May 2016 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 April 2016
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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), Michael Keating, on the forthcoming Secretary-General’s report. The Council is also expected to renew the authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which expires on 31 May, and could elect to review the mandate of the UN Support Office in Somalia (UNSOS).

The Council is planning a visiting mission to Somalia in May, where it is expecting to meet with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud, defense and intelligence ministers and the government’s chief of staff, as well as meet with AMISOM and UNSOM and members of civil society.

Key Recent Developments

Somalia has recently made significant progress on its electoral plan and the political process. On 4 April, the semi-autonomous Puntland region agreed to participate fully in the electoral process, on the basis of an agreement with the Somali government that the so-called 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, would “under no circumstances be used beyond the 2016 elections”. The intention is to hold one-person one-vote elections in 2020. The agreement was guaranteed by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), with the UN, the AU and the EU serving as witnesses.

There was also progress on the practical framework for the implementation of the electoral process. The third National Leadership Forum held in Mogadishu from 9 to 12 April agreed on a structure for the electoral process, involving the establishment of uniform election implementation teams at federal and state levels to organise the upcoming elections. Participants also agreed on the composition of these teams, and promised to formulate their terms of reference and to establish a dispute resolution mechanism. According to the plan, the electoral college this year will be 100 times larger than in 2012 elections, and 30 percent of the seats in Parliament are being reserved for women. The forum also announced that a constitutional conference would be held between 25 May and 5 June in the Puntland capital, Garowe, to discuss contentious political and constitutional issues that may require review.

On AMISOM, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) adopted a press statement on 31 March in which it reiterated its serious concern about the funding gap created by the EU’s “untimely” 20 percent funding cut and once again called on the UN to utilise assessed contributions to bridge the funding gap. It stressed that, in line with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, the AU in deploying AMISOM is acting on behalf of the Security Council. The statement also expressed serious concern over the reports of continuous shipment of arms for non-state actors in Somalia, in violation of the UN arms embargo.

On 19 April, the Council held a briefing on Somalia at the request of the UK, taking advantage of President Mohamoud’s presence in New York for events in the General Assembly. Keating also briefed the Council, along with AU Permanent Observer Tete Antonio. Keating stressed that the electoral process remain vulnerable to spoilers, with Al-Shabaab being a potent threat. He also reported that the capacity of UNSOS is being strengthened, including through the deployment of a team of 70 military experts from the UK. Antonio highlighted four critical issues regarding AMISOM: that there is a clear justification for the renewal of AMISOM’s mandate; that AMISOM’s strategy must embrace more targeted operations involving holding, offensive and pursuit operations; that resources must be mobilised to ensure that the salaries of the Somali security forces are paid and to fill the gap created by the 20 percent salary cut for AMISOM uniformed personnel; and that the deployment of operational enablers and force multipliers are pivotal for AMISOM operations. President Mohamoud conveyed that Somalia has made solid improvements in weapons and ammunition management and in complying with Security Council arms notification requirements, and urged the Council to lift the arms embargo on Somalia, saying it would help accelerate the development of the national security forces and enhance Somalia’s ability to defeat terrorism.

Following the meeting, Council members on 21 April issued a press statement in which they commended President Mohamoud and the federal government for the political progress made in the last four years, in particular the agreement on an electoral model. They welcomed the government’s commitment to reserve 30 percent of seats in the upper and lower houses of parliament for women and called on the parliament to endorse swiftly the implementation plan decided by the National Leadership Forum. They recalled their expectation that there will be no extension of the electoral process timelines, and called for progress on the constitutional review process and for completion of the federal state formation process to be accelerated. They also expressed grave concern at the fragility of the security situation and reiterated condemnation of attacks and recruitment of children by Al-Shabaab.  They underscored the importance of enhancing command and control and coordination within AMISOM, and of the swift appointment of a Force Commander. Members of the Council welcomed the efforts made by the federal government to strengthen the capacity and accountability of Somali security institutions and expressed concern about the fragile humanitarian situation.

Concerning the humanitarian situation, UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia Peter de Clercq on 31 March appealed for $105 million in aid to provide life-saving assistance to nearly two million people affected by the severe drought in the autonomous regions of Somaliland and Puntland.

