Expected Council Action
In June, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), which expires on 16 June.
Key Recent Developments
The strategic assessment of the UN presence in Somalia, requested in resolution 2275, was transmitted to the Council on 5 May. The process was initiated at the end of 2016, followed by the deployment of a strategic assessment mission to Somalia and the region from 5 to 15 March, after the completion of the electoral process. It recommends that over the next four years, the UN should focus on three priority areas—federalism and challenges to state-building; security strategy; and strengthening resilience and promoting socio-economic change—and that the new government should define its own clear priorities, including in the national development plan that will guide UN support.
Concerning UNSOM, the assessment concludes that its overall concept as a political mission should remain, with its core tasks being to provide good offices and strategic advice on peacebuilding and state-building, to coordinate international support, to build the capacity of federal and state institutions, and to monitor and report violations. However, it advises that the mandate should be adapted to integrate support at the level of federal member states in all areas of the mandate and that the functions of the mission’s presence at federal and state levels should be clarified. There should also be a stronger emphasis on conflict resolution at the federal, regional and local levels. Advice on a comprehensive security strategy will be a priority task, according to the assessment. In addition, the women, peace and security agenda should be better integrated into the mandate to reflect progress made on women’s participation in peacebuilding and state-building; the mandate should also reflect the youth, peace and security agenda. The assessment concludes that the capacity-building role of UNSOM should be expanded to the police sector and that UNSOM’s human rights due diligence policy should be clarified in the mandate to ensure adequate prioritisation and integrated implementation across the UN’s presence in Somalia.
On 11 May, the London Conference on Somalia was held. The conference—co-chaired by the UK, Somalia, the UN and the African Union (AU), and attended by 42 friends and partners of Somalia—focused on a security pact, adopted by Somalia and the international community, that will allow for long-term security based on mutual accountability. In the pact, Somalia’s leaders committed to taking a lead on providing security, including securing recovered areas and supply routes, and security for the 2021 elections. The international community acknowledged the need to commit more support, including through better-coordinated mentoring, training and capacity-building of police and military forces. It was further agreed that such commitments from the international community, including financial commitments, would be made at a follow-up conference planned for October.
The conference also adopted a New Partnership for Somalia, recommitting the delegations to working together and holding each other accountable in order to deliver the vital support and reforms that Somalia needs over the next four years.
A communiqué released after the conference noted political gains made in Somalia, but also highlighted several challenges, including terrorism; constitutional issues; the slow pace of security sector reform; the continuing threat of piracy; the need for further progress on democratisation, human rights, and rule of law; corruption; poverty; and the risk of famine. At the conference, the Federal Government of Somalia set out its plans to address these challenges, and the international community committed to support these plans.
The most recent Secretary-General’s report on Somalia said that attacks by Al-Shabaab continue, despite the 6 April call by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” for members of the group to lay down their arms taking advantage of a 60-day offer of amnesty. The report also notes the increased activity of a group affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terror organisation. During the reporting period, 287 civilians were killed, including 54 deaths attributed to Somali national forces and 20 to the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Concerning the ongoing drought, the report said it has devastated the economy, with 6.2 million people facing acute food insecurity and 3 million needing urgent life-saving assistance. There have also been more than 570,000 drought-related displacements since November 2016 and a related increase in sexual violence. Additionally, there are more than 36,000 cases of cholera, and insecurity continues to impede humanitarian access.
On 26 May, the Council adopted resolution 2355, which rolled over the mandate of AMISOM until 31 August to allow Council members time to consider the forthcoming recommendations of the joint AU-UN review of the mission, which is expected to be received in July.
On 17 May, Council members met in consultations to begin the review of sanctions measures on Eritrea requested by resolution 2317. The UK proposed developing a road map on Eritrea that would be enshrined in a presidential statement. Members met again at expert level to brainstorm further on 25 May. (In resolution 2317 of 10 November 2016 the Council expressed its intention to review measures on Eritrea, in light of the midterm report of the Somalia-Eritrea Monitoring Group, which it received in April.) At press time, the UK had not yet circulated a draft presidential statement.
Human Rights-Related Developments
In a statement on 11 May at the London Conference on Somalia, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said there were still major human rights problems in Somalia, largely because of the “horrific abuses” committed by Al-Shabaab. Gilmour asserted that the idea that repressing rights and freedoms would bring greater security was a “dangerous myth” and that the opposite was true. He emphasised that more must be done to strengthen measures to prevent human rights violations and to push for accountability, while urging the international community to commit to grounding its initiatives in Somalia in human rights.
Ensuring that UNSOM is properly equipped to support the Somali government on the three priority areas outlined by the strategic assessment—state-building, security strategy, and socio-economic reform—is the key issue.
Another pressing issue is ensuring an appropriate humanitarian response to the drought, the looming famine and the outbreak of cholera.
The most likely option is for the Council to reauthorise UNSOM for one year, using the observations and recommendations of the strategic assessment as a basis for any alterations to the mandate.
Another option would be to hold consultations with Special Representative for Somalia and head of UNSOM Michael Keating to discuss how the mission can best help the government in facilitating key political processes, such as the constitutional review, preparations for one-person, one-vote elections and establishing a functional federal state, as well as advising and assisting the government on security matters and promoting economic development.
On Somalia generally, Council members are united in supporting state-building processes and in their support for UNSOM and AMISOM, as demonstrated by unified messages conveyed during the Council’s visit to Somalia in May 2016 and the uncontentious adoption of several recent Council outcomes on Somalia.
The UK is the penholder on Somalia, and Kazakhstan is the chair of the 751/1907 Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee for 2017.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|26 May 2017 S/RES/2355||This was a resolution extending AMISOM’s authorisation until 31 August 2017 with no changes.|
|23 March 2017 S/RES/2346||This was a technical rollover of UNSOM’s mandate until 16 June 2017.|
|10 November 2016 S/RES/2317||This was a resolution on Somalia and Eritrea sanctions with ten votes in favour.|
|24 March 2016 S/RES/2275||This was a resolution extending the mandate of UNSOM.|
|9 May 2017 S/2017/408||This was the Secretary-General’s report on Somalia.|
|Security Council Letters|
|5 May 2017 S/2017/404||This was a strategic assessment of the UN presence in Somalia.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|17 May 2017 S/PV.7942||This was a briefing by Deputy Special Representative Raisedon Zenenga and AU Special Representative for Somalia Francisco Madeira.|
|13 April 2017 S/PV.7925||This was a briefing by the Chair of the 751/1907 Sanctions Committee, Ambassador Kairat Umaraov (Kazakhstan).|