Expected Council Action
In January, the Council will consider the Secretary-General’s 120-day report on Somalia. At press time, it was expected that there would be a briefing by the new Special Representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, who is succeeding Nicholas Kay in January, and possibly also by the new Special Representative for Somalia of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and head of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Francisco Caetano José Madeira, who took up his position on 4 December 2015, followed by consultations. A presidential statement on the electoral process was seen as a possibility.
Also, the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee may meet in January. It last met on 9 October 2015.
Key Recent Developments
At a 9 November 2015 ministerial-level meeting on Somalia chaired by UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond, the Council adopted resolution 2245. This changed the name of the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA) to the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS), to reflect the fact that it also provides support to the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) and to the Somali National Army (SNA) on joint operations with AMISOM. More important, the resolution incorporated recommendations from the AU-UN strategic review presented in a 7 October 2015 letter to the Council from the Secretary-General, aimed at consolidating and prioritising the activities of UNSOA and addressing administrative, coordination and structural gaps. Among other things, the resolution authorised the continued provision of logistical support for up to 22,126 AMISOM personnel and a targeted support package “on an exceptional basis” for up to 10,900 SNA troops, in addition to medical evacuation for the Somali national police on joint operations with AMISOM. The number of staff is expected to increase by some 130, while the head of the office will be elevated to the level of Assistant Secretary-General.
On 10 November 2015, the Council adopted resolution 2246, renewing for one year the counter-piracy measures for Somalia initially authorised in 2008. The resolution noted that there had been a steady decline in pirate attacks and hijackings since 2011, but stressed the need for a continued comprehensive response. On 26 November, following a 15 November hijacking of a Pakistani fishing vessel and its 15 crew members, Kay said in a statement condemning it that there was a risk that the recent rise in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing off the coast of Somalia could lead to a resurgence of piracy.
On 8 December 2015, Kay and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud co-hosted a meeting in Mogadishu of the high-level partnership forum attended by 29 international delegations, in addition to Somali stakeholders. The forum, which was created in 2014 as a platform to discuss implementation of the so-called New Deal Somali Compact relating to reconstruction and development, reviewed progress over the past six months with a view to addressing challenges, identifying possible gaps and agreeing on what must be accomplished ahead of a ministerial-level meeting to be held in Istanbul in February 2016. In his opening speech, Kay noted in particular the progress that had been made in creating the new federal structure, with the three new federal states Galmudug, Jubbaland and South West, scheduled to join Puntland soon as part of a federal Somalia. He expressed concern, however, about slow progress in forming the fifth state from the administrative regions of Hiraan and Middle Shabelle, and urged a swift conclusion of that process.
From 12 to 16 December 2015, the National Consultative Forum met in Mogadishu to discuss the 2016 electoral process after a series of regional consultative meetings were held across Somalia in November on the four main options for the formation of an electoral college. (These are: a nation-wide electoral college; establishing electoral colleges in each of the existing and emerging federal states; formation of district-level electoral colleges based on the 1991 administrative divisions of the country; and using a clan-based electoral college as was used in 2012, but with wider representation. They were developed in response to the 28 July decision by the Somali Federal Parliament that a country-wide “one person, one vote” election would not be possible before the end of the mandates of the legislature and the executive in August and September 2016, respectively.) The meeting concluded that only an electoral model combining elements from each of the four options would reflect the preferences of the Somali people. It was agreed that a political roadmap should be developed for the period leading up to the implementation of the electoral process as well as the period between 2016 and 2020, with a view to the holding of universal suffrage elections in 2020. Furthermore, it was agreed that the details of the electoral model and implementation plan should be launched at a ceremony in Kismayo on 10 January 2016.
The Al-Shabaab rebel group seemed to consolidate its presence, with no major military advances reported by AMISOM and SNA. On 1 November 2015, Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing against the Sahafi hotel in Mogadishu in which at least 14 people were killed. Council members condemned the attack in a press statement. Meanwhile, there were new reports of Al-Shabaab infighting over whether to support Al-Qaida or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). According to Somali media, the spiritual head of Al Shabaab, Sheikh Abdalla, warned that ISIS sympathisers would be beheaded.
