Expected Council Action
In October, Special Representative Nicholas Kay is scheduled to brief the Council on the most recent report of the Secretary-General on the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman is scheduled to brief the Council on the Secretary-General’s report on piracy due 17 October.
The Council is expected to adopt resolutions renewing authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and addressing aspects of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea sanctions regime, including the partial lifting of the arms embargo (expires on 25 October), the humanitarian exemption (expires on 25 October) and the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (expires on 25 November).
Key Recent Developments
On 30 August, AMISOM and the Somali National Army (SNA) launched Operation Indian Ocean against Al-Shabaab, a follow-up military offensive to Operation Eagle earlier in the year. According to AMISOM press releases, the offensive has thus far taken towns in Hiraan, Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Lower Juba and Bakool. One core objective of Operation Indian Ocean appears to be capturing the port city of Baraawe, about 200 kilometres south of Mogadishu in Lower Shabelle. The city has been an Al-Shabaab stronghold, enabling the insurgency to export charcoal and import weapons. On 3 September, the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) announced a 45-day window of opportunity for Al-Shabaab members to accept an offer of amnesty.
The US confirmed on 5 September that airstrikes near Baraawe on 1 September had killed the leader of Al-Shabaab, Ahmed Abdi Godane. On 6 September, the group announced that it had appointed Sheikh Ahmad Umar Abu Ubaidah as Godane’s successor. According to media reports, Abu Ubaidah had served as a senior advisor and prominent figure within the Amniyat, an elite division of Al-Shabaab responsible for terrorist attacks and the internal consolidation of Godane’s control. Two days after Abu Ubaidah’s appointment, Al-Shabaab launched suicide attacks against AMISOM and SNA convoys outside Mogadishu, killing 12 people. An Al-Shabaab spokesman said the attack was in retaliation for Godane’s death and threatened there would be future attacks specifically targeting Americans.
The federal state formation process, which is a precursor to a planned revision of the constitution in 2015 and national elections in 2016, has shown uneven progress. On 23 June, representatives of the Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions signed an agreement to form an Interim Southwest Administration. On 30 July, representatives in central Somalia reached an agreement “in principle” to form a regional administration, which was subsequently joined by the region of Himan and Heeb on 6 August. On 28 August, there was a clash between forces of secessionist Somaliland and the Khatumo Administration (which is backed by the FGS) in Saaxdheer, Sool region. The disputed territory, which is assumed to be oil-rich and is also subject to an overlapping claim by semi-autonomous Puntland, has previously been a source of conflict. On 30 August, Colonel Barre Hiiraale reconciled with the Interim Jubba Administration led by rival Ahmed Madobe.
Corruption, particularly regarding public finances, continues to be a problem. As reported by Reuters on 16 July, a confidential report from the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group to the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee accused the country’s president, a former foreign minister and a US law firm of conspiring to divert Somali government assets (either stolen or frozen following the fall of Siad Barre’s regime in 1991) recovered abroad. The Monitoring Group stated the situation “reflects exploitation of public authority for private interests and indicates at the minimum a conspiracy to divert the recovery of overseas assets in an irregular manner”. Citing corruption concerns and the lack of a competitive tender process, the six-member Financial Governance Committee (which includes representatives of the FGS, African Development Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank) has recommended that the FGS either revoke or revise nine contracts. These include its contract with the US law firm Schulman Rodgers and an oil exploration deal with Soma Oil, a UK company headed by the former leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard.
The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in Somalia. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, one million people are in a state of humanitarian emergency with extreme food insecurity, which is an increase of 20 percent since January. Another 2.1 million people are in a situation of “stress” and are in danger of slipping into a food security crisis. The UN Refugee Agency reports that 130,000 people have been newly displaced this year, with insecurity due to military conflict being the main cause of internal displacement. Only 34 percent of the consolidated appeal of $933 million requested for 2014 has been funded to date. On 10 August, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Philippe Lazzarini warned that Somalia is in danger of a crisis similar to the famine in 2011, in which 260,000 people died. In the report to the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee that was due 20 September, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos recommended renewing the humanitarian exemption to the sanctions regime, which expires on 25 October.
On 23 and 24 September, the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee added two names to the consolidated 1844 sanctions list (resolution 1844 imposed targeted sanctions in the form of a travel ban, asset freeze, and targeted arms embargo). The first person added, Maalim Salman, is the head of foreign fighters for Al-Shabaab. The second person added was Ahmed Diriye (aka Sheikh Ahmed Umar Abu Ubaidah) and is the new head of Al-Shabaab following the death of Godane.
