Expected Council Action
In November, the Council is expected to adopt a resolution renewing counter-piracy measures for Somalia, due to expire on 18 November.
Key Recent Developments
During the last month, Operation Indian Ocean, a joint Somali National Army (SNA) and AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) military offensive against Al-Shabaab, has made significant progress, while terrorist attacks in Mogadishu have also underscored a situation of prevailing insecurity in Somalia. On 5 October, SNA and AMISOM troops captured the coastal city of Baraawe, a key Al-Shabaab stronghold that had been instrumental as a port for the illicit export of charcoal and import of arms. On 12 October and 15 October, car bombs detonated outside restaurants in Mogadishu, killing numerous people in each instance. Al-Shabaab is presumed to have been responsible for the attacks. On 14 October, the Federal Government of Somalia and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland signed an agreement regarding bilateral relations, political boundaries and security.
Regarding piracy, there has been a sharp decline in incidents off the coast of Somalia since the period from 2009 to 2011, when there was an average of 171 attacks and 39 ships pirated per year. There have been only two attacks by Somali pirates so far in 2014, but neither was successful. It has been more than two years since the last commercial ship was hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia. Somali pirates are believed to still hold 37 hostages, but no vessels remain under their control. Despite the decline in pirate attacks, the US-based NGO Oceans Beyond Piracy estimates that Somali piracy had an economic cost of $3 to $3.2 billion in 2013, with approximately one-third incurred by governments and regional organisations deploying naval forces and two-thirds assumed by the private sector (i.e. security, labour, fuel and insurance).
On 22 October, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council on the latest Secretary-General’s report on piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia and other recent developments. The report notes progress made in targeting Somali pirate kingpins for arrest and prosecution, particularly Mohomed Abdi Hassan, who was arrested in Brussels in October 2013, and Mohamed Garfanji, who was arrested in Mogadishu in August 2014. The report also strongly condemned the 7 April killing of Clément Gorissen and Simon Davis, two staff members of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) who were investigating illicit financial flows from piracy. The Secretary-General also emphasised the need for judicial institutions to prosecute pirates, economic development in coastal areas and a national coastal and maritime security capacity.
October was a busy month in the Council for other Somalia-related meetings. On 14 October, the Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, Nicholas Kay, and the AU Special Representative for Somalia and head of AMISOM, Maman Sidikou, briefed the Council via video-teleconference. On 15 October, Ambassador Oh Joon (Republic of Korea), chair of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee, briefed Council members in consultations about sanctions developments during the most recent 120-day period and the final reports of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group. Lastly, under “any other business” on 22 October, Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos briefed Council members in consultations on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Somalia.
On 24 October, the Council adopted resolution 2182 reauthorising AMISOM for one year. The resolution also included several sanctions-related measures: authorising naval deployments to interdict charcoal exports and arms imports violating the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea sanctions regime, reauthorising the mandate of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group, reauthorising the humanitarian exemption, and reauthorising a partial lifting of the arms embargo for Somali government security forces. On 22 October and 23 October, Kuwait and Egypt, representing the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab Group respectively, transmitted letters to the Council requesting (unsuccessfully) a postponement of the vote on resolution 2182. The Arab Group specifically opposed authorisation for maritime interdiction beyond Somalia’s coastal waters and by the naval forces of individual member states. Accompanied by Russia, Jordan abstained during the vote adopting resolution 2182.
The principal issue facing the Council in November concerns the on-going (albeit reduced) danger of piracy in the Gulf of Aden, which potentially threatens to re-emerge in the absence of continued counter-piracy measures.
Another issue concerns the sustainability of counter-piracy naval deployments—currently estimated to cost approximately $1 billion per year—and a relative lack of financial resources dedicated to land-based approaches to piracy prevention. Relevant factors include a chronic lack of alternative economic opportunities in piracy affected areas, the resilience of support networks for piracy and insufficient domestic institutions for prosecuting and imprisoning pirates.
The most likely option for the Council would be to renew for one year the counter-piracy measures most recently reauthorised in resolution 2125. More specifically, the Council could also consider:
- creating specialised anti-piracy courts in Somalia with substantial international financial and technical support and participation (i.e. hybrid model);
- urging the financial support from member states for the Trust Fund to Support Initiatives of States Combatting Piracy off the Coast of Somalia;
- reiterating its support for the work of the UNODC and requesting member states to contribute to the Maritime Crime Programme; and
- requesting member states and regional organisations to work with the Somali government toward creating a national maritime patrol capacity to deter piracy.
Council and Wider Dynamics
There continues to be considerable support in the Council regarding counter-piracy measures for Somalia. More than half of current Council members are represented through the CTF-151 of the Combined Maritime Forces (i.e. Australia and Republic of Korea), EU Naval Force Atalanta, NATO Operation Ocean Shield and national deployments (i.e. China and Russia). However, the interdiction measures authorised with resolution 2182 for charcoal exports and arms imports in violation of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea sanctions regime are more contentious. In explaining its abstention, Jordan specifically mentioned three issues: the authorisation to individual member states, “reasonable grounds” as an insufficient threshold, and the extension beyond Somalia’s coastal waters. Russia (which abstained) and China (which voted in favour) also stated that more attention should have been given to the concerns of the Arab Group.
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|
|24 October 2014 S/RES/2182||This resolution authorised naval interdiction of illicit charcoal and illicit arms, renewed authorisation for AMISOM and renewed sanctions measures.|
|18 November 2013 S/RES/2125||This resolution reauthorised anti-piracy measures for Somalia.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|24 October 2014 S/PV.7286||This meeting concerned the adoption of resolution 2182, with explanations of votes by Jordan and Russia who abstained.|
|22 October 2014 S/PV.7284||The meeting was a briefing on piracy in Somalia.|
|14 October 2014 S/PV.7278||This meeting was a briefing on UNSOM.|
|Security Council Letter|
|23 October 2014 S/2014/760||This was a letter from Egypt requesting postponement of the vote on resolution 2182.|
|16 October 2014 S/2014/740||This was a report of the Secretary-General on piracy in Somalia.|
|Sanctions Committee Documents|
|10 October 2014 S/2014/727||This letter transmitted the final report on Eritrea of the Monitoring Group.|
|10 October 2014 S/2014/726||This letter transmitted the final report on Somalia of the Monitoring Group.|
USEFUL ADDITIONAL RESOURCE
The State of Maritime Piracy 2013, Oceans Beyond Piracy, May 2014.