Expected Council Action
In July, the Council is expected to renew its authorisation of the AU Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which expires on 31 July.
Somalia, and most particularly funding for AMISOM, may also be raised during the briefing on the Secretary-General’s annual report on ways to strengthen the partnership between the UN and AU on issues of peace and security in Africa (as it was last year), and possibly will be discussed during the annual joint meeting of Council members with the AU Peace and Security Council, also planned for July.
Key Recent Developments
On 30 August 2017, the Council adopted resolution 2372, renewing the authorisation of AMISOM until 31 May 2018. The resolution decided to reduce the number of uniformed AMISOM personnel in two phases. First, to a maximum level of 21,626 troops (a reduction of 500 from the previous authorisation) by 31 December 2017. The resolution also stipulated that this figure should include a minimum of 1,040 AMISOM police personnel including five formed police units. The second drawdown phase was outlined in the resolution, calling for a further reduction to 20,626 personnel by 30 October 2018, unless the Council decides to “accelerate the pace of the reduction, taking into account the capabilities of the Somali security forces thus far”.
The resolution also requested the AU and the UN to conduct a joint comprehensive assessment of AMISOM’s concept of operations by 15 April including recommendations on the progressive transition from AMISOM to Somali security responsibility, taking into account the capacities of the Somali security forces. The review was delayed until June. In order to allow for the consideration of the assessment report before a longer reauthorisation, the Council adopted resolution 2415 on 15 May, extending the mandate of AMISOM until 31 July in a “technical rollover”. At press time, the Council has yet to receive the assessment report, however, it is expected to recommend postponing the scheduled troop reduction to allow for an operational readiness assessment of AMISOM.
On 2 March, a summit of troop-contributing countries (TCCs) to the mission was held in Kampala. In a communiqué, the TCCs urged the Security Council to reconsider the draw-down of AMISOM, restore the mission to previous levels, and stop any further reduction of troops. They asserted that the timeframes and troop levels outlined in resolution 2372 were not realistic and would lead to a reversal of the gains made by AMISOM.
The government of Somalia adopted a transition plan for the Somali National Security Forces to take over security responsibilities from AMISOM, which includes provisions for institutional development and capacity building of Somali forces, support for activities relating to stabilisation and the prevention and countering of violent extremism, and identifying geographical areas where transition to Somali forces can be prioritised. The plan was endorsed by the AU and by international partners at the Somalia Security High-Level Meeting in Brussels on 2 May.
The Council adopted a presidential statement on Somalia on 7 June, welcoming the “conditions-based transition plan with clear target dates for the progressive transfer of security responsibilities” and calling for its effective implementation. The statement further reiterated the need to enhance “the predictability, sustainability and flexibility of financing for African Union-led peace support operations” authorised by the Council and called for new and existing donors to support AMISOM.
In the regional context, tension between Somalia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) persists against the backdrop of accusations that the UAE’s relationship with the states that make up Somalia is undermining the federal government. On 8 April, Somali security services seized a $9.6 million cache of money at the Mogadishu airport that had arrived from Abu Dhabi. The UAE asserted that the money was to pay the salaries of Somali soldiers and trainees. The UAE has since ended its military training mission in Somalia and closed a hospital it operates in Mogadishu. On 9 May, the UAE sent a letter to the president of the Council, reaffirming its respect for Somali sovereignty. It added that its agreements with the Somali states were concluded on the basis of the powers vested in those states, and that the federal government should engage with the states to clarify the nature of those agreements. In this context, the 7 June presidential statement expressed concern over “internal and external pressures” undermining Somalia’s political unity.
The armed group Al-Shabaab continues to be a potent threat, as was highlighted by Special Representative and head of UNSOM Michael Keating in his briefing to the Council on 15 May. (The head of AMISOM, Francisco Madeira, also briefed.) On 6 June, for example, at least eight people, including two members of the Hirshabelle State parliament, were killed when Al-Shabaab militants ambushed a convoy near Mogadishu. On the same day, five police officers patrolling the Kenyan border were killed when their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. A US soldier advising Somali and AMISOM forces was killed in an Al-Shabaab mortar attack in Jubaland on 8 June.
The Chair of the 751/1907 Somalia and Eritrea Sanctions Committee, Kairat Umarov (Kazakhstan), briefed the committee on 7 June on his 4-10 May visit to Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia, during which he was accompanied by representatives from Ethiopia, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Sweden. The delegation was unable to visit Eritrea. Umarov is expected to present his observations to the Council in August. On 25 June, the Committee met to discuss the recommendations of the arms and ammunition joint verification team for Somalia.
Human Rights-Related Developments
In a 4 May statement following a six-day trip to the country, the independent expert on human rights in Somalia, Bahame Tom Mukirya Nyanduga, condemned recent terrorist attacks in the country and called for the immediate release of all children kidnapped or recruited as fighters. “The abduction of children by the Al-Shabaab group and their recruitment and use by Government security forces in the armed conflict constitute a grave violation of the children’s rights”, he said. During the trip, Nyanduga met with Somali ministers, members of the judiciary, and civil society. He is expected to submit a report to the Human Rights Council at its 39th session in September.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue is ensuring that AMISOM retains the capability and means to strengthen and assist the Somali forces so that they can progressively take the lead in providing security while avoiding a premature handover of security responsibilities. Closely related is the need to secure predictable and sustainable funding for AMISOM and Somali security institutions throughout this process. The Council may choose to adopt language in support of direct UN funding for AMISOM during this transition period, or express the willingness to consider this possibility in the future.
On troop levels, the Council may choose to refrain from further troop reductions beyond those already scheduled in resolution 2372 or consider postponing the scheduled October reductions.
On Somalia generally, Council members are united in supporting state-building and in their support for AMISOM, as demonstrated by unified messages in the 7 June presidential statement. With respect to AMISOM, however, some Council members—such as Ethiopia, which is a TCC—have expressed concern over a premature drawdown of troops, unwarranted by the current situation in Somalia. France and the US, have pushed in the past for shorter timeframes for reductions.
The AU continues to press the Council to do more to ensure predictable and sustainable funding for AMISOM. It appears that several Council members are in favour of providing direct funding to AMISOM through UN assessed contributions, on top of the logistical support given through the UN Support Office in Somalia and voluntary contributions through the UN trust fund for AMISOM. The US, however, remains opposed to the idea, with other members on the fence. Thus, including formulations in support of using assessed contributions in the upcoming resolution remains unlikely. During negotiations over the latest presidential statement, Council members were unable to agree on specific language on this issue beyond general support for sustainable funding, without committing the Council to any position.
The UK is the penholder on Somalia.
UN DOCUMENTS ON SOMALIA
|Security Council Resolutions|
|27 March 2018 S/RES/2408||This was a resolution renewing the mandate of UNSOM for an additional year.|
|30 August 2017 S/RES/2372||This resolution reauthorised AMISOM until 31 May 2018.|
|Security Council Presidential Statement|
|7 June 2018 S/PRST/2018/13||This was a presidential statement welcoming the conditions-based transition plan in Somalia for the progressive transfer of security responsibilities to national forces.|
|2 May 2018 S/2018/411||This was the Secretary-General’s report on UNSOM.|
|Security Council Meeting Record|
|15 May 2018 S/PV.8259||This was a briefing from Special Representative and head of UNSOM Michael Keating and head of AMISOM Francisco Madeira on the latest report of the Secretary-General on Somalia.|
|Security Council Letter|
|9 May 2018 S/2018/439||This was a letter from the UAE to the president of the Council regarding Somalia.|