Sanctions-Related Developments

The 751/1907 Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee on 14 March adopted the implementation assistance note on the arms embargo entitled, “Summary of arms embargo restrictions in place for Somalia and Eritrea, including exemptions”. The note, requested by the Council in resolution 2244 of 23 October 2015, provides an overview of the scope of the arms embargo and exemption requests.

The Sanctions Committee met on 22 April to receive a midterm update from the coordinator of the Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group. In the update, the coordinator conveyed growing concerns surrounding Al-Shabaab’s resurgence and stressed that AMISOM and the Somali National Army (SNA) are in need of increased support.

On 31 March, Djibouti sent a letter to the Secretary-General to convey the “encouraging developments” of the release of four of the 19 Djibouti prisoners of war held in Eritrea.

Key Issues

A key issue for the Council in May is the re-authorisation of AMISOM’s mandate; as well as how the Council can best address the financial, operational and logistical challenges facing AMISOM and support efforts to enhance the effectiveness of the mission in its offensive operations against Al-Shabaab. In this regard, the importance of enhancing command and control and improving coordination within AMISOM remain issues of high importance, particularly in light of the upcoming elections, which Al-Shabaab will likely seek to disrupt.

A further issue is ensuring that Somalia adheres to the timeline for the current electoral process and conducts peaceful, transparent and inclusive elections in August. Likewise, progress must be made towards the constitutional review process and completion of the federal State formation, with support from UNSOM.  

On the sanctions front, a key issue remains whether the measures against Eritrea should be reviewed in light of its recent release of the Djiboutian prisoners of war and the absence of any evidence of Eritrean support for Al-Shabaab, as reported by the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group. Another issue is whether to lift the arms embargo on Somalia, which expires on 15 November, as requested by Somalia.


The main option for the Council is to adopt a resolution renewing AMISOM’s authorisation for one year. This resolution could address any concerns raised when the Council meets with AMISOM in Mogadishu. The resolution could also reiterate some of the messages expressed in the Council’s 21 April press statement.  

A further option would be to review and, if deemed necessary, revise the mandate of UNSOS, as provided for by resolution 2245, which established UNSOS in November 2015 and decided to keep its mandate under review in line with that of AMISOM. This option remains unlikely, however, given that UNSOS was established only six months ago.

During its planned visit to Somalia in May, while engaging with several key stakeholders, the Council could take the opportunity to reiterate its support to the government for the holding of timely and inclusive elections in August and send a message to spoilers that the international community is invested in supporting Somalia’s political transition. On AMISOM, the Council could take the opportunity to encourage the strengthening of command and control and reiterate the importance of the swift appointment of a Force Commander. 

Council Dynamics

The Council remains generally united on Somalia. In their interventions during the 19 April meeting, most Council members welcomed recent political developments, while warning that the electoral schedule must be adhered to. They also were united in expressing their support for AMISOM and the SNA. Venezuela was the sole member calling on the Council to heed President Mohamoud’s appeal for the lifting of sanctions.

At press time, discussions on AMISOM’s reauthorisation had not yet begun; however, Council members were anticipating a report on AMISOM from the AU following a meeting of the PSC on the situation in Somalia set for 28 April, which, along with perspectives gained during the Council’s meeting with AMISOM in Mogadishu, would help inform the Council’s approach to the reauthorisation.

The UK is the penholder on Somalia.  

UN Documents

Security Council Resolutions
24 March 2016 S/RES/2275 This was a resolution extending the mandate of UNSOM.
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.
Security Council Meeting Record
19 April 2016 S/PV.7674 This was a was the briefing with President Mohamoud.
Security Council Press Statement
21 April 2016 SC/12333 This was a statement that focused on recent political progress, the difficult security situation and the importance of further efforts aimed at strengthening AMISOM and Somali security institutions.
Security Council Letters
12 April 2016 S/2016/350 This was a letter that informed the Council of the UK’s readiness to deploy 70 military personnel to support UNSOS.
31 March 2016 S/2016/300 This was a letter from Djibouti on the release of four of the 19 Djibouti prisoners of war still in custody in Eritrea.