Expected Council Action
In July, the Council is expected to adopt a resolution reauthorising the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The Council also expects to receive a briefing by the Chair of the 751/1907 Somalia-Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Rafael Darío Ramírez Carreño (Venezuela).
Key Recent Developments
On 27 May, the Council adopted resolution 2289, which authorised a short technical rollover of AMISOM until 8 July. This rollover has allowed Council members time to assess the results of their 17-22 May Somalia-focused visiting mission to the Horn of Africa and the possible implications for the AMISOM mandate.
On 27 June, Council members met for an informal interactive dialogue on AMISOM. Special Representative of the AU Commission Chairperson for Somalia (SRCC), Ambassador Francisco Madeira, Special Representative of the Secretary-General Michael Keating and Under-Secretary-General for Field Support Atul Khare briefed, and Council members had the opportunity to comment and ask questions. The meeting provided an opportunity for the SRCC to brief the Council on the review of AMISOM’s Concept of Operations, which took place in Addis Ababa a week prior, and the AU Military Operations Coordination Committee, which met 22-23 June in Kampala. The meeting also provided another opportunity for the Council to have a direct dialogue with the AU on security issues ahead of the mandate renewal.
The security situation in Somalia remains of serious concern, with Al-Shabaab continuing asymmetric and conventional attacks. On 1 June, militants detonated a car bomb at the gates of a popular hotel in Mogadishu, and gunmen then stormed the hotel, leaving at least 16 people dead, including two Somali members of parliament. Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack. On 25 June, a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle loaded with explosives at a Mogadishu hotel, and gunmen stormed the building. Fifteen people, including one government minister, were killed in the hours-long attack. On 10 June, the group said that it had executed four people it accused of espionage, including one who was beheaded for allegedly giving information to the US that led to the killing of an Al-Shabaab’s leader. On 5 June, gunmen suspected of belonging to Al-Shabaab shot and killed a female journalist working for a state-run radio station, Radio Mogadishu. Late last year, a female reporter who also worked for Radio Mogadishu was killed in a car blast, and the two men convicted of the killing were executed in April.
On 23 June, Uganda, which provides AMISOM’s largest military contingent, announced that it plans to withdraw its troops from the mission by December 2017.
On 6 June, five AMISOM soldiers and ten Somalis were arrested for selling military equipment after being found with improvised detonators, fuel, sandbags and empty ammunition boxes, police said. AMISOM confirmed the arrests, saying it would not accept “unprofessional conduct among its personnel”.
Somalia appears to be on track to hold elections in August as outlined by its electoral timetable. On 23 May, Council members issued a press statement that welcomed the electoral process set out in President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s decree of 22 May, noting that this should enable the necessary technical preparation and implementation without further delay.
President Mohamud paid a three-day visit to Kenya from 6 to 8 June to meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. They discussed the situation of refugees following the Kenyan government’s May announcement that it would close its refugee camps. President Mohamud visited Dadaab Refugee Camp, which hosts more than 300,000 refugees, and addressed its inhabitants, assuring them that the government of Somalia is committed to receiving them back home to participate in state-building, peacebuilding and national reconciliation. He said that their repatriation would be orderly, humane and dignified as per the 2013 Tripartite Agreement between the UN refugee agency and the governments of Kenya and Somalia. President Mohamud expressed gratitude for the generosity and hospitality of Kenyans for hosting his people for the past quarter-century. During the visit, the two leaders issued a communiqué that called on the international community to support the repatriation process by providing adequate backing to Somalia to receive the returnees.
Human Rights-Related Developments
During its 32nd session in June, the Human Rights Council considered the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Somalia. The report contains 227 recommendations, including one calling for core human rights instruments to be ratified and implemented. The review recommended that the implementation of the National Human Rights Roadmap and related Action Plan should be speeded up, that the Action Plan on ending the recruitment and use of children signed in 2012 should be fully implemented, and that senior political and military officials should be investigated and prosecuted for violations of international human rights law.
A key issue surrounding the re-authorisation of AMISOM is the need to prioritise the mandate to improve its implementation. In this regard, the importance of enhancing command and control and improving coordination within AMISOM remain issues of high importance, as does assessing how AMISOM’s Concept of Operations could be refined to enable the mission to better respond to the threat posed by Al-Shabaab. Addressing the financial challenges facing AMISOM is a longstanding issue.
On the sanctions front, a main challenge, according to the Secretary-General’s 9 May report, is that increased interest in Somalia’s rich maritime and mineral resources has not been matched by adequate efforts to manage and protect them. Another issue is whether the measures against Eritrea should be revised in light of its recent release of Djiboutian prisoners of war and the absence of any evidence of Eritrean support for Al-Shabaab, as reported by the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group. Assessing the arms embargo on Somalia, which expires on 15 November, and determining whether to maintain the current partial embargo thereafter, revert to a full embargo or lift the sanctions entirely, as requested by Somalia, is a further issue.
Another pressing 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.
The main option for the Council is to adopt a resolution renewing AMISOM’s authorisation for one year. It is likely that there will be no major changes to the mandated tasks, but Council members may use the perspectives gained from their visit to Somalia in May and from their 27 June interactive dialogue on AMISOM to further refine the mandate.
At press time, discussions on AMISOM’s renewal were underway. While it appeared that the main tasks of the mandate would remain the same, it seemed that the focus would be on prioritising the mandate, as requested by troop-contributing countries, to enhance the efficacy of AMISOM’s implementation.
The Council remains generally united on Somalia and in its support for AMISOM and the Somali National Army. As demonstrated during the Council’s visit to Somalia and in its 23 May press statement, the Council is united in supporting Somalia’s electoral and state-building processes.
On sanctions, the Council is divided between those members who believe it 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. Venezuela has also called on the Council to heed Somalia’s appeal for the lifting of sanctions.
The UK is the penholder on Somalia and Venezuela is the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee.
UN Documents on Somalia
|Security Council Resolutions|
|27 May 2016 S/RES/2289||This was a resolution authorising a short technical rollover of AMISOM until 8 July 2016.|
|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.|
|9 May 2016 S/2016/430||This was the report of the Secretary-General on Somalia.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|27 June 2016 SC/12422||This was a press statement that condemned the 25 June terrorist attacks perpetrated by Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu.|
|2 June 2016 SC/12388||This was a press statement that condemned the 1 June terrorist attacks perpetrated by Al-Shabaab in Mogadishu.|
|23 May 2016 SC/12369||This was a press statement that welcomed the electoral process set out in the 22 May decree issued by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.|
|Human Rights Council Document|
|13 April 2016 A/HRC/32/12||This was the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Somalia.|