “pending the outcomes of the consultations between the AU Commission and the UN Secretariat on the future of AMISOM” (PSC/PR/COMM.1 [CCCL]). It underscored the need to guarantee sustainable and predictable funding for the next phase of the mission. 

In a 23 January communiqué, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) called on the government to prepare a detailed proposal on the integration of IGAD’s stabilisation plan for Somalia into the government’s six-pillar policy framework (which focuses on stabilisation through the rule of law and good governance; economic recovery; peacebuilding and reconciliation; public service delivery; improved international relations; and national unity), along with a proposal for the lifting of the UN arms embargo. It also stressed that AMISOM must be provided with support “equal to the support provided to UN missions.”

The UK announced on 11 January that it would host another conference on Somalia in London on 7 May aimed at sustaining continued international support for the stabilisation and rebuilding of the country. 

Key Issues

A key issue for the Council in February is whether to endorse any of the Secretary-General’s options for the future UN presence in Somalia. 

A second key issue is the future of AMISOM in light of the outcome of the strategic review. (It is likely that the AU will submit specific requests to the Council, in particular on the issue of funding.) A related issue is how to ensure coherence between the military and political strategies. 

A continuing issue is whether to review the arms embargo as called for by the government to facilitate the delivery of arms and other military equipment to the SNSF.  

A further issue is the impact of the ban on export and import of Somali charcoal. It is not clear whether accumulation of charcoal in Kismayo resulting from the ban is still a problem and whether the task force appointed by the government to assess the situation has made any progress. 

Options

The Secretary-General is expected to present four options:

  • a UN assistance mission that would integrate the functions of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) but keep the UN humanitarian country team separate;
  • a UN peacebuilding mission that would integrate the functions of UNPOS and the country team but keep UNSOA outside;
  • a UN peacebuilding mission that would integrate UNSOA as well; and
  • a joint AU-UN mission replacing AMISOM, UNPOS and UNSOA, but with a separate country team. 

Main options for the Council include:

  • adopting a resolution that would endorse one of the Secretary-General’s options for the future UN presence while requesting him to report back with further details and at the same time renew the authorisation for AMISOM and respond to any requests and recommendations resulting from the AU’s strategic review; or
  • adopting two separate decisions: one on the future UN presence and the political process and another on AMISOM.  
Council and Wider Dynamics

Of the four different options for the future UN presence described above, the Secretary-General is expected to recommend the first option, which would create a UN assistance mission. It seems the option of creating a joint AU/UN mission was included since this was the AU’s preference, but does not have much support elsewhere. (Excluding a UN peacekeeping operation, such a solution would address African concerns about funding for AMISOM.)  As for the other two options, the humanitarian community has strong reservations about any proposal calling for structural integration of the UN country team because of concerns about the risk of politicisation of humanitarian assistance.  

Among Council members, views differ and it is not clear how much support there is for the recommended option. It seems the P3’s preferred option would be a peacebuilding mission, although they may not agree on whether UNSOA should be integrated or kept separate. African members are likely to support AU’s preferred option, while other members may not necessarily have very strong views. There seems to be a sense, however, that in the end the Council will support the Secretary-General’s recommendations. 

Concerning the future of AMISOM, some of the issues that remained unresolved after the renewal of the mission’s authorisation last November are likely to come up again this time, in particular with regard to securing long-term funding and providing support for a maritime component. There seems to be some frustration among Council members that they have not yet been informed about the conclusions of the strategic review or received any specific proposals.

The request for a revision of the arms embargo is also likely to be discussed in the context of any new resolution on AMISOM and possibly the charcoal issue as well. With South Africa no longer on the Council and a renewed Council configuration, however, dynamics will likely be different this time.  (For more background on the discussions in November, see our 6 November 2012 What’s In Blue story.) 

The UK is the lead country on Somalia in the Council, while the Republic of Korea has assumed the chairmanship of the 751/1907 Sanctions Committee.

UN Documents on Somalia

Security Council Resolutions  
21 November 2012 S/RES/2077 renewed for 12 months the authorisation of the anti-piracy measures first established by the Council in 2008.
7 November 2012 S/RES/2073 renewed the AMISOM authorisation until 7 March. 
25 July 2012 S/RES/2060 extended the mandate of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea for 13 months, as well as the humanitarian exemption to the Somalia sanctions regime for 12 months.
22 February 2012 S/RES/2036 renewed the AMISOM authorisation and imposed a ban on importing and exporting Somali charcoal.
Secretary-General’s Report  
22 August 2012 S/2012/643 was the Secretary-General’s latest report on Somalia.
Security Council Meeting Records  
21 November 2012 S/PV.6867 was the adoption of resolution 2077 with explanations of vote.
7 November 2012 S/PV.6854 was the adoption of resolution 2073 with explanations of vote.
Security Council Letters  
12 November 2012 S/2012/843 was the report of the Panel of Experts on the DRC.
12 October 2012 S/2012/764 contained the most recent 60-day AU report on AMISOM requested by resolution 2036.

Useful Additional Resources

PSC/PR/COMM.1 [CCCL] (14 January 2013) was the extension of AMISOM’s mandate for another six months by the AU PSC.