May 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 May 2014
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Expected Council Action

In May, the Council is scheduled to receive a briefing from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Nicholas Kay, by video teleconference on recent developments and the quarterly report of the Secretary-General. Council members will also hold consultations. An UNSOM mandate review, likely to be in the form of a letter to the Council from the Secretary-General, will further inform the briefing and consultations. The Council will likely adopt a resolution renewing the UNSOM mandate, which expires on 3 June. 

Key Recent Developments

On 5 March, the Council adopted resolution 2142, extending a partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia until 25 October (S/PV.7127). Six days later, Kay briefed the Council via video-teleconference from Mogadishu regarding the quarterly report of the Secretary-General on UNSOM and other recent developments (S/PV.7132). In response to a request in resolution 2142, the Secretary-General sent a letter to the President of the Council on 3 April outlining recommendations for the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) to improve its regulation of small arms and light weapons (S/2014/243).    

In developments on the ground, since early March, the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Somali National Army (SNA) have conducted extensive joint military offensives against the Al-Shabaab insurgency. According to AMISOM press statements, 10 strategic towns have been captured from the rebels thus far in the following areas: sector 1 (Banadir and Lower Shabelle) under Ugandan command; sector 3 (Bay, Bakool and Gedo) under Ethiopian command; and sector 4 (Hiraan and Galguduud) and sector 5 (Middle Shabelle) under Burundian command.   

The security situation in Somalia continues to be volatile. In the most recent incident condemned by the Council in a press statement, two staff members of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime were killed on 7 April in Galkayo, Puntland (SC/11348). Concerned about the vulnerability of the mission, the Secretary-General sent a letter to the President of the Council on 1 April, providing information on the establishment of a UN guard unit to provide the security needed for UNSOM to carry out its work (S/2014/239). Uganda has agreed to contribute the required personnel by deploying 410 new troops to Somalia by the end of April. Following an upsurge in attacks in February and March, Al-Shabaab continues to pose a significant asymmetrical security threat in urban areas. Most recently, on 21 and 22 April, the group assassinated two members of parliament in Mogadishu.

Somalia-related incidents have also continued in Kenya. On 1 April, a Muslim cleric designated as a recruiter and facilitator for Al-Shabaab under the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea sanctions regime, Abubabaker Shariff Ahmed, was assassinated by unknown gunmen in Mombasa, Kenya. There has recently been an intensification of security measures targeting Somali refugees and ethnic Somalis in Kenya, which is also a major AMISOM troop-contributing country. These include mass arrests and detention, new legal provisions requiring the relocation of refugees from urban areas to refugee camps within Kenya and pressure for refugees to repatriate to Somalia despite inadequate conditions for returns. On 17 April, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees issued a statement expressing concern at reports of harassment and other abuses during the security operations.

On 23 April, Council members held an informal interactive dialogue with Kay, AU Special Representative for Somalia Mahamat Saleh Annadif, and National Security Advisor Abdirahman Sheikh Issa. The meeting principally focused on the joint AMISOM and SNA military offensives against Al-Shabaab, including issues such as the stabilisation of captured territory, command and control within AMISOM, the integration of militias into the SNA and the need for equipment (e.g., helicopters).         

Key Issues

The main issue will be determining whether and what substantive revisions should be made to UNSOM’s mandate taking into account developments on the ground.

Underlying Problems

Even under a best-case scenario in which either Al-Shabaab is defeated militarily or the present conflict is resolved through a negotiated settlement within the next year, Somalia will continue to face immense peacebuilding and statebuilding challenges. Beyond the problematic question of integrating semi-autonomous Puntland and secessionist Somaliland, the regional state-formation process remains nascent elsewhere. Fundamental issues regarding the division of power and resources between the central government in Mogadishu and future federal states have yet to be resolved, while endemic corruption further complicates the statebuilding process. Stabilisation of areas captured from Al-Shabaab, particularly through the extension of state administration and the provision of public services, will also likely be difficult.


Developments over the past year could prompt Council members to consider whether UNSOM’s mandate (and its implementation to date) has been fully compatible with the emphasis on counter-insurgency in Somalia.

Nonetheless, the most probable option is for the Council to renew UNSOM’s mandate for another year without significant revisions.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Within the context of a challenging initial deployment in Somalia, including multiple attacks on UN staff, Council members continue to show strong support for UNSOM. Criticism regarding UNSOM’s limited progress thus far has been tempered by the realisation that the operational environment for the special political mission has been exceedingly difficult, offering limited opportunities to implement effectively the five mandate components: supporting peace and reconciliation, advising on peacebuilding and statebuilding, assisting donor coordination, FGS capacity-building, and human rights monitoring and reporting. Prioritisation of counter-insurgency against Al-Shabaab has overshadowed conflict resolution, statebuilding and peacebuilding; assisting donor coordination and facilitating FGS capacity-building has been complicated (and perhaps compromised) by state corruption; and while institutional progress has been made on human rights, media reports suggest that ground-level realities in Somalia may not have improved.

Despite these substantial implementation challenges, members recognise that there remains a critical need for a UN special political mission in Somalia. However, within the prevailing interim situation dominated by AMISOM and SNA counter-insurgency, they are also cognizant that it may be somewhat unrealistic to expect significant progress in implementing UNSOM’s mandate in the short term.      

The UK is the penholder on Somalia, the US is the penholder on piracy, Russia is the penholder on the legal aspects of counter-piracy measures and the Republic of Korea is the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee.

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Security Council Resolutions
5 March 2014 S/RES/2142 This resolution extended the partial lifting of the arms embargo on Somalia until 25 October 2014.
2 May 2013 S/RES/2102 This resolution created UNSOM and authorised its deployment for one year as of 3 June 2013.
Security Council Letters
3 April 2014 S/2014/243 This letter transmitted the Secretary-General’s recommendations for improved regulation of small arms by FGS.
1 April 2014 S/2014/239 This letter informed the Council of the planned deployment of a UN guard unit with 410 troops.
Security Council Meeting Records
11 March 2014 S/PV.7132 The Council was briefed on the situation in Somalia and the report of the Secretary-General on Somalia (S/2014/140).
5 March 2014 S/PV.7127 This meeting concerned the adoption of resolution 2142.
Security Council Press Statements
7 April 2014 SC/11348 This press statement condemned an attack on two UN staff in Galkayo.
19 March 2014 SC/11331 This press statement condemned an attack by Al-Shabaab in Bula Burde, which caused numerous deaths and injuries.
Secretary-General’s Report
3 March 2014 S/2014/140 This was the Secretary-General’s report on Somalia.

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