Human Rights-Related Developments
Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović visited Somalia from 13 to 17 November 2015. In a 17 November press release, he noted that the government had made progress in operations against Al-Shabaab; implementation of a human rights road map; reforming the justice and security sectors; consultations on an electoral model for 2016; and the adoption of legislation for a national human rights commission. But he added that Somalia still faced serious human rights challenges, including allegations of human rights violations committed during military operations. He called on the government and all security forces operating in Somalia, including the SNA, AMISOM and other foreign forces, to take effective measures to prevent and address violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Šimonović also emphasised the need to address the root causes of terrorism, including poverty, corruption and lack of good governance.
On the security side, the continuing threat posed by Al-Shabaab remains a key issue. There also seems to be growing concern about ISIS increasing its influence in Somalia.
Another key issue is the lack of progress in implementing recent Council decisions to bolster the fight against Al-Shabaab, including the reconfiguration of AMISOM aimed at enabling a surge in its efficiency, as initially requested by resolution 2232.
On the political side, key issues include finalisation of the electoral model for the 2016 electoral process, completion of the new federal structure and promoting women’s participation.
Ensuring the protection of civilians and addressing the difficult humanitarian situation are other key issues.
A separate issue is the threat to the long-term stabilisation of Somalia posed by continuing high levels of corruption and misappropriation of public funds and natural resources, as reported by the Monitoring Group assisting the Sanctions Committee in its latest report.
One option for the Council in January is to adopt a presidential statement on the electoral process to reiterate its expectation, as expressed in resolution 2232, that there should be no extension of the agreed timelines. Such a statement would also provide an opportunity to address other key concerns.
At the Sanctions Committee level, the main option is to consider additional targeted sanctions listings as recommended by the Monitoring Group.
Council and Wider Dynamics
The Council remains largely united on Somalia. While the AU was unhappy with some of the provisions of resolution 2245, it seems African Council members were in full support. As stated by the AU representative at the 9 November 2015 Council meeting, the AU had argued in its discussions with the UN that UNSOS, in order to remain independent, should report directly to UN headquarters and be accountable to the AU Special Representative for all matters relating to the AMISOM support package. He therefore regretted that the resolution instead would require the head of UNSOS to report to the Secretary-General’s Special Representative. He also expressed dissatisfaction with the level of financial support for AMISOM, in particular in light of the EU’s decision to cut the allowances of AMISOM’s uniformed personnel by 20 percent as of 1 January 2016. It remains to be seen how this will impact AU-UN relations.
In the Sanctions Committee, which is chaired by Ambassador Rafael Ramírez (Venezuela), there seems to be a sense, at least among some Council members, that Venezuela’s general opposition to the imposition of sanctions as a matter of principle and its abstention on the latest Somalia-Eritrea sanctions resolution, is making it difficult for the Committee to work effectively. It seems, however, that due to political considerations, other Council members are also cautious in their approach when it comes to additional targeted sanctions designations.
The UK is the penholder on Somalia.
UN Documents on Somalia
|Security Council Resolutions|
|10 November 2015 S/RES/2246||This was a resolution renewing counter-piracy measures for Somalia.|
|9 November 2015 S/RES/2245||This was a resolution regarding the successor to the UN Support Office for AMISOM, the UN Support Office in Somalia.|
|28 July 2015 S/RES/2232||This was a resolution that extended the mandate of UNSOM until 30 March 2016 and reauthorised AMISOM through 30 May 2016.|
|Security Council Letter|
|7 October 2015 S/2015/762||This letter concerned the strategic review of UNSOA and concepts for the extension of the SNA support package.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|9 November 2015 S/PV.7551||This was a ministerial-level briefing on Somalia.|
|11 September 2015 S/2015/702||This Secretary-General’s Report was on UNSOM.|
|Security Council Press Statement|
|1 November 2015 SC/12103||This was a press statement condemning Al-Shabaab’s attack on the Sahafi hotel in Mogadishu.|
|Sanctions Committee Document|
|9 October 2015 S/2015/801||This letter transmitted the final report on Somalia of the Monitoring Group.|