May 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 May 2013
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Expected Council Action

In May, the Council is expected to adopt a resolution creating a UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

Key Recent Developments

On 6 March the Council adopted resolution 2093 re-authorising the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and asking the Secretary-General to deploy a technical assistance mission (TAM), whose findings should be submitted to the Council by 19 April, after which the Council would formally mandate the new mission to be deployed by 3 June (S/PV.6929). Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council on the TAM report on 25 April (S/PV.6955).

From 17 to 29 March, the TAM travelled to Somalia, Nairobi and Addis Ababa. The mission met with the UN Country Team (UNCT) and international partners in Nairobi and consulted with the AU in Addis Ababa. In Mogadishu, it held meetings with senior government officials, civil society and some regional and international actors. The TAM also visited areas that had been recovered from Al Shabaab in south and central Somalia. Additionally, part of the team conducted meetings in Garowe, the capital of Puntland, and Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

According to the TAM report, UNSOM will be guided by four broad principles: national ownership, flexibility, collaboration and partnerships and risk management. UNSOM will have substantive expertise in the areas of political affairs and mediation/facilitation; rule of law and security institutions; and human rights and protection. In addition to these three core areas, multi-disciplinary task teams are also envisioned. At the outset of UNSOM, the task teams would cover: stability and recovery in former Al Shabaab areas, maritime issues, capacity development and economic drivers of conflict. As for its structure, UNSOM will be headed by a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, with a deputy Special Representative (and a second deputy as of January 2014), and will also be backed by a Director of Mission Support/Director UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA). There will be a strong emphasis placed on integration and coordination both within UNSOM and with the UNCT. On 29 April, Nicholas Kay (UK) was announced as the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia. 

The TAM report also highlights security as a critical challenge for UNSOM. As the report notes, “insecurity has many implications, both operational and political”, particularly in south and central Somalia where recovered towns were described by local UN staff as “islands, beyond which movement is nearly impossible”. 

Partly in recognition of the difficult security environment, UNSOM’s initial footprint will be light and then scaled up as conditions permit. The TAM report also offers a few other options: use of local UN-contracted and trained security guards, the impending deployment of an AMISOM guard force in Mogadishu and reliance on Somali National Security Forces (SNSF). If these are deemed insufficient, UN Guard Units or international private security companies could be utilised. 

The security situation in south and central Somalia continues to be in a state of flux, particularly regarding the status of about 2,500 Ethiopian troops allied to AMISOM and the government. On 17 March, Ethiopia withdrew from the town of Hudur in the Bakool region, which ultimately allowed Al Shabaab to regain control. This prompted concerns about a complete withdrawal of the Ethiopian contingent from Somalia. The prime ministers of Somalia and Ethiopia held bilateral talks on 8 April, but they were apparently inconclusive. Widely reported comments by the Ethiopian prime minister on 23 April seemed to suggest the country would withdraw its troops, while the following day the foreign ministry was careful to clarify that this was not the case. In the interim, on 3 April a battalion of 850 troops began to arrive from Sierra Leone in Kismayo allowing a Kenyan battalion to withdraw from AMISOM. 

Meanwhile, the US has officially signalled its intent to militarily back the government in Mogadishu. On 8 April, President Barack Obama determined that Somalia is eligible for US military assistance. The US was the strongest proponent within the Council of a partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia, which was approved in resolution 2093. 

In the worst incident in Mogadishu since 2011, Al Shabaab attacked the courthouse on 14 April, leading to more than 50 civilian deaths, according to an estimate by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The attack was condemned by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, and the spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Human Rights. On 15 April, the Security Council issued a press statement condemning the attack, reiterating a willingness to take action against those threatening stability in Somalia and reaffirming Council resolve to support peace through the upcoming deployment of UNSOM (SC/10972). 

At a meeting of G8 foreign ministers in London on 10-11 April, there was agreement to offer high-level political support for Somalia’s re-engagement with the World Bank, the African Development Bank (ADB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Nearly half of Somalia’s $2.2 billion external debt is owed to the World Bank, ADB and IMF. On 12 April, the IMF recognised the Federal Government of Somalia, allowing a resumption of relations after a 22-year interval. The UK has organised an international donor conference for Somalia in London on 7 May.

Key Issues

The central issue facing the Council is establishing a mandate for UNSOM. Subsidiary questions concern the mission’s structure, strength and timeframe. 

Somalia poses an extremely difficult security environment. Despite the very real operational constraints—which the UN will need to address—there is a risk of negative public perceptions developing against the UN for a “bunker mentality”. 

Determining and managing the division of labour among the government, the UN and AU will be an evolving, complex challenge for the Council and other actors. 

Managing the apparently high expectations of the government with regard to capacity-building and service delivery could also be an issue for the Council. 


The most likely option for the Council is to adopt a resolution authorising UNSOM to be deployed by 3 June as outlined by the Secretary-General in his 19 April letter transmitting the TAM report (S/2013/239). 

Council members may also wish to take note of the Secretary-General’s observation that AMISOM’s military and civilian components require “enablers and force multipliers” and resources for “stabilization activities in south and central Somalia”.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Relations between the AU and the UN have reportedly been strained since the adoption of resolution 2093 due to differing conceptions regarding the role of AMISOM (multidimensional peace support vs. counter-insurgency) and the scale and source of its financing (enhanced support package from UNSOA vs. internal AU funds). Mutually agreeing on a division of labour between the AU and UN will be critical.

The future of approximately 2,500 Ethiopian troops in Somalia remains ambiguous, with significant implications for the changing military equation in Somalia. The prime minister of Ethiopia has expressed frustration with the lack of progress by AMISOM and SNSF in assuming control over territory captured by Ethiopia from Al Shabaab. He has also objected to the mounting cost of the deployment in Somalia. Theoretically, Ethiopia could maintain the status quo, re-hat as AMISOM, obtain external financing, or withdraw from Somalia. 

The UK is the penholder on Somalia, while the Republic of Korea is the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee. 

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UN Documents on Somalia

Security Council Resolution
6 March 2013 S/RES/2093 This resolution authorised AMISOM deployment until 28 February 2014 and partially lifted the arms embargo on Somalia.
Secretary-General’s Report
31 January 2013 S/2013/69 This was a report on Somalia containing recommendations for the reconfiguration of the UN presence.
Security Council Meeting Records
25 April 2013 S/PV.6955 This meeting concerned the Secretary-General’s letter to the Council on the TAM.
6 March 2013 S/PV.6929 This meeting concerned the re-authorisation of AMISOM.
Security Council Letter
19 April 2013 S/2013/239 This was from the Secretary-General regarding the findings and observations of the TAM.
Security Council Press Statement
15 April 2013 SC/10972 This press statement condemned the terrorist attack in Mogadishu.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General
Augustine Mahiga (Tanzania)

Size and Composition of AMISOM
Authorised strength: 17,731 total uniformed personnel. The main contingents are Uganda (6,223 troops), Burundi (5,432 troops), Kenya (4,652 troops*), Djibouti (960 troops), Sierra Leone (850 troops) and 363 police from 8 countries. *Does not reflect Kenya’s withdrawal of a battalion offsetting Sierra Leone’s deployment. 

Special Representative of the AU and Head of AMISOM
Mahamat Saleh Annadif (Chad)

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