Expected Council Action
In March, the Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing the authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and endorsing one of the Secretary-General’s options for the reconfiguration of the UN presence. AMISOM’s current Council authorisation ends on 7 March, while its AU mandate expires on 14 July.
Also in March, the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Kim Sook (Republic of Korea), is due to present his 120-day report to the Council on the work of the Committee.
Key Recent Developments
On 14 February, the Council was briefed by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé Brook Zerihoun on the Secretary-General’s 31 January report on Somalia (S/2013/69). In his briefing, Zerihoun presented the Secretary-General’s recommendations for the future UN presence and provided an update on recent political developments, the security situation and human rights issues. On the political front, he emphasised that the liberation of new areas had created an opportunity for the government to expand its control but noted recent tensions over the establishment of local administrations in Kismayo and Baidoa as examples of some of the challenges involved.
Zerihoun also addressed Somalia’s request for lifting the arms embargo, emphasising the importance of a calibrated approach to avoid “the proliferation of uncontrolled weapons”. He said the Monitoring Group assisting the Sanctions Committee was ready to provide technical advice for the development of options in this regard. As for the human rights situation, Zerihoun expressed particular concern about the prevalence of sexual violence and ongoing threats against journalists and called on the government to develop a framework to ensure the implementation of its international human rights obligations.
Presenting the Secretary-General’s recommendation for the establishment of a new UN assistance mission in Somalia to replace the UN Political Office, Zerihoun emphasised that it was based on extensive consultations with major stakeholders and was the best option under current circumstances. (In his report, the Secretary-General also presented three other options: a joint AU-UN mission, a fully integrated UN peacebuilding mission and a UN peacebuilding mission with a separate UN Support Office for AMISOM [UNSOA].) Zerihoun noted, however, that the objective should be to move towards an integrated mission as soon as security conditions allowed. Pending further guidance from the Council, the Secretary-General intends to deploy a technical assessment mission to Somalia and would report back to the Council in May.
Somali Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan also spoke, stressing that Somalia now had a well-functioning government and that political infighting was a thing of the past. The government had taken several initiatives to implement its six-pillar policy framework (stabilisation through the rule of law and good governance; economic recovery; peacebuilding and reconciliation; public service delivery; improved international relations; and national unity).
Adan presented several specific requests to the Council. Underlining that a top priority for the government was to defeat the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab and improve security, she said a lifting of the arms embargo was a prerequisite to achieve this goal. The government would put in place the necessary mechanisms to prevent weapons from ending up in the wrong hands. She also reaffirmed her government’s support for the Council’s ban on import and export of Somali charcoal and asked that violators be punished.
Furthermore, she voiced her government’s strong opposition to a maritime component for AMISOM, noting that the recommendation for such a component had been removed from the final report to the AU on the strategic review of the mission, and emphasised that the priority must instead be to build the capacity of Somalia’s own forces. Additionally, Adan asked that a reference to the UN human rights due-diligence policy, which says the policy applies to AMISOM and “allied forces”, be removed from the Secretary-General’s report. (The policy guides UN support for non-UN armed actors.)
Adan expressed her government’s strong preference for an integrated UN presence and asserted that the benefits of integration would far outweigh the concerns raised by humanitarian actors about the possible impact on their perceived neutrality. She concluded by extending an invitation to the Council to visit Mogadishu in the near future.
On 9 February, AMISOM announced the results of the investigation of the 15 January incident in which seven civilians, including five children, were killed during military operations near the southern town of Leggo. The investigation found that AMISOM troops were not to blame but had acted within internationally accepted rules of engagement when they responded to an Al-Shabaab ambush.
On 5 February, a Somali journalist who had been arrested on 10 January and a woman he had interviewed were sentenced to one year in prison by a local court. The woman had alleged that while living in a camp for internally displaced persons she had been raped by armed men in government uniforms. Although the journalist never published the interview, he was charged with offending the honour of a state institution and with filing a false report. The sentencing was widely condemned. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on the government to re-open the case and launch a full inquiry into what had happened. She expressed concern about the freedom of expression in Somalia and also about the impact of the verdict on the fight against impunity in sexual violence cases, citing recent reports of an increase in such violence.
Somali government forces supported by AMISOM continued to expand their control (on 14 February, they captured three strategic towns from Al-Shabaab located southwest of Mogadishu), but February also saw a new series of terrorist attacks. In one such attack, on 16 February, a car bomb exploded outside a popular restaurant in Mogadishu, killing at least two people and injuring seven others.