On 24 September, there was a high-level meeting on Somalia on the margins of the General Assembly, “Implementing Vision 2016: Inclusive Politics in Action”, held at the initiative of Ethiopia, Italy and the UK. The Secretary-General addressed the meeting, highlighting several of the difficult tasks ahead in the statebuilding process, including facilitating national reconciliation, reinforcing the rule of law, creating electoral institutions and delivering public services. The meeting was co-chaired by the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
Human Rights-Related Developments
On 25 September, the Human Rights Council considered the report of the independent expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia (A/HRC/27/71). The report recommends prioritisation of justice and security sector reforms. It also notes evidence that military operations have exacerbated the displacement of civilian populations and allegations that AMISOM troops were responsible for human rights violations against civilians during an offensive against Al-Shabaab in Jubbaland in March.
The principal set of issues for the Council to consider in October concerns sanctions, including the partial lifting of the arms embargo, the humanitarian exemption and the mandate of the Monitoring Group.
The Council will also need to assess the track record of AMISOM, including with respect to recurring allegations of sexual violence and other human rights abuses perpetrated by its troops, in order to establish parameters for the upcoming renewal of the AU mission’s authorisation, which expires on 31 October.
Perhaps the most likely course of action regarding sanctions-related options would be for the Council to renew the following without significant revision: partial lifting of the arms embargo, the humanitarian exemption and the mandate of the Monitoring Group.
In light of evidence suggesting the amount of arms and ammunition imported since March 2013 exceeds the needs of the SNA (Africa Confidential has reported 13,000 weapons and 5.5 million rounds of ammunition), the Council may wish to consider imposing a quantitative limit on arms and ammunition that can be imported.
Another option the Council may wish to consider would be adding new individual listings for violations of the charcoal embargo and misappropriation of public finances. As previously suggested by the Monitoring Group, the Council could impose a moratorium on future oil contracts until an adequate regulatory and legal framework is established.
Regarding AMISOM, the Council will most likely renew authorisation without substantial changes to the mandate of the mission. Alternatively, taking into account credible reports regarding violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by AMISOM troops, the Council could choose to incorporate stronger accountability language. This could include a threat to reassess the UN support package in the absence of concrete steps toward better accountability for troops who violate human rights and international humanitarian law.
Council and Wider Dynamics
Counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism remain the predominant priorities of regional and international actors in Somalia. Within the Council, there continues to be strong backing for the military offensive against Al-Shabaab by AMISOM and the SNA. The US, which had previously disclosed specific drone strikes and isolated actions by special operations forces in the country, publicly acknowledged in July that it has maintained a limited military presence of up to 120 troops within Somalia since 2007. Other Council members may also be actively involved: France’s foreign intelligence service reportedly provided specific information for targeting Godane. The EU, which has been paying AMISOM’s salaries and conducting a training mission for the SNA, relocated its training facilities to Mogadishu earlier this year. Meanwhile, analysis by humanitarian actors suggests chronic insecurity and the war against Al-Shabaab have had adverse humanitarian consequences. There is significant evidence of human rights violations by AMISOM troops, particularly rape and sexual exploitation, war profiteering and mismanagement of arms and ammunition by the Somali National Security Forces (SNSF) could still be a problem (the final report of the Monitoring Group due on 8 October should provide more clarity on this point). Nonetheless, it remains unlikely that the Council will fail to renew either AMISOM’s authorisation or the partial lifting of the arms embargo for the SNSF.
The UK is the penholder on Somalia, the US is the penholder on piracy, Russia is the penholder on legal aspects of counter-piracy measures and the Republic of Korea is the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on Somalia
|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.|
|12 November 2013 S/RES/2124||This resolution increased the troop ceiling of AMISOM from 17,731 to 22,126.|
|24 July 2013 S/RES/2111||This resolution reauthorised the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group until 25 November 2014.|
|22 February 2012 S/RES/2036||This resolution authorised an increase in AMISOM’s troop ceiling as well as an expansion of its UN support package and imposed a ban on importing charcoal from Somalia.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|22 May 2014 S/PRST/2014/9||This was a presidential statement regarding arms and ammunition management by the Federal Government of Somalia.|
|Security Council Letter|
|3 April 2014 S/2014/243||This letter transmitted the Secretary-General’s recommendations for improved regulation of small arms by FGS.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|5 September 2014 S/2014/655||This letter transmitted the report of the Emergency Relief Coordinator.|
|12 July 2013 S/2013/413||This letter transmitted the report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia.|
|25 September 2014 S/2014/699||This was a Secretary-General’s report on UNSOM.|