March 2016 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 February 2016
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Expected Council Action

In March, the Council is due to extend the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) before the current mandate expires on 30 March. 

Key Recent Developments

On 28 January, Michael Keating, the Secretary-General’s new Special Representative for Somalia, who succeeded Nicholas Kay in January, and Francisco Caetano José Madeira, the new Special Representative of the AU for Somalia and head of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), briefed the Council. The day before, the Somali government announced that it had made a decision on the model for the electoral process. According to the so-called Mogadishu Declaration agreed by the National Consultative Forum on 16 December 2015, the electoral model should have been presented at a ceremony in Kismayo on 10 January. The delay in reaching an agreement had caused concern among Somalia’s international partners, who had called for a decision to be made before the 28 January Council meeting, but up until the last minute it was unclear whether this would happen.  

In his briefing, Keating referred to the decision on the electoral model as a watershed moment. He said that the model entailed a lower house of 275 members, based on the 4.5 power-sharing formula, which gives an equal share to each of the four major clans while a coalition of smaller clans gets half a share, and an upper house of 54 members, based on equal representation of the federal member states and the allocation of additional seats to Puntland and Somaliland. He stressed, however, that much work remained to agree on details regarding implementation of the model, and a political road map for the period 2016 to 2020 with universal elections as the end goal. He noted the importance of continued international support, including from the Council.

Madeira also welcomed progress on the political front, but referring to the two most recent attacks by the Islamist rebel group Al-Shabaab—the 15 January attack against the AMISOM base in El-Adde and the 22 January attack against a restaurant in Mogadishu, which were condemned in two separate Council press statements—he acknowledged that the security situation remained difficult and that AMISOM’s capacity was overstretched. In order to strengthen implementation of AMISOM’s mandate, Madeira called for enhanced international support for the creation of a capable, legitimate and inclusive Somali National Army (SNA); better coordination among AMISOM, UNSOM and the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS); and the provision of additional enablers to the mission, such as helicopters. 

He announced that the AU would organise a summit meeting for the troop-contributing countries (TCCs) to discuss command and control issues, the provision of additional enablers and enhanced overall coordination. (The meeting was held on 28 February.) In addition, highlighting the funding gap resulting from the EU’s decision to cut the allowances for uniformed personnel by 20 percent as of 1 January, Madeira urged the Council to consider alternative funding mechanisms to support AMISOM, including financial support from the UN, individual Council members and other stakeholders. 

In a press statement on the day of the meeting, Council members welcomed the decision on an electoral model and the government’s commitment to hold an electoral process in 2016, while recalling their expectation that there should be no further extension of the electoral timelines and underlining the importance of completing the electoral process and the constitutional review. They reiterated their condemnation of the recent Al-Shabaab attacks, underlined the importance of continuing offensive operations against the rebel group by AMISOM and the SNA “in a well-coordinated manner and in line with the qualitative improvements requested” in resolution 2232, and welcomed the planned AMISOM TCC meeting. They also stressed the importance of rapidly developing the capacity of the SNA as well as Somali police.  

On 18 February, Kenya announced that it had killed Al-Shabaab’s deputy commander, Mahad Karate, in an 8 February airstrike, along with 42 other Al-Shabaab fighters. Karate was believed to have played a major role in the 15 January attack against AMISOM. On 19 February, the AU said that Ethiopia and Kenya had offered to deploy helicopters to AMISOM. (The Council has authorised the deployment of up to 12 military helicopters, but at present the mission has none.) It is understood that the offer is for a total of six helicopters.

On 23 and 24 February, the high-level partnership forum met in Istanbul to review progress against the New Deal Compact for Somalia agreed in September 2013. In a communiqué covering all relevant issues, participants underlined among other things the importance of a timely implementation of the electoral process and their strong expectation that there should be no extension of the term limits of the legislature and executive. They urged the government and regional authorities to make every effort to ensure that Puntland would participate in the electoral process. (Puntland has not accepted the electoral model and was not present at the forum.)  

The humanitarian situation seemed to deteriorate. On 8 February, the Office of the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia said that the food insecurity and malnutrition situation was alarming, with 4.7 million, or almost 40 percent, of the Somali population in need of humanitarian assistance. It noted that the level of malnutrition was particularly severe among children, with nearly 305,000 acutely malnourished children under the age of five. 

