Expected Council Action
In March, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), which expires on 31 March. The Council is awaiting recommendations from the Secretary-General on the UN’s role in Somalia in the post-election period and may opt for a technical rollover of UNSOM’s mandate until those recommendations can be duly considered. The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) is expected to submit its report on the Somali Security Forces to the Council by 30 March, as requested in resolution 2317.
The Council will also receive a briefing by the Chair of the 751/1907 Somalia Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan).
Key Recent Developments
Somalia completed its electoral process on 8 February with the election of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, commonly known as “Farmajo”, a former Somali prime minister and dual US citizen—an outcome that had not been generally predicted. In a vote plagued with widespread corruption, Farmajo beat 20 other candidates, including incumbent Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. His brief tenure as prime minister in 2010-2011 was notable for a reduction in the size of a bloated cabinet and the introduction of a reliable payment system for the army.
Following Farmajo’s election, the Council on 10 February adopted a presidential statement welcoming the conclusion of the electoral process and the election of Farmajo. Looking forward, the Council underscored the importance of the timely and transparent appointment of ministers and cabinet positions, and called on Farmajo and his government to give urgent attention to the immediate risk of famine and to address the consequences of the severe drought in Somalia. The Council appealed to donors to increase their support for the Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia and to support the appeals for aid by Somali federal and regional authorities. The Council also emphasised as an immediate priority the need to accelerate agreement between the federal and regional authorities on a Somali federal security sector architecture that clearly defines the roles, responsibilities and structures of relevant security sector institutions under full Somali ownership. The Council stressed the importance of the FGS enhancing efforts to strengthen Somalia’s security in light of the eventual handover of security responsibilities from the AU Mission in Somalia to the Somali security services and encouraged UNSOM to continue to undertake a comprehensive approach to security in close coordination with the Somali authorities, AMISOM and international partners. The Council also urged the new federal administration to lay the foundations for inclusive and transparent elections in four years time by, among other things, ensuring that public office in Somalia cannot be achieved through harassment, intimidation, corruption or manipulation.
According to OCHA, Somalia is in the grip of an intense drought as a result of two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall, and five million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Peter de Clercq, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, asserted on 2 February that it was time to act to prevent another famine. “If we do not scale up the drought response immediately, it will cost lives, further destroy livelihoods, and could undermine the pursuit of key state-building and peacebuilding initiatives,” he warned, adding that even a severe drought does not automatically have to mean catastrophe “if we can respond early enough with timely support from the international community.”
On 15 February, the UK’s envoy for the Horn of Africa, Nicholas Kay, warned that hundreds of thousands of people in Somalia may die or be near death by May. The UK is organising a conference on Somalia in London in May aimed at encouraging progress on long-term stability and security in the country. Kay warned that if “by the time the conference in May happens we are having to sound the alarm and discuss the famine issue, that is going to be too late”.
In a 16 January communiqué, the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) requested the UN Security Council to authorise an AMISOM surge of 4,500 troops for a non-renewable six-month period. This request was made to enable AMISOM to undertake mandated tasks set out in its 2016 concept of operations, especially in relation to the expansion of offensive operations and the exit strategy of the mission. It also called on the international community to continue to provide and increase its support to AMISOM and the Somali National Security Forces.
In a 12 February statement, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour urged AMISOM and the FGS to ensure that their forces comply with human rights standards in upcoming joint military operations against the terror group Al-Shabaab. Gilmour also thanked Jubbaland State President Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe for allowing the UN to open a human rights office in Jubbaland State. The 27 January report of the Secretary-General on Somalia said that security operations had generated 242 civilian casualties, of which 55 deaths and 120 injuries were attributed to the Somali Security Forces, and 37 deaths and 12 injuries to AMISOM. According to the report, UNSOM continued to engage with AMISOM on reported allegations of violations of human rights and humanitarian law, including the 17 July 2016 incident that left 14 civilians dead and three others injured in Wardinle, near Baidoa, which was attributed to AMISOM troops from Ethiopia. At the time of the report, AMISOM was finalising its investigation into the incident.
The Council met on 27 January for a briefing by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Michael Keating, AU Special Representative to Somalia Francisco Madeira and Asha Gelle, the Chair of Goodwill Ambassadors for the 30 percent reserved seats for women in the Somali elections. The meeting was followed by consultations, after which Council President Ambassador Olof Skoog (Sweden) read out elements to the press, which condemned in the strongest terms Al-Shabaab attacks on a Kenyan military base in Kolbiyowon that morning and on the Dayah Hotel in Mogadishu earlier that week. Council members commended the Somali people for the electoral process and paid tribute to the Somali Security Forces and AMISOM troops who secured the election. They also underscored the need for the incoming government to set its priorities for the continued peace- and state-building effort, emphasising the need for the development of a credible and capable Somali national security sector. They congratulated Somalia on the increased representation of women and youth in parliament, expressed deep concern at the worsening drought conditions in Somalia, and urged partners to provide funds and assistance. They also called for full and unhindered humanitarian access.
On 24 February, Senegal, Sweden and Uruguay co-hosted a closed Arria-formula meeting with the heads of human rights components of three UN peace operations. Kirsten Young of UNSOM addressed Council members on the roles of human rights components in the partnership between the UN and the AU and in preventing the recurrence of conflict, including through improved accountability and compliance, as they pertain to the Somali context.
A key issue is determining how the Council and UNSOM can best support Somalia in the post-election period on state-building issues, including the constitutional review and completion of federal state formation.
On security concerns, a main priority is strengthening the Somali National Security Forces and enhancing their ability to work with AMISOM in the fight against Al-Shabaab, particularly in light of AMISOM’s plan to begin transitioning out of Somalia in October 2018.
An urgent issue is responding to the worsening humanitarian crisis and potential famine in Somalia, which if not addressed could have grave deleterious effects on recent political gains.
A likely option is for the Council to conduct a short-term technical rollover of UNSOM’s mandate until it has had time to review the forthcoming recommendations of the Secretary-General on the UN’s presence in Somalia in the post-electoral phase, at which point it would proceed with renewing the mandate with those recommendations in mind.
Another option would be to renew the mandate in March for one year without any major changes.
Council members are united in supporting Somalia’s electoral and state-building processes and in their support for AMISOM, as demonstrated by unified messages conveyed during the Council’s visit to Somalia in May and the uncontentious adoption of recent Council outcomes on Somalia—including its 10 February presidential statement.
The UK is the penholder on Somalia, and Kazakhstan is the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia/Eritrea Sanctions Committee.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|10 November 2016 S/RES/2317||This was a resolution on Somalia and Eritrea sanctions with ten votes in favour.|
|9 November 2016 S/RES/2316||This was a resolution reauthorising Somalia anti-piracy measures.|
|7 July 2016 S/RES/2297||This was a resolution which extended AMISOM’s authorisation until 31 May 2017 with no major changes.|
|24 March 2016 S/RES/2275||This was a resolution extending the mandate of UNSOM.|
|Security Council Presidential Statements|
|19 August 2016 S/PRST/2016/13||This was a presidential statement that welcomed the meeting of Somalia’s NLF on the implementation of the 2016 National Electoral Process and regretted the delayed electoral timetable.|
|10 February 2017 S/PRST/2017/3||This presidential statement welcomed the conclusion of the electoral process.|
|9 January 2017 S/2017/21||This was the Secretary-General’s report on Somalia.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|27 January 2017 S/PV.7873||Special Representative of the Secretary-General Michael Keating briefed the Council on the latest Secretary-General’s report on Somalia and the activities of UNSOM.|