On 15 February, the Monitoring Group presented its mid-term briefing to the Sanctions Committee. It confirmed, reportedly for the first time, that there was a link between Al-Shabaab and piracy activities. The group also confirmed the Islamists’ expansion into other areas and its infiltration of the Somali security sector. Furthermore, it reported that the charcoal ban had not been effective and that Al-Shabaab was still benefitting from and controlling the trade.
In a 13 February letter to the Council, Iran complained about media reports that the Monitoring Group had presented allegations of illegal arms transfers from Iran to Al-Shabaab. It said the allegations were baseless and also regretted that they had been leaked to the media “for propaganda purposes” while asking the Sanctions Committee to “remedy the situation by making the necessary corrective measures”.
A key issue for the Council in March is which of the Secretary-General’s options for the future UN presence in Somalia to endorse. A related issue is how to strengthen human rights monitoring.
Another key issue is the re-authorisation of AMISOM. This includes the question of how to respond to the requests that the AU is expected to submit to the Council based on the strategic review. Sustainable funding is likely to be one of them.
Related issues include how to ensure coordination and coherence in approach by AMISOM and the new UN mission, as well as implementation of the UN’s human rights due-diligence policy and protection of civilians. (The Council’s informal expert group on protection of civilians met on 20 February in preparation for the AMISOM renewal and was briefed by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on key protection issues to consider for the upcoming resolution.)
Another 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 Somali National Security Forces.
A further issue is whether additional steps are needed to strengthen implementation of the ban on export and import of Somali charcoal.
The most likely option for the Council is to adopt a resolution that would renew the authorisation for AMISOM and endorse one of the Secretary-General’s options for the future UN presence. Other options include:
- addressing some or all requests and recommendations resulting from the AU’s strategic review;
- asking the Monitoring Group for advice on the calibrated lifting of the arms embargo on the government or granting a partial lift;
- considering additional measures to ensure effective implementation of the charcoal ban; and
- sending a visiting mission to Mogadishu, possibly with the participation of just some Council members, in response to the invitation by the government.
Council and Wider Dynamics
With regard to the reconfiguration of the UN presence, there seems to be a range of views among Council members, but most favour either option B (a fully integrated peacebuilding mission) or option C (the assistance mission recommended by the Secretary-General), with the Council split between the two. Dynamics seem to be driven both by the Somali government’s support for option B as well as concerns raised by the humanitarian community about the risks of structurally integrating the UN country team. Those who support option C seem to agree that integration should be the end goal and also acknowledge that the views of the government deserve serious consideration. Yet they share the Secretary-General’s assessment that conditions are not yet right for a fully integrated mission.
A further complicating element is the fact that there are also different views on whether UNSOA should be integrated into a new UN structure. In particular, it seems the US, while favouring the creation of an integrated peacebuilding mission, is keen on keeping UNSOA as a separate entity.
There also seem to be some differences over how the Council should respond to Somalia’s request for a lifting of the arms embargo. While the US has publicly supported at least a partial lifting of the embargo, other Council members, including European and Latin American members, seem much more hesitant about any easing of the arms embargo at this stage, citing concerns about command and control of the Somali forces and also pointing out that Somalia is already overflowing with weapons. They seem willing to consider some revisions to the embargo, however, as a gesture towards the Somali government.
The UK is the lead country on Somalia in the Council, while the Republic of Korea chairs the Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on Somalia
|Security Council Resolutions|
|7 November 2012S/RES/2073||renewed AMISOM’s authorisation until 7 March.|
|25 July 2012S/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 2012S/RES/2036||renewed AMISOM’s authorisation and imposed a ban on importing an exporting charcoal from Somalia.|
|31 January 2013S/2013/69||was the latest regular report on Somalia.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|14 February 2013S/PV.6921||was the latest Council meeting on Somalia.|
|7 November 2012S/PV.6854||was the adoption of resolution 2073 with explanations of vote.|
|Security Council Letters|
|13 February 2013S/2013/93||was from Iran concerning the reports of arms transfers to Al Shabaab.|
|25 January 2013S/2013/56||contained the most recent 60-day report on AMISOM from the AU as requested by resolution 2036.|
Other Relevant Facts
Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Augustine Mahiga (Tanzania)
Size and Composition of AMISOM
Current strength as of 25 January: 17,709 total uniformed personnel. Main troop contributors are Burundi (4,432 troops), Kenya (4,652 troops), Uganda (6,223 troops) and Djibouti (960 troops).
Special Representative of the AU and Head of AMISOM
Mahamat Salah Annadif (Chad)
Useful Additional Source
AMISOM in transition: The future of the African Union Mission in Somalia, Rift Valley Institute Briefing Paper, 13 February 2013.