Expected Council Action
In November, the Council is likely to consider adoption of two resolutions on Somalia: one reauthorising international anti-piracy measures, which are due to expire on 21 November, and another revising the mandate of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), reauthorised on 6 March until 28 February 2014. Ambassador Oh Joon (Republic of Korea), chair of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee, is also scheduled to provide a 120-day briefing to Council members.
Key Recent Developments
As of press time, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson was scheduled to brief the Council on 30 October, to be followed by consultations. Eliasson is expected to discuss the report of the joint AU-UN mission on benchmarks for a UN peacekeeping operation and assessment of AMISOM and the Somali National Security Forces (SNSF), which was transmitted to the Council in a letter from the Secretary-General on 14 October (S/2013/606). Eliasson is also expected to brief the Council on the Secretary-General’s 21 October report regarding international anti-piracy measures in Somalia and its territorial waters (S/2013/623). It seems that a report from the government of Somalia following up on modification of the arms embargo, which was due on 7 October as specified in resolution 2093, has not been submitted on time and thus may not be covered in the briefing.
The joint AU-UN report proposes a number of policy options regarding AMISOM, the SNSF and UN operational security. With respect to AMISOM, which is currently authorised at a ceiling of 17,731 troops and police, the report recommends the following: adding 1,845 support-unit troops and increasing combat troops by 2,550 for a period of 18 to 24 months. It also raises the options of adding 1,000 troops for a guard force and increasing formed police units by 840 personnel. If all measures were approved, AMISOM’s authorisation would rise by 6,235 to 23,966. The report also recommends providing non-lethal assistance to the SNSF through UN-assessed contributions. One alternative to AMISOM providing UN security would be to deploy a UN Guard Force similar to the model used in Iraq. Both the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), in its 10 October communiqué, and the UN Secretary-General, in his 14 October letter transmitting the AU-UN report to the Council, have endorsed the recommendations contained in the joint mission report.
Perhaps signifying a resurgence in Western military intervention in the Horn of Africa following the 21-24 September attack by Al-Shabaab on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, US special forces conducted a raid on the insurgent stronghold of Baraawe, Somalia, on 5 October. The target of the attack was Abdikadar Mohamed Abdikadar, also known by his nom de guerre Ikrima, an Al-Shabaab senior military planner of Kenyan origin. Ikrima is thought to have been associated with the terrorist attack on the UN compound in Mogadishu on 19 June. The raid was unsuccessful, as the US special forces ultimately withdrew without being able to apprehend Ikrima. More recently, a drone strike on 28 October in Jilib (120 kilometres north of Kismayo) reportedly killed Ibrahim Ali Abdi, a commander, and one other Al-Shabaab member.
On 25 October, the AU PSC visited Mogadishu. Special Representative of the AU Mahamat Saleh Annadif urged the Council to act quickly on the AU PSC request for more troops, financing and equipment for AMISOM.
The following day, Eliasson also arrived in Mogadishu. He held meetings with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Speaker of the Federal Parliament Mohammad Sheikh Osman Jawari and Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon.
The principal issue for the Council is whether it needs to take the far reaching steps, recommended in the report, aimed at reducing the threat posed by Al-Shabaab and improving overall security in Somalia.
A recurring issue of concern for the Council is determining what types of measures should be adopted for the UN to manage a dangerous operational environment.
Another key issue is piracy off the coast of Somalia, although this has been significantly reduced in magnitude compared to the previous years.
Regarding AMISOM, approving measures similar to those recommended in the joint AU-UN report, such as increasing AMISOM’s troop ceiling and providing non-lethal assistance to the SNSF through UN-assessed contributions is a likely option.
Other options for the Council relate to how to ensure security for UN staff operating in Somalia, such as authorisation of a UN Guard Force or further increasing AMISOM troop numbers specifically for the purpose of providing security for the UN.
On piracy, the likely option is for the Council to reauthorise existing international anti-piracy measures with regard to Somalia and its territorial waters.
Council and Wider Dynamics
The 21-24 September terrorist attack by Al-Shabaab in Nairobi is likely to be a catalyst to build momentum among Council members for authorising increased military capacity for AMISOM and the provision of non-lethal assistance to the SNSF. The AU PSC has long argued that AMISOM lacks the troops and force multipliers (e.g., armoured personnel carriers and helicopters) required to achieve its mandate, while the recent AU-UN joint assessment mission has concluded that counter-insurgency is now at a standstill. Under the present circumstances, it seems probable that Council members will be largely in agreement about approving measures similar to those proposed in the joint AU-UN report, endorsed by the AU PSC, and supported by the Secretary-General (although one area of potential disagreement may be regarding whether the UN or the AU provides the Guard Force).
However, there are also some factors that may dampen this nascent trend toward a more aggressive military stance in Somalia, namely concerns about financing, human rights and accountability. While Council members may agree that AMISOM and SNSF require further financial assistance, they could also disagree on the specific funding mechanisms. There is also the issue of financial constraints, which affect the broader UN system. As for human rights, the track record of AMISOM and the SNSF suggests effective implementation of the UN Human Rights Due Diligence Policy could be difficult. Financial and human rights concerns point toward the broader issue of accountability. Some Council members may not be comfortable with increased UN financing and backing for operations over which the UN ultimately has little control.
The UK is the penholder on Somalia, the US is the penholder on piracy and the Republic of Korea is the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on Somalia
|Security Council Resolutions|
|2 May 2013 S/RES/2102||This resolution created UNSOM and authorised its deployment for one year as of 3 June 2013.|
|6 March 2013 S/RES/2093||This resolution authorised AMISOM deployment until 28 February 2014 and partially lifted the arms embargo on Somalia.|
|21 November 2012 S/RES/2077||This resolution renewed for 12 months the authorisation, in place since 2008, for international counter-piracy action to be carried out within Somali territorial waters and on land in Somalia.|
|21 October 2013 S/2013/623||This was the Secretary-General’s most recent report on piracy off the coast of Somalia.|
|Security Council Letters|
|18 October 2013 S/2013/620||This was a letter from the Secretary-General forwarding a communiqué that had been adopted by AU PSC on 10 October.|
|14 October 2013 S/2013/606||This was a letter to the Council form the Secretary-General endorsing the recommendations of the joint AU-UN mission in Somalia.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|12 September 2013 S/PV.7030||This was a briefing on UNSOM.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|21 September 2013 SC/11129||This statement condemned the terrorist attack by Al-Shabaab in Nairobi, Kenya.|
|13 September 2013 SC/11121||This statement expressed support for the agreement regarding the Interim Jubba Administration.|
Useful Additional Resource
Report of the Chairperson of the Commission on the Joint AU-UN Benchmarking Exercise and the Review of the African Union Mission in Somalia, AU PSC, 10 October 2013.