Sanctions-Related Developments

On 18 February, the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño (Venezuela), briefed the Council on the work of the Committee. In the past, briefings on the work of the Committee have always taken place in consultations, but at the initiative of Venezuela, which has held the chairmanship since 1 January 2015, the briefing was held in public for the first time. The Committee had not met since 9 October 2015, when it discussed the final reports of its Monitoring Group under resolution 2244. In the February briefing, Ramírez focused on the Monitoring Group’s findings and also said that the Committee was considering a draft implementation note on the arms embargo, with publication expected in March. 

Key Issues

A key issue for the Council is assessing progress in the implementation of resolution 2232 and whether to make any changes in UNSOM’s mandate. In particular, this includes consideration of the implementation of the resolution’s provisions regarding UNSOM, such as strengthening the relationship between the mission and AMISOM, and expanding its presence in the rest of the country to support peace and reconciliation efforts and political processes. It also involves assessing progress in the implementation of the “qualitative improvements” referred to in the 28 January press statement aimed at enabling a surge in AMISOM’s efficiency, further strengthening the capacity and coordination of Somali security forces and finalising the Somali national security sector architecture.    

More generally, immediate key issues include the continuing threat posed by Al-Shabaab, implementation of the recently agreed model for the 2016 electoral process, completion of the new federal structure and constitutional review, the protection of civilians and the alarming humanitarian situation.  

On the sanctions front, a key issue is whether the measures against Eritrea should be lifted in light of the absence of any evidence of Eritrean support for Al-Shabaab, as reported by the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group. 


The main option for the Council is to adopt a resolution renewing UNSOM’s mandate without any changes either for one year or for a shorter period, and reiterating some of the key points of the high-level partnership forum communiqué.   

A further option is to revise the sanctions measures against Eritrea. 

At the Sanctions Committee level, one option is to issue an implementation assistance notice on the arms embargo as requested by resolution 2244. Another option is to hold a joint meeting with the 1267/1989/2253 ISIL (Dae’sh)/Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee.  A further option is for the chair to visit the region. 

Council Dynamics

The Council remains largely united on Somalia. At press time negotiations on the resolution renewing UNSOM’s mandate had yet to begin, but no changes were expected. However, the resolution was seen as an opportunity to send key messages to Somali leaders about the importance of implementing the electoral process according to the agreed timelines and address other key issues discussed at the recent meeting of the High Level Partnership Forum. It seems the mandate will probably be extended for a full year.

In general, Council members seem particularly concerned about the security situation and the continued strength of Al-Shabaab. This was reflected during the 28 January consultations with Keating, when members raised questions about AMISOM’s performance and wanted more information about measures to enhance its effectiveness.  The Council may use the upcoming UNSOM resolution to express these concerns and reiterate the need to strengthen efforts aimed at stabilising the security situation, but there will be another opportunity to review the situation in May when the Council is due to adopt a resolution renewing the authorisation of AMISOM.

On the sanctions side, the 18 February briefing on the work of the Committee seemed to show a growing divide between members who believe the Council should consider lifting the measures against Eritrea, such as Angola, China, Russia and Venezuela, and those who remain concerned about Eritrea’s other activities in the region and seem to view cooperation with the Monitoring Group as a precondition for any changes in the sanctions regime. 

The UK is the penholder on Somalia. 

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions
23 October 2015 S/RES/2244 renewed the Monitoring Group’s mandate.
28 July 2015 S/RES/2232 extended UNSOM’s mandate until 30 March 2016 and reauthorised AMISOM through 30 May 2016.
Security Council Meeting Records
18 February 2016 S/PV.7626 was the briefing on the work of the Sanctions Committee
29 January 2016 S/PV.7614 was the briefing by Keating and Madeira. 
Secretary-General’s Report
8 January 2016 S/2016/27 was the most recent quarterly report on Somalia.
Security Council Press Statements
28 January 2016 SC/12226 welcomed the decision on an electoral model. 
22 January 2016 SC/12216 condemned the Al-Shabaab attack in Mogadishu.  
15 January 2016 SC/12205 condemned the Al-Shaabab attack against AMISOM.
Sanctions Committee Documents
9 October 2015 S/2015/802 was the Monitoring Group’s latest report on Eritrea.
9 October 2015 S/2015/801 was the Monitoring Group’s latest report on Somalia.